The following shailos uteshuvos appeared in the American Yated Ne’eman, as transcribed by Rabbi Doniel Travis. The responses were given by Rav Ezriel Auerbach, rov of Bayit Vegan.
A Man in a Shaitel
I would like to wear my wife’s shaitel as part of my costume on Purim. Is it permitted for me to do so?
The Rama writes that it is not forbidden for a man to wear women’s clothing on Purim (696:8). However, the Mishnah Berurah is very unhappy about this custom and writes that it should be abolished (696:30). The Yaavetz adds that this is “not simcha, but rather foolishness, evil wildness, a reason for sadness and depression, and whoever cares about his nefesh should distance himself from this practice, and all of the gedolim have already forbidden this” (Siddur Yaavetz).
Should a person who has no money of his own and owes money to others give matanos la’evyonim?
The Mishnah Berurah (694:2) writes that according to the Ritva (Megillah 7a), one fulfills the mitzvah of matanos la’evyonim by giving a prutah, about 2 cents in the United States or 6 agurot in Israel (according to the explanation of the Steipler Gaon that there are 40 prutos in one gram of silver), to each oni. Someone who owes money should not give much more than that to tzedakah. Rather, he should use any money he has to pay off his debts.
A Gorilla in a Shtreimel
I have a creative idea for a Purim costume this year. I would like to dress up as a gorilla wearing a shtreimel. May I daven Minchah in my Purim garb?
During the year, one should not daven while wearing a costume. However, on Purim, we dress up to remember two miracles that Hashem performed: Vashti growing a tail (Raavan, Megillah 12b) and Mordechai wearing royal garb while being led around the city of Shushan by his archenemy, Haman (Elyah Rabbah 696:15). Since we are wearing these costumes for elevated reasons, as long as they are dignified and one’s body is properly covered (e.g., a Litvishe bochur wearing a shtreimel), one may wear them for tefillah.
However, everything has it limits. To stand in front of Hashem dressed like an ape is extremely disrespectful. Therefore, it is forbidden to recite Shemonah Esrei when dressed like a gorilla or while wearing any other undignified costume.