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Soundtracks for Purim: Part Deux, by Rabbis Joshua Boettiger and Benjamin Weiner

What music might best serve as a soundtrack to this year’s Purim experience? Join our humorous debate!

In the spirit of Purim, Ritualwell is pleased to post the following dialogue between Rabbi Joshua Boettiger and Rabbi Benjamin Weiner. Enjoy, and be happy!

As we enter the month of Adar and approach Purim again, we are confronted with our usual slate of ritual dilemmas: Where are we going to go to hear the Megillah read? What of the disturbing ninth chapter? Would it be too risque to dress as Michelle Bachman? Does everything really mix well with Tanqueray? And here’s one that you may or may not have considered: what albums might best serve as soundtracks to this year’s Purim experience? 

Music for the second part of the evening (the heart of the revelry):

Rabbi Boettiger’s pick: Revenge of the Nerds: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

There is no better way to embody the topsy-turvy antinomian message of the Book of Esther than by putting this epic soundtrack on the hi-fi when you’re ready to take your Purim party to the next level. Be dazzled by the 80s synth soundscape of “One Foot in Front of the Other.” Be stupefied by the tenderness of “Right Time for Love.” If “All Night Party” doesn’t seriously aid in bringing Mosiach, there is something wrong with the party you are hosting.

Even though the pshat of both the Book of Esther and Revenge of the Nerds is the triumph of the underdog, we realize in this soundtrack’s presence that the Purim story is not about vengeance, but transcendence. For a fleeting night on the 14th of Adar, irony will cease to exist, dualism will plague you no more, and you’ll realize that the 80s may have been the golden age of music after all.

Honorable Mention: Dark Magus, Miles Davis


Rabbi Weiner’s pick:  Back in Black, AC/DC

You could say that the essence of Jewish spirituality is the experience of climbing up a mountain in quest of some revelation.  (You could say a lot of things, and, when it comes down to it, as a rabbi you’re expected to.) So, you’ve climbed up Purim Mountain and are standing at the peak.  But what’s that?  No voice of thunder, or sweet chorus of cherubim, but, from afar and coming nearer, the raspy howl of a righteous Haman: “Hey, hey, hey, hey … Hey, hey, hey.  Yes, I’m Back in Black.”

“We have arrived at the ad-lo-yada moment, so quaffed that we can’t tell Mordeman from Hamachai, and who better to “shake us all night long” than these rowdy boys from Down Under?” The ghost of Bon Scott hovers over this album, the first the band released following the passing of its legendary frontman, gone in quest of the Divine to his early death from alcohol poisoning, like those original rock gods Nadav and Avihu.  The drums crash, the guitars scream, and we are carried along in their wake to that wild Purim bliss: equal parts temptation, destruction, and elation. 

Honorable mention:  Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash, The Pogues

Read Part 1 of their dialogue.

Rabbi Joshua Boettiger is the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth El in Bennington, VT.

Rabbi Benjamin Weiner is the spiritual leader of The Jewish Community of Amherst in Amherst, MA.

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