12.03.2011 06.Adar ll, 5771
Cross-dressing was a phenomenon at many medieval holiday and life-cycle celebrations.
For many children and adults, Purim costumes are the highlight of a series of festive customs that have developed on the holiday. While sometimes entertaining and usually innocuous, they remain a contentious matter in Jewish law and lore.
The Book of Esther and the Talmud never discuss Purim costumes, and the custom seems to have originated in Germany in the medieval period. One of the earliest halachic discussion appears in a responsum of R. Yehuda Mintz ( Padua, Italy, d. 1508) who permitted people to wear masks, despite the opposition of some earlier figures (Shu’t Maharam Padua 16). He further permitted men and women to wear clothing of the opposite gender, even though this violates the biblical prohibition of cross-dressing (Deuteronomy 22:5)….