Shabbat of Sanctity Dirshu’s 20th Anniversary International Convention
By: Ellen Kamaras
What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “Purim?” Hamantashen? Mishloah Manot? Groggers?
Sure, these words are all facets of Purim and Mishloah Manot is one of the four major mitzvot of Purim. However, there is SO much more to Purim than these things alone.
This year, let’s make Purim about more than the costumes we wear and the goodies we collect. Let’s carve out the unique themes that honor the true meaning of Purim. By that I mean the physical threat to our existence, the way Jews united and communally took responsibility for their plight, the admirable display of courage that ultimately resulted in triumph, pride, and joy.
Because Haman’s mission was to eliminate us physically, we celebrate the Purim miracle with a Seudah – lots of food and drink. Why do we give Mishloah Manot and Matanot Lievyonim on Purim? Because Klal Yisrael arevim zeh la zeh – we are all responsible for one another. That is the very principle that Mordechai prevailed upon Esther to embody; he believed it was her privilege and responsibility to save her fellow Jews.
Costumes and Groggers
Choose costumes that reenact the Purim victory. No need to dress up as Spiderman, Cinderella, or another Disney character. We have our very own super heroes in Mordechai and Esther, who saved the Jewish nation from the evil villain, Haman.
Our children know to make a commotion when the Baal Koreh reads Haman’s name during Megillat Esther, but do they know why they should? It’s rooted in the mitzvah documented in Parashat Zachor to “wipe out the memory of Amalek” and all of his descendants, Haman included. Amalek, of course, was the archenemy of Bnei Yisrael.
Matanot Lievyonim – Gifts to the Poor
As Jews, hesed – acts of loving kindness – are woven into the fabric of our daily practices and beliefs.Therefore, it is only fitting that Matanot Lievyonim, a Purim mitzvah, requires that we give monetary gifts to two poor people. Explain to your children how essential it is to take care of those experiencing financial difficulties in our own community.
Let’s swap out some of the hours we spend delivering baskets to lots of friends and use them to partner with our children to perform acts of hesed.
The requirement of this mitzvah is quite simple – give gifts of two kinds of food to at least one person. How did this mitzvah turn into such a big business and production?
Yes, our children love preparing baskets for their friends – but can we downgrade the activity by asking them to decorate some simple bags or limit their distribution to friends who live locally? This will get them properly invested in the mitzvah and save us money that is better used for Matanot Lievyonim.
How about suggesting that they partner with their classmates and share a communal Mishloah Manot, similar to the idea behind a potluck dinner? You could also deliver Purim meals to the needy or bake Hamantashen and bring them to a soup kitchen or food pantry. Better yet, you could serve a meal and put on a Purim skit at a nursing home. There are so many possibilities!
Check with class mothers to find out if your child’s yeshiva has organized Purim hesed activities. If not, suggest one and then help to plan it. Alternately, contact Sephardic Bikur Holim to see if they have Purim volunteer activities scheduled.
Challenge your children to brainstorm ways to exchange Mishloah Manot creatively. Think of new ways to celebrate this mitzvah with a collaborative, generous, and meaningful spirit.
Before the Megilah reading, review the major aspects of the Purim story with your children. Remind them how important it is to be a good listener and hear every word. Reinforce the communal facets of Purim and how vulnerable but courageous Esther and Mordechai were in eliminating Haman. Stress that it’s just as necessary to be vigilant in stamping out evil today.
Try something new. Volunteer at a communal seudah or invite guests to your home who have never attended a Seudat Purim before. Purim is a wonderful opportunity to do kiruv and teach a fellow Jew about community, unity, Jewish pride, and enlightenment. And don’t forget to team up with Mom to prepare the Seudah so she can be Queen Esther for part of the day too!
Ellen Kamaras, CPA/MBA, is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach. Her coaching specialties include life, career and dating coaching. Ellen helps people find their passion, purpose and positivity in life and love. Ellen can be contacted at email@example.com.