GOOD MORNING! Purim is coming up next week, Thursday night, March 8th, through all day Friday! The Fast of Esther is Thursday, March 8th.
I was perusing Shimon Apisdorf's The One Hour Purim Primer -- Everything a family needs to understand, celebrate and enjoy Purim (available from your local Jewish book store or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242). One thing that Rabbi Apisdorf wrote, really impacted me: If a family is a "twice a year to synagogue" family, then he "votes for Purim and Simchas Torah (when everyone dances around celebrating the completion and beginning of reading the Torah)." Our kids should see and be a part of the joy of being Jewish!
Each and every one of us want our children to have the same values and appreciations that we have. And often we are surprised that they don't. Unless one provides experiences and talks about the things that gave you your appreciations, your kids will have different experiences and discussions ... and quite possibly different values. You cannot legislate values or appreciation for Judaism. You CAN give positive Jewish experiences -- like Purim! -- and your kids will have something to love about being Jewish!
Q & A: WHAT IS PURIM AND HOW DO WE CELEBRATE IT?
Purim comes from the word "pur" in Persian which means "lots" -- as in, "Haman cast lots for the most 'auspicious' date to kill the Jews." The date fell out on the 13th of Adar. The events of that date were turned around from a day of destruction to a day of victory and joy. We celebrate Purim on the 14th of Adar for "they gained relief on the fourteenth, which they made a day of feasting and gladness." (Megilat Esther 9:17)
(In very few places -- most notably in Jerusalem -- Purim is celebrated the following day, the 15th day of Adar. The Sages declared that all cities which were walled cities at the time of Joshua should celebrate Purim the following day. This is to commemorate the extra day which King Ahashverosh granted Esther to allow the Jews of Shushan [the capital of Persia, which, by the way, was a walled city] to deal with their enemies. In Shushan they gained relief on the fifteenth. The holiday is called Shushan Purim in those locales.)
There are two ways in which to try to destroy the Jewish people -- physically and spiritually. Our enemies have attempted both. Chanukah is the celebration over those who have tried and failed to culturally assimilate us (the Greeks and Western Culture); Purim is the celebration over those who have tried and failed to physically destroy us (the Persians, ad nauseam).
Why do we masquerade with costumes and masks on Purim? Nowhere in the Megilat Esther is God's name mentioned. If one so desires, he can see the whole Purim story as a chain of coincidences totally devoid of Divine Providence. Just as we hide behind masks, but our essence is still there, so too God has "hidden His face" behind the forces of history, but is still there guiding history.
Why do we make noise every time Haman's name is mentioned in the Megillah? The answer: Haman was an Amalekite, from that people which embodies evil and which the Torah commands us to obliterate. By blotting out Haman's name we are symbolically wiping out the Amalekites and evil.
The holiday is celebrated by hearing the Megilah Thursday night and Friday morning. During the day only, we fulfill three mitzvot:
- Matanot L'evyonim -- giving gifts or money to at least two poor people.
- Mishloach Manot -- the "sending of portions," giving at least two ready-to-eat foods to a minimum of one person. One should send via a messenger. You can order Kosher Purim baskets from: White's Candies Tel. (305) 865-0433 or http://florists.ftd.com/surf and from The Kosher Connection, 800-950:-7227 http://thekosherconnection.com)
- Seudah -- a festive meal, which this year should be started before mid-day so that one will have an appetite for the upcoming Shabbos meal. During the meal we are commanded to drink wine until we don't know the difference between "Blessed is Mordechai" and "Cursed is Haman." (It can also be fulfilled by drinking a little and taking a nap -- one doesn't know the difference between them while sleeping...) Why are we instructed to drink this amount?
In a certain sense, Purim is greater than Yom Kippur. On Yom Kippur we fast and it is easy for our soul to have dominance over the body. Purim is the epitome of integrating the physical and the spiritual towards realizing that the Almighty loves us. The only thing that stands between you and the Almighty -- is you. The wine and the spirit of the day help us get beyond the barrier -- to realize that everything comes from the Almighty and is ultimately for our good!
The Mitzvot of Mishloach Manot and giving gifts to the poor were prescribed to generate brotherly love between all Jews. When there is love and unity amongst us, our enemies cannot harm us!
Portion of the Week
This week's Torah reading is an architect's or interior designer's dream portion. It begins with the Almighty commanding Moses to tell the Jewish people to bring an offering of the materials necessary for the construction of the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary.
The Torah continues with the details for constructing the Ark, the Table, the Menorah, the Tabernacle (the central area of worship containing the Ark, the Menorah, the Incense Altar, and the Table), the Beams composing the walls of the Tabernacle, the Cloth partition (separating the Holy of Holies where the Ark rested from the remaining Sanctuary part of the Tabernacle), the Altar and the Enclosure for the Tabernacle (surrounding curtains forming a rectangle within which was a large area approximately 15x larger than the Tabernacle).
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states regarding the walls of the Tabernacle, "The center crossbar shall go through the middle of the beams, from one end (of the Tabernacle) to the other" (Exodus 26:28). What lesson for life can we learn from the crossbeam?
Targum Yonoson, an Aramaic translation and commentary of the Torah, informs us that the center crossbar was made with wood that came from the trees that Avraham planted. Rabbi Mordechai Mann of Bnai Brak commented that these trees were planted by Avraham for the purpose of doing kindness for travelers -- to provide them with shade.
The center crossbar was placed right in the middle of the tabernacle to remind us that even when we are devoting ourselves to serving the Almighty, we should never forget to have compassion for our fellow men, who are created in the image of the Almighty.
CANDLE LIGHTING - March 2:
Guatemala 5:54 Hong Kong 6:09 Honolulu 6:18
J'Burg 6:19 London 5:24 Los Angeles 5:32
Melbourne 7:41 Miami 6:05 Moscow 5:47
New York 5:30 Singapore 7:02
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
is God's way of
Dedicated by...For All Your Purim & Passover Gift Needs!
Rabbi Chaim Casper's
Surf Florists & White's Candies
Tel. (305) 865-0433