It’s Purim, the Disneyworld of the Jewish Holidays. What was once intended to be a euphoric and spontaneous eruption of happiness and gratitude to God for helping us avoid a Holocaust at the hands of Haman, has now turned into a spoof of itself. College students (and others) use the holiday as an excuse to get drunk and act stupid. Children carefully keep score of who has given them what candy. Your social standing is very much measured by the cleverness of your mishloach manot. Soccer moms and dads fret for months about the theme of their little candy packages. Let’s be honest, the stress is justified since we all judge our friends by the effort, creativity, and cost of the mishloach manot.
Hold that thought. Someone’s at the door.
Ok. I am back. Not worth it. It was clearly a re-wrap of unwanted leftovers from a conglomeration of other deliveries.
Where was I? Wait, a second. Doorbell.
I’m back. Wow. Hold on. I need to text my wife. The Lemmings just delivered a basket of lemons and lemonade. So clever. Not as cool as the Weinribs – – they put together a basket of wine and ribs and earlier today the plainers sent their package in a model airplane.
With all of this “extra” effort that we exercise in connection with the mitzvoth of Purim, can the Messiah be far away? If not, at least everyone is having a good time
I watch my friends as they rush around Teaneck Purim morning; their faces bright red with happiness. The beep their horns incessantly as if hearing celestial music in their heads. They scream along with their children – – it’s all great fun.
Hold on. A faint knock at the door.
Are you kidding me? A hamantashen plus a mini-bottle of grape juice? And the Hamantashen is Poppy seeds? No wonder you sent your kid to the door and told him to knock as quietly as possible. Don’t even bother waiting. I am not trading you the $80 deluxe package my wife worked on for a month. I will make a donation to the NFL Players Association in your name. And, next year? You’ll just get my mishloach manot through the shul.
Where were we? Oh yeah. Isn’t it time to drink until I cannot tell the difference between Haman and Mordechai? What a strange commandment. I am sure there must be a metaphor or allegory that I am missing but I certainly do not want to commit a sin until I am absolutely sure. Maybe if someone would deliver a bottle of scotch I could cover two mitzvoth at the same time.
There’s the bell again. Hold please.
No Scotch. Just a guy asking for money. Money? Does he have any idea how much this holiday is costing me? He was dressed up as a religious Jew. A schnorrer, we used to call them. I told him to come back another day; he might scare away the scotch, er, I mean the mishloach manot. What a downer. I am trying to celebrate the victory over Haman and remember the near destruction of my people, and this guy can only think about himself.
Darn it. There’s the door again. Be right back.
Charity organization box? A piece of chocolate and half bottle of grape juice? This is my tenth one today! Way to phone it in this year, Shlomo, my best friend. This is the new trend. Give all of your mishloach manot through your shul or through a charity. This way, you don’t ever have to, God Forbid, see your friends on Purim, or talk to them. You can avoid mending fences, bridging gaps, and making peace with those who are not as close anymore. Nothing says, “Let’s get closer and work out our issues,” than a listing on your shul’s mishloach manot page. Yeah, I know the argument. The money you save on Mishloach Manot can be used for important charity. But, it’s funny, Shlomo is well known for buying the biggest, nicest etrog on Succoth. He has a huge silver box to store it. And, man, he does not skimp when it comes to the mitzvah of drinking on Simchat Torah (or Purim).
So, I wonder. Can we spend some time, effort, and money on Mishloach Manot AND also give heftily to charity? I mean, is not that the whole point of Purim? I wonder if people are cutting back on the seudah budget or the Pesach budget, in order to give more to charity, or whether only Mishloach Manot suffers.
Don’t get me wrong. My kids have more candy than they could possibly eat through Pesach (2013). Most of it will be thrown out or given away. I am not advocating MORE candy or MORE mishloach Manot. But, Purim is not only a story about what happened thousands of years ago. No Jewish Holiday is. It is a lesson on how to act and how to treat people. And many of us are missing the point. Those who drink to excess. Those who spend the whole day driving around town delivering baskets but cursing and screaming all the while. Those who feel that a million crappy packages are better than a few, well-thought, well-intentioned, and well-placed mishloach manot. Those who choose their charitable donation carefully during the year might consider a crazy, no-restriction policy today. A guy sitting outside shul asks? Give him a dollar. No questions asked.
Once we lose the meaning of Purim, it really just becomes another annoying day.
Hold on, someone’s at the door.