Stop Bothering Me. I am trying to write this.

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.

About aweisbrot

Ari is a prominent litigator in New York and New Jersey. He has been featured on CBS Radio’s Wall Street Journal Report, quoted in legal and non-legal periodicals, and has been recognized as a “SuperLawyer” in New Jersey and a "Top Ten Lawyer to Watch" in New York. Mr. Weisbrot is a true “client’s lawyer,” representing a diverse range of clients from among the largest retailers in the United States to smaller local businesses to religious and charitable organizations. Ari was appointed by Supreme Court of the State of New Jersey to a three-year term of service on the Committee on Character. The Committee determines the fitness to practice law of each candidate for admission to the Bar of the State. Mr. Weisbrot also continues to serve on the District Ethics Committee (IIB - Bergen County), which operates under the auspices of the New Jersey State Office of Attorney Ethics. Mr. Weisbrot has been awarded an 'AV' rating for his professionalism and the quality of his legal work from Martindale-Hubbell, the premier directory of legal professionals, and has been selected by his peers as a Super Lawyer. In addition, Mr. Weisbrot has written several articles on commercial litigation, which have been published in the New Jersey Law Journal and the Metropolitan Corporate Counsel. A Former New York City prosecutor, Mr. Weisbrot is a graduate of Fordham University School of Law, where he was a member of the Urban Law Journal and a featured columnist in the Law School newspaper
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10 Responses to Stop Bothering Me. I am trying to write this.

  1. DR says:

    I think our message is well-intentioned, but I can’t help but feel that you are making the same error you are judging by complaining that someone gives you a hamentashen and a bottle of grape juice. Accept the gesture, the mitzvah (which it is), and be appreciative. If you don’t want to give an $80 basket, so maybe make some smaller ones yourself. There’s no chiyuv to make big fancy mishloach manot; the point is to increase closeness between Jews. If your expensive mishloach manot take away that closeness by making you judgmental of others’ smaller packages or how they spend their money, or who delivers it to you, then you’re completely missing the point yourself.

  2. DocSchulhof says:

    I believe Ari was using the art of sarcasm DR. Ari give me a call when that scotch arrives.

  3. benjy says:

    Its PLANER, not plainer !!

  4. Rachel Stern says:

    While I recognize your sarcasm here, I can’t help but think ,”but it is all true!”. I used to live in Teaneck and yes, MY memories of Purim in Teaneck are EXACTLY what you wrote, especially “Your social standing is very much measured by the cleverness of your mishloach manot.” I very much felt that I was being judged by my mishloach manot and the conversations for WEEKS before Purim were about what theme one was using for their MM. Now, I live in Israel. I am even living in one of the more expensive Anglo communities. I can tell you from my experience now: it is NOT like that AT ALL here. Purim is REALLY Purim here. You are in galut, my friend and the best way to fix that is for all Jews to make aliyah as soon as they are able…

  5. Why not suggest a budget for the holiday? You can spend $xxx.xx on the mitzvot of the day. Now that you have decided how much to spend, I think that 2/3rds of your budget can go to Tzdakah and 1/3rd to your Mishloach Manot. (After all you have to give two presents to the aniyim and only one to your friend).

  6. lauren says:

    You should see the package I got from the Dickers!!!

  7. Ahava says:

    Some of your points I find valid (drinking to excess, cursing while delivering). I know you were trying to be funny but it comes across as saying don’t bother sending me a mishloach manot that isn’t up to my standards. Not everyone is creative. What about people who send “a few, well-thought, well-intentioned, and well-placed mishloach manot” (or the closest they can come to it; mine seem to always be better in thought than execution) to very close friends AND send many “crappy packages” “through…shul or through a charity”? Would you rather not get anything from those people? I guess then you would know who your REAL friends are. Some people would rather send less to more than more to fewer; it’s a personal choice.

    • aweisbrot says:

      I am assuming you dont get “irony?” Your assumptions assume my points were not a sarcastic attack on the very things you stand for (which I agree with) which is why I was making those points in the first place!

      • Ahava says:

        Well, I got that you were being ironic at the beginning. The last paragraph confused me because I could not tell when you switched from being ironic to being sincere. “It is a lesson on how to act and how to treat people.” – that’s sincere, right? But I do not put “Those who feel that a million crappy packages are better than a few, well-thought, well-intentioned, and well-placed mishloach manot.” in the same category as “Those who drink to excess. Those who spend the whole day driving around town delivering baskets but cursing and screaming all the while. ” but that last paragraph does.
        I’m glad to know that we are fundamentally in agreement.

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