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Eat, Drink, and Be Holy:
Mishloah Manot
Each year, increasing numbers of Jews are discovering the wonderful The Holiday of Purim
Purim custom of sharing food with friends and neighbors, giving at least two types of food to at least two recipients. The mitzvah of mishloah manot is based on the verse in the Megillah instructing us to “send On its surface, the holiday of Purim is fairly straightforward, portions one to another” (9:22). Some people bake hamentaschen and characterized by an atmosphere of joy and celebration. We are required to other goodies, while others send food packages through their synagogue. eat and to drink; we parade around in outlandish costumes; and we make Use this opportunity to spread Purim cheer to those who might not loud noises that can hardly be described as dignified. otherwise receive such gifts. Consider bringing some brightly decorated baskets to seniors, to the homebound, to newcomers, or to those whose Still, beneath its almost too obvious guise of merriment, Purim is marked families have moved away (your rabbi can provide you with names). by a seriousness of purpose equal to that of the most solemn holiday. We are required to perform a variety of mitzvot -- and from each we learn an Matanot L’evyonim
Based on the injunction in the Megillah that on Purim we must “send gifts to the poor”(9:22), the holiday affords us a special opportunity to share One of the most important things we learn from Purim is that no person our good fortune with those in need. Gifts can be given directly, e.g., can exist alone. We share with others not only our daily lives but our bringing food and clothing to a homeless shelter, or indirectly, through an hopes and dreams as well. Hillel taught: “Al tifrosh min ha’tzibbur -- Do organized charity. It is important to keep in mind that whatever additional not separate yourself from the community.” In each of the mitzvot we tzedakah we give throughout the year, donations must still be given on perform on Purim, we learn something new about the concept of sharing. Purim itself. How important is this mitzvah? As Maimonides writes in his Mishneh Torah (Hilkhot Megillah 2:17): “It is better for a person to increase gifts to the poor than to increase his feast or the mishloah manot Reading the Megillah
to his neighbors. There is no joy greater or more rewarding than to Each year, we are required to listen to the complete reading of Megillat gladden the heart of the poor, orphans, widows, and strangers. For by Esther. We are instructed to listen to every word and to do this twice -- gladdening the hearts of the downtrodden, we are following the example evening and morning. Surely, if the Rabbis simply intended that we become familiar with the story, they would not have mandated that we listen to it that often and that carefully. Perhaps, in attending these public Seudat Purim
readings, we are being taught the value of sharing with the entire Few things are more pleasurable than sharing a celebratory meal with our community recognition of, and appreciation for, our collective triumph families. Happily, the Megillah tells us that Purim should be a time for feasting. This year, approach the Purim seudah with the commitment we bring to preparing the Passover seder. Wear special clothing (off-beat Defeating Haman was a shared enterprise. Mordechai and Esther led the costumes are definitely permitted); prepare special foods; and learn Purim way, supported by the prayers of the entire Jewish people. In every songs. Try hard to arrange your work schedule so there is sufficient time generation, there are those like Haman who prey on people’s basest fears in order to maximize their own power. Confronting such evil must be a shared responsibility. While one group may be singled out for harsh treatment, it is the responsibility of all good people to fight against this Finally, in the spirit of Purim parodies, we offer our “Top Ten”
reasons for celebrating this unique holiday:
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Rapaport House, 155 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010 1. Making noise in shul is a mitzvah. E-mail: Website: 2. Levity is not reserved for the Levites. 3. If you’re having a bad hair day, you can always wear a mask and no-one will know who you are. Eat, Drink, and Be Holy:
4. Purim is easier to spell than the Hebrew name for the Festival of Lights. The Holiday of Purim
5. You don’t have to kasher your home and change all the pots and 6. You don’t have to build a sukkah and eat outside. 7. You get to drink wine and you don’t have to stand for Kiddush. 8. You won’t get hit in the eye by a lulav. 10. You can’t eat hamentaschen on Yom Kippur. THE UNITED SYNAGOGUE OF CONSERVATIVE JUDAISM
Founded in 1913 by Dr. Solomon Schechter as the association of Conservative synagogues in North America, the USCJ, through its numerous programs and publications, serves as a resource to its affiliated congregations and works to formulate a Conservative Jewish response to pressing social and religious issues. The United Synagogue, which works actively in the areas of educational programming and youth activities, also maintains an A Project of the Department of Public Affairs



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