April 19, 2024
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April 19, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

This week I’m going to take the time to address a question that everybody has about Purim:

Dear Mordechai,

Why on earth is Purim a month before Pesach? How am I supposed to get rid of all this junk food? We don’t even sell real chometz, you know. And why are there suddenly tea biscuits? How am I supposed to eat these? I never drink tea!

Okay, first of all, calm down. Have a drink. This is not the fault of the mitzvah; it’s how we celebrate it.

The chachamim clearly said we have to give one friend. One. If you can’t eat two ready-made foods in 30 days with no refrigeration, you should probably throw them out by then anyway.

Of course, nowadays, no one can give just one person anymore, because everyone you know will for some reason be offended that they’re not your one person. And Purim doesn’t really seem like the best time of the year to offend people. Sad people moping around in full costume is funny, but it’s not in the spirit of Purim.

But okay, in your opinion, when should we celebrate Purim?

Well, I guess if it’s not in Adar, when the war took place, then it would probably be when Esther’s parties took place—on Pesach.

Were Esther’s parties the actual Sedarim? I don’t know. I’m not sure how you can have a Pesach Seder without it coming up that you’re Jewish.

Achashveyrosh: “This food is awful. What is it?”

Esther: “It’s marror. You’re not supposed to eat it yet.”

Haman: “Well, when are we supposed to eat? All you’ve given us so far is a wet potato!”

Achashveyrosh (chewing): “Is this cement?”

Haman: “Could we drink the second cup of wine yet, or not?”

Esther: “Okay, everybody, calm down. First we’re going to talk about the Jews being enslaved in Egypt.”

Achashveyrosh: “Why?”

Esther: “Very good, you’re asking questions. Actually, I’m Jewish too, and someone wants to kill me.”

Achashveyrosh: “Who?”

Esther: “I’m getting there.”

So maybe we should have Purim on Pesach then, right?

I don’t know. Shalach manos would be pretty bad. You’d get ready-made food you can’t even eat because you don’t mish. And don’t get me started on what you’re going to get from your Sefardi friends.

Meanwhile, rabbis would keep getting shaylos like, “Can we give two types of Marror, or is that inappropriate?” and “Can we give salt water and charoses? We’re going for a surf-’n’-turf theme.”

We already drink on Pesach, though, so that would be convenient. But say goodbye to hamantaschen. Ok, there’d be pesachdikke hamantaschen, but that isn’t even something to joke about. So celebrating on Pesach is out of the question.

Would you rather it be after Pesach? Like during Sefirah? Purim without music—that’s what you want? You want people driving around town delivering shalach manos while blasting a capella? Or mussar shiurim?

Okay, so maybe you’ll say that we don’t have to celebrate Purim exactly when we were saved. After all, we celebrate Sukkos in the fall even though the Bnei Yisroel actually lived in sukkahs all year around. So by that logic, Purim celebrates the fact that we weren’t wiped out, and as it turns out, we’re actually alive all year. So fine, let’s try that. If Purim is too close to Pesach, and Pesach is too close to Pesach, let’s move Purim backward.

You want to have Purim in Shevat? Everyone’s going to give each other dry fruit. We know that. How much dry fruit can you eat? We’re going to be dying for Pesach to come, so we can switch to matzah.

Teves? Well, Teves is right after Chanukah, so you’re going to get leftovers of foods in which oil is the primary ingredient. Also, do you really want to do this in middle of the winter? It’s cold enough on Purim, and you spend all day outside. Purim costumes are not thick enough to protect you from the elements. It’s bad enough we sometimes have to wear coats over our costumes without also having to worry about boots and snow pants and how you’re going to carry shalach manos around in mittens.

We should knock out Kislev for that reason too. Not to mention that I don’t actually want drunk people stumbling into the house when my candles are going. It’s hard enough to dance for Maoz Tzur when everybody’s sober. We kind of have to tiptoe. We definitely don’t do that dance where you stomp a circle into the middle of your carpet.

Also, in the winter, the days are too short. Do you really enjoy those Friday Purims where you have to be eating the seudah by chatzos? Considering you have to do all your mitzvos during daylight hours, Purim is going to be even more rushed than it is. And on icy roads.

“What about Cheshvan?” you ask. Well, there’s nothing in Cheshvan right now. Though that might be because we don’t actually want to look at food in Cheshvan. There are how many yomim tovim in Tishrei? We’re inventing fasts in Cheshvan. There’s no chiyuv of BaHaB, we’re voluntarily doing this.

Also, having Purim around the same time as Halloween could be very confusing, especially since everyone’s in disguise. You want to accidentally give shalach manos to every trick-or-treater at your door?

“Here’s wine and a pineapple! In cellophane!”

They’re all going to flock to the Jewish neighborhoods. Everyone else is giving tiny chocolates!

“There’s chocolate in this one too! Look under the pineapple!”

Also, would we give pineapple in Cheshvan? I don’t know. What’s seasonal then? Butternut squash, I guess.

So people are going to be coming to your door in droves, you’ll have no idea who’s who, and you’re going to be in the dining room making backup shalach manos all day, like, “How did we not make enough? Who are all these people?”

“Well, what did they bring us? Check the card.”

“There was no card! Those kids didn’t even want to give me the bag! Anyway, they brought us mainly chocolates. And most of them aren’t even kosher.”

“Well, what are they dressed as?”

“I don’t know. There’s one in a sheet—I think he’s dressed as laundry—there’s one dressed as toilet paper, and there’s one kid who’s all green with a pointy hat and a wart on her nose. Mrs. Haman, maybe?”

Eventually, we’d run out of backup shalach manos (well before Pesach—are you happy now?) and we’d give the kids fresh dollar bills.

Also, if we had a Yom Tov in Mar Cheshvan, it wouldn’t be called “Mar Cheshvan” anymore. It’s called “Mar Cheshvan” now because it’s bitter, because there are no holidays in it. If Purim were in Cheshvan, then Adar would have no yomim tovim, and would be called “Mar Adar,” I guess, as in “Mishenichnas Mar Adar, marbim b’simcha.”

So what’s next? Elul? You want Purim in Elul? You want extra things to do teshuva for?

I’m also not sure you should blow shofar in a room full of people with hangovers.

Okay, so I skipped Tishrei. But that’s because I don’t know when in Tishrei you would squeeze your Purim. Would it be on Sukkos? So you could have drunk people coming into your sukkah, dancing and hopping and knocking it over?

“I think someone took a bite out of the esrog.”

I’d probably get a bunch of friends together and we’d all dress as giant bees. That would be hilarious. Baalei batim would be so drunk they’d panic and jump out the storm windows.

Though maybe Purim should be right next to Yom Hakippurim. That wouldn’t be so bad, and it would fit thematically while also being a total contradiction. Like maybe Erev Yom Kippur. There’s a mitzvah to eat all day, right? Kreplach, baby! Imagine how big of a mitzvah it would be to send each other food! And then we could go into Yom Kippur right after the Purim seudah! (After first removing our makeup and giant shoes, of course.)

“Um, I didn’t actually eat right today. I think I’m in trouble.”

That would be a pretty busy day, though, between Selichos and shalach manos and visiting the cemetery in full costume and a Megillah leining where every time the baal koreh says “Haman,” you wave a chicken over your head.

But back to Elul. Is it really a good idea to have Purim in the first month of school? Way to get the year off on the right foot. I’m pretty sure they say that once Purim hits, the z’man is basically over.

Okay, so let’s do it in Tammuz or Av, right? Let’s have Purim in the Three Weeks!

Right. That’s a good idea.

Or maybe right after Tisha B’av!

Talk about whiplash. Also, Purim comes with its own fast, and the last thing any of us wants is yet another fast during the summer.

Also, it’s true that most costumes are lightweight, but they also don’t breathe. Especially if you have to wear a beard, or a $5 wig, or a full mascot costume (which I have worn during the summer). If you dance around in a costume all day in 100-degree weather, the costume gemach is not taking that back.

Okay, sure, the days are nice and long, and there’s plenty of time to get everything done, but there’s also plenty of time for your shalach manos to sit on your friend’s porch until he gets home.

“How long has this yogurt been out? Were these chocolates?”

And then you come home to find a soggy note that says, “The ice cream’s pareve.”

Because that’s definitely what everyone would be giving.

And Sivan? Well, before Shavuos is still Sefirah for some people, and after Shavuos is already summer for some people. And we can’t do it on Shavuos itself, no matter how thematically awesome that might be—not to mention cheese-filled hamantaschen—because I don’t know about you, but I spend the entire day of Shavuos sleeping. This is great for ad lo yada, but Purim is busy enough before we add staying up all night learning. And do you think your wife wants to watch the kids so you can sleep all day when they’re hopped up on candy?

And that’s it. There are only 12 months of the year. When else would it be? When would you have made Purim? No matter when you’d put it, you’d find reasons to complain.

So I say you take Purim in Adar, and you be happy! Adar is the best month for it. I guess we’re lucky the gorel came out to Adar. (If luck is something you believe in, which we don’t.) Even Haman was happy when he found out it was Adar. He was like, “Oh! That’s the month Moshe Rabbeinu died!” (He didn’t say “Rabbeinu,” obviously; he said “Rabbeihem.” Or something.) But even though he knew that Moshe died in Adar, he didn’t know that Moshe was also born in Adar. He had selective memory. He wasn’t good at remembering birthdays. He just read the obituaries.

Not that I knew. I personally only know when Moshe Rabbeinu was born because of this story. It’s depressing that I know it from Haman. And also that Haman knew more Chumash than me.

But my point is that Hashem picked Adar, and there really is no better date. You’d think we wouldn’t complain, because it’s Purim, and what do we have to complain about? We’re alive!

But complaining makes us happy. And Purim is a time to be happy.

By Mordechai Schmutter

 Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia, The Jewish Press and Aish.com, among others. He also has five books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].


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