February 24, 2024
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February 24, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Who generates the most excitement? I would venture to say it’s the Fed-Ex or UPS guy. (By the way, did you know Fed-Ex and UPS are merging? It’s going to be called “Fed-Up.” It’s happening on Tuesday, after they take the word “gullible” out of the dictionary.)

Mail can be exciting, but there’s also a lot of junk and bills that come in the mail. But everyone loves getting packages. There’s a certain surge of excitement one feels when the delivery man drops it off—even if the recipient ordered it and knows what’s inside. That look of anticipation as one opens the box and pulls out its contents is worth it all.

In the Staum house, however, while the contents inside the box are exciting, that is definitely not the main focus or excitement. In our home, heated arguments break out over who has first dibs on the bubble wrap. There’s a certain thrill and feeling of power that our children enjoy when they pop those poor defenseless bubbles. Giving your parents a headache from the popping is just an added benefit. (This article was written in 2015, when bubble wrap was still ubiquitous. Although, these days, bubble wrap has become a thing of the past—sniff—the idea remains the same, and is equally applicable to whatever packing devices are used these days.)

It may sound somewhat silly, but on some level, this is our story as well. We too, seem to get really excited about the bubble wrap—the externals and trimmings and neglect the real inner essence. In a superficial society so focused on externals, this is true on many levels. But, perhaps, it is never truer than regarding the holiday of Purim. Purim is a celebration of life, and what that means to us as Torah Jews. On Purim, we were given a second chance and a new lease on life. It should give us a moment of pause to contemplate what that means to us.

Purim is a celebration—not only of Judaism—but also of Jews. Haman wanted to destroy us simply because we are Jews, therefore, victory is achieved when we love and respect each other for the same reason. Purim is a celebration of thinking beyond ourselves—of worrying for the poor, brokenhearted and underprivileged. It’s a day to remember the incredible selflessness of Esther on behalf of her people, and that we must strive to achieve that selflessness as well.

But, many of us never have a chance to focus on the essence of the day, because the day is so fleeting and we are distracted by the bubble-wrap—the costumes, themes of shalach manos and what kind of wine to drink during the meal. All of those things have their place, and I surely do not mean to demean or mock the enjoyment of the day or the bringing of smiles to others through clever shalach manos and costumes. But, we need to go beyond the bubble-wrap to find the true gift that is inside the external wrappings.

Rav Shimshon Pincus, zt”l, would quip that Purim is known as a meshugana tog (a crazy day). We think it’s a “crazy day” because one can see a fellow dressed up like Mickey Mouse dancing with a rav or rosh yeshiva, or other such unusual sights. But, it’s a crazy day for a much more profound reason. Normally, there is an exacting progression one must follow to achieve personal growth and closeness with God. But on Purim, the gates of heaven are wide open and our prayers ascend uninhibitedly, allowing us to ascertain incredible blessings for ourselves and Klal Yisroel. The growth one can achieve on Purim is “crazy,” it defies the norm.

On this great holiday of unity and closeness, may we all take advantage and appreciate the true essence of this special day, and merit all of the blessings we all need and hope for, including the ultimate blessing. May the Hamans of our time swing freely as their evil predecessor did—in those days—at this time.


Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW, is a popular speaker and author. He is a rebbe in Heichal HaTorah in Teaneck, NJ, and an experienced therapist, recently returning to seeing clients in private practice, as part of the Rockland CBT group. For appointments Rabbi Staum can be reached at 914-295-0115. Looking for an inspirational and motivating speaker or scholar-in-residence? Contact Rabbi Staum for a unique speaking experience. Rabbi Staum can be reached at [email protected]. Archives of his writings can be found at www.stamtorah.info.

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