July 13, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
July 13, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Bring Back the Spirit of Purim

I think we might have killed off Purim. The spirit of the chag has been lost and it’s time to fight to get it back. Please hear me out for a few minutes. I am petitioning the community to initiate a change. Purim has become a huge burden and we need to agree to stop the madness and keep it simple and joyful!

Let’s break it down…

Finances first: Purim got to be outrageously expensive. We pay hundreds of dollars to send mishloach manot through the shuls and schools, then we spend additional hundreds of dollars making an absurd amount of bags for not just our friends and neighbors, but also for our kids’ friends. Even if you shop at Amazing Savings and Costco to try to keep the cost down, it’s impossible and really shouldn’t be necessary. There are many in this community who struggle financially and live paycheck to paycheck. Even if finances aren’t an issue, no one should feel obligated to endure this extra expense. Not in the spirit of the chag!

Next up: time commitment. Most of us have very full lives. We work, we carpool, after-school activities, cooking, cleaning, homework, volunteering, a bit of socializing. Repeat. So here comes Purim, a one-day joyful chag that should be spent fulfilling the mitzvot and enjoying. Instead we spend a ridiculous number of hours pre-Purim planning, shopping and putting together bags. Hundreds of bags. (Who has time for this?) And of course then we need to label them, schlep them to the car and then on Purim day we spend hours of time in a car trying to navigate through the streets delivering them when instead we should be spending that precious time off from work celebrating with family and friends. It’s a shame to come to your seudah already exhausted and with a headache from all the honking. Let’s not lose sight of the forest for the trees!

Lastly: social pressure. This is a true example of keeping up with the Joneses. First there is a Purim list. Everyone knows that very important list: names of lucky friends and family who will get one of your hundreds of mishloach manot. What happens if you don’t get one back from everyone on your list? Yes, people really do check, keep track, and then modify the list accordingly for the following year. Then the confusion and hurt feelings surface. One can’t help but think about why you might have gotten the mishloach manot snub! You try to put aside the sadness, feelings of rejection and/or anger but inevitably it’s brewing the rest of the day and leaves you feeling unsettled. This is always exacerbated for a child who gets excluded. For a holiday with mitzvot that are meant to bring us closer together, let’s not have it cause any hurtfulness or chas v’shalom tear us apart!

Our community is filled with amazing talent! As a result, we always have very creatively themed mishloach manot. Kudos to all of you out there who have the time, patience, and attention to detail to whip up a beautifully presented shticky mishloach manot that will even include a fun haiku or rhyming story. Not all of us can pull this off, and many feel the pressure to have to. Some even try to outdo what they received last year as if there is actually some competition going on. Please save your talents and show it all off when you are planning a simcha!

Then there is always the baked goods dilemma. Yep, I am going there. Some of us bake, and others, like myself, well…don’t. Be grateful! Some people think that if they haven’t set aside time to bake hamantashen they are somewhat less competent, committed or enthusiastic than others. Well, here goes the truth. You ready? In most homes there is a rule: any baked goods that get received are immediately thrown into the garbage because no one really knows if a 2-year-old helped bake it and the risk isn’t worth it! I told you I was going there. For those who bake, more power to you and enjoy it! Maybe enjoy it at your seudah and not feel pressure to give a taste to 126 of your closest friends.

Proposed solution: Continue to give to community members, rebbeim, teachers and friends through the shuls and schools because it’s a fundraiser. If you are so inclined and able to, send cards to those who are important to you because it’s also tzedakah. Maybe moving forward we can all be yotzi the actual mitzvah by giving two food items that will either contribute to the day’s seudah or to those in need who will truly appreciate it. And here is an idea for your kids’ friend group or friends at school. Have each child make one nicer mishloach manot and cap it at $15/20. Then have everyone meet at one location and do a grab bag. This way each child only goes home with one nicer mishloach manot, everyone had the opportunity to wish each other chag sameach and hang for a bit, and most importantly, everyone feels included! This is way better than packing 30 bags, taking home 30 different bags, and then sorting through all of it while taking them apart. Side note: The food, which is always mostly candy, is unhealthy, and who needs all of this in the house before Pesach! It’s a huge waste!

Bottom line: What’s going on right now with Purim really needs to be modified. Let’s get back to the honest core of Purim and give because it’s in the spirit of this wonderful holiday and not feel the pressure to go way above and beyond! It’s an opportunity for us and our children to practice not being wasteful and excessive.

Overall, let’s try to be more mindful in regard to the true lessons from Purim. Let’s talk about Esther’s bravery and how we as Jews have always been hated and envied, always have faced adversity, and somehow with the strength and protection from Hashem have always been triumphant and live to tell about it. We need everyone to get on board and I am asking the community rabbanim to encourage this change. Safe and joyful Purim to all. Chag sameach!

#BringBackPurim!

Michelle Kohn
Bergenfield
Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles