June 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Gallows Humor With Ernst & Julio

I woke up last Shabbos and my rabbi was talking about how the Sages teach that, on Purim, we as a people initiated a new acceptance of the Torah, as a whole, without coercion—kimu v’kiblu.

He then asked why the Jews would all of a sudden agree to something on Purim that they did not agree to before. Really, Rabbi? That’s pretty much what Purim in my house is all about. In fact, my wife saves all her redecorating questions to ask me on Purim… “Was I consulted about that new ottoman, wallpaper or decorative lampshade?” “Yup. On Purim,” “…Sure… right…now I remember…”

Last year, my scandalized neighbor disdainfully asked how I can get drunk on Purim. I told her that I did so by consuming large amounts of alcohol. Seems like I wasn’t the only one out of sorts last Purim, if you know what I mean.

My rabbi, who evidently would also not make for an ideal drinking buddy on Purim, recently asked how a person can daven Mincha when he is drunk. Watch me, Rabbi. Watch me.

I don’t want you, the undoubtedly refined reader of The Jewish Link, to get the wrong idea. I work hard to maintain a certain level of decorum in my house throughout the holiday. I’m all about keepin’ it classy.

This year, I suggested to my daughter that we make our mishloach manot stand out by writing the cards in cursive. She responded that she’s pretty sure that’s against the Torah.

Also, every year I make a point of reminding my children in no uncertain terms that if someone gives you a hamantash and you bite into it and find it is not to your liking, it is both inappropriate and offensive to repeatedly spit the pieces out, extend your tongue out of your mouth to scrape any residual residue off and make exaggerated gagging sounds—unless, of course, the hamantash was lekvar.

I will admit, however, that people can go too far with drinking on Purim. As a public service and cornerstone of my “Know When to Say Baruch Whatshisname” campaign, I will present some of the signs that a person has had enough to drink on Purim:

“These poppy seed hamantashen are delicious.”

“Hey, what did Haman ever do to you?”

“I’m kinda disappointed we didn’t get more cut-up fruit in our mishloach manot.”

“I read this really compelling piece in The Jewish Link.”

“I may be drunk, but you are ugly; tomorrow I’ll be sober and you will probably make me regret having talked to my kids’ principal this way.”

As a further service to the community, in case you are reading this on Purim itself, I will now offer some sobering thoughts.

I don’t know about you, but I get way too many emails from organizations I am affiliated with as well as organizations I once considered becoming affiliated with, but ironically did not because of the volume of emails they send out. I’ll give you a for instance.

Just before Purim, I got an email from my shul asking me to sign up for the shul mishloach manot or, as I like to call it, “mini yard sale wrapped in cellophane.”

I then got a follow-up email from the shul informing me that should someone not come to the shul to claim his or her mishloach manot, said mishloach manot would be donated to local poor people.

Shortly thereafter, I received an email from the local poor people encouraging everyone to please pick their mishloach manot up from the shul.

Talk about email overload… My kids’ school recently had a mandatory presentation on bullying. I must tell you, though, that between the constant emails and the threats of repercussions if at least one parent didn’t attend, I felt their repeated aggressive behavior and the power imbalance it presented to be more than a little intimidating.

In the end, I am glad that I went, though. After attending, I went right up to the person who had given the “healthy living” seminar the week before, took a deep breath, and told him that I would not in fact be incorporating kale into my diet no matter how many pictures of his supper or smiling children he may send me.

Some people do not like Purim, but I love it, or at least the parts I vaguely remember about it. My boss keeps complaining that there are too many Jewish holidays. For my part, I don’t think there are nearly enough (and that’s including the ones I made up). I see that others share my view and have taken to appropriating other significant days. Black Friday, aka “Thanksgiving Isru Chag” is well on its way to becoming an established festival in my neighborhood. In one shul, they posted that for everyone who prayed at the early minyan the day after Thanksgiving, they were knocking 10 percent off of davening.

I don’t want you to think that I am shirking my journalistic responsibilities and ignoring one of the, if not the, major scandals that has so recently rocked our community. Many readers have written in, puzzled and somewhat dismayed, as to why I was passed over for the position of president of Yeshiva University. As you might have suspected, it was all a big misunderstanding. There were some items on my resume that, while clear to me, were misconstrued by the committee.

When I stated that I had been a “plant manager,” what I meant was that I had done some house sitting for my neighbors when they went away on vacation. My having “opened for the Maccabeats” was a clear reference to the time when we both arrived at the school auditorium at the same time and I graciously, with the good middot befitting a manhig b’Yisrael, I might add, held the door. As for my previously held positions, I honestly thought I had achieved the rank of four-star general in Tzivos Hashem. Who knew they kept records? Then, of course, there is the committee’s stated reason for my being passed over, the proverbial nail in my professional coffin: The reason they felt I would simply not be taken seriously or perceived as trustworthy, paradoxically the one line of the document that was completely true and accurate—was my writing for The Link.

Happy Purim.

By Neil Kinderlauer

 

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