Monday, March 13, 2006

Purim Table Talk

Wondering how to get yourself and family into the Purim mood? Get yourself down to Starbucks, where you can now get Hamentaschen-flavored coffee, just for Purim. Starbucks announced that the special flavor would only be available in participating locations, and only on the day of Purim.

Also newsworthy, Google has announced that, in partnership with an enterprising Rabbi in Silicon Valley, they will soon launch the first on-line circumcision service. Called gMOIL, the service will be available to both men and women alike and will be, for the time being, a free service.

OK, those were really bad, sorry. All in the Purim spirit. But quite seriously – how does a busy person get himself or herself or the kids into a proper Purim spirit? Here’s a secret that few people know.

While for most of us Purim - if we observe it at all - is all about the Megilla-reading and the costumes, and to a lesser extent on the festive meal (and liquor), 1,000 years ago Maimonides’s gave the following amazing perspective: while it's always nice to do any mitzvah better, on Purim in particular if one is going to do more than the minimal, it is best to increase money to the poor.

But why? We give tzeddaka all year long – why especially increase it on Purim? Listen to his reason: the main goal of Purim is to be happy – really very happy – and the thing that creates the most joy is to help someone who's down - a poor person, an orphan, a widow, a new immigrant.

The problem is, many of us don’t know where to find such people (at least, those of us who don’t drive through San Francisco)... For that reason, some thoughtful people have created avenues to give, where you can be sure your tzeddaka is going to the very neediest. Here are two links:

The idea is to be extra generous on Purim, to give to anyone who opens up their hand. That’s Purim in a nutshell, the rest is commentary.

Happy Purim.


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