What so many of us know about the holiday of Purim is what we can remember from the reading of the Megilah, getting to scream and yell in Synagogue, and, well, getting really…really….lit. Nothing like a Jewish holiday where we are actually supposed to get drunk and party. Yes. It’s the Jewish Mardi Gras.
All of that is amazing, fun and good.
But there is another tradition of Purim that I think we should all be talking about and more importantly DOING: Mishloach Manot (aka Shalach Manot).
Simply, this mitzvah is about the giving of two kinds of food gifts to someone. Mostly now it seems to be about giving a couple of kinds of hamentaschen to your grandmother. But there is such a clearer, deeper reason for this. Purim falls just as the winter is coming to an end. The time when in another era, in an agrarian culture, many people would be wondering if they would make it to spring. The time of year when the root cellar would be down to the last of its stock and only the meagerest of offerings were coming out of the earth.
We think this is a thing of the past, but for those who are socio-economically disadvantaged — aka poor — this is a hard time of year. Over the “winter gift giving holidays” people do things like donate food and money to food pantries and other charities that help feed people. This time of year, food pantries begin to struggle. “Seasonal” work that supports so many working poor, is at its slowest — whether that is retail, construction, or farming.
Adar is supposed to be a month of increasing joy. What if. What if. What if?
What if all of us who can afford it share just a little bit with those that can’t and increase their joy? I’m talking specifically through food. Whether it’s a donation to a food pantry of two kinds of soups, home baked goods that you take to senior center, or just that surprise package you send to grandma. Purim is a holiday of revealing the hidden. The issues around food justice are a hidden ill of our society. Let’s use our amazing, fun, celebratory holiday to do something about this.
What do you say?