To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with. -- Mark Twain.
Purim is one of the happiest days of the Jewish calendar. Usually, it is characterised by revelry, parties, food gifts, remembering the miracles of long ago, and most importantly, giving alms to the poor. This year that is as true as ever; however, we celebrate in the pall of a tragedy, the biggest land war in European history since World War 2, and with it the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since the Shoah. Furthermore, Ukraine is home to hundreds of thousands of Jews. In such a time, the manner of our celebration changes. The Rambam taught us many years ago that: A person should be more liberal with his donations to the poor than lavish in preparing the Purim feast or sending portions to his friends, for there is no greater and more splendid happiness than to gladden the hearts of the poor, the orphans, the widows. For us, having fun is as much about helping others as it is about what we put on for ourselves. So, as I did yesterday, I encourage everyone to prioritise giving charity to the people of Ukraine this year, particularly the Jews. It remains essential to fulfil the four main mitzvot of Purim (below) and to have a good time. Nevertheless, this year part of that rejoicing must be doing what we can to save those who stand in grave peril.