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Dvar Torah - Vayikra - Shabbat Zachor

Updated: Mar 20

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. 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 what we put on for ourselves. So, I encourage everyone to prioritise giving charity over staging major parties, giving Mishloach Manot, or even (gasp) dressing up. 

In general, the central mitzvot of Purim are:

  • Reading the Megillah - Each Jewish man and woman must hear the Megillah read at night and during the day. The mitzvah is to commemorate Purim's miracles, remember that Hashem always watches over us, and publicise the miracle to others. Every word should be read out of a kosher Megillah scroll. We will have readings conducted at Shule on Saturday night after the end of Shabbat (service starts at 8:06 pm), Sunday morning (service begins at 8:30 am), and at our event in Dendy park. (between 1 and 3 pm)

  • Mishloach Manot - Giving a food package to another Jew. The mitzvah aims to bring a feeling of community, happiness and friendship to the Jewish community. Two different ready-to-eat food items must be given to another Jewish person outside your household. We’re meant to feel closer to each other. Mishloach manot will make that happen.

  • Alms - it is incumbent on each of us to give two poor people either two meals or enough to purchase two full meals (one meal for each person) on Purim day. You may send the money via messenger if you do not know someone who needs alms. We will collect money to donate to Melbourne Jewish Charity Fund to be distributed on Purim day from anyone who would like to participate at our function at Dendy Park on Tuesday. You may also donate through the office or the rabbi. As noted above, Jewish celebration is incomplete without making others happy as well, especially those most vulnerable. While I am loathe to rate mitzvah based on their importance, this is undoubtedly the mitzvah of Purim which requires the most stress and which should receive the greatest outlay. 

  • Festive Meal - On Purim, we celebrate! You should have a meal full of foods that you enjoy, and it should include bread. It is customary to drink slightly more alcohol than you usually have. Having said that, the mitzvah on Purim is to drink slightly more, not to get drunk, and I strongly recommend against any drunkenness on the day. It is especially important to be mindful of the limitations of those around us. If someone does not want to drink or is under 18, do not offer them alcohol. There are many valid reasons to abstain, and nobody should be asked to explain that choice or made to feel uncomfortable because of it.


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