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February 2013

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I get a lot of questions around Purim, and I don’t always have a chance to answer them all. So let’s get started:

Dear Mordechai,

How come all year long my rabbi talks about giving, giving, giving, but then before Purim, he tells everyone not to give out too many mishloach manos?

Don Shopping

Dear Don,

Maybe it’s because absolutely everyone in the shul feels like they have to give the rabbi, and the rabbi, as a rule, doesn’t eat anyone else’s food to begin with.

For the rest of us, though, it’s not so easy to just stop giving to people. Yeah, officially you just have to give one person, but everyone you know is going to be offended if they’re not your one person. No one gets offended if they’re not their rabbi’s one person.

Dear Mordechai,

So should I knock people off my list, then?

Dear Don,

That was quick.

Every year, my wife and I try to knock people off our list, because we just keep meeting more and more people, and no one we know is dying, baruch Hashem.

But the thing is, every time we try to knock people off our list – people we haven’t spoken to since last Purim and who we don’t think would be offended that they’re not our one person — those very people specifically come over and give us mishloach manos, and we have to put them right back on the list for next year. I have no idea how many people are having the same frustrations with us.

We’re close enough to be each other’s “one person,” but not close enough to just be honest with each other.

Dear Mordechai,

I’m wearing an inflatable costume, and am having a really hard time getting in and out of the car at every stop. Inflate, deflate, inflate, deflate. What do I do?

Losing it

Dear Losing,

Strap yourself to the roof, and hope the wind doesn’t catch you.

Dear Mordechai,

I bought bags for mishloach manos, and I put all the food in them, and they still look empty. What should I do?

Overestimated

Dear Overestimated,

I would suggest cutting off the top half of each bag and pretending that’s how big they are.

Dear Mordechai,

Yeah, but the handles are on the top half.

Dear Overestimated,

So just use the top half.

Dear Mordechai,

Yeah, but the part that holds all the food is the bottom half.

Dear Overestimated,

So why is that a problem?

Dear Mordechai,

I bought all this food.

Dear Overestimated,

Ok, here’s an idea: Make sure everything you put in the mishloach manos is very chometzdik. That way, all your recipients will say, “Well, at least he didn’t give us more.”

Alternatively, you can find something else that you can stick into each bag that isn’t expensive but takes up a lot of room. For example, I give out bags of potato chips, because there’s a big cushion of air already in there, and everyone knows that that isn’t my fault. What no one stops and thinks about is that the presence of the potato chips in the first place IS my fault.

And if you’re looking to give out something that is chometz AND takes up a lot of room, a lot of people go with tea biscuits.

Dear Mordechai,

For my Purim costume this year, I’m wearing my wife’s old sheitel. Are they always this itchy?

Blowing

Dear Blowing,

Maybe. But your wife usually plays with it for hours before she puts it on, while you stand around downstairs and look at your watch. Whereas you just took it out of a shoebox it’s been curled up in for several years and threw it on. So now it’s curling into your nose.

Dear Mordechai,

What are some creative costume ideas for someone who doesn’t want to dress up?

Mostly Ready

Dear Mostly,

Why would someone who doesn’t want to dress up need costume ideas?

Dear Mordechai,

It’s for my wife.

Dear Mostly,

Oh, ok. A lot of women don’t like to dress up, especially if their husbands are dressing up. Their job on Purim is more to stand around and look embarrassed.

But if you’re looking for a compromise, you can have her drive, and just dress up the car. For example, last year I was waddling around in my inflatable ballerina costume, with my wife about 75 feet behind me, which couldn’t have been easy, because I was waddling pretty slowly, and I passed a car that had gloves on its windshield wipers, waving back and forth. It looked like the car was waving at me. So I waved back. And my wife somehow got farther away. I think she physically slid backwards.

There are also companies now that sell things to stick on your car, like eyebrows, moustaches, etc., in case you want to give it some more personality.

Dear Mordechai,

My wife bought watermelon costumes on sale, so we decided to go with a watermelon theme for mishloach manos. We got watermelon sucking candies, watermelon taffies, and then we ran out of ideas. So we bought actual watermelons. How on earth am I supposed to carry a whole bunch of these around town, dressed as a watermelon?

Melon-colly

Dear Melon,

I don’t know. Strap yourself to the roof?

Dear Mordechai,

Do I have to give you mishloach manos?

Your chavrusah

Dear Your,

No. The truth is most people don’t really want to get mishloach manos. We just want to give. But the people we give will feel uncomfortable unless they can give us back. So we’re stuck in this whole awkward social thing, which is what the rabbis are trying to relieve. But on the other hand, we want to see each other on Purim and show off our car moustaches, and it’s weird to show up at someone’s house empty-handed, especially since we didn’t call before we came and we’re dressed as pirates and firemen. Sure, the yeshiva guys do it when they’re collecting, but there’s always one guy in each group of bochurim who, um, leaves a little something behind.

Dear Mordechai,

I just saw a car with a moustache drive by with a huge, screaming watermelon strapped to the roof rack. Should I stop drinking?

Still Sober

Dear Mordechai,

Someone I know gave me a gorgeous mishloach manos containing a grogger, a wind-up toy, some stickers, a twisty straw, a cute little notepad, and a pen. My question is, shouldn’t there be some food in there?

Still Fasting

Dear Still,

I don’t know. Maybe something’s edible. Start tasting things.

Dear Mordechai,

But I already heard the Megillah. Twice. What’s the grogger for?

Dear Still,

Breaking open watermelons.

Dear Mordechai,

I just woke up in a really bad neighborhood in a watermelon costume. Help! I think I need someone to pick me up.

Have a question for “You’re Asking Me?” I’m going to be out picking up a watermelon guy. Just leave it on the doorstep.

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Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/potpourri/february-2013/2013/02/08/

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