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September 3, 2015 / 19 Elul, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Shushan Purim’

Keeping Haredim Excited About Torah

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Many of us have heard about the books and stories coming from those who grew up haredi (ultra-orthodox), but have since adopted a modern lifestyle. But while we are rightfully concerned when these tales make headlines, in order to change the situation for the better, it is in our best interest to find new ways to infuse life and vitality into observant life; a vitality that is enduring unlike the fleeting temporarily of secular experience.

A Purim Tale

Being both highly sensitive and introverted has made living in major cities challenging. But while each and every outdoor adventure is a “stethoscope to the world” experience, this challenge also carries great potential.

It is because of this sensitivity that a story from Shushan Purim a few weeks back stuck with me. It occurred not long after my family and I moved into an apartment in Jerusalem.

The Happy Collector

When I arrived to pray and hear the megillah Shushan Purim morning, there was a collector there that stood out because of his exuberance. It is a mitzvah to give charity to the poor on Purim* day, so there he was with his basket in hand ready to collect. But there were two things different about this gentleman. The first, as mentioned, was that he was in a happy, exuberant mood. The second was that he was exclaiming that giving charity to him was an ultra-fulfillment of the mitzvah.

Now you can imagine the thought that came to mind: It is a mitzvah to give to anyone who is needy. So how exactly would giving to him be any better?

Then during prayer I received my answer. There he was again, still exuberant as ever, running around with his charity basket and … his son in tow.

That morning a father had two options. Either he could go to synagogue and collect quietly, perhaps even leaving his son at home so he shouldn’t remember Purim as the time when his father asks for charity all day. Or he could inject a healthy dose of folly, a holy spirit of folly, and make sure that even though he still had to collect, Purim should still remain an enjoyable one for him and his son.

Non-Obligatory Novelties

The thought then occurred to me: While technically giving charity to this man fulfilled the obligation like any Jewish person in need, something extra special did come from his happy behavior. That even in the face of adversity and challenge, he found a way to both remain happy himself and bring enjoyment to his son on Purim.

According to the Avnei Nezer, a child who does not know how to perform the hidur (beautification) of a mitzvah is not required to do so. For instance, whereas a child is not obligated to perform the hidur of shaking the lulav (the mitzvah is to hold it); nevertheless it is praiseworthy to teach the child to shake in order to appreciate the inner (non-obligated) life and soul of the mitzvah (see the full explanation here).

While giving charity to this father was legally the same as giving to any other person in need, through his decision to make the day happy for himself and his son, we learn a great lesson in education. Thinking back to that Purim day, his son will remember the fact that he and his father managed to enjoy a Purim during those difficult times, not whether the reasons his father gave were rational.

Teaching Novelty in Education

We started this article on how to market Torah to haredim with this story because it captures the life and exuberance that every educator should have when instructing a classroom of students.

We brought an extreme case to show that even marketing tactics can be praiseworthy under certain pressing circumstances. How much more so then in the case of an established hidur, whereby we teach it (e.g., to shake the lulav) to the child even though he is not yet obligated.

But the life of the mitzvot change from generation to generation. Therefore, a true educator has to be attuned to the new hidurim that give life and exuberance to the act of learning and performing these mitzvot.

For instance, in our generation we have been given the opportunity to learn Torah with its mathematics, the triangles and squares in the Torah. This imparts a tremendous sense of fun and enjoyment to learning Torah. Like a hidur (e.g., shaking the lulav) not knowing the Torah’s math doesn’t detract from the mitzvah of learning Torah. The child could make do with just learning the Mishnah and Talmud.

If the Torah’s math is not learnt in a particular cheder or yeshivah, they don’t have to do strange things in order to introduce it, but it’s certainly too bad, because the hidur, this way of learning, is what gives a lot of life and novelty to the learning, (for example, see our mathematical analysis of the Haggadah song, Who Knows One?).

Difference between Haredi and other Jewish Schools

Presumably both haredi and modern Jewish schools would be interested in learning the mathematics behind the Torah. What then is the difference between the two?

As explained in “When Torah Goes Viral” the marketing for modern environments is to explain the unification that is taking place between the Torah and the wisdom of the world (in our case, mathematics). So whereas the way to market Torah mathematics to haredi schools is to explain this concept of a non-obligatory hidur mitzvah, for more modern environments, the selling point is the unification taking place between these two seemingly disparate worlds.

For example, so far there are over 9,000 views of this class given at a modern orthodox high school on Torah and mathematics. Notice that during the class, Rabbi Ginsburgh assumes that the students already know what algebraic expressions are. The novelty that we present to these children then is that the Torah relates to the algebra, geometry, etc… that they have already been learning. So too, when marketing to modern audiences outside the classroom, we continue along this path by asking whether they would like to know the Torah behind E=MC2, Pythagorean Triples, Pi, Euler’s Theorem, Golden Ratio, and so on …

But haredi audiences don’t know what any of these things are. For example, instead of the Fibonacci sequence, we can begin by calling it by its more accurate name (the “love series of numbers”). While the content is the same, what changes is the approach.

A Call to These “Wayward” Youth

For instance, now that these formerly haredi youths have entered the modern world it may be more appropriate to reach out to them with unifications instead of hidurim. As mentioned, teaching hidurim should begin from a young age, even before they are obligated. But now that this child has presumably entered or passed adolescence, and has studied something in university or from popular books, we should now reach out to them with the second approach.

*For simplicity, I will continue to refer to the day of the story as Purim, even though this was Shushan Purim, the day when the megillah is read in Jerusalem.

Police Let Women Read Megillah at Kotel on Shushan Purim

Monday, February 25th, 2013

A women’s Megillah reading at the Western Wall took place on Shushan Purim without incident or arrests on Monday, the day after most of Israel and the rest of the Jewish world celebrated Purim.

Approximately 80 women turned out, some donning prayer shawls, others dressed as police and Haredi Orthodox worshipers, on Monday morning in Jerusalem, the Times of Israel reported.

Hallel Silverman, the 17-year-old niece of American comedian Sarah Silverman and who was arrested two weeks ago during Rosh Chodesh prayers, participated in the Megillah reading dressed in striped prison garb, Two of her younger siblings dressed as police officers leading her by handcuffs.

Israeli police have made nearly monthly arrests related to dress code violations since June related to the Women of the Wall’s monthly Rosh Chodesh service.

In 2003, Israel’s Supreme Court upheld a government ban on women wearing tefillin or tallit, prayer shawls, or reading from a Torah scroll at the Wall. The court later ruled the women can do so on Rosh Chodesh at the southern part of the Western Wall, which is less frequented.

Police Let Sarah Silverman’s Niece Visit Western Wall on Purim

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Police have agreed to allow the niece of American comedian Sarah Silverman will be allowed to attend a women’s Megillah reading at the Western Wall despite being banned from the site.

Hallel Abramowitz Silverman, 17, was one of 10 female worshipers arrested for wearing prayer shawls during a women’s Rosh Chodesh prayer service at the Western Wall earlier this month. Her mother, Rabbi Susan Abramowitz Silverman, also was arrested.

The women were released on condition that they not visit the site for 15 days and were required by police to sign a document agreeing to the condition.

After realizing she would not be able to attend the Women of the Wall organization’s women’s Megillah reading at the Kotel because of the restriction, the younger Silverman went to the Old City of Jerusalem police station and presented a letter to request an exception to the ban. She arrived with her lawyer and her father.

Police agreed to allow her to visit the Western Wall on Shushan Purim in Jerusalem  Sunday night and Monday, one day after the Purim holiday is celebrated in most other places.

“I wasn’t going to sign, but my mom had a flight leaving in a few hours, and we were afraid there would be complications and she would miss her flight,” she told Haaretz. “Plus, I was nervous. After all, I am 17 years old and I was being held in a police station.

“I was feeling so pressured, I didn’t realize it would mean missing the Megillah,” she told the newspaper. “If I had really understood this, I don’t know if I would have signed.”

Parshas Ki Tissa

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Vol. LXIII No. 10                                     5772

 

New York City

CANDLE LIGHTING TIME

March 9, 2012 – 15 Adar, 5772

5:37 p.m. NYC E.S.T.

 

Sabbath Ends: 6:43 p.m. NYC E.S.T.

Weekly Reading: Ki Tissa

Weekly Haftara: Va’yehi Yamim Rabbim (I Kings 18:1-39)

Daf Yomi: Temurah 23

Mishna Yomit: Ta’anis 1:7 – 2:1

Halacha Yomit: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 25:13 – 26:2

Rambam Yomi: Hilchos Yesodei ha’Torah ch. 7-9

Earliest time for Tallis and Tefillin: 5:23 a.m. NYC E.S.T.

Latest Kerias Shema: 9:12 a.m. NYC E.S.T.

Today is Shushan Purim we do not say Tachanun nor do we say Lame’natze’ach. We continue with some of the joyous festivities of Purim. This Motza’ei Shabbos (Sunday morning) at 2:00 a.m. we resume daylight savings time. We set our clocks forward one hour.

A Candyless Purim?

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

If the phrase mishloach manos conjures up dreaded images of piles of sugar laden treats that no one wants to eat cluttering every available horizontal surface just weeks before Pesach, chances are that this is one part of the happiest of Yomim Tovim that you are not looking forward to. I find it hard to believe that endless stacks of broken foil wrapped wafers, rolls of paste, colored winky candies and cloudy grape juice bottles of dubious vintage have any bearing on the mitzvah of mishloach manos.

It seems to me that many people spend countless hours obsessing over a theme for their mishloach manos, possibly even one that matches the entire family’s carefully coordinated Purim costumes. Chinese themed mishloach manos. An all purple mishloach manos. Beach themed mishloach manos. Over the years I have gotten some pretty creative packages from some very clearly talented people. However, I can’t help but wonder if it might be a good idea to focus less on what goes with “the theme” and more on what people actually want to receive.

Of course, by doing that you open up a veritable Pandora’s box. Do any of us really have time to prepare a customized mishloach manos for every person on our list? I can only imagine what that would entail. Low-fat foods for my parents. Low calorie foods for my cousin in Queens. Exclusively organic food for one neighbor. One hundred percent nut free for another. All chocolate for my sister, with nothing chocolate for her husband. Lots of gum for one friend. No gum at all for my sister-in-law. The list goes on and on and doesn’t even begin to cover teachers, rabbeim and others whose food preferences are completely foreign to you.

So how to come up with mishloach manos that people will be happy to receive?

First and foremost, think outside the box. If you are over the age of ten, is there any reason to associate mishloach manos with candy? Think of foods that people like and more importantly, that present nicely, are easy to prepare and can either be assembled in advance or put together at the last minute with minimal effort.

I know there are those who would disagree with me, but I am a big believer in sending actual food for mishloach manos. Picture your typical Purim. You spend the day either answering the door, delivering mishloach manos or escorting several children to numerous friend’s homes scattered all over your neighborhood. For me, there is nothing I appreciate more than real food showing up on my doorstep, which I can either serve on Purim, Shushan Purim when my kids are home from school, or can be stashed in my freezer for quick thawing in the hectic pre-Pesach days when I have neither time nor patience for cooking. As an added bonus, chances are good that any food you make yourself will be less costly than anything you buy in your local store.

I should warn you that I do know of people who immediately toss out any homemade food the minute it comes into their house. There are no hard and fast rules here and you will never please everyone, so try your best and hope your efforts are well received.

Over the years, we have experimented with numerous cooked foods that people seemed to welcome. (Or maybe they were just being polite when they told me how much they enjoyed them?) Among the things we have tried: bagels, cream cheese and lox, cold cut sandwiches with pickles and even a quart of my husband’s legendary cholent when Purim fell out on Friday. Other ideas were freezer friendly and could be made weeks in advance: cherry cobbler, small kugels and containers of soup, which when paired with an inexpensive mini bottle of schnapps, made for a nice presentation, if I do say so myself. A word of caution: If you are sending perishable food items, make sure the recipient knows that the item requires refrigeration. It is such a waste to find a great looking pastrami sandwich lurking in someone’s mishloach manos at 11:00p.m. and having to throw it out because it has been sitting on your dining room table for the past ten hours.

Of course, there may be people for whom you may feel the need to prepare something special and personal. Your parents. The machatanim. Your married children. But chances are you know their preferences, which means that, hopefully, they will welcome your offering with open arms.

If you find the concept of making everything from scratch daunting, try stocking up on bulk dried fruits and nuts, many of which will likely be on sale at your local kosher fruit store in honor of Tu B’Shvat. Bag them yourself in pretty cellophane bags, tie them up with some decorative ribbon or a small silk flower and they will look as good as they taste.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/potpourri/a-candyless-purim/2012/02/03/

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