Photo Credit: Jodie Maoz

The newfound unwritten law that has evolved in recent years is that shalach manos delivered on Purim must have a theme. The theme must directly connect between the costumes worn and the contents of the shalach manos given.

In fulfillment of that ‘obligation’, a few years ago the Staum family had an equestrian theme. We donned our equestrian/horse jockey gear about two weeks before Purim and were photographed by a professional photographer. (The pictures are taken as a chesed in exchange for a check for tzedakah.) The photographer subsequently emailed the picture to my wife, who then forwarded it to a neighbor who superimposed us onto a background of a farm setting complete with a barn and horses. (Ironically, on Purim day itself, for various reasons, no member of the Staum family wore the jockey costume. We hold like those authorities who rule that as long as it is clear that you have a theme you fulfill your ‘theme obligation’, even if you don’t actually dress accordingly on Purim. Other authorities disagree. Please note that the purpose of this forum is not to issue any halachic rulings. Speak to your Rabbi.)


When we received the finished picture, my wife excitedly showed it to our children. Not familiar with the concept of superimposing a picture, our then five-year-old daughter Chayala looked at it and said, “I don’t remember being there!”

On Seder night we have an obligation to view ourselves as if we went out of Egypt.

Although the redemption happened over three thousand years ago, it has different meaning in every generation. The year after the miracle of Purim the Jews in Persia had a different appreciation of the exodus than the Jews in Babylonia did. In Rome 71 C.E. (the year after the second Bais HaMikdash was destroyed) it had different meaning than it did for the Jews in Spain 1493, and in Siberia or Auschwitz it had different meaning than it does for us in America and Eretz Yisrael today.

The story does not change, but we do, and therefore we never stop telling the story and learning its lessons.

Because the exodus from Egypt is what enabled us to become the Chosen People, it is not just a one-time, historical event, but something that has an effect on us forever. That was the night we realized our uniqueness, and every generation connects and recognizes that uniqueness in a different manner.

Every day at the end of Shema we state the verse “I am Hashem, your G-d, that took you out of the land of Egypt to be for you for a G-d. I am Hashem, your G-d.”

Rav Schwab, zt”l, explains that the words “I am Hashem, your G-d” are stated twice because they refer to two different manifestations of G-d’s connection with us. At times G-d’s Presence is clear and we can easily recognize the divine Hand guiding and protecting us. But throughout most of history G-d’s presence is harder to discern. In the words of Dovid HaMelech (Tehillim 91) “He, the most High, dwells in secret; in the shadow does G-d (Shakkai) dwell.”

In some generations we can easily see ourselves as if we were freed from Egypt. But more often than not in exile we have had to superimpose ourselves. We have had to remind ourselves that the exodus was an eternal event and granted us eternal freedom. Since that fateful event, despite endless physical pain and persecution, the Jewish spirit has never again been able to be vanquished.

This year our Seder experience will undoubtedly be different than in previous years. Although the story remains the same, we have changed and, therefore, our appreciation of those ancient events must change as well. The constant is that just as G-d redeemed us then, so He can and will again. The regal Seder night reinforces that feeling within us.


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Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW, is a popular speaker and author as well as a rebbe in Heichal HaTorah in Teaneck, NJ. He has recently begun seeing clients in private practice as part of the Rockland CBT group. For appointments and speaking engagements, contact 914-295-0115 or [email protected]. Archives of his writings can be found at