Purim is over, but its sweet taste is still lingering.
In Yerushalayim we celebrated Purim on Friday. Between rushing home from megillah reading, sending mishloach manos, and setting the table for the se’udah, the spare arm that every Jewish woman has at her disposal was busy cooking and preparing for the upcoming Shabbos!
I was reminded of the humorous reply to the commonly-asked question, “Why is Sukkos celebrated in Tishrei when the sukkos in the midbar were erected in Nissan?” The answer: That’s all we need on Erev Pesach – to be busy building a sukkah!
In any case, it worked. By the time Shabbos arrived we were ready to welcome the Queen.
Every chag is special, and Purim is no exception. If a person opens his eyes and ears, he becomes exposed to a wealth of vignettes, one more captivating than the other. Here are some I noticed.
In the city of Elad, located a quarter of an hour from Bnei Brak, there was an outburst of limud haTorah on Purim evening. A donor from overseas pledged to give a substantial amount of money if no fewer than 500 yungeleit united in one beis medrash studied Torah for five hours straight.
So, on Wednesday night, after megillah reading, 500 young men gathered for a seder that started at 9 p.m. and lasted until 2 a.m. The beis medrash was full; the kol Torah carried far. I wonder if the donor himself appreciated the impact and power of his initiative. Impressive is an understatement. The walls shook.
Another impressive Purim happening I was privy to relates to matonos la’evyonim. Many organizations promise to distribute funds on Purim so that donors can fulfill the mitzvah of matonos la’evyonim through them. The problem is that many Jews who live outside Eretz Yisrael start or end Purim at a different time since they live in different time zones. How, then, to ensure, that they are properly giving matanos la’evyonim “bo bayom”?
What if their donations come in after Purim in Israel? And even if they come in while it is still Purim in Israel, how does an organization properly distribute funds when money is constantly coming in? What if one gives too little? Or too much?
Words are insufficient to describe the intensity of the process. But allow me to lift the corner of the curtain, at least partially. At first, the organizations make a rough projection of how much money will be raised. The next step is purchasing a loan for that amount. Then, envelopes addressed to needy families are prepared and people are asked to present themselves at specific addresses at specific times, carefully calculated so that it is Purim both in Israel and in the country from which the money came.
During Purim day, telephone calls from around the world start pouring in with reports of collected amounts. With a finger on the pulse, totals are adjusted according to the reported figures. Envelopes are distributed while an equilibrium is calculated between incoming and outgoing amounts, with the organizations making sure not to give too much while also making sure not to be left with a remainder.
It’s a delicate, daring undertaking. The people who run the operation are unrecognized idealists, devoting the day to Klal Yisrael, relinquishing spending Purim “en famille” at their own joyful table to serve the common cause of cheering up other families.
But then again, Hashem promises us, “Im ata mesameach et sheli – If you gladden mine, ani mesameach et shelchah – I will gladden yours.”