Reflecting on Purim’s Lessons

When Hashem taught Moshe the Torah, He gave Moshe time to pause and reflect on what he was told: these are manifested in the breaks and spaces in the Sefer Torah, which are part of our Mesorah, the transmission we have about how to write them. When we experience things, especially times of importance like holidays, it behooves us to pause and reflect on them. We should consider why we saw or heard what we did, and what we can take away from the experience. What does Hashem want us to walk away with and incorporate into our lives? This, incidentally, is the purpose of all of my columns; sharing with you, my dear reader, the thoughts I have on what I’ve witnessed.

Now that Purim is over and Pesach is on the horizon, it would be all too easy to just put Purim in the rearview mirror and speed off to our next destination, instead of internalizing the messages of Purim. Hence, my plan to pause and share a concept I thought about over this past Yom Tov of Purim.

Humor and Nuance in Purim Observance

Someone sent me a joke that I thought was quite humorous. “A Yeshiva Administrator opened a donation envelope. Inside was a note which read, “In lieu of a donation, I sent Mishloach Manos to all my friends.”” [end of joke.] For those who might not get it, I will explain. It will not be funny anymore, but it will thankfully still make my point.

The mitzvos between Man and Hashem are fantastic, but they don’t outweigh those between Man and Man. On the contrary, we find many examples where Hashem preferred we take care of each other than try to serve Him. When supporting the poor is less about helping them and more about “serving Hashem through tzedaka,” I think we’ve missed the point.

Understanding the True Essence of Mishloach Manot

When you give a donation, “in my honor” to a charity you wish to support, it seems like you didn’t think about me. While it’s true that the Rambam, among others, has said one should rather increase his expenditures on Matanos L’Evyonim rather than spend on his Purim Seudah or Mishloach Manos, let’s not forget that these mitzvos were instituted for a reason. If a person gave $1000 to a Kollel and then gave out cards saying a donation has been made, he has done a great mitzvah, but he has not fulfilled the mitzvah of Mishloach Manos. He wanted to support that organization, and used me as an excuse to do it.

Building Relationships and Unity on Purim

Purim is supposed to remind us to be NICE to each other, to build relationships amongst people and develop unity. That is what Hashem wants from us, and if He got a letter like that Administrator did, instead of being upset, I think it would make Hashem smile with all the cheer of someone opening an exquisite gift, because for Him, that’s exactly what it is.

By Rabbi Jonathan Gewirtz

Rabbi Gewirtz (Operation Inspiration) welcomes comments and feedback. Write to him at to share your thoughts. You never know when you may be the lamp that enlightens someone else.

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