Thursday, March 31, 2016


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Shemini/Parah
22 Adar II 5776/ April 1, 2016

Our Sages relate that the Torah is concerned with the money of the Jewish people. I feel that this is readily apparent from the fact that each holiday uniquely benefits certain vocations.
Rosh Hashanah gives a boost to beekeepers and ensures that we take interest in the worrisome loss of bee colonies in recent years. Succos helps the lumberyards, sellers of the Four Species, and photographers who sell pictures to decorate succos. Chanukah and its donuts and latkes is the holiday of cardiologists, while Tu B’shvat gives focus to the arbor societies and fruit sellers. Pesach benefits Manischewitz, Streits, and Shatzer, while Shavuos is for Tenuva, Haolam, and the other dairy companies. Aside for the obvious boon for wineries, Purim and Simchas Torah help ensure that dentists have plenty of business, as they seek to maintain and repair candy-filled teeth. 
The Megillah relates that although in Mordechai’s counter-decree the Jews had permission to seize the loot of their enemies, when the Jews actually took revenge against their enemies, they did not do so. They wanted to demonstrate that their sole motive was to fight for their physical survival and spiritual freedom, and were not motivated by avarice or wealth.
We compensate for their altruism, because as soon as Purim is over our children gather to divvy up their shalach manos loot. I don’t know about anyone else’s home, but in the Staum house dividing the spoils of shalach manos is serious business. After the dividing process, we spend the next few weeks helplessly watching as our children pull sugar packets and all sorts of nosh out of their pockets at any time, and furtively stick it into their mouths. All of our protests are met with claims of “But it’s mine!”
More important than all of the loot is for our children to understand the real essence of the day and the real ‘Purim loot’ which we treasure.
When I asked my fifth grade class why we give shalach manos on Purim, one of them replied, “So that our friend gives us back!” The poor kid had to listen to a harangue from his rebbe about how much of a misunderstanding that is about this noble mitzvah, whose primary purpose is to demonstrate our friendship to each other. [There is another opinion that it is to provide each other with provisions for the Purim Seudah.]
Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer once quipped that because the true essence of shalach manos is to increase feelings of camaraderie and friendship, we should really seek to give primarily to those we don’t like so much or have had squabbles with. But, he added, today if you don’t give a friend he becomes your enemy, so it ends up that you have to give your friends anyway.
The gemara states that in a leap year we celebrate Purim in the second Adar in order to juxtapose the redemption of Purim with the redemption of Pesach.
Redemption only occurs when there is a heightened sense of fraternity and unity. Just prior to the exodus from Egypt when the Jewish People offered the Korbon Pesach, they did so as groups and as families. We need to maintain the love and connection we felt towards each other on Purim as we progress towards the great Yom Tov of Pesach in a few weeks.
And that is the ultimate loot, which we can all share in perfect peace and happiness.

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

            R’ Dani and Chani Staum