Instead of joining an exasperated press probing into prominent people's privacies, I will pursue celebrities like King Ahasuerus, Queen Esther and Vashti of Persia. I will serve a much greater purpose by presenting a better picture, or portrait, of the Megillah's principal personalities. It gives me the opportunity to report on the grand procession of Mordechai, Haman and his sons Parshandatha, Parmashta and Poratha, to name only three. Now, with the approach of Purim, I prefer to devote my expertise to promote the proper performance of the Purim procedures and its prerequisites.
Perhaps you are perplexed and perturbed why we make such a big production out of Purim, exaggerating it out of proportion to other projects or programs? Why must we twist ourselves into a pretzel with all this perennial Purim propaganda? I propose that this is precisely Purim's Problem. If Purim is not paramount in your mind, it probably needs more and better PR.
Purim represents the promise of Jewish perseverance under pressure and persecution. Although it transpired in Persia approximately 2,300 years ago, Purim is not an ancient anachronism, but part and parcel of the present. As the Baal Shem Tov paraphrased the Talmud: "One who reads the Megillah backwards has not fulfilled his obligation," for Purim is as current and contemporary as this newspaper.
Purim is pervaded by Divine Providence, as the Megillah prefaces with the Royal parties and profaning of the pure priestly vessels, the priceless perfumes, progressing with Mordechai's premonition of peril, and the evil oppression and persecution perpetrated by Persia's prejudiced premier, Haman, may he and all his conspirators perish. Esther and the Jews prepare to preempt Haman's evil plot, while Mordechai is promoted to prominence, paraded in purple and imperial paraphernalia. Purim's profound principles may appear to be compromised by the peripheral pranks, silly improvisos, superficial pretenses, parodies and parades. Yet paradoxically, scriptural interpretation compares Purim to Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year!
Purim pertains to each and every one of us. It speaks to every person of every profile and persuasion, from the lowest to the uppermost; from a protesting preppie to a presiding provost; from the poorest, perspiring paparazzi to the prim & proper president of Purdue U., or the paradigm of any other prosperous corporation.
Rather than preach Purim principles in the abstract, we should be particular and specific, for proverbially, practice makes perfect. So here is a paragraph on Purim's Four important precepts:
1) The Megillah parchment is proclaimed on Purim day, and the preceding night.
2) We send our friends and peers, by proxy, a pair of provisions: Hamantashen (poppy or prune), Perrier, Pringles, pirogen, pears, apricots, peppermint candy, or other appropriate foods portions, whether or not they have that persistent PR pronunciation, as long as they are edible.
3) It is imperative that we open our purse, and provide to the deprived on Poorim. We should proffer a coin (at least a quarter) each, to two poor persons. It is your prerogative how much to give, but the more the merrier. If you can't personally locate poor persons, participate by placing the proceeds into a pushka/charity can.
4) On Purim we partake of a Party, and pour a L'chaim!
With thanks to Israel Rubin and Lechayim Magazine. For all Purim related questions and information visit www.chabadrh.org/purim
Rabbi Fajnland can be reached at Rabbi@chabadrh.org.