From Our Rabbi…
As we prepare to leave winter behind us, we enter a season of expectation, celebration and new life in our tradition. Many of us are already planning our Purim costumes! But don’t worry; even though the next set of holidays may tend to *spring* up on us each year, there are plenty of reminders on the calendar to keep them front and center
This year happens to be a leap year, when we get a full month added to the Jewish calendar! There is an additional month of Adar (I know, not a terribly creative naming convention…) that gets placed before the regularly scheduled month of Adar. So, in Adar I (the leap month), we got Purim Katan – “Little Purim” – as a taste of the greater festivities to come. We also have five (5) special Shabbatot spanning 7 weeks (this year from Feb. 26 – Apr. 9), each reminding us of something different: Shabbat Shekalim (“Shabbat of Shekels”) announces that Adar II is starting soon; Shabbat Zachor (“Shabbat of Memory”) tells us Purim is in a few days; Shabbat Parah (“Shabbat of the [Red] Heifer”) prepares us to welcome the month of Nisan, in which Passover falls; Shabbat HaChodesh (“Shabbat of the [New] Month”) marks the actual start of Nisan; and Shabbat HaGadol (the “Great Shabbat”) immediately precedes Passover. No matter how many times we may try to hit “Snooze” or “Dismiss,” our Jewish calendar reminders for Purim and Passover just keep popping up.
So what can we do to prepare, other than baking hamantaschen for Purim, and then making sure to get rid of them all before Passover? Both of these are holidays of introspection as well as celebration. We recall how close we’ve come, time and again, to being destroyed, and we are called upon to take action in response. On Purim, the directive to celebrate comes in the same breath – or at least the same verse – as the exhortation to provide for those in need. Mordechai establishes Purim as an annual celebration, “the same days on which the Jews enjoyed relief from their foes and the same month which had been transformed for them from one of grief and mourning to one of festive joy. They were to observe them as days of feasting and merrymaking, and as an occasion for sending gifts to one another and presents to the poor” (Esther 9:22). So, in addition to attending or participating in our sure-to-be-hilarious Purim celebration here at B’nai Sholom, you can also make plans to give tzedakah/charity to the poor; this may be a great day to make a contribution to your favorite charity. You may also consider hosting someone new at your Passover Seder or donating your extra chametz (leavened bread) to one of the local food banks/pantries. I suggest setting your own calendar reminders now… the holidays will be here before you know it!
PS – speaking of reminders, remember to fill out the Shabbat service times survey in the weekly announcements e-mail!
Rabbi Danielle Weisbrot