PURIM: “Matanot le’Evyonim – Gifts to the Poor”



Traditional Purim Nosh: Hamantaschen (Hebrew: Ozne’i Haman)
Copyright: Miriam Woelke

The above picture shows HAMANTASCHEN (Hebrew: Ozne’i Haman). The traditional Nosh on Purim. The Hamantaschen represent the ears of evil Haman who wanted to kill the Jews.
People bake Hamantaschen with different fillings: Date cream, poppy seeds or chocolate cream. Now, a week and a half before Purim, we can buy them all over Israel. Just go into any bakery or any supermarket and you will find all different kinds of Hamantaschen.
The Jewish holiday of Purim is mostly known for eating and getting drunk. The big Mitzvah (commandment) is to be happy and celebrate. Celebrating the survival of the Jews and that the anti – Semite Haman didn’t succeed in extinguishing all the Jews of Shushan.
Purim is not just an ancient holiday because anti – Semitism goes on until this day. There have always been people who wanted to murder Jews and get rid off Judaism. So, Purim is just not an ancient holiday without any meaning for us today.
At the same time, we celebrate Jewish identity and the survival of the Jews. Haman got punished and G – d saved his people. Nevertheless, G – d was acting in a rather hidden way and his name is not mentioned once in the entire Megillat Esther (Book of Esther).
Another Purim Mitzvah is called MATANOT le’EVYONIM – Gifts to the Poor. In the days before Purim or on the holiday itself, we give gifts to the poor. Either money or food baskets. The reason is that on Purim, every should should be able to celebrate and have enough food.
To be honest, I am glad not to be a member of a chassidic group, as Chassidim spend a lot of money on presents for their Rebbe. Not because he is poor but we don’t only give gifts to the poor. Another Mitzvah is called MISHLOACH MANOT. Sending food baskets to friends, relatives, neighbours or employees. And Chassidim send out food baskets to the Rebbe.
I always wonder how poor chassidic families can afford a Purim present for their Rebbe.

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