Dear friends, I want to wish all of you a very happy Purim. This year, it is all the more important that we remember and observe this Holiday and all of its details. There are four special Mitzvot we observe on Purim. They are to hear the reading of the Megillah; give money to the poor; Mishloach Manot, to send festive gifts of food to our friends and Seudat Purim, to celebrate at a festive meal. The Purim story is however not an event that took place in the remote past of ancient Persia, but a story which repeats itself through the generations over and over again. All of the mitzvoth of Purim have their parallels in the events of the present time. Just as we read in the story of the Haman of old in the Megillah, we can read about today’s Haman in every issue of the daily newspaper. Today, the ranks of Hamans have grown. At one time we were worried about right wing extremists and neo- Nazis. They are still there but have been augmented by armies of Jihadists that compete with each other in how cruel and vicious they can be. They have attacked synagogues and Jewish shops. This, however, is but a pale reflection of what they would do to us if they could. On Purim, we give gifts to the poor. This is a way of saying that, even in difficult times, we have to reach out and help those who need help; this strengthens us to meet the challenges ahead. If we are to surmount the troubles that we are facing we have to care about each and every Jew, work for unity and leave no one behind. The third Mitzvah of Purim is Mishloach Manot, sending festive gifts of food to our friends. This suggests drawing close to our fellow Jews and working to establish ties of friendship and good will regardless of religiosity lifestyle and background. It means having good and loving feelings towards our fellow Jews. The fourth Mitzvah of Purim is Seudat Purim: the Purim feast. It is traditionally a festive dinner on the afternoon of Purim. In the Purim story, it was the victory celebration that was held at the downfall of Haman and annulment of his plans. It tells us to celebrate our survival. It reminds us that many have sought to destroy us but we remain. It should give us confidence that the plans of those who plot against us will not succeed.
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