The Great Chometz Trade-In:
Leftover Purim Humor
by Rosally Saltsman
Mordechai, besides being a devout Jew, was also a wise man.
After all, he advised Esther in her campaign to redeem the
Jews and with Hashem's blessing, the Jewish people were
spared. But he was wise in yet another way. One month before
Pesach, he devised a way for women to rid their homes of
chometz by instituting the mitzva of
mishloach monos. From Persia to Jerusalem and from
India to Africa, in all 127 countries, women use their
remaining chometz to bake cakes and homontaschen for
mishloach monos. It is an ingenious way for one
mitzva to lead to another.
There's just one problem: everybody does it, en masse. As
soon as you drop off a basket, the person answering the door
tells you to "hold on a minute" while they get a similar
package for you, their own chometz gift wrapped in
I'm being critical, you say. I'm maligning a beautiful
tradition that celebrates and promotes brotherhood among
Jews. I'm ridiculing halocha, G-d forbid. But in my
house, intensive Pesach cleaning begins the very day after
Purim, and what am I supposed to do with 200 oznei
Homon? [Chew off one ear after another?] So in the end,
we don't get rid of the leavening, we just trade it in for
other people's chometz and do a mitzva while
we're at it.
But all is not lost (or kept). We are a generous people after
all. So after our children have had their fill of cakes and
cookies, there is one way out. Once every fortnight, some
very goodhearted youngsters go from building to building
collecting food for the poor. Let me tell you, our Purim
seuda is nothing compared to the feat those people
enjoy the week after Purim.
This year, the goodhearted people in my neighborhood devised
a plan to make everyone happy. In each building, they hung up
a sign-up list on the bulletin board by the stairway.
Everyone who signs up agrees to donate the money they would
have spent on mishloach monos for thirty of their
closest friends in the neighborhood. This money, which is
being collected by these good hearted people, is to be
donated to those families in the neighborhood who need it, so
that all everyone has to do to fulfill the mitzva is
deliver the required two portions.
Many people have signed up. However, many of those same
people have also told me that they'll be delivering their
thirty shalach monos anyway.
I guess it's hard to break with tradition.
Chag Somayach! And I mean -- Pesach.