Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

29 Adar II 5760 - April 5, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
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 colorful cellophane.

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.


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