Kenneth Cohen

Purim Sensitivity

There are four Mitzvot that we are to fulfill during the Purim holiday. They are hearing the reading of the Megilla, a festive meal, money for the poor, and Mishloach Manot.

The Megilla is meant to be heard twice, once at night, and once during the day. Women are equally obligated, as they played an important role in the Purim story.
The festive meal should begin well before sunset. It should be accompanied with delicious food and singing. It is an expression of joy for our victory over Haman, and the enemies of our people.

We are to give money to the poor, known as Matanot La’evyonim. We should find a representative who will be certain to give to at least two people.

The Mishloach Manot are two different types of ready to eat food, that we give to at least one friend. This was meant to create a sense of harmony and unity among Jews.

There is a fascinating Halacha in connection with how this Mitzva is performed. Ideally, we should choose friends that are on the same level as we are financially. This means that a wealthy person who prepares a huge basket of delicacies, should not give this to a poor person. Since he is unable to reciprocate, it will make him feel bad. This is why we help the poor in a more direct way.

It is noteworthy to see that within the laws of how to celebrate this happy day in the Jewish calendar, there is also sensitivity towards others. Jewish Law is the vehicle that not only brings us closer to Hashem, but it helps us learn how to treat others with more kindness and sensitivity.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at