Sharona Margolin Halickman

Should we be happy on Purim this year?

Photo Courtesy Sharona Halickman

We learn about how to celebrate Purim in Megillat Esther 9:22-23:

…As the days on which the Jews enjoyed relief from their enemies, and the month that was reversed for them from grief to joy and from mourning to a festive day- to make these days of feasting and joy, and as an occasion for sending gifts to one another and presents to the poor. The Jews accordingly assumed as an obligation that which they had begun to practice and which Mordecai prescribed for them.

According to the Malbim, there were two transformations: From sorrow to gladness and from mourning to festivity. In honor of the gladness we have a seuda/party, in honor of Yom Tov, since Mordechai couldn’t institute a new Yom Tov (holiday), Matanot L’Evyonim (gifts to the poor) was instituted as an opportunity to do a mitzvah.

This year is difficult because we almost feel like we are back in the Purim story with so much anti-Semitism going on in the world, the aftermath of October 7, 134 hostages who have not yet been released and hundreds of soldiers that have been killed in battle.

Yet on the other hand, our story is very different. We have our own State and we have our own army. We will get through this war. The war is not a reason for us to cancel out our holidays. It is bad enough that our enemies ruined Simchat Torah for us. If we let them destroy our holidays then we are letting them win.

We must continue to celebrate by having a festive meal. This may be a good time to invite people who otherwise may not have a seuda to go to. As well, we must make sure that the poor are taken care of.

This Purim, and every day, we must take more responsibility to make sure that that we are looking out for the soldiers in the field, soldiers recovering in the hospitals, miluim (military) families, the evacuated residents of the north and south, the relatives of the hostages and the elderly and infirm.

Instead of sitting at home and lamenting the situation, we must go out and help others. This is what Purim is all about.

As we say in the Acheinu prayer for those who are in captivity:

May God have mercy on them and remove them from distress to relief, from darkness to light, from subjugation to redemption, now, speedily and soon.

May we merit to see the month of Adar turn from sorrow to gladness and from mourning to festivity.

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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