Purim, one of the most beautiful, and joyous days of the year is rapidly approaching. The streets filled with adults and children in costume delivering and exchanging gifts is marvelous to observe. Families coming together for Purim seudos with the best foods and greatest delicacies add to the celebration. However, as we all know, there are many again this year who cannot afford a lavish Purim meal or fancy and abundant mishloach manot. All around us, individuals and families are struggling and suffering financially and economically.
The mitzvah of mishloach manot is fulfilled in a very clear way. Allow me to remind you that one accomplishes this mitzvah by delivering two items of food to one person (Shulchan Aruch 695:4). However, in addition to mishloach manot, we are obligated in matanot l'evyonim, gifts to the poor, which is fulfilled by giving a modest amount of money to two needy individuals (Shulchan Aruch 694:1). The Rambam writes explicitly that it is preferable to augment and increase our gifts to those that need, even at the expense of the number of mishloach manot we give or the Purim Seudah itself (Hil Megillah 2:17).
The words of the Rambam remain profoundly appropriate for us this year. How can we spend significant funds to create a theme for each package or make dozens of packages with expensive items when there are people around us who literally don't have food to eat?
It is in the context of the above stated halacha that I appeal to you and to all of the members of our community to scale back both on the type of mishloach manot we make, and on the amount of people to whom we give. I strongly encourage you to do the following three things:
Firstly, minimally fulfill the basic mitzvah by giving to at least one person. Certainly, if you have the capacity, continue to give widely.
Secondly, participate in the Sisterhood's project and help every family in our community receive at least one package.
Lastly, compliment your mishloach manot by making a contribution to the Tomchei Shabbat program. There are currently 27 families who are fed weekly by this discreet, confidential program. Our budget to give food items and Publix gift cards is over $10,000 a month and unfortunately only growing. We desperately need your help.
Please see Linda to purchase cards that can be distributed instead of or in addition to your mishloach Manos. The cost is ten cards for $18. The cards can be individualized and state that in lieu of mishloach manot, a gift has been made in your honor to the Elie Berdugo Chesed Fund.
This year, may the streets of Boca be filled with people exchanging warm wishes and Tomchei Shabbos cards! May our observance of Purim in its purest form bring - orah, simcha and sasson, light, joy and happiness, to our community and around the world.
With blessings for a freiliche Purim,
Rabbi Efrem Goldberg