Purim and Social Responsibility

While most of us love Purim because of the costumes, songs, parties and hamantaschen, a close reading of Megillat Esther reveals that Purim is also a holiday that challenges us to embrace core practices of social responsibility.

As a writer for the Joint Distribution Committee’s Morim project, where articles on Jewish life and learning are published in five languages for Jews across the world, I published two articles that link the themes Megillat Esther to social responsibility.  The first article, entitled “Purim and Protecting the Vulnerable,” discusses the way in which our medieval and modern commentators use the mitzvah of not forgetting Amalek to place a responsibility upon all of us to protect the most vulnerable people in our society.  The second article, entitled “Purim and Justice as Celebration,” examines how the decision of the Jews of Shushan to celebrate their defeat over Haman through acts of charity teaches us the way in which the holiday of Purim challenges us to see the pursuit of justice as the way in which we celebrate our good fortune.

In each case, the articles I wrote challenge the reader to see Purim as not merely a holiday of revelry, laughter, and singing, but as a holiday that makes us care more about one another.   May each of use this Purim as a means of challenging ourselves to protect, invest, and care about the welfare of our local and global communities.  In doing so, we will truly demonstrate that we know what it means to say the words Purim Sameah, for a happy Purim is one where we use our own joy as a means of bringing joy and comfort to others who need it.

Hag Purim Sameah!

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