March 01, 2009

Purim's Mitzvah

Purim begins at sunset on Monday, March 9, 2009. The kids enjoy the holiday because they dress up in costume. It is also the time of year when donating to charity is officially one of the 613 Mitzvot. According to the Tanach, “This shall they give everyone who passes through the census – a half shekel…” Exodus 30:13.

Eisenberg in his book The 613 Mitzvot explains it is customary to donate three half dollars on the eve (Monday night) of the Megillah reading. In the Tanack’s footnote, it says that “the requirement for half a coin alludes to the concept that no Jew is complete unless he joins with others. Alone, he is only “half” of his full potential.”

This fits nicely with Rabbi Heller’s comment that giving in this economy may be comprised of small dollar donations from more and different people than in the past. He suggested also that businesses and non-profits will find new or old ways of surviving. On Saturday at services at B’Nai Torah he reminded us that in the past kiddish was prepared by volunteers in the synagogue kitchen.

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