A Message for Purim 2021
How to celebrate safely this Purim – a special message from the Chief Rabbi
Purim and Chanukah are twin festivals on which we celebrate Jewish survival. Both are chagim on which it is permissible to work. On both, we publicize miracles and we recite the Al HaNissim prayer. But there is one major difference. You see the Greeks strove to rid the world of the Jewish faith, while the Persians tried to rid the world of Jewish people. The Greeks launched an attack against our identity while the Persians sought to annihilate us physically. As a result, physical joy is a key element of our Purim celebrations. Yes, on Chanukah, there is a custom to eat foods prepared in oil, but that’s not a key mitzvah of the day, whereas on Purim to have a seuda and what we eat and what we drink, that’s an important part of the day’s celebrations.
A year ago, unknown to us, some of our Purim celebrations provided an environment with in which the Corona virus could spread. It was so tragic that on the very day when we celebrate our physical survival there was danger to our lives and through us to others. This Purim, therefore, let us guarantee that we will celebrate safely.
So when it comes to the mitzvot of the day, let’s take mishloach manot: We should deliver our mishloach manot Amazon style – leave your parcelon the doorstep and then step back to a safe distance and if possible, have your mishloach manot delivered on your behalf and remember to stay local. And why not give mishloach manot this year to those who are vulnerable or living alone? They will certainly appreciate it.
With regard to matanot l’evyonim, charitable gifts. it’s best this year to give them online, and the seuda of Purim this year should be enjoyed with members of our own households only.
Our Beit Din has issued guidance on the hearing of megillah this year. Ordinarily men and women have an obligation to read or hear the megillah from a kosher scroll on both the evening and the day of Purim. If you can hear a reading in shul or from someone else while complying with all relevant regulations, then you should do so. But if owing to Covid restrictions, this is not possible and there is no other option available. then you
should listen to a live online recital rather than a recording.
As we celebrate our physical survival, this Purim let us guarantee that we will be responsible to preserve our lives and the lives of others. Let us not do anything this year on which will produce, God forbid, a chillul Hashem, a desecration of God’s name. On the contrary, this Purim, let’s achieve a great kiddush Hashem, a sanctification of God’s name.