The Overwhelmed Mom’s Guide to Purim by Rabbi Da’vid Sperling

The Overwhelmed Mom’s Guide to Purim by Rabbi Da’vid Sperling

Purim can be a lot of fun – and also a lot of work. Especially for moms.

Kids’ costumes, a meal to prepare, distributing mishloach manot, and still trying to get to shul to hear the Megillah. It can feel overwhelming.

So here’s a quick checklist of Purim’s minimum halachic requirements, to make sure even the busiest moms get the basics covered.

1. Hear the Megillah

You need to hear the megillah both at night and again in the daytime.

Work out with your husband when you plan to go to shul and when he’s in charge of the kids. Take a copy of the megillah with you and follow along looking at your copy.

You need to hear each word – but if you miss hearing a few words, you can read them to yourself from your copy until you catch up.

It’s preferable to hear the megillah with ten people, but if that’s difficult someone can read it to you alone at home.

If you know how to read a kosher megillah properly, you can read for yourself or even for other women.

Don’t talk from the beginning of the blessings before the reading until the end of the blessings afterwards.

2. Give Mishloach Manot

Forget weeks of preparation and theme-based extravagances.

All you need to do is give ONE package that contains TWO foods, to ONE person.

The two foods need to be edible as is, without more cooking – so a teabag doesn’t count, but a cup of tea does.

The two foods need to be different, but not necessarily have different blessings – so a cup of green tea and a cup of mint tea would count as two. Or a bowl of chocolate ice cream and a bowl of vanilla. But not two oranges.

On top of all the mishloach manot you’ll send as a family, or in the mail, or at night, or that you’ll ask your kids or your husband to give out for you – you should make sure that you personally take one mishloach manot and give it to a friend on Purim day (female to female – male to male).

I recommend doing this early in the morning, and then you’re halachically covered. Any other mishloach manot you give out will just be for the mitzvah of creating goodwill amongst the Jewish people.

Try not to go overboard with this mitzvah – it leads to waste, peer pressure, and anxiety.

Try for simplicity, low cost, low effort, and go for fun and friendship instead.

Believe me, if you bring your neighbor a cup of tea (or coffee) with a sugarless whole grain cookie, she’ll love you forever!

3. Give Charity

You have to give money to TWO different poor people on Purim day (Matanot Le’Evyonim).

The easiest way to cover this one is to take care of it now, before Purim.

Go online, or call up a good Jewish charity. (Pa’amonim is great, or your local charity fund, etc.), and transfer money to them through your credit card to be distributed to two different people on Purim day.

Nearly all the good Jewish charity funds offer this service of being your messenger on Purim.

On this one – feel free to go overboard! The more charity you give for Matanot Le’Evyonim (within your means) the better.

The minimum you need to donate is at least twice the cost of a weekday meal (even the price of a felafel and drink).

4. Party

There is a mitzvah is to have a meal in the daytime of Purim. If you can, you should wash for bread.

But the important thing is to have a nice meal to celebrate the miracles that Hashem did (and does) for the Jewish people, with happiness and joy.

So sing up a storm, tell the story, be happy!

As for drinking, women need to be extra careful not to get drunk, especially in the presence of men, or if they need to take care of kids.

In general, everybody (men and women alike) shouldn’t get drunk (yes, there’s a mitzvah, but it’s also a sin to vomit in your neighbor’s living room, to encourage alcoholism, to miseducate children, and to be too ‘blotto’ to serve Hashem etc).

If a small “l’chaim” will put a smile on your face, then go right ahead.

Happy Purim!

Rabbi Da’vid Sperling is a senior lecturer at Nishmat: The Jeannie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women.

9 comments

  1. Is it permissible and does it satisfy the mitzvah to hear the Megillah via a streaming reading?

  2. I have not heard of any opinions permitting an online or recorded reading. However, if it is difficult for you to get out of the house to go to a Megillah reading, Chabad is usually happy to send a Yeshiva student to your house to read the Megillah for you.

  3. thank you for posting!

  4. Bs´d
    thank you for the article, I wasn´t sure about if you missed a word or letter or few words if you red them by yourself is ok.

  5. This is great! I call this “doing the minimum to get the maximum” out of a chag. Whether pesach cleaning or cooking for any chag or shabbes, the main thing is to do what is required and not be stressed or resentful. Some people thrive on doing more, and they don’t expect it from others in return. They do it because they enjoy it! I used to be one of them, and now I’m a minimiser. Looking forward to a time where I can maximise again but for now I’m happy to surrender to my limits and enjoy the fruits of all the maximisers around me 😉

    • sheva lazaros

      well said, YL.
      i like your words, “for now i’m happy to surrender to my limits and enjoy the fruits of all the maximisers around me.”

    • JewishMom

      nice

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