Purim is a holiday of joy. In fact, the Book of Esther says “Observe these days as feasting and merrymaking, for sending gifts to one another and presents to the poor.” The traditions of Purim: dressing up, giving gifts, enjoying a festive meal, are easy for children to embrace and dive in to fully. And while your family is partying it up on Purim, you can also learn and reinforce some valuable lessons about equality and how to treat others. In short, Purim is a perfect holiday for growing little mensches.
There are two commandments or mitzvot of Purim that emphasize treating others with respect and dignity: making and delivering gift baskets, mishloach manot, and giving tzedakah. Learn more about each below.
The four mitzvot (plural of mitzvah, commandment) associated with Purim are all related to taking care of one another. The mitzvah of mishloach manot—sending gifts of food to friends and colleagues ensures that everyone has the means to be happy, further foiling Haman’s (“Boo!”) plans. One of the early traditions around sending these gifts insisted that you send one to everyone in the community – so that each and every person, regardless of need, would have what they needed to enjoy the day. Remember, everyone deserves a holiday treat!
a video for parents from BimBam, the makers of Shaboom!
Giving to others, especially on Purim, ensures that everyone has the means to celebrate during the holiday and also honors Esther and Mordechai’s legacy of saving the Jewish people. Fulfilling the mitzvah of matanot l’evyonim can be as simple as dropping coins into a tzedakah box or making donations of food or clothing to a local pantry or shelter.
Here are three easy tzedakah activities to do with your family this Purim:
- If you’re hosting a Purim carnival or spiel, ask for canned goods as the price of admission. Donate what you receive to a local pantry our soup kitchen. You can also make extra mishloach manot baskets and fill them with pantry essentials to be donated to local shelters and soup kitchens.
- Decorate tzedakah boxes with your extra PJ Library mishloach manot stickers and start a family tzedakah practice.
- Repurpose old costumes and items from around the house to create your Purim costumes this year. Take the money you would have spent on costumes and donate it to a charity your family selects together.
Everything You Need to Know About Tzedakah
The Four Mitzvot of Purim
February 5, 2020