Monday, March 21, 2011

Purim Highlights

[This week’s Havell Havalim is here!]
[And take a look at Purim 2011/5771 in Iran]

Purim was wonderful this year. A few highlights:

1) Zachor
“Zachor” is the special Torah reading of the Shabbat preceding Purim, a reading which many authorities rule is the only biblically-mandated Torah reading of the year. I read it for my bar mitzvah, and then every Shabbat Zachor in the quarter-century since, other than the two I spent in Yeshivat Kerem b’Yavneh (where the Rosh Yeshiva zt”l did the Ashkenazi reading).

But now I’m not the Rabbi of the shul, and although last year things worked out for me to read it at the minyan I attended, this year I decided I was going to stop the string. It felt arrogant, this insistence that I had some special right to read Zachor.

So we went to shul Shabbat morning and when I walked into shul one of the gabbaim approached me and asked me to read Zachor. He explained that the person who was supposed to read it had learned it “Sephardit”, with a “tav” instead of a “sav”, and the shul’s custom is to read it with a “sav”. So could I read it?

This was strange, for three reasons:
1) This was not or usual minyan, and I had never leined there;
2) There were plenty of eligible baalei keriah at this minyan;
3) It would be easy enough for a baal keriah to switch from Tav to Sav for this reading, which is all of 3 sentences long...

I took it, of course, appreciating the opportunity. And I had to wonder: This is very weird. Was this a sign?

2) Megilah
I feel guilty for not volunteering to read the megilah at nursing homes or hospitals this year, but it was worthwhile to be able to help out at home for a change. Especially as my wondrous Rebbetzin prepared/hosted an incredible seudah for our kollel. And I did lein for a couple of shul minyanim.

3) When is the age of chinuch [mitzvah education] for Jewish holidays?
During a morning משלוח מנות run, our youngest demonstrated that he is not yet at the age of chinuch. Despite what seems like months of pre-Purim prep in pre-school and Purim discussions at home, he doesn’t quite get the story.

This I know because our car stereo was blasting Schlock Rock’s “Achashverosh” (Falco’s Amadeus being one of the guilty pleasures of my high school years), and when we reached the line, “Let’s go save the Jews,” he asked, “I didn’t know the Jewish people were in the Purim story!”



  1. That just reminded me of how my (not so English speaking) kids used to holler along with Schlock Rock "Let's go save the JUICE o Mordechai!"

  2. When the court herald would announce "King Achashveirosh!" as he walked in, would the throng respond "Gesundheit!" ?

  3. Do they usually allow a bar-mitzvah boy to read Zachor??

  4. To put a different spin on Jenny's question --when you were/are a pulpit Rabbi, did/do you allow a bar mitzva boy the read Zachor for the shul?

  5. Risa, Anonymous-
    That, and "Hot Potato" vs "Achashverosh"

    Jenny, Shmuel-
    I wondered if anyone would pick up on that. The Rabbi in my shul did let me, but I would be less comfortable.