Purim as Paradigm: 4 Mitzvot, 4 parts to a Meaningful Life
Take a moment to share with your chevruta one favorite aspect of Purim. Then read through the following the quote from the Rambam who is trying to explain to us the details of how to make Purim. Follow the guiding questions beneath it with your chevruta.
כֵּיצַד חוֹבַת סְעֻדָּה זוֹ. שֶׁיֹּאכַל בָּשָׂר וִיתַקֵּן סְעֻדָּה נָאָה כְּפִי אֲשֶׁר תִּמְצָא יָדוֹ. וְשׁוֹתֶה יַיִן עַד שֶׁיִּשְׁתַּכֵּר וְיֵרָדֵם בְּשִׁכְרוּתוֹ. וְכֵן חַיָּב אָדָם לִשְׁלֹחַ שְׁתֵּי מְנוֹת בָּשָׂר אוֹ שְׁנֵי מִינֵי תַּבְשִׁיל אוֹ שְׁנֵי מִינֵי אֳכָלִין לַחֲבֵרוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (אסתר ט יט) "וּמִשְׁלוֹחַ מָנוֹת אִישׁ לְרֵעֵהוּ", שְׁתֵּי מָנוֹת לְאִישׁ אֶחָד. וְכָל הַמַּרְבֶּה לִשְׁלֹחַ לְרֵעִים מְשֻׁבָּח. וְאִם אֵין לוֹ מַחֲלִיף עִם חֲבֵרוֹ זֶה שׁוֹלֵחַ לְזֶה סְעֻדָּתוֹ וְזֶה שׁוֹלֵחַ לְזֶה סְעֻדָּתוֹ כְּדֵי לְקַיֵּם וּמִשְׁלוֹחַ מָנוֹת אִישׁ לְרֵעֵהוּ:
וְחַיָּב לְחַלֵּק לָעֲנִיִּים בְּיוֹם הַפּוּרִים. אֵין פּוֹחֲתִין מִשְּׁנֵי עֲנִיִּים נוֹתֵן לְכָל אֶחָד מַתָּנָה אַחַת אוֹ מָעוֹת אוֹ מִינֵי תַּבְשִׁיל אוֹ מִינֵי אֳכָלִין שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (אסתר ט כב) "וּמַתָּנוֹת לָאֶבְיוֹנִים", שְׁתֵּי מַתָּנוֹת לִשְׁנֵי עֲנִיִּים. וְאֵין מְדַקְדְּקִין בִּמְעוֹת פּוּרִים אֶלָּא כָּל הַפּוֹשֵׁט יָדוֹ לִטּל נוֹתְנִין לוֹ. וְאֵין מְשַׁנִּין מָעוֹת פּוּרִים לִצְדָקָה אַחֶרֶת:
מוּטָב לָאָדָם לְהַרְבּוֹת בְּמַתְּנוֹת אֶבְיוֹנִים מִלְּהַרְבּוֹת בִּסְעֻדָּתוֹ וּבְשִׁלּוּחַ מָנוֹת לְרֵעָיו. שֶׁאֵין שָׁם שִׂמְחָה גְּדוֹלָה וּמְפֹאָרָה אֶלָּא לְשַׂמֵּחַ לֵב עֲנִיִּים וִיתוֹמִים וְאַלְמָנוֹת וְגֵרִים. שֶׁהַמְשַׂמֵּחַ לֵב הָאֻמְלָלִים הָאֵלּוּ דּוֹמֶה לַשְּׁכִינָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה נז טו) "לְהַחֲיוֹת רוּחַ שְׁפָלִים וּלְהַחֲיוֹת לֵב נִדְכָּאִים":
כָּל סִפְרֵי הַנְּבִיאִים וְכָל הַכְּתוּבִים עֲתִידִין לִבָּטֵל לִימוֹת הַמָּשִׁיחַ חוּץ מִמְּגִלַּת אֶסְתֵּר וַהֲרֵי הִיא קַיֶּמֶת כַּחֲמִשָּׁה חֻמְּשֵׁי תּוֹרָה וְכַהֲלָכוֹת שֶׁל תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה שֶׁאֵינָן בְּטֵלִין לְעוֹלָם. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁכָּל זִכְרוֹן הַצָּרוֹת יְבֻטַּל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה סה טז) "כִּי נִשְׁכְּחוּ הַצָּרוֹת הָרִאשׁוֹנוֹת וְכִי נִסְתְּרוּ מֵעֵינִי". יְמֵי הַפּוּרִים לֹא יִבָּטְלוּ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (אסתר ט כח) "וִימֵי הַפּוּרִים הָאֵלֶּה לֹא יַעַבְרוּ מִתּוֹךְ הַיְּהוּדִים וְזִכְרָם לֹא יָסוּף מִזַּרְעָם":
How is the obligation of this meal? That one eat meat and prepare as pleasing a meal as his hand can [afford]. And he should drink wine until he becomes intoxicated and falls asleep from his intoxication.
And likewise is a person obligated to send two portions of meat or two types of dishes or two types of food to his fellow, as it is stated (Esther 9:22) "and sending portions, one man to another" — two portions to one man. And anyone who increases sending to friends is praiseworthy. And if he has no [means to do this], he should trade with his fellow: This one sends his meal to that one and that one sends his meal to this one — in order to fulfill, "and sending portions, one man to another."
One is required to distribute charity to the poor on Purim. We do not [give to] less than two poor people. One gives one gift to each one: Coins or types of dishes or types of food. As it states (Esther 9:22) "and gifts to the destitute" — two gifts to two poor people. The applicants for Purim money should not be scrutinized; it should be given to anyone who holds out his hand. Purim money must not be diverted to any other charity. One should rather spend more money on gifts to the poor than on his Purim banquet and presents to his friends. No joy is greater and more glorious than the joy of gladdening the hearts of the poor, the orphans, the widows, and the strangers. He who gladdens the heart of these unhappy people imitates God, as it is written: "I am … to revive the spirit of the humble, and to put heart into the crushed" (Isaiah 57:15).
All Prophetic Books and the Sacred Writings will cease [to be recited in public] during the messianic era except the Book of Esther. It will continue to exist just as the Five Books of the Torah and the laws of the Oral Torah that will never cease. Although ancient troubles will be remembered no longer, as it is written: "The troubles of the past are forgotten and hidden from my eyes" (Isaiah 65:16), the days of Purim will not be abolished, as it is written: "These days of Purim shall never be repealed among the Jews, and the memory of them shall never cease from their descendants" (Esther 9:28).
According to the Mishneh Torah, the following are the 4 mitzvot of Purim. What is at least one detail about each one?
1. Seudat Purim--a festive meal
2. Mishloach Manot--portions sent to a friend
3. Matanot la'evyonim--gifts to the poor
4. Megillat Esther--Reading the scroll of Esther
Take a look over the four mitzvot listed above. If you were to describe each one in relation to fulfilling a human need or embodying a certain value, what would it be? Why might it be important to your life?