|Photo from here|
Growing up as a “traditional” Jew, Purim was always fun. Mostly because of the potential to win a goldfish and see how long they would live. My congregation’s Purim carnival was not only fun (even when I had to help run it as an NCSYer), but brought our members out of the sanctuary and the social hall and down into the basement. Aside from throwing ping pong balls into cups filled with goldfish, we played musical chairs, the fishing for a prize game, and if you had enough tickets you could put someone in “jail”. There were other games too, but these come to mind. The whole “Shaloch Manos” thing was pretty much confined to Sunday and Hebrew School. It, for sure, wasn’t on our family’s radar. All in all, it was a fun holiday when I was growing up. Good time…good times.
I wax nostalgic and remember being surrounded by the people my family was close with as we celebrated what I understood as a victory for the Jews. The feeling of being part of a community was overpowering. Looking back now, it was a feeling of achdus. Maybe because we were a massive minority in Wichita, KS, but we had such pride (especially on Purim) about being Jewish.
I think about this now, as an adult, because the value of having fun in Judaism is something that I that I feel is important. The mitzvos ha yom all involve connecting with others and giving, but we have to make it fun. It’s often easy to focus on our costumes, d’vrai Torah, and rushing around assemble and then deliver Shaloch Manos. I know that sometimes I’m running around so much that I forget the simcha shel mitzvah and the simchas ha chaim. Those are two things are worth giving over to others on Purim.