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Pre-Purim Guidance

02/17/2021 12:30:35 PM


Rabbi Anthony Knopf

Shalom Friends!

Mishenichnas Adar marbim b’simcha” – “When the month of Adar begins, we increase our joy!” We may not feel so much joy right now, but Adar’s message of happiness is especially important this year in which we and so many dear to us are experiencing stress, pain, isolation or loss. This year on Purim, I’d like each of us to think about ways of lifting spirits – not only making ourselves happier but bringing warmth, lightness and joy to others.

As always, Beth Ora has been working hard to ensure that our Jewish experience is not extinguished by the challenges of the pandemic. On Sunday, two of my children participated in a wonderful pre-Purim Zoom event organiszd superbly by Jacquie Ludwick, Murray Itscovitch and their excellent team!

Please see below for guidance and information about this year’s Purim observance and celebrations.
Parshat Zachor
This Shabbat is the Shabbat preceding Purim. As usual, we will be having our Beth Ora service with 10 men, in accordance with government regulations. We will take out an extra Torah scroll for the special Torah reading of Zachor (Remember).

There is a mitzvah in the Torah to remember Amalek and his descendants who sought to destroy the Jewish people.

To properly fulfil this commandment, the Sages prescribed the public reading of this passage from a Torah scroll, once every year, on the Shabbat before Purim. This is so the ‘wiping-out’ of Amalek immediately precedes the ‘wiping-out’ of Haman who was a descendant of Amalek.

This year, many people who would otherwise be in synagogue will not be able to attend. It is proper to read the Zachor section (Devarim 25:17-19) from a Chumash. Additionally, we read a different passage about Amalek in the Torah reading on Purim morning. Those who are not able to attend the Purim morning service, should try to hear it over Zoom (see below).
The Fast of Esther
Thursday February 25th is The Fast of Esther, in memory of the Jewish People’s fasting before defending themselves against their enemies in the Purim story. The fast begins at 5:23 AM and ends at 6:06 PM. One should wait until after hearing the Megillah before having one’s evening meal.
We are very excited to invite you to our drive-in Megillah reading in the Beth Ora parking lot. Kol hakavod to Eric Dym, Howie Brown and their team for organizing what promises to be a fantastic event. You can register here.

This Megillah reading, on Purim evening (Thursday, February 25th), will be open from 5:45 PM and the Megillah will be read at 6:15 PM. Everyone who comes in a costume will receive a prize and there will be a grand prize for the best individual and carload costume. Hamantaschen will be given out to every car! This will be a wonderful opportunity for us to be together for Purim, whilst remaining safe (everyone will stay in their cars). Do make every effort to join us for a special evening.

On the morning of Purim, Shacharit at Beth Ora (including the Torah reading about Amalek) will begin at 7:10 AM and will be livestreamed by Zoom. The Megillah will be read at 7:45 AM.

The Zoom livestreams are being offered due to the extenuating circumstances of the pandemic. Under normal circumstances, I do not endorse Zoom Megillah readings.

Those members who would like to hear the reading of the Megillah inside (in accordance with government regulations and health recommendations) on the evening or day of Purim should contact me at or
514 714 6559.
Gifts to the Poor (Matanot L’Evyonim)
There is an important mitzvah on Purim to give money to at least two people so they can celebrate Purim. Those attending the Megillah readings (including the Drive-in) will have the opportunity to give this tzedakah which will be distributed on Purim. Those who will not be attending any of the Megillah readings are encouraged to contact me before Purim to arrange a donation.

One who is not able to do this mitzvah on Purim itself should set aside money on Purim and keep it until they have an opportunity to donate.
Sending Portions of Food (Mishloach Manot)
On Purim day (Friday, February 26th), there is a mitzvah to give at least two food items to at least one person. As well as ensuring that everyone has food with which to celebrate Purim, the goal of this mitzvah is to increase friendship. During this time of isolation, this mitzvah takes on an added layer of importance this year.

I know that many of us are staying home much more and keeping our distance from friends. I would nevertheless urge you show your friendship by doing this mitzvah this year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers cooking or preparing food and delivering it to someone, with a mask and proper social distancing to be a very low risk activity.
Those who would rather not do this should place an order online before or on Purim. The food should be delivered on the day of Purim (Friday). Another acceptable way of doing it is asking a friend or family member to deliver the mishloach manot on your behalf.

When delivering mishloach manot, one should not enter the recipient’s home. Obviously, one cannot give mishloach manot on a phone call. Nevertheless, it is fitting and appropriate to uplift people’s spirits on Purim over the phone. I would like to reiterate the suggestion of Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon that, in addition to mishloach manot to one person (and tzedakah for the poor people), each person or family should think of three people or families to call on Purim to see how they are, and to uplift them, even in a small way.
The Purim Meal (Seuda)
On Purim day (Friday), there is a mitzvah to have a celebratory meal. It’s proper that this meal includes some wine and meat (or at least chicken). This meal can even be eaten in the morning but certainly should start no later than 3:30 PM to leave an appetite for the Shabbat evening meal.
Of course, this year the Purim meal should be eaten alone or with other members of one’s household (although Zoom linkups might be a nice idea!).
I pray that these time-honoured practices, observed in these extraordinary circumstances, will give us all joy and hope at this time. The same Jewish spirit that carried us through the trials and tribulations of Jewish history will carry us again as we pray, together with the rest of humanity, for an end to this pandemic.

Purim Sameach!

Rabbi Anthony Knopf

Sun, June 13 2021 3 Tammuz 5781