> Weekly Torah Portion > Parents & Kids > Family Parsha

Bringing Joy

Parshat Zachor (Deuteronomy 25:17-19 )

by Nesanel Yoel Safran

One of the most beautiful parts of Purim - the holiday on which we celebrate God miraculously saving us from a terrible holocaust many centuries ago - is how friends and neighbors (often dressed up in beautiful and creative costumes, kids and adults alike) bring each other delicious food-gift packages to help enjoy the holiday! These packages (called mishaloch manot in Hebrew) give the day a real spirit of unity and the special warm feeling that comes from giving.

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In our story a kid discovers the joy of bringing joy to others.


Amy was none too thrilled about her upcoming family road trip to visit her cousins, Rachel and Sarah. She liked them well enough, but her cousins had mentioned that Amy was going to be getting there in time for some Jewish holiday she hardly heard of - Purim, and even though they sounded really excited about it, she had her doubts.

When she arrived, things got much more interesting, and confusing. Her cousins came out to greet her wearing these really fancy, lacy gowns with hoops, sequins and ribbons all over. Amy was trying to figure out whether they were in costume (in which case she should laugh) or it was some new style of theirs (in which case she try her best not to laugh) when her little cousin Josh came running up behind them dressed like a pirate - Whew!

"Wow, you guys look wild!" she laughed.

"Happy Purim!" Rachel giggled. "These are our Purim costumes. Don't worry; we've got one for you too."

Amy wasn't worried - until she heard that.

"Uh, it's really okay. You know, I kind of like my clothes the way they are."

Her cousins smiled and took her by the hand. "First come on in, then we'll see."

They went inside and Amy was blown away. Her super-cool Aunt Becky was dressed like a storybook fairy-tale queen and her usually very serious Uncle Jack was wearing a gorilla suit! Music was playing loud and delicious-looking food was piled on every table. Wow! This Purim thing had potential.

"Come on Amy - pick one out," urged Sarah, pointing to a hanging row of costumes. "We have to get going and make the neighborhood rounds. You want to be a princess like us, a doctor, or a lion?"

'Oh,' she thought. 'Now I get it - they're going out treat collecting.' The date was a little off, but she could relate to that.

"Um, do I have to wear a costume?"

"You don't have to do anything - but it's fun! Why not?" Rachel's winning smile was too hard to resist.

"Okay, the lion," Amy said, and a quick change later the three of them were on their way to collect all that candy...

...At least that's what Amy thought.

"Rachel, do you really think you're going to get that much stuff?" Amy asked as they walked down the street, past groups of other costumed kids.

"What do you mean, Amy?"

"I see you're dragging along that huge suitcase on wheels. Do you think people will actually give us so many treats that we'll fill it up?"

Amy didn't understand why her two cousins were looking at each other and smiling strangely.

"Um, Amy," Sarah said, "we're not going around to get treats, but to give them. It's part of the holiday to bring people food gifts, and this suitcase is already fully packed with stuff to give away."

Amy shook her lion's mane in shock. "Huh? Rachel, you mean we're going through all this effort and even not getting anything?"

"Well, yes. I mean, no! I mean it's ... you know Amy, just wait a minute and you'll see. Hey, we're already at our first address."

Amy felt like the cowardly lion as they rolled their suitcase up the driveway and knocked.

A sad-looking elderly woman answered the door. "Happy Purim, Mrs. Engle!" cried Rachel and Sarah together as they pulled out and handed her a colorful cellophane-wrapped basket full of goodies. "This is for you to enjoy the holiday."

Amy gulped as she saw tears well up in the woman's eyes and a huge smile light up her face.

"Why, thank you so much! You know this is my first Purim alone ... and I didn't know if ... why, thank you! Thank you all so much!"

That was the first of many gift deliveries, some like that one to widows or people sick in bed, and others to all kinds of families. But everyone who got them seemed so happy. But the happiest people of all were Rachel, Sarah, and yes - she had to admit it - Amy. Going around making people happy giving treats felt much better than getting them.

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Ages 3-5

Q. How did Amy feel about going out and giving away treats?
A. She was upset and wanted to get them instead.

Q. How did she feel in the end?
A. She felt happy about it once she saw how good it made everyone feel.


Ages 6-9

Q. What life lesson do you think Amy learned that day?
A. While she knew about the joy of receiving, she hadn't been aware of the even greater joy of giving, until her cousins and their Purim baskets showed her the way.

Q. Why do you think it feels good to give?
A. Giving is a very spiritual experience that brings us closer to God. Even if we're not thinking of that at the time we give, inside we feel it and that feels good.

Spiritual exercise: This Purim, experience the joy of giving, by giving out treats to people you know.


Ages 10 and Up

Q. What do you think would make one person love another more - giving to them or receiving from them? Why?
A. We might think 'receiving', however love is built through giving and one who sincerely gives, naturally develops positive, loving feelings toward those he gives to.

Q. Purim is known as one of the most joyous day of the year. What do you think a person could do to tap into the day's joy?
A. Our sages teach us that we can reach this joy through giving - both charity to the needy and food-gifts to our neighbors and friends. Also reading the 'Megila' story of the great miracles God did for us on Purim. And, oh yeah, eating lots of great food and drink helps, too.

Spiritual exercise: This Purim, experience the joy of giving, by giving out treats to people you know.


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