Over the years I have put together more than a few columns trying to get people to realize that while Purim is filled with fun and festivities, for some, it is a day that poses tremendous challenges with potentially life-altering consequences. As the father of three teenagers with another one swiftly approaching those foundational years as well, I have begun viewing Purim through a different prism over the past few years. Now I am taking the liberty of addressing my pre-Purim message to my own children, as well as yours, ensuring that all our kids are adequately prepared to celebrate this joyous holiday in a healthy and positive way.
To my wonderful children,
It wasn’t all that long ago that Purim was that long-awaited day when we dressed up in costume, enjoyed the whirlwind of activity with friends and relatives, and got to indulge in a lot more candy than usual. But now as you stand poised on the cusp of adulthood, there are other facets to Purim as well, such as understanding the nissim that took place all those years ago in Shushan and appreciating the inherent mitzvos of a day that has tremendous spiritual power and meaning. But growing up as you are in a world filled with unprecedented challenges, you are no doubt also aware that for some, Purim is less than happy.
I am sure you appreciate the symbolism of dressing in costume on Purim. More than just an opportunity to show off your creativity, dressing up symbolizes the hidden nature of the Purim miracle, evidenced by the fact that Hakadosh Baruch Hu’s name appears nowhere in Megillas Esther. While you may be looking forward to the opportunity to don a different persona on Purim, I have no doubt that you probably know people who walk around all year long pretending to be something they aren’t. These are the people who on the surface look like everyone else, but if you take the time to get to know them, will discover that hidden beneath layers of outward appearance are bottomless pools of pain and torment. It is extremely sobering to realize that there are kids out there whose biggest worries go far beyond the day-to-day stresses of school, tests, and social pressures and that there are also plenty of adults who suffer daily, whose outward appearance of normalcy is a costume, worn to hide their inner turmoil.
As you think about the friends you want to connect with on Purim, I would also ask you to take a minute and contemplate those you know who might be spending their day waiting for the doorbell to ring, hoping that someone care enough to bring them mishloach manos. Look deeply into your hearts and think whose soul really needs gladdening on Purim, who might be alone and who has nowhere to go for their seudah. It could be a classmate, someone who lives nearby or even an older person you see in shul, so take the time to reach out and share the simchah of the day. Even a minor investment of time on your part can have a huge effect on someone else’s life in ways that surpass anything you can ever imagine.
It is possible that you might end up someplace on Purim where alcohol is being served, be it at someone’s house, at a chagigah or maybe even in shul. Don’t be embarrassed to say politely but firmly “no thank you.” Becoming an adult is all about personal responsibility and making the right decisions instead of just blindly following the herd. Sometimes, even grownups lose sight of just how important it is to respect the wishes of others and not to push anyone to drink, even under the guise of a mitzvah. No one can ever know what is going on in someone’s life and if they have worked hard for months to kick an addictive habit. As you make your way to adulthood, it is important to remember that true simchah comes from your heart and not from alcohol or other substances.
In a similar vein, should you find yourself in a place where things are spinning out of control, be it a party or someone’s home, don’t be embarrassed to excuse yourself and head for the door, because there is no reason to spend one of the holiest days of the year at a gathering that is beneath your status as a ben or bas melech. Even if the hours is late, call a trusted adult to take you home. I promise you, like Mommy and me, they will be happy to comply, no questions asked, because we all know the horror stories of lives that were cut short when someone who had been drinking on Purim got into their car and started driving, not realizing that they were in no condition to get behind the wheel.
Baruch Hashem, we have seen that by standing up for things that matter, we have been able to introduce positive changes into our communities over the years. Thankfully, activities such as getting drunk on Purim that were once taken for granted as part of life are falling slowly by the wayside. While Purim might be the issue that has me putting pen to paper right now,
the truth is that tough situations can arise any day of the year, and time and time again, you will find yourselves having to muster the strength make the right decisions, which may not necessarily be the popular ones. Right now, your day to day lives may be focused on high school and seminary, but the truth is that your chinuch isn’t as much about getting good grades as it is on preparing you for the tests of real life.
Know that Mommy and I are here for you for whatever you need, not just on Purim but every day of the year. We know we can have faith in you to do the right thing and that one day in the not-too distant future, you will be having these discussions with your own kids.
All my love,
Zvi Gluck is the CEO of Amudim, an organization dedicated to helping abuse victims and those suffering with addiction within the Jewish community and has been heavily involved in crisis intervention and management for the past 23 years. For more information go to www.amudim.org.
What a powerful and beautiful letter.
Thank you R’ Gluck.
When I was living in Lakewood I’ve seen how Purim was celebrated, there was a lot of music and it was very up lifting, but some where carrying to far with the drinking and it was not soda
What a killjoy lighten up Purim is not a pc inclusive feel good tikun Olam drivel day חייב אינש לבסומי וכו
While chayav inish is d’rabanan, venishmartem meod lenafshoseichem is d’Oraisa. It doesn’t have to be a stirah, but in the case that it is, it’s pretty clear which to choose.
From your tone it sounds like you might be someone that this letter was warning against hanging out with….
Dear Reb Tzvi Gluck,
Thank you for your terrific letter.
Recently, I penned a slogan to promote sobriety on Purim.
“You’re a Yid, not a beheimah.
Don’t make your seudas Purim a bais hakosos!”
Many years ago, I learned hilchos shechita with Rav Elimelech Bluth, ZT’L. He told me, “If you ever schecht a beheimah, open it up, look at the kishkas, and they do not look like the diagrams in the sefarim, the beheimah is always right!”
Comments are closed.