Though we dress up in holiday finery, Purim doesn’t feature holiday work restrictions. Nonetheless, all the better if you can take the day off from work and focus on the holiday and its four special mitzvahs:
1. Hear the Megillah
Head to your synagogue to hear the whole Megillah. The Megillah, a.k.a. “The Book of Esther,” is the scroll that tells the Purim story. Listen to the public reading twice: once on Purim Eve, and again on Purim day. Pay attention—it is crucial to hear every word.
When Haman’s name is mentioned (Chabad custom is that this is only when it is accompanied with a title), you can twirl graggers (noisemakers) or stamp your feet to eradicate his evil name. Tell your kids that Purim is the only time when it’s a mitzvah to make noise!
The Megillah is read from a handwritten parchment scroll, using an age-old tune. Contact us if for any reason you can’t make it to your synagogue for the Megillah reading. He’ll do his best to send a Megillah reader to your home or office.
2. Give to the Needy (Matanot LaEvyonim)
One of Purim’s primary themes is Jewish unity. Haman tried to kill us all, we were all in danger together, so we celebrate together too. Hence, on Purim day we place special emphasis on caring for the less fortunate.
Give money or food to at least two needy people during the daylight hours of Purim. In case you can’t find any needy people, your synagogue will likely be collecting money for this purpose. At least, place two coins in a charity box earmarked for the poor.
On Purim, we give a donation to whoever asks; we don’t verify his or her bank balance first. As with the other mitzvahs of Purim, even small children should fulfill this mitzvah.
3. Send Food Gifts to Friends (Mishloach Manot)
On Purim we emphasize the importance of friendship and community by sending gifts of food to friends.
On Purim day send a package containing at least two different ready-to-eat food items and/or beverages (e.g., pastry, fruit, beverage) to at least one Jewish acquaintance during the daylight hours of Purim. Men send to men, and women to women.
It is preferable that the gifts be delivered via a third party. Children, in addition to sending their own gifts of food to their friends, make enthusiastic messengers.
During the course of Purim day, gather your family, maybe invite a guest or two, and celebrate with a festive Purim meal. Traditionally, this meal begins before sundown and lasts well into the evening.
The table should be festively bedecked with a nice tablecloth and candles. Wash for bread or challah, and enjoy a meal featuring meat, wine and plenty of Jewish songs, words of Torah and joyous Purim spirit. Sing, drink, laugh, have fun together.Note: When Purim falls on a Friday, out of deference to the approaching Shabbat, we start the meal earlier, ideally before midday.