In some homes, the chaos and cheer of Purim is multiplied. Three rebbetzins from illustrious homes share a glimpse of their childhood Purims and their Purim today
“What a person can achieve on Yom Kippur through fasting, teshuvah, and tefillah, he can also achieve on Purim with true joy” (Photos: Lior Mizrachi, flash90)
Rebbetzin Sara Meisels is the daughter of the Bobover Rebbe, Rav Shlomo Halberstam ztz”l, and the wife of Rav Yaakov Yisrael Meisels shlita, rav of Kiryat Bobov in Bat Yam. She spearheaded the worldwide Amen movement.
Preparing for Purim
hen I saw my mother next to the large pot of nunt , I knew that Purim was approaching. Nunt, in Yiddish, means to be close. It symbolizes that the essence of good in our world is coming close to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.
Nunt is made of nuts, honey, and sugar cooked together. Why these ingredients? The sweet honey absorbs any food that’s put into it, and as we know, egoz — nut — has the gematria of cheit, sin. We take the cheit, the nut, and we submerge it in the sweet honey, symbolizing teshuvah me’ahavah. When we do teshuvah out of love, even intentional sins are turned into zechuyos, merits.
On Purim, at the tish, my father would distribute the large quantities of the nunt my mother had made.
On Purim Day
In Bobov, our minhag was to eat two seudos on Purim. The first seudah was a large Purim seudah held in the middle of the day, after which they davened Minchah, and then it was time for the “trink se’idah,” the seudah that linked day and night, the time of teshuvah and connection to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.
Everyone would sing songs of dveikus, about the neshamah, teshuvah, longing for HaKadosh Baruch Hu, about galus, and yearning for Mashiach to come. There were special songs in rhyme about the Geulah. There was pure simchah shel mitzvah. There was crying and tears and teshuvah done out of love.
After the singing came the dancing. Just like Simchas Torah follows Yom Kippur. “V’ani kirvas Elokim li tov — but as for me, nearness to Hashem is my good.” “Ivdu es Hashem b’simchah — serve Hashem with joy.” Those were the feelings.
The Purim schedule didn’t conclude with the “trink se’idah.” At 12 a.m. on Motzaei Purim, the Rebbe held another tish that included a skit and spirited, joyous dancing of dveikus.
A Day of Salvation
When my father would dance on Purim, the atmosphere was like that of Yom Kippur combined with Simchas Torah. People were hanging from the rafters so that they could take part in this special teshuvah, so that they could see the dveikus and holy dancing.
I remember one avreich who still hadn’t been zocheh to children for many years of marriage. He came on Purim and requested a brachah. “Get up on the main table and dance!” my father told him. He was self-conscious, but my father insisted. The avreich got up on the table and danced while he was both crying and happy. Nine months later he had a baby.
Another year, a man whose children had all been born sick came. “Dance,” my father said. The next child that he had was born healthy. That’s the power of true happiness — the exact opposite of frivolity.
Then there was another man who came to my father one Purim. He had an older daughter who was not yet engaged, while her twin sister had been happily married for three years already. My father clapped him on the back with joy and bentshed him: “Im yirtzeh Hashem, you’ll have a yeshuah.” To this day, that man says that his daughter got engaged in the zechus of the ‘Purim potch.’ ”
Avreichim would stand on line with kvittlach and wait for that tap, the “potch” that brought yeshuos. I remember one year when my father was still on the bimah, right after Krias Megillah, and my sister’s friend’s son, who was already older and had not yet found a shidduch, tried to jump and reach my father so that he’d shake his hand and bentsh him. “Don’t jump,” my father said, “you already received your yeshuah.” Immediately after Purim he got engaged.
Aside from the yeshuos that came from the tremendous joy, it’s impossible not to remember my parents’ boundless giving on Purim. My father distributed thousands of dollars to tzedakah. All the city’s poor would come, and my mother would also give generous mishloach manos and food items, aside from money. “I have a big zechus,” she’d say. We clearly saw what it means to give tzedakah with an open heart.
I remember one year when a man came and extended his hand for tzedakah. My mother wrote him a check for 36 dollars, a very large sum in those days. The poor man took the check and tore it up in front of her eyes. And my mother? She didn’t say a word, she merely reopened her checkbook and wrote him a new check for 72 dollars… Kol ha’poseiach yad, nosnim lo!
A Powerful Purim
We’re very busy on Purim, but it’s really worth it to get up earlier in the morning — just a little early — to have the time to say a few perakim of Tehillim. True, we have to cook and hear the Megillah and help the kids with their costumes and prepare mishloach manos… but Purim day has a lot of power and it’s wise to take advantage of that for tefillah!
At the same time, it’s very important to try and remain calm and not get angry on Purim. The power of controlling oneself has great impact in Shamayim. Through joy, a person can be released from all troubles and break all barriers. “Ki b’simchah sei’tzeiun — for you shall go out with joy”; you can even go out of tzaros.
So even when the children keep asking for treats and your schedule’s packed and everything is running late, try to remain happy and calm, and make sure that all of you enjoy Purim. And when it’s difficult not to get angry, but you manage to refrain, daven to Hashem that He take that act of self-control and bring you a yeshuah. What a person can achieve on Yom Kippur through fasting, teshuvah, and tefillah, he can also achieve on Purim with true joy.
(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 581)
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