Two central mitzvot of Purim are hearing the megillah and matanot l’evyonim – donations to the poor. There is a longstanding tradition of making a noise at each mention of Haman in the megillah to drown out the memory of him and his cohorts, Amalek, a nation the Torah describes as bent on attacking the vulnerable and “stragglers” among our people (Devarim 25:18). In repeatedly asserting our desire to eradicate the memory of Haman/Amalek, we are recommitting to supporting the “stragglers” in our midst – those who are struggling financially, emotionally, or physically.
Here is an easy way for communities to actively (and noisily!) demonstrate their individual and collective (re)commitment to social justice - tzedakah - on Purim:
What you need:
1) Packaged goods that make a noise and won’t be damaged when shaken e.g. boxes of pasta, rice, couscous, or packages of croutons, quinoa, beans, cereal etc.
2) A sense of adventure
3) A generous spirit
1. Check with your local food pantry to see their criteria for donating food e.g. Does it need to be Kosher? Do they accept candy?
2. Talk to the venue(s) at which megillah will be read in your community e.g. synagogues, JCC, Hillel. Ask them to invite everyone coming to hear megillah to bring a ‘noisy’ (unopened) package of food (or several packages) that will be collected and donated to the food pantry after megillah reading.
3. Take a tour of your kitchen or local store to find packages of food that will make a noise. (This is a great way to involve children.)
During Megillah reading:
At each mention of Haman, shake the food package(s) to produce a noise.
Suggestion for post-Megillah contest: Offer a prize for the noisiest food package!
After Megillah reading: Ensure all the collected food packages are donated to the selected food pantry.