Author of "Embracing Auschwitz" and "Mensch•Marks: Life Lessons of a Human Rabbi - Wisdom for Untethered Times." Winner of the Rockower Award, the highest honor in Jewish journalism and 2019 Religion News Association Award for Excellence in Commentary. Musings of a rabbi, journalist, father, husband, poodle-owner, Red Sox fan and self-proclaimed mensch, taken from essays, columns, sermons and thin air. Writes regularly in the New York Jewish Week and Times of Israel.
I was privileged to appear on the panel of last Sunday's "Shared Legacies" program, co-sponsored by TBE, highlighting the historic Black-Jewish partnership, which we are reigniting.
Shared Legacies CT program 2.21.21 - SPECIAL INTERFAITH PROGRAM
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Purim
First of all, a huge thank you from Mara, Ethan, Dan and myself for the outpouring of support and love following the passing of Mara's mother, Gloria Aisenberg, earlier this week. Click here to see a few family photos. For those who are interesting in attending our Zoom shiva on Sunday at 4 PM, simply reply to this e-mail and I will send you the link.
The Rambam writes that although Purim is a day forbidden in fasting and hespedim (eulogies), one continues to sit shiva as usual (Avelus 11:5).
However, the Rosh (Moed Katan 85) writes that one does not sit shiva.
The Shulchan Aruch (696) rules in accordance with the Rambam, whereas the Rema cites the ruling of the Rosh, adding that this is the custom.
Yet, elsewhere the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 401:7) writes that one does not sit shiva on Purim. This is the common custom.
Jewish law recognizes that grief is not like a spigot that can be turned on and off at will, so it allows for some flexibility in how much one should appear in public during so painful a time. Yet, as I see so often - including this week on Zoom - public mourning can contribute significantly to the healing process. There is something comforting, even to one in acute grief, to seeing children dressed up and singing those old Purim songs, just like so many of our parents and grandparents did when they were kids. So while shiva is curtailed (and we did not have Zoom shiva last night for my mother in law), mourning practices are not set aside completely. Yesterday afternoon, as we were preparing for Purim, our 7th grade held an scheduled session so the students could extend virtual - yet very real - condolences to Mara, their teacher. We also took the time to talk about death as part of the Jewish lifecycle. It was quite moving and the kids displayed remarkable maturity. But it didn't diminish the joy of Purim one iota. In some ways, that joy was enhanced.
Today's celebration of Purim brings us full circle in a manner that has nothing to do with the life cycle. Last year, Purim was the final major event that we celebrated together in our sanctuary before retreating to the safety of our homes. As of last night, we have now completed a full orbit of the Jewish calendar. Unfortunately, our Covid journey is not yet complete, though there are some hopeful signs.
Incidentally, Zoom or not, Purim was great last night! From our Clown College to the Family Megilla, to our Purim for Adults that drew the largest attendance in years, we didn't skip a beat.