Emunah Based on the Teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Archive for the ‘Purim’ Category

Spirit of Purim

By Rabbi Micha Golshevsky shlit”a

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Chapter 141, 1: 1

From the onset of Adar one should magnify his joy. (Mishenichnas Adar marbim b’simcha.) If a Jew has an alter-cation with a non-Jew he should take him to court during Adar since it is an auspicious time.
The Ohev Yisrael, zt”l, writes that the word “b’simcha” has the same numeri-cal value as the word “shana,” year.[1] The more b’simcha, joyous, one is dur-ing Adar, the more joy one will experi-ence the entire year!
The Chidushei HaRim, zt”l, states that just as we go into the illumination of Tishrei through Elul, we attain the dveikus, or intimate connection with Hashem, of Nisan through Adar. In Adar, our repentance is born of love and is stronger than the teshuva of Elul which is rooted in fear.

The Divrei Shmuel explains the deeper meaning of the preference to take a gentile to court during this month. On a deeper level, this refers to judging the non-Jew within us which is the aspect of Amalek within. One who has difficul-ty struggling with the negative inside himself (and who doesn’t in our gener-ation?) overcomes this with much greater ease during Adar.
The Chidushei HaRim writes further that Adar is a conjunction of the phrase Aleph-Dar (א – דר=אדר) . Aleph refers to Hashem, sometimes known as Alufo Shel Olam, the lofty One of the uni-verse, and dar literally means dwells.[2] This means that during the month of Adar, due to the boundless joy we ex-perience, it is easier for us to become a
dwelling place for Hashem.

Chazal say, “One who wishes to pre-serve his property should plant an Adar on it,” which could mean either planting a type of tree known as an adar, which is usually understood to be a maple, or to plant the tree during the month of Adar. As it says in Tehilim (93:4,) “Adir bamarom Hashem”—“Hashem is All Powerful on High.” But what does the verse have to do with securing one’s material wealth? The Chashva L’teshuva, zt”l, explains that the needs of every Jew are allocated from heaven. The reason why people lack is because their heavenly allot-ment is being withheld. What should one do to avoid losing out, then? “Plant an adar.” Adar refers to one who is steadfast as a mighty maple in his faith that Hashem is All Powerful!

Once, two friends met and one com-plained to the other that things were very difficult financially. He was literal-ly at the end of his rope and didn’t know what to do or where to turn.
“Well,” responded his friend, “Rebbe Nachman writes that ‘one who is al-ways happy will succeed.’ So I recom-mend that you strive a to feel happy all the time.”
“But that is one of the most difficult things to do! How can I possibly work towards such a lofty goal?” complained the disgruntled man.
“Nu, what won’t people do to make a living?” his friend answered.

[1] Both equal 355. )ב= 2 ש= 033 מ= 03
) ח= 8 ה= 5 & ש= 033 נ= 53 ה= 5
]2[ To this day an apartment in Hebrew

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Laws Pertaining to Matanos L’Evyonim

By HaRav Shimon Anshin shlit”a

A. Who is obligated in the Mitzvah?

Even a needy person himself is obligated in this mitzvah according to most Halachic Authorities.

Unmarried men (bachurim) are obligated but there are those that say that bachurim that don’t have their own money are not obligated.  In practice however, it would seem appropriate for their father to give them some money in order to fulfill this mitzvah.

Married men are obligated even when guests in their parents house for Purim.

Boys under Bar Mitzvah (katan) are not obligated according to some Halachic  opinions and there are those that hold it is enough that they are shluchim (“messengers”) of their father to give his money to the needy.  There are those Poskim however, that obligate the father under the law of chinuch (education) to give the katan money so that he can fulfill the mitzvah accordingly himself.  And in fact, it is good practice for Yirei Shamayim to do so.

Women are obligated according to most Poskim to give themselves.  However, with regards to a married woman who does not have money of her own, according to some Halachic opinions, it is enough that her husband gives to two needy people with her in mind in order for her to fulfill the mitzvah . The best way though, is for her husband to give his wife her own money to fulfill the mitzvah.  And in the same way, one can give money to his young daughters as well as to his older unmarried daughters.

B. To whom should one give the money?

There are those Halachic opinions that hold that the recipient of the money must be specifically “needy” (“evyon”) – i.e. that such a person “desires everything” and is not embarrassed to ask for his needs.  There are those that hold that it is enough that the recipient is simply considered poor (“ani”) – the definition being that this person does not have the basic necessities of the average person, or, someone who is deeply in debt.

In practice though one does not have to search specifically for a person defined as “needy” (“evyon”), but it is enough to give to a “poor” person.

Note: With regards to Torah Institutions (Kollelim, Yeshivahs etc), even though it is a big mitzvah to give to them, it would appear that they would not qualify as recipients for the mitzvah of Matanos L’Evyomin.

C. Everyone who asks should be given:

“Kol Haposhet yad, notnim lo” – One should not be scrupulous as to whom one gives regular Tzeddaka money to on Purim (not Matanos L’Evyomin).  Rather, one should give to whoever asks.

There are those Poskim that hold that it is in fact a halachic obligation to give to each and every person that asks, while others hold that there is no halachic obligation to give to everyone that ask.  However, with regards to those that one DOES give to, one should not be scrupulous about the recipient’s status on Purim (like the Halacha dictates ordinarily during the year).

Some Poskim however hold that one does in fact fulfill one’s obligation of Matanos L’Evyomin even when giving regular Tzeddaka on Purim.

Note: With regards to young children who go around collecting money on Purim, as is the case in Israel, there is no Halachic obligation to give them.

D. How much should one give?

There are many Halachic opinions as to how much money to give.  We will list them in ascending order:

1. less than a “p’rutah”.

2. A “p’rutah”.

3. Enough to buy a kazayis of bread.

4. Enough to buy a fig-size of bread.

5. Enough to buy 3 eggs (168 grams).

6. Enough for a Seudah.

7. A significant amount according to the importance of the recipient.

In practice, even though one would fulfill his obligation with a “p’rutah”, however, due to the importance of the mitzvah of Matanos L’evyonim, it is appropriate to give according to an amount for a Seudah (at least 25 shekels in Israel).  One can however give less with regards to the money he gives to his children to distribute.

Note: The funds which one apportions for Matanos L’Evyonim should be more than one apportions on Mishloach Manos.

E. The Way in Which the money should be given:

  • It is possible to give the money via check but it must be redeemable on Purim itself.
  • One can give via a Credit Card.
  • One can give money via a messenger for someone else, even if the money will not get to the recipient on Purim itself. However, one should call the recipient on Purim and notify him that money is on the way for him.
  • One should not give Matanos L’Evyonim from Maaser money or from money that one has committed to give in the future.  However, after one has fulfilled his Halachic obligation to give to 2 needy people according the amount described above, any extra money ones gives may in fact come from Maaser money.
  • With regards to money from “Zeicher Machatzis Hashekel” that is owed to the poor, it is possible to fulfill one’s Halachic obligation of Matanos L’Evyonim with it.

F. The Time to give Matanos L’Evyonim :

The mitzvah of Matanos L’Evyonim  is ONLY during the day.  Yet with regards to the day, there are many Halachic opinions as to when to give.  Some Halachic opinions hold the earlier the better.  Some hold before Tefillas Shacharis while others hold after Tefillas Shacharis.  Some hold before reading the Megillah, whiles others hold after the Megillah.  However, no opinions hold after the Seudah.

In practice one should give after the Megillah reading and be careful to fulfill the mitzvah before eating any thing as is prescribed by the Poskim with regards to not eating before the Mitzvah.

TRANSLATOR’S NOTE:

As this is a translation of the original Hebrew, if you are unclear on any of the Laws outlined herein in any way whatsoever, please consult with a Halachic Authority.

Laws Pertaining to Zeicher Machatzis Hashekel

By HaRav Shimon Anshin shlit”a

A. Who is obligated to give Zeicher Machatzis Hashekel?

Each male from 20 years of age and above is obligated, but there are those that hold males from the age of 13 and above are obligated. There is however a minhag to give even for young boys under Bar Mitzvah, as well as for fetuses whose male gender is yet undetermined.

  • If one has started the minhag to give for each of his male children described above, it is forbidden to stop in future years.
  • If one wants to fulfill his obligation according to all opinions, he should give for his wife and daughters as well. However, one who does not give for the females in his household, has on whom to rely.

B. The required quantity for Zeicher Machatzis Hashekel

One who wishes to fulfill his obligation according to all opinions, should meet the following 6 criteria:

1. The coin itself should have a designated “name” of a “half” (for example “half” shekel coin in Israel or 50 cent coin in the US.)

2. The coin should be an established/circulated coin in the place in which it is given.

3. There should be three coins with a designation of “half” each.

4. The coins should have current “buying power” (worth).

5. The coins should be worth the amount of Machatzis Hashekel that was used during the time of Beis Hamikdash (between 8.5 & 9.5 grams of pure silver).

6. The coins should be made from pure silver.

However, in Israel there is no coin meeting all of the above 6 criterion, primarily because there are no coins in circulation made from pure silver and the half Shekel coin available has no real buying power. Moreover taking a coin from another country is not usable.  (Even were one to argue that the US Dollar is in fact an established currency in Israel, the 50 cent coin (½ dollar) specifically is not used for purchasing anything in Israel.

In Practice:

One who wishes to perform the mitzvah in the best possible way should take heed of the following points:

a) Give three coins each of “half” a shekel designation since it is the only established half shekel available in Israel (one should do according to his country – e.g. three 50 cent coins in the US).  In addition then, in Israel, one should give another three 50 cent (1/2 dollar) US coins since they do in fact have some worth in Israel (due to their currency exchange value).

b) If one wishes to be further scrupulous in the mitzvah, one should add more money in order to arrive at the value of the pure silver half-shekel which was used in the Beis Hamikdash. As of this publication, the total value of the pure silver according to that used in Machatzis Hashekel, is approx. 17.5 – 19.5 new shekels ($4.65 – $5.18 US)

c) If one does not have three “half” coins of worth in Israel (such as the 1/2 dollar US coin) and wants to add three such coins, one should purchase these additional coins from the Gabbai according to their currency exchange value and perform the mitzvah accordingly.

d) The time for performing the mitzvah is before Mincha of Taanis Ester according to most Halachic Authorities. Even when Taanis Ester is early (Not Erev Purim like this year), nevertheless this is the best time in which to perform the mitzvah. If one however did not have the time to give before Mincha, then he should give after Mincha but before Maariv. If one was not able to give between Mincha and Maariv, then he can still give on Purim day itself.

e) One who gives only three ½-shekel coins, even if only to cover himself, has on whom to rely. And even if one uses three ½ shekel coins in circulation today, he also fulfills his obligation according to essence of the law.

f) One should be careful when he gives NOT to say: “L’Machatzis Hashekel”, but rather should say “Zeicher L’Machatzis Hashekel”. If one made a mistake and did in fact say “L’Machatzis Hashekel”, it would seem then in practice that the coins do NOT become sanctified (Hekdesh) and one could in fact give them to the poor.

g) With regards to Medallions made and designated for Zeicher Mechatzis Hashekel, one cannot NOT fulfill his obligation what-so-ever as they have no “name” of Machatzis Hashekel, nor are they an established coin in circulation in the place in which one is performing the Mitzvah.

h) One should NOT give Machatzis Hashekel from his Maaser Money. However, if one adds to extra to his obligation according to the law(“ikkar Hadin” three ½ shekel coins), it is possible to give the additional money from Maaser.

C. To whom should one give the Zeicher Machatzis Hashekel money?

According to most Halachic Authorities, one should give the money only to the poor (especially B’nei Torah). Specifically, this money should not go towards the Shul. Even more so, it should not be used to perform other Mitzvos. If there are no poor people around at the time of performing the Mitzvah (before Mincha), one should place the money in his pocket and/or make sure it is distributed on Purim itself.

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