by Chaya Nessa Krycer
I recently watched a video clip that was posted on my family’s WhatsApp chat. It portrayed an irate man, screaming and wailing about the new Corona protocols that were being considered for the upcoming Purim. His moans expressed his dissatisfaction with the mindblowing idea of social distancing on the important holiday. The passion and fury portrayed by this man piqued my interest (it’s not every day that I witness someone exhibiting more emotion than I do). It obviously took much energy and fervor to call for no social distancing, mask-wearing, or other precautions in such vehement tones. Although his demeanor was excessively aggressive and extreme, some of the complaints he stated did indeed seem rational.
First of all, there is obviously no need for social distancing on Purim of all days! It’s only a time when everyone is exchanging food that could have been coughed on, sneezed on or wafted by those with the dreaded virus. Not only that, I’m sure we can find scientific research backing up the idea that coronavirus cannot be spread on Purim. (If you’ll remember- the first corona quarantine began the week after Purim. This must prove something).
But that is not the only evidence that this man’s words must be heeded. There is another scientific idea (Dr. Faucci has not yet verified it, but may any day now) that states that anything pertaining to food impedes the spread of coronavirus. This seems logical as the only time you can take off your mask and avoid being perceived as an insensitive psychopath is when eating. Therefore, we can deduce that the food itself clogs all corona germs. It would not surprise me in the least if the various vaccines were just mixtures of common foodstuffs, easily obtainable at your local supermarket.
Now, obviously, the two preceding paragraphs were written in a sarcastic manner, purely to poke fun at the man’s narrow views. Naturally, safety is a priority and we must obey the standards that our rabbanim and leading health specialists have placed.
However, there is one aspect of this story that really caught my attention. Toward the end of his rant, he stated that not only was it wrong to ‘cancel’ Purim, all those in favor of taking precautions were ‘anti’ Purim. He felt that people who chose not to give mishloach manos to the entire community never wanted to give in the first place, and are now happy for an excuse to refrain from it.
This accusation bothered me. First of all, the phrase ‘canceling’ Purim is inaccurate. Nobody that I know of (and I know many people). is treating Purim like an ordinary day. I have yet to overhear, “So I was going to have a Purim seudah, but you know, Corona, so we decided to just fast all day instead.” Nor did I hear, “Because we need extra merits this year so that the coronavirus vaccine works, let’s not give charity this time and see what happens.”
From my perspective, no-one was removing Purim from their calendar and celebrating National Customized Wheel and Tire Day. (This is an actual thing. Look it up if you don’t believe me). (Purim was on the 26th if you need some help. I won’t tell you the year, though. You’re gonna have to do some things yourself). All the people I noticed who refrained from coming in close contact with people still observed to the letter of the law. People who did not feel comfortable delivering mishloach manos instead bought Yad Eliezer food packages in honor of somebody else. Some sent emails asking for money, instead of collecting door to door. Megillah readings were available multiple times a day in order to reduce the crowds. All these examples illustrate that we as Jews treat our traditions with the respect and importance they deserve. Just because we are not celebrating in the way this man has become accustomed to, does not mean we are forsaking our religion for our own selfish reasons.
In fact, I believe this Purim proves yet again why the Jewish people have survived so long. Even during turbulent times, we hold tight to our Yiddishkeit, going the extra mile to behave as befits Hashem’s chosen nation. We have proved to the world that we can have a safe Purim without having a canceled Purim.