By Mordechai Schmutter

I love Purim as much as the next guy (unless the next guy is the owner of a new carpet), but I have to say that the worst part of Purim is the traffic. On random blocks that are not at all designed for traffic. Like for some reason, all the most popular people live in cul-de-sacs. The entire Purim is just sitting in your car and watching the cars in front of you make K-turns all day. And circling the block and quadruple-parking while your kid stands inside a teacher’s house or their parent’s friend’s house and waits for their turn to be noticed by whoever lives there.

“Oh, you’re still here? We thought you were that guy’s kid. You came in with him.”

It’s not ideal. Every yom tov, your chol ha’moed plans are centered around “I don’t want to go where there are too many people.” But on Purim, that’s everywhere you go. Everywhere you go, there’s traffic. You can’t aim to go somewhere where there are no Yidden. Who are you delivering to? No one’s bringing mishloach manos to the non-Jews in their life.

“Thank you for not killing us.”

Everywhere you go, there’s a long line of cars waiting for someone in front of the line to talk their kid through which package in the back of the minivan is for the person whose house they’re in front of so the kid can go inside and get a picture taken that they will never ever see and then come outside and fail to find their car.

“We’re in front of the hydrant, obviously.”

And also of course there are the non-Jews rubbernecking, because I don’t think Purim is a holiday they’re really aware of. They totally forget about it from year to year, like we do with Ash Wednesday.

The teachers have no idea there’s anyone waiting outside. Every teacher is like, “Come in, let me walk you through my entire house, give you the grand tour, and have you stand there while I search for the tiny mishloach manos that I should definitely be able to find a lot quicker.” And the parent who comes in with the child is standing there grinning with no idea what to do with himself, and meanwhile the driving parent is in the car trying to convince all the kids whose teacher it isn’t not to eat the huge amount of food on the seat next to them.

And in the meantime, the teacher is trying to have a conversation with your kid through his mask.

“What are you supposed to be?”

“Mrf mrf mrf.”


I don’t know what to tell you. Have you not seen dogs? He’s what was on sale. Can we move this along?

And then the teacher says, “You’re so cute!”

Every kid is so cute. I have yet to have a teacher say, “Meh.”

And then at some point—a little bit too late to turn back—you realize that half the kid’s costume is in the car because it was not comfortable. Comfort was not a factor in picking the costume she would wear for one day. It was polyester, l’kavod Purim, and one-size-fits-all-but-not-quite. But whatever the headpiece was is gone. You hope it’s in the car, but it could be at another teacher. Or in someone’s mishloach manos.

And then there’s the one rebbe who makes you and your son dance and sit down for cholent, and you’re like, “You know, my wife is out there.”

“Does she like cholent?”

“That’s not really the point. You’re not our only stop.”

Meanwhile, whoever is sitting in the car is doing so in a costume that doesn’t allow for comfortable sitting while constantly having to move the car but also stay in view of the house, with a bunch of kids who are definitely eating all the mishloach manos, spilling nosh all over the back seat to give you that satisfying Pesach cleaning experience of mess-per-square-inch.

“Wow! And what are you supposed to be?”

“Queen Esther.”

“And why is Queen Esther’s face all red?”

“I had a lolly.”

You want your kids drinking cans of warm soda in stop-and-go traffic.

“Get out of the car.”

“I have to finish my soda.”

By the time you get home, it’s like, “So what mishloach manos did we come home with?”


You don’t want to think about what they’re eating back there.

“Wait. Have you been eating the outgoing mishloach manos?”

“It had better stuff.”

This is how it is at every stop. And whichever kid’s turn it is to get out is sitting in the middle seat of the back row, and the kid whose seat has to fold down has the least mobile costume that can’t bend at the waist. Or he has to inflate it every time he gets out of the car, and then deflate it every time he gets back in until you just say, “Forget it; just stuff him in. What’s the worst that can happen? It’s an airbag.”

Well, he has to get out every time. You can’t fold him into the seat.

And throughout all this, every car on the block is blasting Purim music and sharing it with the neighborhood like the other cultures have a custom to do every Shabbos. Everyone with different songs on the same day at the same time. Can everyone please turn down their music so we can find the houses better?

You have no idea where your kid’s friend’s house is.

“What are his parents’ names?”

“I don’t know. He said he’s in the phonebook. Cohen.”

You’re sending your kids on their own into strange houses in a costume.

“Make sure there’s a mezuzah!”

Your kids have never had this much stress and responsibility in their lives.

And then every teacher lives on some obscure street with notes like “Third side door from the back, upper doorbell.” You have no idea.

“What’s your teacher’s last name, again?”

“I don’t know; Rivky. Morah Rivky.”

The teachers at least have hours that you’ll know they’ll be home. Well, hour, singular. They said, “I’m going to be home between 11:30 and 12:30.”

Great. It’s not up to me when we get up to your house. Because my other kid’s rebbe who lives across the street from you says he’s going to be home between 10 and 11. What route do you suggest we take through town?

And the one hour that your child’s teacher is home, the block is a zoo, and the rest of the day it’s a ghost town. The whole block is deserted. “Do you know where this rebbe lives?” There’s no one to ask.

And then at some point in a family’s journey, the father is just like, “You can drop me off at Minchah. Continue on without me.”

“Wait. What?!”

Because for some reason, Purim Minchah is the earliest Minchah of the year. Who’s done mishloach manos by that point?

And anyone can tell the husbands were dropped off because as much as everyone knows there’s an inyan to come to shul in Shabbos clothes, by Minchah on Purim everyone just gives up, and you have adults in whatever themed-with-the-kids costume their wife made them wear. Last year at Minchah, I saw three farmers (two of them in overalls), a rock star with a red haircut, someone who may or may not have been a woman, a bottle of coke, a referee, Waldo, three people in beketshes, and two people wearing—I don’t know what they were dressed as—hats and jackets. There was also a Noach with sunglasses and an Uncle Sam. And that was just the adults. Also, the chazzan was a carton of milk.

I had not started drinking yet.

And the thing is that you can’t just decide to do your deliveries early and beat the traffic. You can’t say, “I want to go before Shacharis. As soon as neitz comes, I’m going to start knocking on doors. I won’t even need a costume; it’s too early in the morning to recognize people.” Yeah, no one wants you to come before they’re ready. You’re basically making them go to you later.

“Oh, you have your costume on!”

“What? No, these are my pajamas!”

Or you can be nice, and get that pile of mishloach manos started on their front porch.

Now for all of you who think I’m complaining about the mitzvah, I am not. The mitzvah is to give one person. The problem is that you want everyone to think that they’re your one person. Does anyone actually think that?

“Wow! They gave one person! And it was someone they haven’t spoken to in four years!”

Every rav recommends toning it down, and nobody listens. Why can’t anybody listen? I mean, I’m not going to listen, because I have people I have to give, but if everyone else would listen, there wouldn’t be all this traffic.

My rabbi told me to give closer to one, but each of my kids’ rebbeim said, “I’d love to see you on Purim.” And I don’t think they meant “emptyhanded.”

“What kind of food does your rebbe like?”

“How am I supposed to know? I think he likes cholent.”

If your rav really wanted you to listen, he would remind you about the traffic. 

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of seven books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send questions, comments, or ideas to Read more of Mordechai Schmutter’s articles at


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