Ben Shapiro, Larry Gordon, and Rabbi Efrem Goldberg
By Larry Gordon

The Super Bowl is over. It was a good game, but the food from the party that was a must for many is now in the garbage and all that is left is the analysis and the memory of the game.

In a few days we will mark Presidents Day, the combined celebration of the birthdays of George Washington and Abe Lincoln. Now those two milestone days are combined into a one-day holiday, the purpose of which is to mandate that those employed by city or state or federal government get another day off.

Next week we begin the Hebrew month of Adar. In about two weeks it will be Purim, and four weeks after that is Pesach. Those yomim tovim may feature a bowl or two of their own, but mostly of the soup variety.

The first part of observing these yomim tovim is to consider how they will interface with our calendars and personal schedules.

This year, Purim is on Tuesday. A midweek celebration like this presents us with a much different dynamic than when the chag falls out on a Saturday night or Sunday.

Over the last two-plus decades I have come to view the way the yomim tovim occur on our calendar from a publishing perspective. There’s an ongoing debate about whether it is proper to work on Purim and on chol ha’moed as well. Of course, if you don’t work as a general rule, the debate really doesn’t apply to you.

The flip side of that discussion is what qualifies as “work.” For example, here at the 5TJT we work with diligence every week, but we actually enjoy what we do so much that it doesn’t really feel like we are working.

Many years ago I worked for a firm that was owned by shomer Shabbos people but they just did not feel it was proper to give us off full days on holidays like Purim or, for that matter, Tishah B’Av. In fact we had to commit to working a half-day on all the days on our calendar when halachically and technically, let’s say, traveling to work is permitted.

It’s like the old joke about why there are no yeshiva classes in session on Shabbos. The fictional example is that if there were yeshiva on Shabbos you might be permitted to do carpool on that day. The reasoning is that if you are at a bris, you leave the bris in order to do carpool, and on Shabbos you are permitted to perform a bris milah; therefore, ipso facto, you might be able to do carpool on Shabbos—hence yeshiva classes are canceled. (That is just a joke—I repeat, just an attempt to be funny.)

So let’s discuss with the arrival of Chodesh Adar and our personal preferences. I’m sure that most people are additionally overjoyed with the Purim celebration when the chag falls out on a Sunday. On that matter, there are a few things to consider. One is that you are not fasting leading into the recitation of the Megillah. When the Megillah is read on a Saturday night after Ma’ariv, you probably ate too much over Shabbos and possibly are wishing that you had fasted once you anticipate how much you are going to be eating in the day ahead.

This year, with Purim on Tuesday, the markets, banks, and post office will be open and you might even find that slightly distracting. I think you need to be focused in order for those business facts not to draw your attention away from the chag.

Leading up to Purim, many of us will be reviewing Megillas Esther as one of the momentous and dramatic retelling of parts of our national history.

From a political perspective of that time in ancient Persia—today’s Iran—we know that Mordechai displayed great courage and faith, which led to the reversal of a decree that was intended to result in a Holocaust of sorts, if you don’t mind me using that word in this context.

But at the end of the Megillah we read that despite his lifesaving efforts, Mordechai HaTzadik, as he is known, was supported “by a majority” of his colleagues, and while he did serve on the Sanhedrin that existed in those days, his involvement in these political events resulted in his demotion from the fifth to the sixth position on the 71-seat halachic congressional-like entity.

So there won’t be any yeshiva on Purim or the next day, Shushan Purim, which is Tuesday and Wednesday. In terms of working, it will be challenging for many. From a 5TJT perspective I think we are OK this year because we generally publish on Wednesday nights. If we have to change our night as some of the yomim tovim do dictate, it often throws the print house into a tizzy of sorts.

And then there is the Pesach schedule to consider. This year, in case you haven’t noticed, we will have the proverbial three-day yom tov extravaganza. The first Seder is on a Wednesday night with yom tov on Thursday and Friday and then leading into Shabbos.

In Eretz Yisrael where locals and some others—depending on your halachic circumstances—observe one day of yom tov on either side of the chag, Friday is the first day of chol ha’moed, which gives everyone there an opportunity to do some more food shopping for Shabbos.

In terms of timing, this year in most U.S. cities we switch to Daylight Saving Time on March 12. That translated to an earlier z’man for the end of the Ta’anis Esther and reading of the Megillah at night. In terms of Pesach, the clock change means a later start for the Seder that first night and an even later beginning for the Seder on the second night. But we are accustomed to these scheduling fluctuations from year to year, and there is no chronological combination that we have not yet experienced.

Pretty soon those who are at home for Pesach and are having guests will take pen to paper and begin scribbling their yom tov menus. And then they will take to the supermarkets and begin shopping and shopping some more. A three-day yom tov extravaganza means stocking up on a multiple variety of items.

This year the mass exodus to Orlando, Florida, for yom tov will be slightly toned down according to those with some expertise on the subject. The reason for this is the fact that yom tov ends on a Thursday night, which for many, whether driving or flying, means staying in the rental home through Shabbos and probably dining on shemurah matzah through the weekend.

Of course, these are just some of the yom tov scenarios that arise as we begin thinking of our upcoming chagim.

Football season is finally over, the month of Adar begins next week, Purim will be coming up fairly quickly, and then the preparation for Pesach and the study of the Haggadah begins. But first we have to figure out where we stored the Haggadahs from last year.

There’s a lot to do, thankfully, but just in case you need an additional distraction, pitchers and catchers are reporting to spring training this weekend.

Anti-Semitism Seminar In Boca

The Boca Raton Synagogue (BRS) under the dynamic leadership of Rabbi Efrem Goldberg was filled to capacity Tuesday evening to hear insight and analysis on anti-Semitism by syndicated radio talk show host and podcaster Ben Shapiro and Yair Rosenberg, a staff writer for the Atlantic.

The discussion was moderated by Rabbi Goldberg.

Shapiro and Rosenberg, both yeshiva graduates with good insights and knowledge of the intricacies of Jewish life, did not disagree about the widespread pain that anti-Semitism has caused Jewish communities from time immemorial. But they did differ on causes and the fashion in which we should deal with anti-Jewish rhetoric and plain old-fashioned anti-Semites.

Rabbi Goldberg’s queries covered a broad range of topics, from the varying views of the panelists to whether or not negative press coverage of Jews and Israel causes violent attacks against Jews both here and in Israel, as well as at what point criticism of Jews and Israel is just criticism and at what point anti-Semitism is introduced into the process.

We will share more of the details of the two-hour conversation in next week’s 5TJT.


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