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Purim Primer

Dear Chaverim,

This year Purim begins Thursday night February 25th and continues on February 26th.   

Megillah Reading 
This Purim will, unfortunately, be different from all other years. We will be having services in our outdoor tent and each service can hold up to 25 people. We will have 4 Megillah readings at night and 4 by day. We encourage those who can to join us in person.

Live-Stream option:  There has been great debate across the rabbinic world regarding the acceptability of Megillah over live-stream. This was a very difficult decision for us and we consulted with the Rabbis of Yeshiva University on this matter. In general, we do not allow for a reading of the Megillah over digital reproduction.  However, there is a minority opinion in Jewish Law that says that electronically broadcast sound is kosher. Given the importance of preserving life, poor substitutes other than live streaming for Megillah reading and the priority of maintaining a basic Purim observance we thought it advisable to rely on the minority opinion and to broadcast Megillah reading. 

Please try to join us for all the Purim festivities at Schara Tzedeck that will take place outdoors or over live-stream. The call of Esther to gather everyone together in prayer and unity is, perhaps, greatest now that we cannot see each other in person. We will be providing a live-stream reading of the Megillah for the Night and Day reading. The full schedule and a Purim Primer are included below for easy reference.

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Fast of Esther will be observed on Thursday, February 25th.  Fast begins at 5:29 am; fast ends at 6:24 pm. Eating light snacks after nightfall is permissible for those who are attending a later Megillah reading. A full meal should not be eaten until after one hears the Megillah. 

Megillah readings: CLICK HERE TO REGISTER
Thursday night, February 25th,

  1. 3:30 pm - Mincha Service - Wosk
  2. 6:20 pm - Main Sanctuary;<--- This reading will be Live-Streamed - CLICK HERE TO VIEW
  3. 6:20 pm - Tent
  4. 7:45 pm - Main Sanctuary
  5. 7:45 pm - Tent
  6. 9:00 pm - Main Sanctuary
  7. 9:15 pm - Wosk

Friday morning, February 26th (times reflect the start of morning service, Megillah is about 40 minutes into the service)

  1. 6:45 am - Wosk
  2. 8:00 am - Tent
  3. 8:15 am - Main Sanctuary; <--- This reading will be Live-Streamed - CLICK HERE TO VIEW
  4. 9:30 am - Tent
  5. 9:45 am - Main Sanctuary
  6. Women's Megillah Reading 8:30 am - Wosk


Friday, February 26th at 11:30 am - Click here to register for our drive-thru event.

You can now send e-cards to friends near and far who you wish to make a donation in their name in lieu of mishloach manot. The artwork for this e-card is created by our own Schara Tzedeck youth. Reminder, this does not fulfill the mitzvot of mishloach manot and you should still plan to deliver to those individuals you can. CLICK HERE TO SEND YOUR E-CARD NOW.


Parshat Zachor: The practice is to read Parshas Zachor with a minyan from a kosher Sefer Torah on the Shabbos before Purim. If one is unable to do so, they may read from a kosher Sefer Torah without a minyan (without reciting the brachot). If that is not an option, one should have in mind to fulfill this obligation with the Kriyas HaTorah on Purim morning. If that too is impossible, one should have it in mind when reading Parshas Ki Seitzei (in the summer months). 

Fast of Esther Purim begins with the Fast of Esther, celebrated on the eve of the holiday. Despite the name, the fast is not based on the fast Esther undertook before approaching King Achashverosh. The Fast of Esther is observed in commemoration of the battles that raged between the genocidal mobs of Haman and the Jewish people, as well as the spiritual war against the enemies of Jews and Judaism. Those who are pregnant, nursing, or infirm, or even those suffering from an intense headache may make up the fast on another day.   

Megillat Esther We are required to hear the reading of the megillah twice on Purim--once at night and once the next day.  It is preferable to do this in a public setting (with a minyan) and to find the largest reading one can.

Here are some links for some good reading on the Megillah

Dr. Moshe Simon: Irony and the Book of Ester

Yoram Hazony Politics and Esther (brief)

Review of Yoram Hazony’s book on Politics and Esther

Rabbi Sacks on the Book of Esther

Matanot Le'Evyonim (Gifts to the Poor)  According to Jewish tradition one should spend more energy and resources on this mitzvah above all others. Maimonides explains that the reason for the primacy of matanot l’evyonim is that there is no better way to feel happiness than to gladden the heart of the poor.  This year there is an even greater need related to the current pandemic. Fulfill the mitzvah of gifts to the poor and help us meet their needs by clicking here to contribute.  You may also contribute through the shul office at 604-736-7607.

Mishloach Manot (Exchanging Gifts) These are gifts of food from one friend to another.   One must give food and cannot substitute other items of value. The tradition suggests that the two food items should be of two different categories, such as cake and chocolate, or fruit juice and hamantashen.  This mitzvah is designed to allow the community to preserve its unity and connections over a distance.  Sharing food has long been a way to bring a community close together and this mitzvah is a wonderful way to do that.  I would suggest choosing to give to someone you imagine will not get mishloach manot (e.g. new family in the school community, an elderly friend who is a little more lonely this year, etc.) Mishloach Manot should be given out on Purim day after hearing the Megillah reading. 

Purim Seudah (Purim Feast)  This meal is an actual requirement and not just an optional celebration. When Purim falls on Friday, many have the practice to join the Purim Seduah to the Shabbat meal.  The custom is to stop the meal in the middle, cover the bread, and recite kiddush so that the meal may continue as a Shabbos meal. 

Proposed schedule for the joining of the Purim and Shabbat meals

4:15 recite mincha

4:30 Wash hands and make Hamotzi

5:20 Light Shabbat candles (and those lighting accept Shabbat) 

5:25 Cover all bread and recite Kiddush for Friday night (all accept Shabbat fully)

5:35 Recite Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv

6:00 return to the meal and enjoy the next course.  Do not skip dessert:)

Others prefer to complete the meal by the beginning of the tenth halachic hour of the day (around 3:45 pm). 

Machatzit HaShekel (Half Shekel). The giving of the machazit hashekel is done to commemorate the Temple census and campaign for basic funds. The Synagogue provides an apparatus by which you can purchase the half currency coins and then re-donate them.  This year, when giving Machatzit Hashekel there is no need to raise the actual coins. One may fulfill the minhag of Machatzis HaShekel by placing paper money in the collection bin. We should keep in mind that this minhag is merely a way to remember what happened in the Beit Hamikdash and not the actual mitzvah of Machatzis HaShekel that was performed in the days of the Beis Hamikdash. They will be available throughout Purim day.    

Dressing up This needs little explanation, just keep it appropriate. 

Drinking Please see my discussion here on: Noah, Lot and Other Jewish Drinkers 

Wishing you a Chag Purim Sameach.

Rabbi Andy Rosenblatt
Rabbi Ari Federgrun

Tue, 27 July 2021 18 Av 5781