Purim-How it Used to Be in my Father’s Home
י״ז במרחשון ה׳תש״פ (15 בNovember 2019)
We lived in a small house and money didn’t flow freely but my Parents would save up bit by bit until they could gladden the poor on Purim along with the Torah scholars that came knocking.
On Purim after the Megillah reading all of us children got dressed up in the costumes we had at home. These were given to us by distant cousins and that’s how they looked.
We didn’t hope for more than this and we felt these were the most exciting costumes possible! My father would joke with every child about his costume and we understood that what we already have is the best thing we could have!
I don’t ever remember ever complaining about a costume and wanting a different one. We always considered ourselves lucky.
My father's name is Eabbi Eliezer Brandwine of blessed memory and Purim in my Father’s house was the stuff of dreams. It started at night with reading the Megillah in my fathr’s synagogue (where he was a rabbi loved by all). My brother would read the Megillah and then we all went back home.
During the night my father would learn for fear that there would be less Torah learning during the day since the yeshiva boys drink until drunk and also collect funds for the Yeshiva, so to make up for the lost Torah learning he would learn extra.
My mother would stand in the kitchen and prepare more and more Purim dishes for the festive meal. Meanwhile people would knock and it didn’t matter who he was; he would be given a place of honor next to my father. My father would sit with all the guests and give them special attention say over a Torah thought related to Purim or ask a juicy question on the Megillah. If someone attempted an answer even if it was wrong my father would press a coin into his hand even if he had plans to give him money later.
He would also call out to my mother and ask her to bring in ‘something good’ for the honored guest. That ‘something good’ was a plate piled full of nutritious and filling food. My father was afraid the needy person wouldn’t get real food elsewhere so he made sure they ate by him.
In later years when Yeshiva boys raising funds would visit he worried they would get a wholesome meal and would just eat candy all day so he made sure they also got a full meal.
My mother loved to do my father’s bidding. She too enjoyed watching the students eating and enjoying her food.
My mother’s Purim meal was the high point of the day. We waited all year for the extended family to come join us for the Purim meal. When my father started asking his riddles everyone was silent. These were questions gathered over the years and we remembered most of them but still enjoyed the repetition as if it was the first time we heard it. My father would ask and everyone would answer at once in one big mix up till the end of the meal! My father loved to dance and sing for the honor of the Torah. Especially on Purim he would sing his happy songs and you couldn’t just stand on the side and not get swept into some mighty singing!
My Father passed away last year but even till last year we still came over for the Purim meal. The meal was much bigger and more crowded but no one complained that it was crowded in the house. There was plenty of food and my father at the head of the table didn’t stop asking questions and riddles to his grandchildren and great grandchildren everyone enjoying themselves, singing loudly and dancing vigorously.
The night after Purim was devoted to putting the house back together again. It was hard to leave after such a wonderful day full of happiness, mischief and pleasure and yet full of the light of holiness.
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