Do you have a friend who has taken on a particular mitzvah and made it their own? You know who I mean. The friend who is the first to make a meal for someone who is sick. The friend who shows up to make a minyan in all kinds of weather. The friend who keeps kosher and changes the dishes for Pesah.
I have a friend like that. Her name is Leora and her particular mitzvah (among many other mitzvot she does) is mishloach manot, those small packages of food sent to friends for Purim. For most of my years in Baltimore, even in years when we didn’t see or speak to each other except on Purim, I’ve received the most wonderful mishloach manot from Leora. According to tradition, Mishloach manot are made up of at least two different kinds of food and sent to at least two different people. But Leora is a wonderfully creative educator and her mishloach manot usually have a theme. The year we did the blessing of the sun everything was sun related – sunsweet prunes, Sunkist fruit gems. Another year she put the treats in a flashlight with the verse from the megillah – the Jews had LIGHT and joy. Pretty clever.
Well this year my friend Leora is in Jerusalem and was celebrating Purim thousands of miles away. I thought of her with fondness and hoped she was having a wonderful, joyous holiday.
Imagine my surprise when I returned home Wednesday night following megillah reading at Chizuk. The weather was dreadful, the snow had just started, the roads were already getting dangerous and hanging on my door was a bag from Jerusalem. I still don’t know how she managed it (maybe there is a Mishloach Manot fairy?!) but Leora sent me a bag full of goodies from Israel – chocolate bars with pop rocks in them, halvah flavored Bamba, chocolate spread, even cookies from a favorite Jerusalem bakery.
We had many delicious treats to enjoy during the next two days of snow but more importantly we were so touched by her devotion to this mitzvah and the way she made our Purim truly joyous. So thank you to Leora and thank you to everyone who takes a particular mitzvah and makes it their own. You bring orah, ve simkhah, ve sasson, light, joy and gladness to everyone around you.