An unlikely association. Yet, connected just the same.
When I was a girl, my parents gave shalach manos baskets to each and every household in our shul. Shalach manos, also know as mishloach manot, is the traditional gift shared with family and friends during the holiday of Purim. For days on end, our home would be filled with sweet scent of hamentashen as RebbetzinGiraffe baked dozens and dozens of batches of this Ashkenazic treat. It will surprise no one that the fillings were “traditional” — lekvar (prune), apricot, cherry.
But these triangle-shaped cookies, meant to recall Haman‘s hat, are merely the first step in the process of constructing mishloach manot. For our Sages teach (Shulchan Aruch, Orech Chayim 695:4, if you are interested) that we must include at least two different food-stuffs. In order to prepare baskets for over three hundred families, BossGiraffe enlisted the (free) help of the youth group. Assembly lines were the most efficient means for getting the job done swiftly. And with a house full of teens, there was much gaiety in the air. Styrofoam bowls filled with peanuts, chocolates, hamentashen, a card with the appropriate Talmudic quote, and — the pièce de résistance — an Andes Crème de Menthe. Wrapped in coloured cellophane and secured with curling ribbon.
Teenagers get hungry. Lunch = hot dogs (boiled…blech!), Heinz vegetarian beans (the green label), potato chips (Laura Scudder’s, perhaps?). Après avoir mangé? Purim shpiel rehearsal. Though in those days, it was less of a shpiel and more of a pantomime. And less of a rehearsal than a one-shot run-through.
But…who cares? It’s Purim, not Broadway.
BossGiraffe, who I suspect could have had a successful career as a navigator, map reader, or surveyor, took the synagogue roster, divided it into precincts, and plotted them out for the drivers. Pre-GPS, drivers routinely kept maps in the glove compartment. Especially since no one was wearing gloves at that point…
The drivers? Why, the loyal men of the Brotherhood, of course. With two or three youth groupers acting as accomplices, the driver would guide his car to the house and slow down. Out jumped a kid who would
drop gingerly set down the basket at the front door, ring the doorbell and……RUNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!! Back to the car and away they’d go.
More than once, I caught myself thinking about my parents’ massive undertaking as I baked and wrapped over the weekend; my efforts not nearly as ambitious. And in each basket, an Andes Crème de Menthe. As a tribute to those who, by their generous example, taught me this mitzvah.