Last Purim many amazing things happened which I can only
attribute to Hashgocho Protis, individual Divine
First some background. I am fortunate to have a fine Russian
woman help me with our family housekeeping. Irina did not
only take this job for financial reasons; she also wanted to
learn more about keeping a kosher home. At the time, her
family wasn't interested, but Irina wanted to know more and
felt Hashem would help her the rest of the way. Her bar-
mitzva-age son was fairly interested in Judaism but her
teenage daughter was definitely not thus inclined.
Last Purim, which was on Friday, I invited Irina and her
children to spend the Friday and following Shabbos with us.
To my surprise, not only did her son agree, but her daughter
Elena decided to come along, too. Early Purim morning, we
sped off to shul through the mounds of snow which had
fallen the night before. In shul Elena politely
refused my offer of a printed megilla, even in
English, and seemed detached from the proceedings. When we
returned home, she looked bored almost to tears.
As I rushed around finishing preparations for the
seuda, I was at a loss. How could I help Elena make a
connection to this holiday? I hoped Hashem would show me the
With the number of extra guests we had coming, I realized I
wouldn't have enough food for the meal. Suddenly, I was
inspired. "I'll supplement with some glatt Chinese food,
which the teenagers are sure to enjoy." As I was in the midst
of ordering, Elena materialized at my elbow, looking at me
"Hold on a minute," I said to the person taking my order over
"Are you ordering Chinese?" Elena exclaimed, eyes shining,
excitedly perusing the menu from an ad I had cut out. "Wow!
Hey, can you order me won-ton soup? And lo-mein? And beef and
broccoli? I love that! And steamed dumplings?" The list went
on and on, and so did Elena.
At first I was taken aback. Then I thought, "Isn't this the
very mitzva of Purim, to rejoice with food, to really
indulge for once? And don't we know that on Purim we're
supposed to hand out tzedoka to whoever asks? Whoever
stretches out a hand? Purim demands from us a special level
of giving, giving without analzying whether a person really
needs what they're asking for. I guess that sometimes a
person needs things and can't even explain why he needs them.
By asking for all of this food, Elena is extending her hand;
she is asking for something she wants very much. And that is
enough reason for me to give it to her, to make her happy on
Purim in her way. She may not connect to the megilla
or to shul or to the other aspects of Purim, but I am
sure that she will enjoy this seuda all the way, and
that's also an important element of the mitzva of
All this came to me in a flash, and without even missing a
beat, I ordered everything she had asked for, down the line.
I certainly didn't want the kids squabbling over why there
wasn't enough to go all around. I wanted to maintain a very
happy, festive atmosphere at our Purim feast. And I
At the end of the meal, Elena sighed with bliss and
exclaimed, "That was terrific! I had no idea that Chinese
food could taste so good without pork!"
With the seuda over, we dashed out to deliver
m'shloach monos. As we dropped off the last one and
sped home, I heard shattering glass and a loud crunch. I
glanced in my rear view mirror. Not 50 feet behind me, two
cars had crashed in the intersection I had just crossed. As I
prayed for Hashem to help the people in those cars, I also
thanked Him for His having spared me such a terrible fate.
Back at home, I quickly readied everything for Shabbos. Then
I sank down on the sofa and spoke to Elena. "Today is a
special day for prayers, especially for the psalms written by
King David, which contain all the wishes a person could
want." I told her about the connection between Purim and Yom
Kippur and explained why people have the custom of saying
Tehillim on Purim. "I am going to pray for a few minutes now.
If you would like, you can say this one (I leafed to
perek 130) in English and then you can ask Hashem for
whatever you need, because He is really close to us and
listening right now. He will hear whatever you ask Him. Just
open up your heart and tell everything to Hashem."
She took the book from me and earnestly recited that chapter
while I said mine. And she and her brother stayed over for
the following Shabbos.
A week later, Elena's mother came to me, visibly shaken. "You
are not going to believe what happened," Irina said. The
night before, Elena had made a startling announcement to her
parents. Apparently, she had prayed to G-d the week before
for something she wanted very much, and that wish had come
true. At the time, she had promised herself that if Hashem
really listened, she would commit herself to not eating pork
for the rest of her life. And that is what she had openly
declared a week later to her mother!
Our Purim seuda had helped, of course. She had seen
that food could taste great even without pork and realized
that she could really manage without it...
"For the past week," her mother related, still in shock, "she
has quietly been avoiding eating any pork. She didn't tell us
until she saw for herself that it was possible. And now that
she knows she can do it, she has announced that she will
never eat it again in her life."
That's not all. Elena's decision tipped the balance in their
house. Until then, Irina and her son wanted to keep kosher
while Elena, her father and an older child from another
marriage had been against it. It was three against two for
treife, but now that Elena had changed her mind, the
balance had shifted to three against two in favor of
By Rosh Hashona, the family had completely banned pork from
the house and is now working towards kashering the home. So
actually, the turning point, the venehapoch hu,
occurred on Purim.
This fall, Elena's family moved to a new neighborhood and she
began attending a new public high school. She was appalled at
the way the students treated each other. At that school, it
was a sport to start false rumors about other people and
watch their reactions as the lies spread. Someone decided to
target Elena and she was devastated as she tried to squelch
"What's going on?" she asked her mother.
"It's called loshon hora," her mother explained. "It
is a terrible sin. It is against the Torah." Irina had been
listening to the tapes I had given her as she commuted back
and forth to her job with us.
At that point, Elena decided to learn everything she could
about proper speech and resolved never to hurt anyone as she
had been hurt. She began learning from the Daily
Companion to Shemiras Haloshon. By the Tenth of
Teves, she took on the fast for the entire day. And she began
wearing long skirts.
Now it is almost a year since last Purim. Elena has asked her
mother to transfer her to a girls' Torah high school. Seeing
how kids without Torah treat one another has made her very
sensitive and she wants out of that hostile environment.
This is the strength of a person who turns to Hashem with a
sincere heart, and this is how they are helped by Hashem to
come back. I hope that this story inspires readers to reach
out to our not-yet-frum fellow Jews this Purim as
never before, to invite them to our seuda and to bring
m'shloach monos to those who don't usually receive
You can never know how much of a punch is packed away in that
Purim food. Just like Shabbos has its elusive ingredient, so
must Purim have its own special walloping flavor with long
[how now chow mein]