Answering the question of what a Jewish person who finds he has a little extra money on Purim should do, the Rambam answers: give it away for purposes of matanos l’evyonim.
The reason for this, the Rambam explains, is because making the heart of a broken man feel uplifted is the greatest form of simcha; it’s a direct emulation of Hashem’s ways. Emulating Hashem’s ways, the Rambam elaborates, brings immense joy to Jewish people as it make their relationship with Hashem stronger and stronger over time.
The question we could ask is that if the matter at hand is Simchas Purim – to be joyous on Purim, then why not use the money to buy another bottle of wine — after all, that will make you happy then and there, on Purim — not at some later, nonspecific date?
The Rambam gives a very insightful answer to this question: doing for others is the true source of happiness. In other words, there is no greater happiness, in the here and now and in the future, than doing for and giving to others.
Why is that so? We have a clue from the shoresh of the word Osher—fortunate (an advanced manifestation of happiness), which is Asher—validate.
In loshon Hakodesh, the shoresh defines the essence of a word. Indeed, here, Hashem, the architect of loshon Hakodesh, hints to the boundless value of validation, a sense of being that is at the essence of happiness. If we feel validated, if our lives have validity—and then we feel happy.
What exactly is validation, particularly in the mind of a teen struggling to forge and identity? For one, validation is the tangible sense that you matter; that by getting out of bed every day, you will affect others in a positive way. You can feel validation by performing simple acts that allows us to transcend our potential and actually perform.
Validation can be found by being conscious of a set of responsibilities and meeting them. Or by seeking a way to help someone and carrying it out. In yeshiva, the mentoring programs we conduct are a startling demonstration of the power of validation. The Bais Medrash bochurim spend time each day day learning and mentoring the boys in the mesivtahigh school.
What an impact this has! A mentor truly has a chance to make a difference in the life of his younger charge and his own life.
The responsibility of a mentor is to help the younger bochurim get in touch with what they want from their education., The impact on both members of a mentoring relationship includes enhanced self esteem, improved academics, and an overwhelming sense of validation.
Validation brings happiness. It’s a happiness we can feel by doing things for others and by enjoying the act of doing something. When we teach our children to view the world through the prism of giving and helping, we teach them to self- validate themselves and to fuel a sense of accomplishment and joy each and every day.
Which brings us back to Purim. We have, within ourselves, the ability to generate joy and validation. Every day. And on Purim—without the assistance of substances such as alcohol. Perhaps that is the true message of the Rambam, and one we should all take to heart this and every Purim: forget the extra bottle of wine.
Maybe a small taste. But we certainly don’t need it to feel happy. There’s plenty of goodness inside each and every Jew to feel that validity and personal accomplishment that can bring us joy and a closer relationship to Hashem. A Freilichin Purim.