An Explosive Purim? *UPDATED*

An email has been going around containing a slide show about the dangers of mild explosives. The son of the producer was injured when caps exploded in his pocket.

Thanks to Aidel Maidel for the technical help in embedding the document.

The Jerusalem Post summarizes: [The JP, perhaps erroneously, assumes that the parent in question was the father; the slide show does not indicate the sex of the parent.]

The father, who remains anonymous, said the friction from the round explosive-filled caps rubbing against each other in a pocket or held in a child’s hand can easily cause them to explode and ignite. His son suffered major burns, requiring treatment with morphine, daily removal of bandages, and antibiotic creams. The process, said the father, “was a nightmare” that could have been prevented by preventing his son from getting caps.

The boy in the slide show was left with only a few scars, but my friend who works in a pediatric emergency room saw half a boy’s scrotum blown off in a similar incident. The JP continues:

He noted that some of the companies that manufacture them give warnings in extremely tiny, unreadable print, and that they bear no responsibility for what happens if the caps are used “according to instructions,” which include not separating caps from the plastic ring to which they are attached. The plastic melts when ignited and can cause serious damage, even though most parents, children and teachers think such caps are harmless.

Beterem, the Israel National Center for Child Safety and Health, notes that every year, dozens of children are seriously hurt by explosives on Purim, which will be marked next week (and the following Sunday, in Jerusalem and other ancient walled cities).

Ironically, our shul sent the slide show out to all its members. I say ironically, because the noisemakers used in our shul to blot out the name of evil Haman during the reading of the Book of Esther include cap guns.

I responded to the gabbai (synagogue administrator), asking whether caps would be permitted during the megillah reading. The gabbai said yes, as long as the instructions mentioned in the slideshow were followed.

We wonder whether the synagogue is planning to inspect pockets at the door.

The parent of the injured child points out that according to the warning label, caps should be kept in the original package and not handled. He or she asks whether the caps are intended to jump from the package to the pistol on their own. But according to the JP, Beterem comes short of forbidding caps entirely (Beterem article in Hebrew):

One should never use toy pistols or other arms that look like real ones, says Beterem, which also warns against using any kind of firecrackers, explosives or gunpowder. Caps should never be stored in pants pockets. Parents are urged to buy toys only at recognized stores.

We wrote back to the gabbai and pointed out that caps are not only dangerous, distracting and deafening, they detract from kedushat beit hakenesset (the holiness of the synagogue). My husband thinks it’s “quixotic” of us to expect the shul to ban them completely. We haven’t gotten a response.

We are part of a “Mibereshit” group of families who meet weekly to study the weekly Torah portion. When I asked my children if they prefer to go to the Mibereshit group’s Megillah reading, they asked whether there would be caps. They hate the noise.

As I write this I can hear earsplitting explosions set off by neighborhood children.


  1. aidel maidel says

    please email me the slideshow.

  2. I saw that slideshow, it was horrifying. My children are already so frightened by the firecrackers (and my son by the dire warnings that he’s received in school) that thankfully I didn’t see any need to show it to them. I wish they’d ban the things once and for all already. They’re nothing but a danger and a menace.
    M in particular is very upset by the noise of firecrackers. It’s been a very long month…

  3. These things are thankfully illegal for private use here in NY, and the police are fast in responding to any firecrackers being set off. Cap pistols aren’t sold in any stores here. My question is where are the legislators who still allow these things to be sold? They cannot argue that cap pistols have any use in general society, nor can they argue that the pistols do no harm.

  4. I really “gave it” to the boy I tutor when he brought a cap over here and set it off one night right before we started the tutoring session.
    Ugh, this is one of those things I can’t believe people still do! Thank you for highlighting something timely and serious like this. It is a service to the community that we unfortunately really need to hear.

  5. Must we copy EVERYTHING? Such stus.

  6. mominisrael says

    Robin–Hope they stay scared.
    ProfK–Israelis have a much higher tolerance for safety issues. They also like their kids to have fun. Things are improving, but slowly.
    RM–thank you. A few years ago a neighbor’s son fired a cap while we were in the elevator. My ears rang for an hour.
    TD–what bugs me the most is that this is considered acceptable in a shul.

  7. The kids don’t care. “It won’t happen to me” is the mantra.
    I go to private megilla readings, since I can’t stand any noise, especially the echoes by the kids who can’t read and make noise after the others.

  8. I did not see the slideshow, but our shul banned all explosives and the like

  9. cool. I did not know you can embed documents

  10. According to the Arutz Sheva Hebrew site, Rabbi Yona Metzger and Rabbi Shlomo Amar just said that explosives are assur. Do you think anyone will listen?

  11. I was sent this slideshow by my teenagers a few weeks ago.
    I think that’s a good sign.