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The Feast of Purim

the celebration of the Triumph of Good over Evil

By Shlomo Phillips © December 29, 2010 (last updated March 08, 2017)

"If you fail to speak up now, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from a different direction;
but you and your father's family will perish.
Who knows whether you didn't come into your royal position precisely for such a time as this"

-- Esther 4:14

Purim is the celebration of the Triumph of Good over Evil, of Israel's assured survival against all the odds! More, it is a challenge to each of us Jews today:

Will we stand with Israel and our people TODAY or will we stand with the Haman's of the world?
We each must decide.
You must decide.

My Thoughts on Purim

May You Have A Joyous Festival!

    
Purim:

2017: April 10-18 (No Work)
2018: March 30-April 7 (No Work)
2019: April 19-27
2020: April 8-16
The Seder
2017: April 10-11 (No Work)
2018: March 30-31 (No Work)
2019: April 19-20
2020: April 8-9

From the earliest days of our People there have always been those determined to destroy us. This is very much the case today as Jew hatred is once again heating up and becoming socially acceptable. Still today we must survive as a people against all the odds; our people WILL continue on. This is the message of Purim:

We will survive.
Am Y'israel Chai!

Throughout the millennia many enemies like Haman have come against us and none of them have succeeded because HaShem is eternally with His people now as He was then! Beyond the festivals and the fun this is the central and solemn Remembrance of Purim:

They came to kill us, they failed, let's eat!
Genesis 12:1 Now HaShem said to Avram, "Get yourself out of your country, away from your kinsmen and away from your father's house, and go to the land that I will show you.
2 I will make of you a great nation, I will bless you, and I will make your name great; and you are to be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you, but I will curse anyone who curses you; and by you all the families of the earth will be blessed."

HaShem blesses and protects His people in every generation. He alone is our hope.

The Story of Purim

The story of Purim is found within the Megillah (or Scroll of Esther). The heart of the Feast of Purim is the public recitation of the Megillah. It is read in homes and shuls the world over.

The Purim celebrations include dressing up in wonderful costumes, putting on plays (Purim shpiel), men sometimes dress as women and women as men, people playfully steal each others food, there is dancing and noise making, carnivals and more as a general air of complete disorderly celebration reigns supreme... even in the shul itself!

On Purim Jews enter the normally reserved synagogues with Haman's name written on the soles of our shoes! As the Megillah (Book of Esther) is read we pay close attention, understanding that the story of Purim never ends -- it is repeated in every generation as new Hamans arise and are confronted by modern Mordecais and Esthers (may HaShem send us an army of such people today!). The world has many Hamans today and Bezras HaShem ("with the help of HaShem") we will survive them as well!

As the Book of Esther is read, whenever the name "Haman" is uttered (and its in the text 54 times!) the congregates stomp their feet in disgust at what he sought to do to the Jews, grinding his name into the dust. This tradition began among French and German rabbis of the 13th century who wrote Haman's name on stones and beat and ground them together until the stones (like Haman's power) disintegrated into rumble. Doubtless they were thinking of their own Hamans!

Congregants hiss and boo at the mention of his name in the text. Some shake rattles (called ra'ashan) as everyone symbolically mocks all the Haman's of history past, present and future. HaShem is with His people and eventually the Hamas always lose!

Purim is a time to remember this central truth: NONE of the enemies of Israel have ever succeeded, despite the pain and sorrow they may inflict. Am Y'israel Chai! We are still here while they are gone!

The other main tradition of Purim is feasting (Se'udat Purim) and the drinking of large quantities of wine (or other alcoholic beverages). On this one day of the year the Sages of the Talmud state that "one should drink until he can one longer distinguish between the phrases arur Haman ("cursed is Haman") and baruch Mordechai ("blessed is Mordecai")!"

Other Chazal ("sages of blessed memory") sought to mellow this ruling a bit, stating that one should only drink a bit more than usual, then go to sleep (as in sleep one can not distinguish between the two either!).

The point is that our hope is in HaShem alone, not in our ability to defend ourselves by the powers of our rational minds. For a people who so value knowledge and self control, this is a major concession to make! Despite our preparedness -- and we should be armed and ready to fight when necessary! -- our survival depends solely on the Will of HaShem yitbarach.

Also popular is the giving of charity (Esther 9:22). Orthodox halacha (law) dictates that each adult Jew should give two different foods to one person, and two charitable donations to two poor people. The food parcels are called mishloach manot ("sending of portions"). In some Jewish circles these traditions result in major gift-giving but simple gifts satisfy the tradition.

It appears that the costuming traditions began among Italian Jews in the 15th-century. The popular customs of cross dressing are peculiar and difficult to explain, however the tradition is strong and seems to be related to the idea that HaShem sometimes uses the forbidden (men wearing women's clothing etc) to accomplish His Will. Or perhaps that's just a cop-out: an excuse to party and be silly. It can also be understood as an acknowledgeable of our complete unworthiness of His ongoing protection.

Queen Esther was Jewish and yet due to Haman's anti-Semitism she was forced to conceal her Jewish identity. The costumes and masks worn by Jews on Purim remember this part of the Queen's experiences. In other words, hidden beneath what appears like chaotic mirth we recall the miracle of God's salvation then and trust in it today and in the future. As with the drunkenness, by such traditions normally strictly religious Jews acknowledge that we are powerless without HaShem yitbarach.

Another fun thing about Purim is the Purim Shpiel! These began as comic reenactments of the story of Esther, mocking Haman, but soon evolved into diverse fun examples of the Jewish spirit in all areas of life that demonstrate HaShem's blessings on His people. Here are a couple of fun examples with the help of YouTube:

Best Purim Shpiel Ever!!

Congregation Beth Am Purim Shpiel 2: The Wrath of Haman

The story of Purim IS the story of the Jewish people.
    
Purim Observances

Reading of the Megillah (book of Esther), which recounts the story of the Purim miracle. This is done once on the eve of Purim and then again on the following day. Giving money gifts to at least two poor people. Sending gifts of two kinds of food to at least one person. A festive Purim feast, which often includes wine or other intoxicating beverages.

This is from JewishHistory.org:

Here Rabbi Berel Wein explains the story of Purim and its continuing relevance:

Purim Song

Purim Evening 5777 Megillat Esther Reading Live From the House of Beggars, Simulcasted by Shlomo

Purim Morning 5777 with Rabbi Aryel Nachman Ben Chaim and the House of Seven Beggars

Chag Purim Sameach!
From Shlomo and AllFaith.com!

The Megillat Esther in Hebrew


Hey wait a minute!

Aren't we supposed to be blotting out Haman's name?


Be the Blessing you were created to be
And
Don't let the perfect defeat the good


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