There Is A Haman In Every Age
Haman is identified in the Purim story as the Agagite, meaning he is a descendant of Agag, king of the Amalekites. The Amalakites were archenemies of the Israelites.
Rabbi Yitz Greenberg explained that in Jewish tradition, Amalek does not merely refer to the original Bedouin tribe that attacked the Israelites just after they left Egypt, but symbolizes evil incarnate, a force seeking to wipe out the Jews. As Amaleks direct descendant, Haman literally embodies this evil force.
Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik explained the persona of Amalek this way:
The mere existence of a Jewirritates Amalek, and his hatred can erupt suddenly and violently and be translated into mass murder. The very presence of a Mordechai arouses Haman he just cant bear him. As Haman clearly declared : Yet all this is worth nothing to me, as long as I see Mordechai the Jew sitting at the kings gate.
Whether Amalek is Fascist , Communist , absolute capitalist, radical terrorist or even American super-patriot, the Jew becomes the target of his irrational and total hatred, Greenberg wrote. Although some Jews have been uncomfortable with this idea, the tradition has insisted that as long as an Amalek exists, the Jews are unsafe.
How Is Purim Celebrated
Purim is compared to Halloween, simply because costumes are involved for both holidays. But Jews specifically celebrate Purim with costumes because it is a reminder that Gods work was disguised by natural events, but that he was behind the scenes all the while. As this site quotes, The custom of wearing costumes on Purim is an allusion to the nature of the Purim miracle, where the details of the story are really miracles hidden within natural events.
Other reasons Jews dress up on Purim is 1) to commemorate how both the Jews who served other gods during this time only pretended to do so, and how God only pretended to destroy the Jews. Both of their actions disguised other motives 2) to show love to the poor who go around collecting charity during this time by shielding them from embarrassment, and 3) the remember how Mordecai was dressed up in the kings royal garments .
In addition to wearing costumes, Jews celebrate by fasting the day before Purim to remember Esthers fasting, reading the story of Esther out loud on two separate occasions , giving money to the poor, sending two kinds of foods to at least one person, and a festive Purim feast, which can include a special pastry called hamantaschen.
Purim is a lively and colorful holiday that Jews celebrate every year.
Two Tributes: The Tribute Of Ahasuerus And The Tribute To Mordecai
1 Now King Ahasuerus laid a tribute on the land and on the coastlands of the sea. 2 And all the accomplishments of his authority and strength, and the full account of the greatness of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Media and Persia? 3 For Mordecai the Jew was second only to King Ahasuerus and great among the Jews, and in favor with the multitude of his kinsmen, one who sought the good of his people and one who spoke for the welfare of his whole nation.
King Ahasuerus is the most powerful man on the face of the earth, king of one of the greatest empires of all time. And yet in these closing verses of the Book of Esther, all we are told of Ahasuerus is that he laid a tax on the kingdom. Political leaders are not praised for such things. Taxes are the basis for protest, not praise. But this is all our author says about the king in his final reference to his rule.
In contrast, Mordecai receives a great deal more attention. While our author barely gives the king one line of editorial exposure, he gives Mordecai nearly five. Instead of writing any tribute to the king, our author gives a great closing tribute to Mordecai. He speaks of his authority, his accomplishments, his strength, and his greatness. This sounds more like a spot commercial for a man running for political office.
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Spiritual Application Of Purim
Some Purim traditions stray from biblical ideals: drunkenness and stomping on ones enemies, for example. Yet when we return to the contents of the book itself, Purim invites reflection on God. For far too long, Esther has been wrongly viewed as an unspiritual, even unsavory, book of the Bible. Martin Luther infamously complained: I am so hostile to this book and to Esther that I could wish that they did not exist at all for they judaize too greatly and have much pagan impropriety.9 In contrast, the rabbis of the Talmud so esteemed the book of Esther that they ferreted out sometimes fanciful references to it in other parts of the Hebrew Bible. For example, the Talmud traces Psalm 22 and its famous words, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? and Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog, to Esther in her distress, even though David wrote the psalm.
Aside from disparaging its content, some have leveled accusations against the books authenticity, claiming that Megillat Esther is nothing more than a myth or tall tale. These attacks on the veracity of Esther have subsided in recent years, as scholars once more reassert the overall legitimacy and historicity of the story .
Hamentaschen Fazuelos And Kreplach
A traditional treat among the Ashkenazi Jews during this celebration is a triangular, fruit-filled cookie that represents Hamans three-cornered hat. These cookies, referred to as hamentaschen, or Hamans pockets, are made by cutting sweet pastry dough into circles, and wrapping a traditional poppy seed filling into the center of its triangular shape . More recently, prunes, dates, apricots, and chocolate fillings have been introduced.
Among the Sephardic Jews, a fried pastry, called fazuelos, is traditionally eaten, as well as a range of baked or fried pastries called orejas de Haman .
Kreplachis a kind of dumpling filled with cooked meat, chicken, or liver its traditionally served in soup. Hiding the meat inside the dumpling serves as another reminder of Gods hiddenness throughout the story of Esther.
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Why Do We Dress Up On Purim
The tradition of dressing up for Purim dates back centuries, possibly to 14th-century Italy. There are a number of deeper meanings behind this long-standing custom. Here are three of them:
- The hidden nature of the miracle: According to Rabbi Richard Jacobs, One of the deeper reasons for this custom is that the entire miracle of Purim was clothed in natural happenings There isnt even an explicit mention of Gods name in the Megillah. The name Esther means hidden, hinting at the hidden nature of the miracle, he added.
- Concealing our true identities: Wearing costumes and masks highlights the theme in the Megillah of concealing and revealing our true identities. Esther keeps her Jewish identity a secret, and wears a mask to blend in with the Persian court, until she reveals her Jewish identity at the perfect time. Additionally, Mordechai does not reveal that he is a relative and friend of Esthers .
- The special role of clothing: Clothing plays a special role in the Purim story many of the characters dress up in different types of clothes at various points. Mordechai puts on sackcloth and ashes upon learning of Hamans decree , and is later paraded around the city square wearing Ahasuerus royal garments . Plus, Esther puts on her royal apparel before approaching the king .
The Story Of Esther And Purim
The biblical feast of Purim is the merriest of all Jewish holidays. Purim is based on the book of Esther. As you likely know, the book is a historical account of events that occurred in Persia approximately 2,500 years ago.
At that time virtually all the Jewish people lived under Persian rule. An unprecedented genocidal death decree was issued against them, which was miraculously overturned.
The keys to victory that we find in the Book of Esther are effective at every level of human government. God is sharpening and duplicating these keys for Purim-like victory in and through His people. He is making them available to whosoever or anyone willing to accept them.
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Jesus And The Feast Of Lots
Purim is a celebration of God’s faithfulness, deliverance, and protection. Although the Jews were sentenced to death by King Xerxes’ original decree, through Queen Esther’s courageous intervention and willingness to face death, the people’s lives were spared. Similarly, all of us who have sinned have been issued a decree of death, but through the intervention of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the old decree has been satisfied and a new proclamation of eternal life has been established:
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
What Kinds Of Foods Are Eaten On Purim
Mishloach manot are gifts of food, treats, and goodies that Jewish communities send to friends and family on Purim. It is traditional to have a jovial feast, or Seudat Purim, in the evening of the holiday. Drinking alcohol is part of the Purim holiday celebration in fact, the requirement in the Talmud goes so far as to instruct that one should get so drunk that they cant tell the difference between the phrases Arur Haman and Baruch Mordechai . Traditional foods include Oznei Haman or Hamentaschen , a triangular cookie usually filled with different flavors of jam or a poppy seed filling known as mohn, which is supposed to represent either Hamans ears or his three-cornered hat. Another triangular shaped food that is customary to eat are kreplach, small dumplings usually filled with meat, mashed potatoes, or other fillings. Other traditional foods are dishes made with beans, a reminder of what Esther ate in the kings palace in order to avoid eating non-kosher foods. Because of this Esther/ legume tradition, Purim is often celebrated with a vegetarian meal. For Purim recipe ideas, click here.
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Why Is It Celebrated
Purim is celebrated because of the biblical mandate given in Esther 9:20-22
And Mordecai wrote these things and sent letters to all the Jews, near and far, who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, to establish among them that they should celebrate yearly the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar, as the days on which the Jews had rest from their enemies, as the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor.
Since the time of the original events, Jews and Christians have been remembering how God delivered His people from death under Haman each spring on Purim.
How Purim Is Observed
The Purim Feast:
The Purim feast is a time of conviviality and merrymaking. It must take place on the day of Purim, not on the evening before on account of the mandated days of feasting and gladness . The rabbis explain: gladness and feasting and a good day gladness: this teaches that it is forbidden on these days to mourn feasting: this teaches that it is forbidden on them to fast a good day: this teaches that it is forbidden on them to do work . Fasting, mourning, and work are all swept aside on this day of celebration and revelry.4
Proclaiming the Miracle:
Most important of all, however is not eating and drinking but reading Megillat Esther and thereby proclaiming the miracle. This most commonly takes place in synagogue, where the Scroll of Esther is read aloud in a raucous, buzzing atmosphere. Congregants cheer and laugh or stamp their feet and shout and boo whenever the name Haman is mentioned.
Despite the apparent chaos of the Megillah reading, the Mishnah and the Talmud set down elaborate rules for the proper proclamation of the miracle. We must read the Megillah from beginning to end we mustnt take long breaks we mustnt read it backwards even the parchment and ink of the scroll must be up to snuff!
Sending Food and Giving to the Poor:
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Can U Drink Water On Yom Kippur
When the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur begins at sundown on Tuesday, Sept. 18, so will traditional fasting. Those observing will commence their 25-hour fast until nightfall on Wednesday, all forms of sustenance are prohibited, including water. Not just a glass of water but the water you use to brush your teeth.
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We All Have A Mission And Its Up To Us To Carry It Out
A critical turning point in the Purim story is in Chapter 4 when Mordechai asks Esther to intervene on behalf of the Jewish people. Esther initially pushes back, noting that anyone who approaches the king without having been summoned could face the death penalty.
Mordechai then replies to Esther with the famous words:
If you are silent and you do nothing at this time, somebody else will save the Jewish people And who knows, perhaps you became Queen for this very moment .
Commenting on this, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wrote, Wherever we are, sometimes is asking us to realize why He put us here, with these gifts, at this time, with these dangers, in this place Even , if you listen hard enough, you can hear calling to us as individuals, saying, Was is not for this very challenge that you are here in this place at this time?
In the Purim story, Esther has the courage and wisdom to heed this call, and as a result, the Jewish people were saved. Purim reminds us to follow in Esthers footsteps and rise to the occasion when we are called to do so as well.
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The Jews Happiness And Mordecais Honor
15 Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a large crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. 16 For the Jews there was light and gladness and joy and honor. 17 And in each and every province, and in each and every city, wherever the kings commandment and his decree arrived, there was gladness and joy for the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many among the peoples of the land became Jews, for the dread of the Jews had fallen on them.
Mordecai has his moment in the sun. He goes out from the kings presence garbed much like a king, garbed much as he was when Haman led him about the streets of Susa proclaiming that the king had chosen to honor him. Only now Mordecai gets to keep his royal robes and his crown. What he was for a few hours, he now is in a more permanent way.54 The city of Susa was troubled and in confusion when they heard of Hamans law . Now, the city shouts for joy. Was it because Mordecai was such a fine man? He must have been considered a better man than Haman. It may be the people of Susa were troubled by Hamans law, because they saw that it put all minorities at risk, while Mordecais law gave at least one minority an advantage.
Fast Facts About Purim
- Purim is still joyously celebrated today among Jews with the reading of the entire book of Esther in the synagogue. Using noisemakers, people loudly cheer at the mention of Mordecai’s name and sounds of hissing, stamping of feet and booing can be heard when Haman’s name is spoken.
- Hamantashen is a traditional Jewish treat eaten during Purim. It has three corners and represents Haman’s hat.
- It is common to see Purim plays reenacting the story of Esther on Purim. Street parades and carnivals have also become popular, and people dress up in costumes symbolizing Esther’s concealed identity.
- Jews are required on Purim to give gifts to the poor.
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Communal And Familial Purims
Historically, many Jewish communities around the world established local “Purims” to commemorate their deliverance from catastrophe or an antisemitic ruler or edict. One of the best known is Purim Vinz, traditionally celebrated in Frankfurt one week after the regular Purim. Purim Vinz commemorates the Fettmilch uprising , in which one Vincenz Fettmilch attempted to exterminate the Jewish community. According to some sources, the influential Rabbi Moses Sofer , who was born in Frankfurt, celebrated Purim Vintz every year, even when he served as a rabbi in Pressburg.
Rabbi Yom-Tov Lipmann Heller of Kraków, Poland, asked that his family henceforth celebrate a private Purim, marking the end of his many troubles, including having faced trumped-up charges. Since Purim is preceded by a fast day, the rabbi also directed his descendants to have a fast day, the 5th day of Tamuz, marking one of his imprisonments , this one lasting for 40 days.
The Jewish community of Hebron has celebrated two historic Purims, both from the Ottoman period. One is called Window Purim, or Purim Taka, in which the community was saved when a bag of money mysteriously appeared in a window, enabling them to pay off an extortion fee to the Ottoman Pasha. Many record the date being the 14th of the month, which corresponds the date of Purim on 14 Adar. The other was called The Purim of Ibrahim Pasha, in which the community was saved during a battle.