Purim March 12, 2017 (14 Adar 5777)
…Mordecai instructed them] to observe them as days of feasting and gladness, and sending delicacies to one another, and gifts to the poor.
Purim is observed on March 12, 2017 (14 Adar 5777)
Purim, celebrated on the 14th day of Adar, is one of the most joyous and fun holidays on the Jewish calendar. It commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination.
The story of Purim is told in the Biblical book of Esther. The heroes of the story are Esther, a beautiful young Jewish woman living in Persia, and her cousin Mordecai, who raised her as if she were his daughter. Esther was taken to the house of Ahasuerus, King of Persia, to become part of his harem. King Ahasuerus loved Esther more than his other women and made Esther queen, but the king did not know that Esther was a Jew, because Mordecai told her not to reveal her identity.
The villain of the story is Haman, an arrogant, egotistical advisor to the king. Haman hated Mordecai because Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman, so Haman plotted to destroy the Jewish people. The king gave the fate of the Jewish people to Haman, to do as he pleased to them. Haman planned to exterminate all of the Jews. Mordecai persuaded Esther to speak to the king on behalf of the Jewish people. Esther fasted for three days to prepare herself to speak to the king. He welcomed her and she told him of Haman’s plot against her people. The Jewish people were saved, and Haman and his ten sons were hanged on the gallows that had been prepared for Mordecai.
Purim Foods, Activities, Symbols and Greetings
We are commanded to eat, drink and be merry. According to the Talmud, a person is required to drink until he cannot tell the difference between “cursed be Haman” and “blessed be Mordecai,” though opinions differ as to exactly how drunk that is. In addition, we are commanded to send out gifts of food or drink, and to make gifts to charity. The sending of gifts of food and drink is referred to as mishloach manot (sending out portions).
The primary commandment related to Purim is to hear the reading of the book of Esther, commonly known as the Megillah, which means scroll. It is customary to boo, hiss, stamp feet and rattle graggers (noisemakers) whenever the name of Haman is mentioned in the service. The purpose of this custom is to “blot out the name of Haman.”
Traditionally for Purim, both children and adults dress in costume, mainly the biblical characters of Purim, although recent years have children dressing in current day costumes, most often superheroes.
It’s fine to say “Happy Purim”; others say “Hag Purim Sameach”— have a joyous Purim.