The Jewish holiday Purim begins at sundown on the 23rd of February. Purim is the celebration by the Jewish people of Queen Esther saving her people from slaughter by the wicked Haman. Her story is found in the book of Esther in the Old Testament. There was a movie made a few years ago also about this, called “One Night With The King” a great movie to watch. I understood the reason for celebrating this, but there were things about it I didn’t understand, and since we have Jewish roots through Christ, I thought I’d look it up. The following are facts about Purim you may or may not have known. I just thought they were very interesting.
- Purim is more of a national Holiday, than Rabbinical Holiday. Business is still open, etc.
- There are four main Mitzvot (obligations) for celebrating Purim
1. Listening to the public reading of the Book of Esther reading usually in a Synagogue
2. Sending food gifts to friends (mishloach manot)
3. Giving charity to the poor (matanot la’evyonim)
4. Eating a festive meal (se`udah)
- Fasting the day before.
- I often wondered why they dressed up in costumes much like our halloween. Well it seems that this custom didn’t begin until around the end of the 15th century in Italy. After much debate the Rabbi’s decided to allow all costumes, even men dressing as women. This is explained that this show’s that God hid himself during the time of Queen Esther to accomplish His purpose.
- The custom of a parade with Haman hanging at the end of a rope, and ending in burning in effigy seems to have faded from practice.
- Seeds, nuts, all manner of sweets are given and eaten during Purim. Some of the traditional ones are pastries that are folded with filling to hide their filling as Haman hid his evil plan. Others are dumplings filled with meat(meat hidden inside) to show the same thing.
Gaily wrapped baskets of sweets, snacks and other foodstuffs given as mishloach manot on Purim day.
This really piqued my interest: From Wikipedia
Adolf Hitler banned and forbade the observance of Purim. In a speech made on November 10, 1938, (the day after Kristallnacht), Julius Streicher surmised that just as “the Jew butchered 75,000 Persians” in one night, the same fate would have befallen the German people had the Jews succeeded in inciting a war against Germany; the “Jews would have instituted a new Purim festival in Germany.”
Nazi attacks against Jews often coincided with Jewish festivals. On Purim 1942, ten Jews were hanged in Zduńska Wola to avenge the hanging of Haman’s ten sons. In a similar incident in 1943, the Nazis shot ten Jews from the Piotrków ghetto. On Purim eve that same year, over 100 Jewish doctors and their families were shot by the Nazis in Częstochowa. The following day, Jewish doctors were taken from Radom and shot nearby in Szydłowiec.
In an apparent connection made by Hitler between his Nazi regime and the role of Haman, he stated in a speech made on January 30, 1944, that if the Nazis were defeated, the Jews could celebrate “a second Purim”. Indeed, Julius Streicher was heard to sarcastically remark “Purimfest 1946” as he ascended the scaffold after Nuremberg.
There is a tradition in the Hasidic Chabad movement that supposedly Joseph Stalin died as a result of some metaphysical intervention of the seventh Chabad leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, during the recitation of a discourse at a public Purim Farbrengen. Stalin was suddenly paralysed on 1 March 1953, which corresponds to Purim 1953, and died 4 days later. Due to Stalin’s death, nation-wide pogroms against Jews throughout the Soviet Union were averted, as Stalin’s infamous doctors’ plot was halted.
One of the reasons I was interested in this Holiday is if Queen Esther had not succeded in convincing the Persian King that Haman was evil and Haman would have been allowed to go forward with his plans to slaughter all the Jews, we wouldn’t have Christianity. Think About it! Any way here’s to wishing all our Jewish Brethren Chag Purim Sameach! (Happy Purim Holiday!)