Purim 2014 Guide

17968343-happy-purim-hebrewThe festival of Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar (late winter/early spring). It celebrates the deliverance of the Jews from their enemies in ancient Persia as described in the Biblical Book of Esther. Let’s take a look:

The Story in a Nutshell

The Persian empire of the 4th century BCE extended over 127 lands, and all the Jews were its subjects. After King Ahashuverus had his wife, Queen Vashti, executed for refusing to follow his orders, he arranged a extensive search for a new queen. Eventually, a Jewish girl from the capital of Shushan, Esther, found favor in his eyes and was crowned as the new queen, though she refused to reveal her nationality.

Meanwhile, the evil Haman was appointed prime minister of the empire. When his nemesis Mordechai, the leader of the Jews (and Esther’s cousin), defied the king’s orders and refused to bow to Haman, Haman plotted to destroy the Jewish people and convinced the king to issue a decree ordering the extermination of all the Jews on the 13th of Adar.

Mordechai persuaded Esther to speak to the king on behalf of the Jewish people, while she asked that the Jews in Shushan fast and pray for her for three days. Esther then asked the king and Haman to join her for a feast. At the feast, Esther revealed to the king her Jewish identity and of Haman’s plot against her people. The Jewish people were saved, and Haman was hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Mordechai was appointed prime minister in his place, and a new decree was issued—granting the Jews the right to defend themselves against their enemies. On the 14th of Adar they rested and celebrated.

Purim To-Do List:

1) Listen to the Megillah5240489-purim-eve--reading-the-megilah
To relive the miraculous events of Purim, the most important Purim custom is reading the Purim Story from the Scroll of Esther, also called the Megillah, in the evening and the next morning.

2) Give to the Needy (Matanot La’Evyonim)
On Purim day we emphasize the importance of Jewish unity by giving charity to at least two needy individuals so they can also rejoice on this special day.

3)Send Food Portions to Friends (Mishloach Manot)915468-hamentashen--traditional-jewish-pastry-for-purim
This is also accomplished by sending baskets filled with food and drink to friends. According to Jewish law, each mishloach manot must contain at least two different kinds of food that is ready to eat.

4) Purim Costume

A time-honored Purim custom is for children and adults to dress up in costumes, which is an allusion to the essence of the Purim, Divine providence taking place under the mask of natural events.

5) Eat, Drink and Be Merry9848290-isolated-red-wine-bottle-on-white-background
As with most Jewish holidays, food plays an important role on Purim. Indeed, it’s an obligation on Purim to have a Purim Seudah, a special festive meal to celebrate with family and friends.