Sunday, 16 March 2014
At present we are celebrating Purim and a few non- Jewish people have asked me (in basics) what Purim is and what we do. So this is my little potted version :
1. What is Purim?
Purim comes from what we call Megillah ('Scroll') Esther or as it is called by others 'The book of Esther' and remembers the story contained therein (and of course shows us, so the female members of my family Biblical 'Jewish girl power' ).
2. What was the story?
"On the day that the enemies of the Jews were expected to prevail over them, it was turned about: the Jews prevailed over their adversaries." Esther Chapter 9 vs 1
The story in brief : This was a time when Jews were ruled by the mighty Persian Empire, the super power of the ancient world. Esther, an orphaned Jew, but raised up by her relative Mordecai was chosen to be the new Queen of Persia (she was as my under brother says 'a hot babe') . However the Emperor did not know that Esther was a Jew and his Prime Minister, Haman hated the Jews and planned to exterminate them throughout the empire. Thankfully, after fasting, Esther plucked up the courage to see the King (she was only allowed to approach him if he had summoned her) and revealed her identity as a Jew and spoke on behalf of her people. And the King reversed Haman's orders for the extermination and Haman was executed instead.
Hence why we celebrate Purim, to recall a time when G-d was faithful to Jews, even though G-d is not mentioned directly in the text, it is clear that he is directly involved in the situation, even in one cannot see it as the time, as it says in Isaiah 'They have devised schemes but they have been foiled, they have made declarations , but they will not be fulfilled, because God is with us!'
3. What do we do?
"Observe them as days of feasting and gladness, and sending delicacies to one another, and gifts to the poor". - Esther 9:22.
So Purim is also a time when we deliver food parcels to others and to give to charity.In the Synagogue we listen to the book of Esther and have to 'blot out' the name of Haman every time his name is mentioned. We do this by using our voice or a ratchet (see picture). It is also a festival which is lots of fun; outside of the Shul , we also have plays performed based upon Purim as well as a family meal in which wine and alcohol flows and we sing various traditional folk songs about this event. There is an old adage about drinking heavily at Purim, but of course this isn't a license to based oneself into a mindlessly drunken state (well in theory,anyway).
So I hope everyone has a flavour of what Purim is about; a Happy Purim, a Chag Purim to everyone!