Sunday, 16 March 2014

Purim reflections

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!


  1. Generally speaking, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have a strict rule against receiving blood transfusions (except for a few countries like Bulgaria, where they have “found new light.”) But what about the Jewish faith? One would think that since much of this doctrine is based on the Old Testament, that Jews would have something valuable to add to the debate. On what basis (scriptural) do Jews determine that it’s OK to have a blood transfusion? I totally agree with this conclusion, but I’m interested in the logic. In what ways are blood transfusions different from “eating blood"?

    1. Bud, what's JW's got to do with Jews or Purim? Sounds like you are confusing Jews having their meat prepped and killed in a Kosher way and JW's who take that as being applied to blood transfusions. Not what we do dude! I can't remember what it's called, but it has a name!

    2. Hi Jim the Fish

      It is called the principle of "pikuach nefesh".

    3. Good question... but way off the mark when it comes to your observation of Jehovahs Witnesses.

      It is becoming increasingily obvious that blood transfusions are a bad thing - and not the saviour of lives as people claim, but rather the cause of a huge amont of disease spreading.... maybe an astute orthodox rabbi will see that in time?

      This decree was not only given to Jews, but, ultimately, on God’s command not to eat blood, as given to Noah and his sons and, therefore, to all mankind. In this regard, the following is found in The Chronology of Antient Kingdoms Amended, by Sir Isaac Newton (Dublin, 1728, p. 184): “This law [of abstaining from blood] was ancienter than the days of Moses, being given to Noah and his sons, long before the days of Abraham: and therefore when the Apostles and Elders in the Council at Jerusalem declared that the Gentiles were not obliged to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses, they excepted this law of abstaining from blood, and things strangled, as being an earlier law of God, imposed not on the sons of Abraham only, but on all nations, while they lived together in Shinar under the dominion of Noah: and of the same kind is the law of abstaining from meats offered to Idols or false Gods, and from fornication.

    4. Jim the Fish,

      Eh?! Are you for real?

    5. Hi Jim Clover,

      ROFL! All well and good if you are JW, but as we are NOT JW's you are wasting your breath.

  2. Jim,

    not sure what this has got to do with Purim, but Jews are not JW's and therefore don't have a problem with blood transfusions- saving a life in all but a couple of circumstances is what matters in our faith. The JW's, like a lot of Christian cults manipulate and spin our Torah (NOT "OLD TESTAMENT) to suite whatever it is they want it to. Doesn't make it Kosher though.

  3. YAH! Oh Purim is suuch a cool holiday! Chag, Purim, Chag, Purim, hash, hash, hash!!

  4. Really enjoyed it. Good to see you all! (:

  5. London's Willy17 March 2014 at 16:26

    Purim is clearly an anti-women, anti feminist festival!

    As the bbc notes :

    There are a number of negative messages for women in the Book of Esther:

    Women are property: King Xerxes believes he has the right to parade his wife before the diners at an all-male feast that he has organised.

    Male authority must be preserved: when Queen Vashti disobeys the King, who wants her to display her beauty before his male guests, this is seen as an attack on male authority in every sphere.

    The Queen is deposed (and probably done away with) to ensure that the tradition of male superiority is not damaged, and that wives are reminded that they must obey their husbands.

    Women are no more than animals: the search for a new queen to replace Vashti is conducted with as much humanity as might have gone into selecting a new mare for the King's stables. Character, intellect and wisdom count for nothing, only the physical matters.

    What the King wants is a beautiful virgin. The whole search is conducted like a beauty contest; even down to the contestants having to spend a year in a beauty parlour first.

    The chosen women then each have to spend a night with the King, to see if he enjoys them.

    Women's wishes are secondary: nor are the wishes of the women given any respect - taking part in the selection process is compulsory for the women concerned.

    Women are unimportant: even as Queen it's clear that Esther lives entirely on the King's terms.

    She goes to him when he calls her - but if she goes uninvited, he can have her put to death.

    The King ignores her needs: he doesn't want her all that often, perhaps once a month; her own needs are unconsidered.

    On a political level women are downgraded since at the end of the Book of Esther, the author ignores the Queen's achievements, and concentrates on praising Xerxes and Mordecai.

  6. interesting account


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