The Story of Purim
What is Purim?
Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people of ancient Persia from the Persian Haman’s plot to annihilate them. The story is told in Biblical Book of Esther. Although not an official holiday as proscribed by the Torah, Purim is a significant and joyous holiday celebrated by the Jewish people the world over. Purim is celebrated on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar, which is in March.
The Story of Purim.
The Story of Purim is found in the Book of Esther, also known as Megillat Esther. The heroes of the Purim story are Esther and her cousin Mordecai, who raised Esther as his own. Esther was a beautiful young Jewish woman who was taken the house of Ahasuerus to become part of his harem. The King fell in love with Esther and made her the Queen without knowing that Esther was Jewish. Haman, the villain of the story, was an advisor to the King who hated Mordecai.
Haman devised a plot to destroy the Jewish people. He gave a speech the King that stated, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your realm. Their laws are different from those of every other people's, and they do not observe the king's laws; therefore it is not befitting the king to tolerate them." Because of the speech, the King put Haman in charged to decide the fate of the Jewish people. Haman decided to exterminate all of the Jewish people within the Kingdom.
Mordecai convinced Esther to speak to the King on behalf of the Jewish people. This was dangerous because anyone who came in the King’s presence without being summoned was put to death and the King had not summoned Esther. Esther fasted for three days to prepare herself and then went before the King. The King welcomed her and she told him of Haman’s plot against the Jewish people. The King decided to save the Jewish people and ordered that Haman be hanged from the gallows that Haman had prepared for Mordecai.
How to Celebrate Purim
Although Purim is not considered a religious holiday as proscribed by the Torah, the Jewish People celebrated Purim with many customs and traditions. The first tradition is a fast that occurs the night before Purim known as the Fast of Esther, to commemorates Esther’s three day fast to prepare herself to face the King. Then on Purim, the book of Esther is read during service. It is customary to boo, hiss, or rattle gragers (noisemakers) whenever the name Haman is read to blot out his name.
The most important custom of Purim, however, is for the Jewish people to eat, drink and be generally merry in order to celebrate their salvation. Tradition says that a person is required to drink until he or she cannot tell the difference between the curse of Haman and the blessing of Mordecai. Generally, Purim is celebrated by a festival, sometimes referred to as the Jewish Mardi Gras that includes masquerades, plays and beauty contests. Lastly, on Purim every Jewish person is supposed to send out ready to eat foods to a friend and make charitable donations for the poor.
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