The pictures throughout this article honour all the modern - day Esthers who serve in the military, who contribute, innovate, lead and change the world at every level. Purim is celebrated in the 12th month of the Jewish calendar on the 14th day of Adar which is usually in the month of February or March some years. The word Purim means "lots" and refers to the lots - plural - pur - singular, Hayman used to choose the day to massacre the Jews. The Book of Esther known as Megillat Esther or the Scroll of Esther especially Esther 9:22 is read during this festival. Exodus 17: 8-16 is also read that tells the story of the initial wilderness meeting between Amalek and the nation of Israel and re-tells the story of how the hatred Hayman exhibited began. Hayman was a descendant of Agag who was a descendant of Amelek who was a descendant of Esau.
A custom during Purim is to boo, hiss, stamp feet and rattle noise makers at the mention of the name Haman while we eat drink and be merry, send gifts to friends because of the miraculous deliverance granted the Jews. The sages of the Talmud Gemara portion noted that Amalek would hear the negative comments of his grandfather Esau over and over as a child in the tent and absorbed resentment for Jacob who later became Israel. Agag also understood the original fued between Jacob and Esau which was based on a difference in ideology, Agag's based on chance living for the moment as Esau did while Israel's philosophy based on divine order and planning, conveyed the sentiment to his maidservant who passed the attitude on to Hayman the Agagite descendant. Thus Hayman hated the Jews intensely as a generational feeling of ill will and resentment from a perceived past injury to his ancestor Esau even 1,000 years later.
A spiritual application for Purim is to remember our children internalize our comments which potentially build positive or negative attitudes towards others. The Holy Spirit also hears the conversations at home and is pleased with pure conversations or very displeased with impure conversations such as speaking badly of others privately. Numbers 14:27 records " How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites." The Festival of Purim provides an opportunity in which to deal with grudges, resentments, ill will that may cause injury to others in the future and that may contaminate the lives of others.
The Book of Esther has the touching story that describes the entire back drop of this wonderful festival with Esther or Hadassah the beautiful young Jewish woman who took courage to go before the King Achashverosh, Mordecai her uncle who lived righteous to HaShem, Haman the villain who tried to massacre the Jews and King Achashverosh who God made to favor Ester.
In the final month on the Jewish calendar or the twelfth month of Adar as we celebrate Purim where Esther was used to prevent catastrophe and misfortune in the lives of the Jews and also Haman who set a gallows for Mordecai was hanged on his own gallows. Purim is a time to enforce all spiritual laws against the enemy of our soul knowing that Christ spoiled all principalities and powers and made an open show of them.
It is a time of intense spiritual warfare enforced against the devil to stop his illegal efforts against a Child of God. Purim is a time to enforce the word and anointing of God against the devil to see satan's yokes destroyed and burdens removed by the miracle working intervening power of Christ. Purim is a time of the mysteries of Christ.
There is spiritual power embedded in all set feasts and to ignore their annual observances is to operate at a level below the abundant life Christ intended for us to experience.The day after Purim is known as Shushan Purim celebrated the 15th day of Adar. The fight against the anti-semites took a day longer in Shushan where King Achashverosh lived than for the rural areas and the Jews in Shushan did not get to rest and to celebrate until a day after.
The day before Purim is called Ta'anit Ester to celebrate the 3 day fast Esther did before she informed the king about Haman's plot against Mordecai. Ta'anit Esther or the fast of Ester begins at the break of dawn Adar 13 and ends at nightfall that day. Ta'anit Ester may also be celebrated Adar 11 if the 13th falls on a Shabbat. Children below the age of 13 for boys and 12 for girls are not required to fast especially before bar/bat mitzvah.
Mishloach or sending food such as fruit, wine and baked goods to friends is a custom of Purim.
Matanot L' evyonim or giving gifts to the poor. The gifts are to be given on Purim day after the reading of the Megillah or Scroll of Esther. Rambam Maimonedes says about Purim "it is better for a man to increase gifts to the poor than to enlarge his feasts and to give gifts to his friends." The Mitzvah requires a minimum of giving two gifts which may be giving food to at least two poor persons.
Purim Sueda, is a big custom and a mitzvah and requires we eat and eat and eat as well as drink, and drink and drink. The reason wine is used as a symbol at Purim is both Vashti and Haman defeats came as a result of feasting on wine. Tractate Megillah 7b. The Rabbis of the Talmud Gemara who are conservative in their thinking state Ahd D' Lo Yada Bain Arur Haman L' Baruch Mordechai which means "until he can no longer tell the difference between 'cursed be Haman' and 'blessed be Mordechai.'" A person who cannot drink can fulfill the mitzvah Ahd D' Lo Yada by sleeping because one who sleeps allegedly cannot tell the difference between a blessing and a curse. The Rabbis are trying to accomplish a high level of silly insubstantial behavior as part of the celebration not alcohol abuse or destructive drinking.
Reading The Megillah or Scroll of Esther is a big deal and this is a wild a crazy time in synagogue as in no other festival celebration. There is interruption of the scroll reading every time the name Haman is mentioned all fifty four times with BOOs, clappers, cap guns, sirens and clanging pots. This interruption is expected. The interruption continues when the ten names of Haman's ten sons are mentioned.
Purim is the only celebration where we are inane, poke fun at ourselves and dress up in costumes but no cross dressing to have fun. Rabbis intended for this celebration we have a sense of humor and increase our happiness for the entire month of Adar not just for Purim. Jewish tradition accepts Adar as a blessed and happy month.
Note that a Jewish leap year has an extra month of Adar I inserted after the eleventh month of Shevat and before the twelfth month of Adar in a leap year. The month of Adar is repeated during a leap year rather than permanently added.
The month is also known as Adar Rishon or Adar Alef. Thus for a leap year only there is Adar 1 and Adar 2. Adar 1 will celebrate Purim Katan or Minor Purim and Adar 2 will celebrate the official Purim festivals. A leap year is referred to as Shanah M'uberet meaning a pregnant year. Thus in a leap year adherents celebrate both the blessed happy month of Adar as well as a year pregnant with additional blessings.
A Jewish leap year occurs 7 times every 19 years that completes a 19 year cycle. The 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th, and 19th years are leap years in this cycle. The list of leap years with 5758 ending the previous 19 year cycle are as follows: 5760, 5763, 5765, 5768, 5771, 5774, 5776, 5779, 5782, 5784, 5787, 5790, 5793, 5795, 5798, 5801, 5803, 5806, 5809.
Chag Sameach - Joyous Festival - Happy Purim Holiday
For additional resources, books and publications see the following: THE MANY FACES OF JUDAISM