The Feast of Lots (Purim)

A Jewish Celebration

What is Purim?

Purim is the celebration of the deliverance of Jews from the attempted massacre by Haman. Haman was a vizier in the Persian empire under the rule of King Ahasuerus and the main antagonist in the Book of Esther. The Book of Esther, also known as the Scroll in Hebrew is the third section in the Tanakh (the canon of the Hebrew Bible) and is in the Christian Old Testament.

Why did the Jews need saving?

The Biblical story begins with a beautiful Jewish woman named Esther living in Persia with her cousin Mordecai. Esther was taken into King Ahasuerus's house to be in his harem. The Kings love grew for Esther so much that he made her queen, but did not know she was a Jew. At the same time, Haman hated Mordecai because he refused to bow down to him. This lead him to begin plotting ways to destroy the Jewish. He persuaded King Ahasuerus to give him permission to get rid of all the Jews. Esther's cousin convinced her to speak to the King on the behalf of the Jewish as she was the Jews only hope of being saved. She was able to tell the King of Haman's evil plans and saved her people. Haman and his sons were hanged on the gallows initially created to hand Mordecai.

Celebrated of the 14th of Adar (Februaury-March)

What is done on Purim?

In the morning, prayer is done at the synagogue along with extra prayers, for example (Ex 17:8-16) along with reading the Book of Esther. The rest of the day consists of exchanging gifts (with friends, family, and poor) and eating special foods. The traditional food eaten on the day is Hamantashen, named after the villain in the story. Hamentaschen is a triangular shaped pastry resembling the hat of Haman. Jews also send baskets of food and drinks called mishloach manor to one another. Some Jews of legal age and of health take part in getting so drunk they can't tell the difference between a hero like Esther, and a villain like Haman.

Why is Purim Important?

Purim isn't as well known as other Jewish traditions such as Passover or Sabbath, but it still carries its own special significances. It's differences are part of what makes Purim unique. Firstly it's not related to Exodus, one of the key events in Judaism. This is a completely unrelated story with the basic components of a children's story, a new villain, hero and happy ending. Another point that makes Purim significant is that there is no mention of God within the story but still gets important messages and ideas across. In the story the main hero who saves the Jews is a young women. This elaborates of the Judaism belief that women are separate yet equal. Instead of having the protagonist a traditional "manly man" a women was the one to save her people with her courage. The story also brings the idea of sacrifice. Esther's chance of convincing the king was slim as the only way to talk to the king was via summoning but she sacrificed herself and demanded to talk to him anyway. She also needed to convince the king that one of trusted needs to be stopped, which could have ended badly for Esther.

Works Cited

"Esther." Distant Shores Media. Distant Shores Media, 28 Jan. 2013. Web. 8 June 2015.

Fairchild, Mary. "Learn About Purim or the Bible Feast of Lots." About Religion. About Religion. Web. 8 June 2015.

Hills, Suzannah. "Eat, Get Shikker (that's Yiddish for Extremely Drunk) and Be Merry: Orthodox Jews Enjoy Colourful Festival of Purim to Celebrate Their Salvation." Daily Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 25 Feb. 2013. Web. 8 June 2015.

"Judaism 101: Purim." Judaism 101: Purim. Web. 8 June 2015.