Malaysian Doctor moves to Texas, gets married and embarks on a journey of exploring the world around her.
Friday, March 25, 2005
I knew it was Good Friday,
but being quite ignorant about Jewish holidays, it took me by surprise and pricked my curiosity when I saw on my Calendar that it was also "Purim", so I thought I'd look it up and here's what I found.
Purim is the most festive of Jewish holidays commemorating the deliverance of the Persian Jews from destruction as recorded in the Book of Esther.
During the time of King Ahasuerus, one of his ministers, Haman, sought to destroy the Jews in revenge for being snubbed by the Jew Mordecai, who refused to bow down to him. With the king's authority, he draws lots (pur) to determine the fateful day, which falls on the 13th of the month of Adar.
Learning of this decree, Mordecai approaches the new queen, his cousin Esther, to intercede with the king. Esther, who has not revealed her Judaism publicly, fasts for three days in preparation for this task. At a banquet for the king and Haman, she denounces the evil Haman, who is eventually hanged.
Because a royal decree could not be voided - including the decree ordering the extermination of the Jews -- Mordecai had to send another decree to all the provinces. This letter authorizes the Jews to protect themselves from their enemies. The days following the Jews' struggle with their enemies (the 14th and 15th of Adar, the 12th month of the Jewish Calendar) are declared days of feasting and merrymaking, today celebrated as Purim.
This year (2005) Purim begins at sundown on the 24th of March and goes to Friday evening, March 25th. It is perhaps the most joyous day of the Jewish year, with masquerades, plays, and drinking of wine even in the synagogue. Sometimes it's even compared to a "Jewish mardi gras"
Purim is celebrated by:
Reading Megillat Esther, (Scroll of Esther)
Mishloach Manot - Sending food to friends and neighbours,
Matanot L'evyonim - Giving gifts to the poor, and
Enjoying a Purim Seuda (meal), feasting and merriment.
The entire month of Adar ( and not just Purim itself ) is a time for silliness and humour, and making lots of noise with Graggers ( noisemaker rattles ) during the reading of the Scroll of Esther when Haman's name is mentioned.