Past Jewish Festivals

Purim (Lots)

20 March 2011

14 Adar II - The Festival commemorates the deliverance of the Persian Jews from extermination. The accepted time is485 - 465 B.C.E. during the reign of Xerxes I. The story is told in the book of Esther: Haman, the king’s chief minister plotted to destroy the Jews of the Empire. He fixed the day by ‘lot’ as Adar 13. On that day, Esther, the King’s Jewish wife proclaimed a fast when she interceded with the king for the benefit of the Jews.

The Festival commemorates the deliverance of the Persian Jews from extermination. The accepted time is485 - 465 B.C.E. during the reign of Xerxes I. The story is told in the book of Esther: Haman, the king’s chief minister plotted to destroy the Jews of the Empire. He fixed the day by ‘lot’ as Adar 13. On that day, Esther, the King’s Jewish wife proclaimed a fast when she interceded with the king for the benefit of the Jews.

As a result of her intervention the King authorised the Jews to defend themselves. In their fights the Jews overcame their enemies. On the following day, the 14th Adar, they celebrated their victory in Shushan, the capital of Persia, fighting occurred on the 14th and the celebrations took place one day later on the 15th. This is known as ‘Shushan Purim’ and is confined to those cities, walled since the days of Joshua.

The features of the Festival are the reading of the book of Esther. At every mention of the name Haman, Gregers (Rattles) are sounded. The children enjoy this immensely. Another is sending of gifts (Mishloach Manot) to friends and (Matanot Laevionim) to the poor. In Europe Purim Spielen (Masquerades) by children were very popular. During the services AlHanisim (for the miracles) is recited. In a leap year PURIM is celebrated in ADAR II. The corresponding day in ADAR I is called PURIM KATAN (Minor Purim) and is not marked by any celebrations.

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