The season of Purim is upon us, and now more than ever, it applies to ALL OF US! Purim is one of the most joyous Jewish holidays. It is based on the story in the book of Esther of the Jewish Tanakh (Old Testament). The celebrations usually include reading the Megillah (the story of Esther), dressing up in costumes and performing plays, eating hat-shaped pastries called Hamantaschen, and delivering food and drinks to others.
Though it's commonly compared to Halloween or Mardi Gras for the costumes and celebrations, the inspiration for this holiday is much more serious. During this time of grave danger, Esther showed great faith and courage to save many Jewish people from a genocidal act. Esther, an orphan raised by her loving uncle Mordecai, concealed her identity as a Jew when she was chosen by the Persian King to be the new Queen.
Fully aware of the magnitude of what was at stake, she willingly did what could have been a deadly maneuver and took on the evil Haman, who was second-in-command of her husband‘s kingdom. She proved a wise and most worthy opponent, all the while remaining humble and respectful of the position of her husband, the King.
Purim serves as a great reminder that any of us in each generation may have to confront a Haman, someone who wants to destroy them, but God and the forces of good will ultimately triumph over those of evil. The holiday inspires us to have courage in the face of danger and adversity. It urges us never to despair, even when our survival is threatened.
It also reminds us not to be silent in the presence of evil. Instead, we are commanded to confront evil and to eliminate it by combining our human initiative with our trust in God’s salvation.
Yet, Purim also affirms that while oppressors may come and go, God’s promise and covenant with His people is everlasting. Just as calamity was averted when the Jews of Persia were saved, God will not desert His people. And while the name of God never appears once in the Book of Esther, the coincidence of events that unfold in Esther’s story form an inescapable pattern of redemption. The fingerprints of God are found throughout this stirring tale of courage, bravery, and salvation.
Before reading the Megillah (The Book of Esther), it is traditional for Jews to speak these 3 blessings :
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדַּשְׁנוּ בְּמִצְווֹתָיו וְצִוָּהֵנוּ עַל קְרִיאַת הַמִּגְלָה Blessed are You, my LORD, our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us regarding the reading of the Megillah
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה נִסִּים אֶת אֲבוֹתֵינוּ בַּיָּמִים הָאֵלֶּה בְּעוֹת הַזֶּה Blessed are You, my LORD, our God, King of the universe, Who has wrought miracles for our forefathers, in those days at this season
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר הִחְיִידֵנוּ, קִמְנֵנוּ וּבְרִיכֵנוּ לָעוֹת הַזֶּה Blessed are You, my LORD, our God, King of the universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us and brought us to this season
Chag Sameach, Purim!
Happy Holiday, Purim!