Saturday, February 15, 2014

Purim, a Jewish Spring Time Festival

"The joy of Purim demonstrates Israel’s eternal holiness." --unknown Rabbi

For Jews world-wide the upcoming festival of Purim celebrates the ancient Persian Jews deliverance from the wicked Haman. While the festival is ancient, it is little known outside of Jewish circles.
Esther, a Jewess and Queen in the ancient world, is credited for saving the lives of thousands of others. This joyous festival takes place in the early spring months and is determined each year by the moon as to its exact calendar date. In the Jewish calendar it occurs on the 14th of Adar. It will begin this year on March 15 of the Roman calendar..

We find details of the Purim story in an ancient text known as the Megillah. Esther becomes the Queen consort to the Persian king, Ahasuerus, in a tribute to her brother, Mordecai, who once saved the king's life.
In her day Esther was considered very beautiful. After the death of the king's first wife, Vashti, she is selected from among hundreds to be his consort.

The courtier Haman is charged with the responsibility of apprehending and executing those responsible for the foiled threat to the king. Instead he decides that there is an opportunity to exterminate the Jews in the Kingdom. Unaware that Esther is a Jewess, he launches his plan. Meanwhile Esther reveals to the king, her husband, that she is Jewish and that Haman plots to kill all Jews in the Kingdom of Persia. The king apprehends Haman and hangs him, thereby saving thousands. For this, the festival is celebrated with much joy.

The day includes the reading of the scroll of Esther, the blotting of Haman's name, games, merriment and a Purim meal which includes sweets and other delicacies. Also on this occasion giving to the poor and other charities is highly encouraged.

Several Jewish denominations have web pages with Purim themed information:

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