The festival of Purim

in a nutshell ...we hope!

Purim is the Jewish festival of celebration, joy, festivities and best of all, dressing up.

It is a holiday which commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from the attempted annihilation of our entire race at the hands of Hamman, the royal vizier to King Achashverosh of the Achaemenid Persian empire.

The story of Purim is found in the Book of Esther (Megilla).

The story starts with a long running feast given by King Achashverosh for the armies of all his provinces of his kingdom which ends off with a seven-day drinking fest for the residents of the city of Shushan.

At this feat, the Kings gets drunk and demands that his queen, Vashti, display herself to him and his entire court in her crown. Due to a skin condition, the Queen declines the King’s demand and the end result is a removal of the Queen from her position. The King then demands that all young women be presented to him so that he can pick a new Queen, and the Jewess Esther is one of the women paraded before the king. Esther is a Jewish orphan who was raised by her uncle, Mordechai.

Esther finds favour with the King and is made his new Queen. She hides her Jewish origins from the King.

One night, Mordechai overhears two soldier guards plotting to assassinate the king – Mordechai foils their plot and in the process saves the King’s life, and this service is recorded in the court record.

Haman is appointed viceroy by Achashverosh, and his ire is inflamed by Mordechai, who singularly refuses to bow down to him. When Haman finds out that Mordechai is a Jew, he then conceives of a plan to massacre all the Jews of the empire. Having procured the King’s permission and funds Haman draws lots for the date of the mass killing, and draws the 13th Adar as the planned date. When Mordechai learns of thse plans he commences communications with Esther asking her intercede on behalf of the Jews with the King. No one was allowed to approach the King without invitation to do so, under penalty of death, so Esther asks that the Jews fast for three days alongside her, and then she would approach the king, despite the law against doing so. After three days of fasting Esther approaches the king, is received and asks him to a feast for him and Haman. At that feast, she only invites the King and Haman to another feast, the following night. Once again Haman is enraged at Mordechai’s refusal to bow down to him, and egged on by his family, Haman builds a gallows where he plans to hand Mordechai.

That night the King suffers from insomnia and asks that the court records be read to him to aid in falling asleep. When the records are read to him, he is reminded of the service which Mordechai rendered him when he saved his life from the evil plot by the palace guards. Finding out that nothing was done to repay Mordechai for his service, the King calls Mordechai to him and asks how he wishes to be rewarded, and Mordechai declines a reward. When Haman appears, the king asks Haman how a king should reward a man whom he wishes to honour. Thinking that the king is referring to him, Haman suggests that the honoured party should be dressed up in the King’s robes and paraded about on the king’s royal horse – Haman is then shocked to be instructed to carry out this honour and reward for Mordechai the Jew.

Queen Esther’s second feast takes place and is attended by Haman and the King. It is during this feast that Esther reveals her Jewish origins and Hamans ploy to destroy her people, and herself included.

King Achashverosh is enraged and order that haman and his sons are hanged on the very gallows that Haman had built for hanging Mordechai on.

Mordechai assumes the position of visier to the King, and instituted the annual commemoration of the events that stopped a horrible atrocity from taking place.

(Talk about a Megillah!)

Purim Observances, Customs & Traditions

On Purim Jewish people celebrate the day by dressing up in costume. The day is not celebrated like a Yom Tov; there is no Hallel said in morning services, ‘work’ is permitted. However, certain mitzvot (obligations) are observed;

Megillat Esther; Everyone must hear a public reading the Megilla once at night and once during the day.

Mishloach Manot; Gift packages of food and drink are sent between people.

Matanot La’evyonim; charity is given to the poor.

Seudat Mitzvah; a festive meal is eaten.

As well as the Mitzvot of Purim there are also some customs that everyone loves;

People greet each other by wishing each other a Happy Purim – Chag Purim Sameach.

Dressing up; everyone, young and old, masqurades on Purim. Not only does this aid in the happy and festive vibe of Purim, but it is also significant of the ‘disguised’ nature of this miracle, as well as the fact that G-d’s intervention is disguised in the story of Purim.

It is a custom to hold a carnival on Purim – this can take many forms; from street carnivals held accross Israel to more localised affairs such as masquerade parties held in honour of this holiday.

Rejoicing and merriment is something that everyone is encouraged to feel and express. This involves singing, dancing, drinking, and partying.

Traditional Foods

Traditional foods eaten on Purim include Hammantaschen – a triangular pastry with a sweet filling.

Seeds and nuts are eaten in honour of the fact that Esther was only able to eat these foods while in the palace due to her Kosher dietary restrictions.

Kreplach (dumplings) are eaten during the seudat mitzvah as a symbolism for the hidden miracle of Purim.

Read about Purim more in-depth here at chabad.org.

Purim at CBDChabad Sydney

WE LOVE PURIM here at CBDChabad Sydney!!

We don’t just celebrate on the day – we start well in advance.

Rabbi Danny and Rebbetzin Sara-Tova start weeks before with shiurim, Lunch’n’Learn sessions, Hammentaschen baking sessions and online lectures on all aspects of Purim from the most practical aspects to more in-depth ones.

Once Purim comes around we are all geared and ready.

We love the dress up, the festive vibe, the merriment and excitement and most of all we love the chance to celebrate in such a joyous and celebratory atmosphere with everyone else!

Every Purim you can bet on CBDChabad and our Purim Parties! With plenty of food, drink, hammentashen and Megilla reading we are sure to set the festive tone well into Pesach!

We Would love to hear from you

If you wish learn more about CBDChabad and our many services, or you wish to join us for any of our events, learning sessions, festive meals or feel like you just want to reach out, please fill out this form and we will be in touch with you.