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The Traditions of Purim Torah

In just a few short weeks we will revel in the joys of celebrating Purim. Purim is the holiday where we relive the story found in the Book of Esther about the evil Haman’s attempt to wipe out the Jews of the diaspora. We read the Book of Esther, we feast, we put on costumes, and we share food gift baskets with one another and more. We have some exciting things planned for the weekend of Purim that we will roll out to you next week, including our annual Purim carnival and a barbecue lunch.

One of my favorite parts of Purim is the tradition of Purim Torah. The Book of Esther is replete with a motif of things being turned on their head. Just when we think we know the plot line or particular character, we are surprised with a twist. There is much hyperbole and satire in the Megillah. There is humor and mockery, and let’s just say alcohol plays a big role in the story too.

This has led to a long standing tradition of mock Talmudic tractates, comedic Purim plays (called Shpiels) and attempts at humorously trying to fake out friends and neighbors akin to April fool’s day jokes.

Over the years I have attempted to take advantage of the merriment of the Purim holiday by sending out a letter or announcement to the congregation that seems real, but has subtle clues that it is in fact Purim Torah. In order for a Purim Torah to be successful, it has to have an air of truth. A Purim Torah isn’t really successful unless one has to read it twice or more to make sure it is not real. But rest assured the only reason for it is to get us in the mood for the Purim celebrations.

I share this with you now to prepare you that in the next couple of weeks leading up to Purim I may be sending some version of a Purim Torah out to the congregation. It could be here in my shtender or a separate email, or even on our social media – but it is coming.

Shabbat Shalom

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