We take out the scroll of Esther and read it publicly. Using the information from the Book of Esther, we learn the customs that are related to the holiday. The Book of Esther tells the story of the king of Persia, King Achashverosh and his relationship with the Jews living in his kingdom. One of the king’s courtiers, Haman, is a virulent anti-Semite and he convinces the king that all the Jews should be killed for their evil, treasonous ways. Mordechai the Jew and his niece Esther scheme to thwart the plan, and instead it is Haman and his family that are executed on the very day Haman planned to kill the Jews. What the story is really about is the triumph of a small people who simply wanted to live peacefully and observe their religion. It is also a story for us, the Jews living in the Diaspora. It is a message for us, that even when we have assimilated into the local society, there will always be those who seek to destroy us. To get all the intrigue and details of the story, you will have to come to our public reading of the scroll.
There are many wonderfully fun customs associated with the holiday. We, and not just the children, put on costumes from Mordechai and Esther to modern day heroes. We eat special triangle shape cookies representing the hat that the evil Haman wore. The cookies are called HAMANtashen. There are also two lesser-known customs. One is Matanot La’evyonim or gifts (tzedakah) for the poor and the other is Mishloach Manot, gift packages that one exchanges with a friend. The gifts packages are made of ready-to-eat goodies and are exchanged with two or more friends. This practice is dictated in the scroll itself and was meant to show how the 13th day of Adar went from a day of mourning when all the Jews thought they would be killed, to a day of festivity when Haman is killed instead.
Don’t forget our Purim Carnival on Sunday March 17th at 11:30 and our dinner and family Megillah reading on Wednesday night starting at 6 PM. You can sign up for the dinner here.
We will also read the megillah Thursday morning at the 7 AM minyan.
Shabbat Shalom and Hag Purim Shamayach – Happy Purim!!
Rabbi Bradley Tecktiel has been Midbar Kodesh Temple's spiritual leader since August 2008. Rabbi Tecktiel was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in May of 1996. He holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees, one from List College and one from Columbia University. He also holds a Masters of Arts from the Jewish Theological Seminary.
You can follow him on Twitter @RabbiMKT.