Year after year, our luach ivri invite us to celebrate, to enjoy, to do, to commemorate. Purim celebration, that takes place on the 14th of Adar, commemorates the survival of the Jewish communities under the Persian power, and the extermination attempt conceived by Haman.
The name of the feast celebrated on the 14th of Adar comes from the Hebrew word “pur”, that means “lots”, and it alludes to the casting of lots by Haman to establish the more proper date to exterminate the Jews on Persia. This was the name that the Jews of the time adopted, as we read in Megillah of Esther: “From where they called these days Purim, pur - luck”.
Esther and Mordechai were Jews, but what kind of Jews were they? The Megillah tells us how Esther concealed his Jewish condition while she lived in the king’s court.
The story would say that the Jews, after being conquered, should have adopted the ways of those whom they lived with. Instead of that, Purim emphasises: they didn’t save themselves because they assimilated; they save themselves because they kept their values and their way of life. The concept of preserving the difference is a positive one; it reassesses something that is worth protecting —a precious spiritual legacy.
This attitude is behind the fact of proclaiming Purim for all generations. Purim gives us a vision of how to live as Jews, and how to preserve ourselves in the Diaspora.
Repeating every year the history of Purim encourages us not only to study the Book of Esther, but also all the Books of the Torah, which teach us who we are, where we come from, where we go to and what to do to have a better world, and we cannot do these things with fear or remaining anonymous. A true answer to the question —“do I participate in the civil society contributing with my legacy”— would be: I PARTICIPATE BECAUSE I AM A JEW.
These are some of the Purim Mitzvot:
1) Reading the Meguilat Esther- k'riyat ha'megillah
The Book or Megilat Esther is one of the Khtuvim (Writings) of the Tanakh, it is shown and read as a scroll. We read there the story of Queen Esther and of the salvation of the Jews in the Persian Empire. While reading the Meguilat, it is customary to make a lot of loud noise whenever Haman is named, so as to boo him.
2) Mishloach Manot
This is another of the precepts of Purim, and it consists of sending food to our fellow man/woman, as we are told in the Meguilat Esther. The reason for this precept is that when someone sends somebody a gift or a present, they are showing their feelings of love for them, thus, seeding in them a similar feeling. That is the opposite of what Haman said that the people of Israel are a nation separated and dispersed among other peoples. When somebody sends food to their fellow men/women, they are sharing the joy of Purim.
3) Matanot laevionim
Another of the precepts consists of giving money or any other kind of present to those who feel the need of it. We must practice this mitzvah in Purim with at least two different people. It is important to keep in mind that this is a precept different from the Mishloach Manot and, of course, from the Mitzvah Tzedakah.
4) Prepare a feast
A feast must be prepared, as it is the custom in other Jewish Festivals, with food and drink, to the point of not distinguishing between Haman and Mordechai. Eating Oznei Amán (Haman’s Ears or Hamantachen in Yiddish) is very typical.