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Home » Purim

Purim: A Basic Overview

Submitted by on November 4, 2005 – 9:13 pmNo Comment | 6,276 views

The Story

Purim is the
holiday in which the miracle of Mordechai and Esther is celebrated. In
the year 3405 (about 350 BCE) a majority of the Jewish nation lived in
Persia. King Achashverush, spurred on by his advisor Haman, decreed
that the entire Jewish nation be executed on the Thirteenth day of the
Hebrew month of Adar.

Through a
miraculous chain of events Haman was executed and Jews were given the
opportunity to defend themselves, and thereby sanctify G-d name.

Every year on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar, we celebrate the holiday of Purim.

Taanit Esther

Taanit Esther
literally translates as the fast of Esther. Queen Esther declared a
fast day for the Jewish people on the original day of Purim. The
redemption that our people experienced during Purim was never completed
for indeed we still remain in exile to this very day.

For this reason,
we continue the tradition of Queen Esther’s declaration and fast during
this day. This fast begins on the day before Purim at sunrise and ends
at nightfall.

Half Shekel

During the days
of the Temple Jews in Israel were annually taxed three half shekels on
Rosh Chodesh Adar and the money was allocated to various Bet Hamikdash
funds. In order to commemorate this tax, it is customary to contribute
three half dollar coins to a charity in the land of Israel during the
fast of Esther. Plates with half-dollar coins are made available at
Shulls during this day to help you fulfill this Mitzvah. Simply place
$1.50 (or more) in the plate, lift the coins in your hand and drop them
back into the plate.

Four Mitzvot of Purim

There are four Mitzvot that are associated with the holiday of Purim.

  1. The
    first is the reading of the Megilah. It is a Mitzvah to listen to the
    Megilah reading on Purim evening as well as on Purim morning. It is
    important to listen to every word of the Megilah as the Chazzan reads
    from a Kosher Megilah scroll. If you feel that you were unable to
    hear the Megilah correctly during the service It is important to
    arrange a second reading.
  2. The second is Mitzvah associated with
    Purim is Mishlloach Manot, sending parcels of food. This Mitzvah
    consists of sending at least two items of food to at least one person.
    Since the Megilah refers to this mitzvah as the “sending” of food
    parcels, it is therefore proper to send the basket via messenger to the
    intended recipient i.e. if you would like to send a Purim basket to
    your neighbor ask your friend to deliver it for you.
  3. The third
    Mitzvah associated with Purim is Matanot Laevyonim, gifts to the poor.
    Since the Megilah refers to the poor in plural form, (Evyonim) this
    Mitzvah is only fulfilled through donating gifts to a minimum of two
  4. The fourth Mitzvah associated with Purim is that of
    Seudat Purim, which must begin during the day of Purim. When Purim
    falls on Friday the meal begins before midday. This is done so that the
    feast of Purim does not interfere with the preparation for and the
    sanctity of Shabbat.

It is a fact that our rabbis have
encouraged Jews to drink a L’chaim on Purim and have encouraged us to
celebrate the holiday in a manner that will not allow us to remember
the difference between “Blessed is Mordechai and “Cursed is Haman”.
Nevertheless, there is not a single reference in the entire Talmud to
driving your automobile on Purim. Please be careful not to drink and

Happy Purim