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Thursday, March 1, 2018

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Moses was born on the 7th of Adar of the year 2368 from creation (1393 BCE); accordingly, Adar 14 was the 8th day of his life and the day on which he was circumcised in accordance with the Divine command to Abraham.

The festival of Purim celebrates the salvation of the Jewish people from Haman's plot "to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day."

The events of Purim extended over a period of several years, culminating in the victory celebrations of Adar 14-15 of 356 BCE. Below is a timeline of the major events. For the detailed story, see the Book of Esther and The Story of Purim




Achashveirosh ascends the throne of Persia


369 BCE

Achashveirosh's 180-day feast; Queen Vashti executed


366 BCE

Esther becomes queen


Tevet, 362 BCE

Haman casts lots to choose date for Jews' annihilation


Nissan, 357 BCE

Royal decree ordering killing of all Jews


Nissan 13, 357 BCE

Mordechai calls on Jews to repent; 3-day fast ordered by Esther


Nissan 14-16, 357 BCE

Esther goes to Achashveirosh; hosts 1st wine party with Achashveirosh and Haman


Nissan 16, 357 BCE

Esther's 2nd wine party; Haman's downfall and hanging


Nissan 17, 357 BCE

Second decree issued by Achashveirosh, empowering the Jews to defend themselves


Sivan 23, 357 BCE

Battles fought throughout the empire against those seeking to kill the Jews; Haman's ten sons killed


Adar 13, 356 BCE

Purim celebrations everywhere, except Shushan where 2nd day of battles are fought


Adar 14, 356 BCE

Purim celebration in Shushan


Adar 15, 356 BCE

Megillah written by Esther and Mordechai; Festival of Purim instituted for all generations


355 BCE

Laws and Customs

Purim observances include:

a) Reading of the Megillah (Book of Esther), which recounts the story of the Purim miracle.

b) Giving to the poor (gifts of money should be given to at least two poor people).

c) Sending gifts of food to friends (a minimum of two ready-to-eat foods to at least one friend).

d) The Purim feast.

e) Reciting the Al Hanissim prayer.

Customs include dressing up in disguising costumes and the traditional Purim food, the hamantash. For more detailed information, see links below.

(In Jerusalem and other ancient walled cities, the festival is observed tomorrow--see entries for Adar 15.)

Daily Thought

Our world today is built upon the foundations of two similar cultures: the Jewish and the Greek. Both treasured the world of ideas.

Yet, to this day, they represent two worldviews, still locked in battle.

To this day, we struggle: Does human dignity mean that our minds are the measure of all things?

Or does it mean to be in the divine image, inextricably bound up with the Infinite that lies beyond the mind?

The Greeks reached the pinnacle of intellect at their time. Their ideal was a world built upon the human mind.

But the Jewish people had experienced a deeper reality, indescribable and inexplicable. They understood that a world built on human reason alone could not stand.

The Greek conquerors rose, fell and vanished. The Jewish people still stand strong.

And so, we light candles on Chanukah. Not light to see by. Not light for any use at all. Pure light.

Light that is forever.