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What Is Purim?

What Is Purim?


The festival of Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar (late winter/early spring). It commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from Haman’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day.”

The story in a nutshell:

The Persian empire of the 4th century BCE extended over 127 lands, and all the Jews were its subjects. When King Ahasuerus had his wife, Queen Vashti, executed for failing to follow his orders, he orchestrated a beauty pageant to find a new queen. A Jewish girl, Esther, found favor in his eyes and became the new queen—though she refused to divulge the identity of her nationality.

Meanwhile, the anti-Semitic Haman was appointed prime minister of the empire. Mordechai, the leader of the Jews (and Esther’s cousin), defied the king’s orders and refused to bow to Haman. Haman was incensed, and convinced the king to issue a decree ordering the extermination of all the Jews on the 13th of Adar—a date chosen by a lottery Haman made.

Mordechai galvanized all the Jews, convincing them to repent, fast and pray to G‑d. Meanwhile, Esther asked the king and Haman to join her for a feast. At the feast, Esther revealed to the king her Jewish identity. Haman was hanged, Mordechai was appointed prime minister in his stead, and a new decree was issued—granting the Jews the right to defend themselves against their enemies.

On the 13th of Adar, the Jews mobilized and killed many of their enemies. On the 14th of Adar, they rested and celebrated.

Purim observances:

a) Reading of the megillah (book of Esther), which recounts the story of the Purim miracle. b) Giving money gifts to the poor. c) Sending gifts of food to friends. d) A festive Purim feast.

It is also customary for children to dress up in disguising costumes.

Useful Links:

Virtual Purim—a website offering the story of Purim, detailed how-tos, articles and essays, Purim songs and video clips and more. Also check out our special Purim site for kids

The book of Esther with commentary.

Click here for a listing of Purim’s corresponding secular dates for the upcoming years.

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Discussion (39)
March 5, 2015
Antisemitism is misunderstood as being anti-Jewish, but a semite is a person who speaks a semitic language, of which Hebrew is, but only one...
a member of any of the peoples who speak or spoke a Semitic language, including in particular the Jews and Arabs.
March 5, 2015
Bibi (Esther) by speaking in detail to Congress (King of Persia) about the consequences of Iran Agreement ( Haman was planning in detail ) will probably make the world more aware and bring them to grips of the catastrophe that could occur on Israel and then the Jews in the rest of the world.
We Jews at the end of the day stand alone and will have to defend for ourselves.
Phillip Rubin
Israel/ R Congo
March 4, 2015
Netenyahu celebrates Purim in a very personal way
Note that PM Netenyahu chose to address Congress on Purim, where he declared the right (and intention) of Israel to defend itself against the state of Iran. That message was aimed directly at 2 people: Iran's Ayatollah and our Muslim president, Barack Hussein Obama.
March 4, 2015
Hm if the Persian king rescinded the order to kill all the Jews, why would the Jews feel compelled to "kill all their enemies"? Sounds to me like a neat way to whack anyone you did not like.
Harry McNicholas
March 4, 2015
Wow this is great.I always learn new thing about the Jewish holiday, God is always faithful to His people.
Treasure F.E
July 3, 2014
So what happened.
Why does antisemitism now rule Iran? Why do they now want to destroy our people? Too bad they can't be successfully reminded of our peaceful history at that time Persians were Zoroastrians. People in Iran are Muslims. Iran does not represent Persia.
March 2, 2014
Megillah Esther
The Book of Esther is unique because it doesn't specifically name G-d, He/She was working behind the scenes so we can masquerade at Purim in memory of the hidden dealings of the Creator, Purim chag sameach to everyone
London UK
February 26, 2014
Purim Celebration
Now Lavan decendants live in Iran, it is my perception that they are not affected by anti-semitism, as world turns on let's trust in G-d Almighty to keep the jewish people to accomplish their goals.
February 26, 2014
Persia - Iran
What a wonderful story! Esther was a brave and blessed woman and the King of Persia did the honorable thing. A period of peace and mutual respect between Persia and the Jewish people.

So what happened. Why does antisemitisim now rule Iran? Why do they now want to destroy our people? Too bad they can't be successfully reminded of our peaceful history.
Arlene Denmark
Houston, Texss
February 25, 2014
I pray that one day G-d will change the hearts and minds of Israel's enemies and removes those that refuse to change from all our lives.
Bozeman, MT
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