Gragger: A Purim Story

Gragger: A Purim Story

Since this is a story about a gragger, it is of course a Purim story.

One Purim many, many years ago, in the little town of Vardik, in far-off Russia, everyone was very sad and worried. Instead of looking forward to the gaiety of the holiday, they were afraid that their entire Jewish community would be destroyed. It almost seemed like the times of the first Purim—that's how great the danger was.

The son of the great powerful Czar had gone hunting in the woods with a group of friends. They had lost their way and by chance arrived in the town of Vardik. All the people were excited to have this distinguished visitor in their midst. They gave him the finest room in the local inn, the finest food, and delicious cakes.

The next day, the prince suddenly became very ill and was unable to return home. Messengers were sent to the Czar to report the bad news. In a very short time, the Czar and several important ministers arrived in Vardik.

They had brought several doctors with them who immediately began to examine the prince. Each one tried to cure him, but none was successful. The prince was moaning in pain. His face was flushed, and he was burning with fever. Most of the time he slept. He refused all food and drink. His very life was in danger.

And then one of the ministers said that it was the fault of the Jews that the prince was sick, because they gave him bad food. This was of course ridiculous and untrue, but everyone was so worried about the sickness of the prince that they believed him. Unfortunately, many times in history, when there was any kind of trouble, evil men placed the blame on innocent Jews.

And so the Jews of Vardik were very frightened, for they knew that their lives might be in danger.

On the day before Purim, two notices were put on trees. They said that if the prince did not recover by the end of the next day, all the Jews in Vardik would be held responsible. Also, since the prince was very weak, everyone had to be very quiet.

But the Megillah had to be read. The Jews gathered silently in the little shul on the main street, right near the inn where the prince lay gravely ill. Everyone in shul was told to sit absolutely still, for the Rabbi would read in a soft, low voice. The children had been told to leave their graggers home, for the notice had requested silence. (A gragger is a noisemaker that is used during the reading of the Megillah: whenever the name of the wicked Haman is mentioned, children swing their graggers and make a lot of noise to show their contempt and hate for him.)

The fathers looked very serious and sad. The mothers in the women's section were crying. There was no feeling of Purim in the air, that's for sure.

Suddenly, there was an awful noise. The name of Haman had been read, and little Yaakov was swinging his gragger with all his might. Happily, with a big smile on his face, he was swinging that gragger.

Everyone became very frightened. The Rabbi continued reading. People were shaking their heads. They made signs to Yaakov that he must be quiet. One man wanted to take the gragger away from him, but Yaakov would not even let him touch it. Everyone was afraid that Yaakov would scream and make a lot of noise if forced to give up his gragger. So he was allowed to keep it. No one could tell him to stop using the gragger, for during the reading of the Megillah it is forbidden to speak. They were hoping that Yaakov would understand and put the gragger away.

The windows to the prince's room were open to let in some fresh air. Gathered around his bed were the ministers, the doctors and the Czar. There was total silence in the room. The prince was pale and weak. He had no strength left. His eyes were closed and he seemed not even to be breathing.

What was that? Who dared to break the rule of silence? All the people in the room ran to the window to see who the guilty one was. The next moment they jumped in fright, for they heard a voice behind them asking for some water.

There was the prince, sitting up in bed, wide awake. "What a jolly noise I hear! What is it? Please bring me some water. I have never been so thirsty in my whole life. Hurry, please. I feel so dry." The noise of the gragger had awakened the prince.

In a few days he was well, and the whole company returned in peace to the palace. The Jews in the town were saved, and they had the happiest Purim day you could ever imagine.

Yaakov was the hero of the day. People hugged him and kissed him. They gave him so much nasherei that he had enough to eat till Passover.

Published and copyright by Kehot Publication Society, all rights reserved.
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Bracha Leba, Menucha, Devorah Leah And Arik September 11, 2016

I really like this story We used it as a bedtime story Reply

Masha Nockenofsky Brooklyn March 2, 2015

Russian Purim story Wow! This is definitely one Russian Purim story I ever even heard of! At first, I thought that The Czar's son was going be dead, but then a total turnabout! The Czar's son suddenly heard the loud noise of Yaakov's gragger and was cured! And I'm sure that anybody out there in Europe who will be reading this, would add in their comments, too. Have a happy 'Russian' Purim! Reply

haman the same haman in the story! sunny vardik! March 11, 2014

You forgot 2 major details: first of all, the children made a huge hamantashin in front of the Shul out of snow in sunny but snowy Vardik!!!! and you forgot to say that the Jews was saved!! Reply

Anonymous mb, fl via March 2, 2011

grager story sounds interesting Reply

jj griffith March 10, 2009

HOWDY Folk you gotta love it when, a noise that is meant to reflect anger and hatred, (for Haman) is perceived as a joyful noise!
Psalm 100 Reply

Anonymous Olivette, MO/USA March 2, 2007

Greggars When under arrack, sometimes, if there's nothing else one can do, grind your greggar, make a noise, why go to your grave without at least crying out, and you know? When you do cry out, everyONE hears, and your ready to go to your grave, but maybe a miracle happened because you weren't going to go to your grave silently. It happens like that, and can happen like that to the same person a lot of times, and the miracle that happens, happens for a whole bunch of people for good that the one that cried was never really sure of it happening for the other people too just because the one cried. Reply

raizy shanblatt Los Angeles, CA via February 20, 2007

grager story I'm doing a play that is the EXACT same thing!! Maybe they got it from here?? I am one of the prince's friends,a minister,and one of the townspeople. Reply