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Purim Questions & Answers

From our Ask the Rabbi Inbox

Purim FAQs
Commonly asked Purim questions
How long does it take to hear the Megillah? Is it a mitzvah to drink alcohol? How is Purim celebrated? These and more Purim FAQs.
Matanot La’evyonim FAQs
One of the four mitzvahs of Purim is to give matanot la’evyonim, “presents to [two] poor people.”
Mishloach Manot FAQs
Does a bagel with lox count as two foods? Does hosting a guest for a meal on Purim day count as mishloach manot? Is a sachet of coffee considered food?
Play Purim True or False!
Here's a fun game to see how much you know about the joyous holiday of Purim.
Was Queen Esther Really Green?
What exactly does it mean that Queen Esther was green?
OK to Wear an Offensive Purim Costume?
I just want to have fun, but worry other people might not get it.
Some friends of mine think it would be funny to dress up as a group and have some fun in a good natured way.
Why Is Work Permitted on Purim?
I have been told that you’re allowed to work on the holidays of Purim and Chanukah. Why are those holidays different than Passover, Sukkot and Shavuot, when most work is prohibited, almost like Shabbat?
Is a Woman Allowed to Dress Up as a Man on Purim?
As a general rule, dressing up in clothing exclusive to the opposite gender is definitely a problem. The question remains, however, whether this prohibition applies to Purim, a day when any cross-dressing would only be for "harmless" entertainment purposes...
Can I Send Mishloach Manot to a Mourner?
My neighbor's mother recently passed away, and I know there's a prohibition against gift-giving within the first twelve months. Does this include Purim?
Inappropriate Purim Costumes
I was so excited when my teenage daughter told me she wanted to attend a Purim party. Being that she does not seem so interested in Judaism, I thought this was such a positive step, until I saw what she plans on wearing for her costume . . .
Why is the Holiday Named
Why is this seemingly trivial detail of Haman's plot magnified to the extent that the holiday is named after it? And why is the holiday given a name drawn from the Persian language?
Why Do Jews Send Mishloach Manot (Purim Baskets)?
The source of the Purim food gifts
When we are united, we merit G‑d's blessing and salvation. We give gifts of food on Purim to strengthen our bonds of friendship with our fellow Jews...
Why the Hamantash?
Wasn’t Haman the guy who wanted to wipe us out? Why would we immortalize him by eating cookies that bear his name?
Why Isn’t G‑d’s Name Mentioned in the Megillah?
This is a story about G‑d miraculously saving us. If so, why do we leave Him out of the story?
Why Is It Called the Fast of Esther?
The rest of the people might have felt they should be fasting, but were not permitted to, since they needed every ounce of strength to defend themselves against Haman’s venomous hordes. Esther, sitting in the palace, was the only one who had nothing to fear, and so was permitted to fast . . .
On a Friday Purim, when do I perform all the day's mitzvot?
Purim on Friday is a fairly unusual occurrence, and requires some planning in order to fulfill all the mitzvot in their proper time, and still be ready for Shabbat on time...
How Could Esther Marry a Non-Jewish King?
Esther did not want to be taken to the palace. Not only was she an upright Jewish girl who abhorred the notion of marriage to a gentile vile king, she was actually already married!
Two Foods for Mishloach Manot (Purim Gifts)
Why must the mishloach manot comprise of two foods, each with a separate blessing, like a cluster of grapes and a cookie? Why can't I just send two items with the same blessing?
Drinking on Purim
Do I have to get drunk on Purim?
I’m going to sound like a nerd, but I’m not. Do I have to drink on Purim?
Purim Gifts to the Rich?
Should we be giving mishloach manot only to the poor?
In a recent meeting of our temple sisterhood, the issue was raised that the giving of gifts at Purim, mishloach manot, is really only meant for the poor and that the modern way of giving doesn’t benefit anyone.
Why Wear Purim Costumes?
On dressing up and wearing masks on the holiday of Purim
Some reasons behind the age-old custom to dress up on Purim.
When the Holiday of Purim Falls on Sunday
Some things to be aware of when the holiday of Purim begins immediately after Shabbat.
Why Name a Pastry After Haman the Wicked?
Explaining the hamantash
Why is the hamantash pastry, eaten on the holiday of Purim, named after Haman, the wicked advisor in the story of Purim? Also, why is it triangular?
No One Can Hear The Megillah Reading...
May a microphone be used for the reading of the Scroll of Esther?
What Are Kreplach?
The traditional triangular pieces of dough filled with ground meat or chicken, similar to dumplings.
Why Send “Mishloach Manot” Food Gifts Through a Messenger?
I know that the word mishloach literally means “send,” and I’ve been told that the correct way to give mishloach manot is actually through a messenger. Is this true? Can you explain the reason?
Shivah Mourning on the Holiday of Purim
My neighbor’s father just passed away and Purim will fall within the shiva, seven day mourning period.
Can I Send
If I know someone is going to be away from their community for business over the holiday of Purim, is it appropriate to send the Purim gifts of food by mail?
Why Read the Megillah Twice?
Why do we read the Megillah twice every Purim, once at night and once during the day?
Who Was Zeresh?
Haman's Wicked and Wise Wife
Zeresh’s name appears twice in the Book of Esther, both times as an advisor to her husband.
Did Mordechai Act Foolishly?
Even if Haman thought he was a god, shouldn't Mordechai have bowed down to him rather than risk the lives of the entire Jewish people?
Are Mordecai and Esther Named for Pagan Gods?
I could see why Esther would need to do that. But why would Mordecai, a righteous, observant Jew, be named after a Babylonian deity?
Can I Disinvite My Brother From Shabbat Dinner?
All he does is eat, grumble, and leave. Is there any point in having him there?
Why Two Rollers for a Torah and One for a Megillah?
Why does a Torah scroll have two poles or rollers, while the Megillah (Book of Esther), which is also read from a scroll of parchment, only has one rollers (or none at all)?
Why Give Half-Shekels to Charity on Taanit Esther?
Why do we give a haf-shekel to charity, and why is it done on Taanit Esther?
The Origins of the Gragger: Why We Boo Haman
Rabbi David Abudraham (14th century, Spain) writes that there had been an earlier custom for children to draw a picture or write the name of Haman on wood or stones
Megillah Over the Phone or Livestream?
Due to fears of the coronavirus, I was thinking of staying home . . .
Why Purim Isn't The Jewish Halloween
Purim tells a story of the victory of life. Halloween contains an awful lot of the opposite.
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