Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Purim - March 8, 2012

Purim is the Jewish Holiday which occurs on the 14th of Adar.
Purim celebrates the victory, where Haman tried to annihilate the Jewish people of ancient Persia. The Jews were saved through God’s miraculous arranging of events, by the heroics of Mordechai and Esther.

The story can be found in the bible in the book of Esther. King Achashverosh throws a huge six-month party and Queen Vashti refuses to follow orders and is banished. After a global search, Esther becomes the new queen – but does not reveal her heritage. Mordechai, the leader of the Jews, uncovers a plot to assassinate the king – putting him also in a favorable position with the king. Then Haman, the king’s top advisor, obtains a decree to have all the Jews destroyed. Purim is the Persian word for "lottery," used by Haman to determine a date for his planned destruction of the Jews. In an act laden with symbolism, Haman cast lots to find the day upon which he and his minions would destroy the Jews. In leaving the day of the Jews’ demise entirely up to chance, Haman’s message was unmistakable: The Jews, who believed in the providence of a beneficent God, a being they heralded as Master of the Universe – these Jews would be subject to the blind whim of fate. A casual roll of the dice would be the instrument that seals their end, while the Jews’ God would stand helplessly by.

In the end, Esther gets the decree reversed, Haman is hanged on the gallows, and Mordechai becomes prime minister.

The name Megillat Esther (Scroll of Esther) actually mean “revealing the hidden.” Unlike every other book in the Bible, Megillat Esther does not mention God’s name even once. The hidden hand of God is revealed through the maze of events. Megillat Esther teaches us that life’s challenges are always for the best, because what appears as an obstacle is really an opportunity to develop ourselves for the better. And it all comes from God’s invisible hand that guides our fate, every step of the way.

A traditional Purim food is Hamantashen. The tradition to eat hamantashen on Purim began in Europe. The word hamantashen derived from two German words: mohn (poppy seed) and taschen (pockets). Mohntaschen is German for "poppy seed pockets" and was a popular German pastry. Hamantaschen means "Haman's pockets." It was rumored that the evil Haman's pockets were filled with bribe money. The most popular explanation of why Jews eat this three cornered pastry on Purim is that Haman wore a three-cornered hat. Eating an image of Haman's hat is a way to symbolically destroy his memory.

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