Haman told the king, "There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your realm. Their laws are different from those of every other people's, and they do not observe the king's laws; therefore it is not befitting the king to tolerate them." Esther 3:8. The king told Haman to do what he wanted with the Jews. Haman's plan was to exterminate the Jews.
Esther spoke to the king on behalf of the Jewish people, though she had not been summoned before the king (an offense during the time). But she fasted and prayed to prepare herself to talk to the king. She saved the Jewish people and instead it was Haman and his sons who were exterminated.
Now we celebrate Purim on the 14th day of Adar (Hebrew calendar). The 13th of Adar was when Haman had planned to exterminate the Jews.
The day before Purim is a minor fast day, in recognition of Esther's 3 day fast, we fast from sunrise to sunset.
On Purim, we are commanded to read the Megillah, the scroll of Esther. During the reading we stamp our feet, boo, hiss and shake groggers (noisemakers) to drown out the name of Haman.
Something else we do for Purim is drink. We are to eat, drink and be merry. In the Talmud it is said that a person is supposed to drink to the point where we cannot tell the difference between "cursed be Haman" and "Blessed be Mordecai." We also dress in costumes and have carnivals and parades. It is a fun holiday to celebrate the story of Esther.
It is also traditional to make gifts to charity and friends at this time. Personally, I enjoy making hamentashen.
Hamentashen are cookies that are filled with sweet treat and shaped like triangles. This year I made raspberry, apricot, almond, poppy seed and chocolate hamentashen. My family and I will share these hamentashen with our friends and neighbors (who seem to look forward to this holiday as much as we do).
Purim doesn't have the same work restrictions that Pesach, Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah have but many people do treat the day a little differently. This year Purim goes from sunset Saturday until nightfall Sunday. So we are going to a Purim party at our shul Sunday morning.
Now to figure out some costumes for the kids... D'vorah wants to be Queen Esther. That won't be too hard. But the other children are having trouble deciding and we are running out of time. :-)
|Some of our hamentashen this year. This batch is raspberry. The triangle shape is supposed to be the shape of Haman's hat (though some traditions say it is a reminder of his ears which were said to be pointed)|