From the Chassidic Rebbes - The PURIM Feast
The reason that the Sages instituted drinking and feasting on Purim and
not on Chanukah is as follows: In the days of Mordechai and Esther, the
Jews sinned through eating, by partaking of the feast of Ahashuerus. This
was physical sin, and therefore they were endangered, measure for measure,
with physical annihilation. In contrast, in the days of the Hasmoneans,
the Jews sinned through almost assimilating into Greek culture and thereby
ignoring the study of the Torah; therefore they were endangered not physically
but spiritually he Greeks wanted to outlaw the practice of Judaism. Therefore,
the commemoration of the miracle of Chanukah is chiefly through vocal
observance: praise and thanksgiving, which emphasize the spiritual, whereas
that of Purim is chiefly through drinking and eating, which emphasize
[from Benei Yissachar]
From the Masters of Kabbalah -- From Yaakov to Mordechai
Rabbi Chaim Yosef David Azulai (the "Chida")
[When Yaakov saw that Esav was coming] he went ahead of [his family]
and bowed down seven times until he reached his brother. (Bereishis 33:3)
It says in Sefer Hakinuyim that Mordechai was the reincarnation of Yaakov
and Haman the reincarnation of Esav. Since Yaakov did wrong by bowing
before Esav seven times, Mordechai came and repaired Yaakov's failing
by refusing to bow down to Haman.
The question is, how could Yaakov, the most perfect of the patriarchs,
bow down to the wicked Esav? He surely knew that it is forbidden to greet
an evildoer. [The answer is:] Yaakov did not do anything wrong. When he
prostrated himself he was bowing down to the Shechinah that was coming
to meet him.
[Then why is it counted as a failing that needs rectification?] Yaakov
was guilty of giving a false impression to his wives and his children,
causing them to think that he was bowing down toEsav. [Mordechai repaired
this misstep by refusing to bow down to Haman.]
[From KABBALAH: Selections from Classic Kabbalistic Works from Raziel
HaMalach to the Present Day (Targum Press). Translations by Avraham Yaakov
From Ascent Quarterly-- PURIM's Many Gifts from
Rabbi Shaul Y. Leiter
Two mitzvot of Purim's are the sending of two food items to another Jew
(ideally via a messenger) and the giving of food or money to two poor
Jews. A few questions arise:
1) What is the connection between the sending of two food items and
the holiday of Purim?
2) Considering the advantage of giving charity secretly so that the recipient
won't know the benefactor's identity, why aren't gifts to the poor given
via a messenger, instead of the sending of food items to a friend?
3) Why are two food types given to one person, but one charitable gift
is given to two poor people?
4) Why must we give food to a friend, but for the poor we can choose between
food and money?
The Lubavitcher Rebbe teaches us that Purim is physically and spiritually
unique. During the time of Mordechai and Ester there was a decree made
in the physical realm to annihilate every person identified as a Jew,
and the subsequent salvation included all Jews.
Similarly, our tradition says that on a spiritual plane the Jews decided
to complete the process begun at Mount Sinai. After their deliverance
from Haman and his evil plans, they unanimously accepted the Torah and
its laws of their own free will, not under duress, as was the case at
Mt. Sinai (see commentaries on Exodus 19:17).
The purpose of giving the Torah is to create a dwelling place for G-d
in this earthly domain. An important prerequisite for the giving of the
Torah was the unity of the Jewish People. Since Purim was the completion
of the process which began at Sinai, the mitzvot of Purim hint at these
three revolutionary events: 1) Making a dwelling place for G-d in this
dimension, 2) Jewish unity, and 3) things happening from our own initiative.
In this light, the Rebbe examines the mitzvot of Purim. Making a dwelling
place for G-d occurs in two ways: perfecting our relationship with Him
through our involvement in Torah and mitzvot, and by encouraging others
to follow suit.
Torah and mitzvot, which connect us to G-d, are compared to food and drink,
which connect our souls to our bodies. Love and awe of G-d, which accompany
our divine service, are compared to gold and silver, which are used to
buy food and drink.
With the sending of food items, when each Jew gives to another person
(understood as other, i.e. G-d) gifts of food (i.e. mitzvot), there must
be two foods in each gift to prove that we are not performing these good
deeds easily and naturally but rather are breaking out of our limitations
to achieve the higher standard - for the sake of Heaven. Just as mitzvot
cannot be elevated on their own, but must be "accompanied" with
love and awe, so also the sending of food items must also be through a
messenger. On the other hand, money alone can't suffice, because love
and fear are not by themselves valued gifts to G-d. It is our actions
The mitzva of giving gifts to the poor hints at our obligation to encourage
the "poor" in knowledge of G-d to come closer to Judaism. For
some, encouragement comes through seeing peers performing a mitzva and
wanting to join in. For others, intellectual explanations may inspire
them. In the same way that there is not just one way to help another Jew
become more aware, so too gifts to the poor can be either food or money.
Our responsibility is to give only one gift to each because our task is
to take them out of poverty, to start them on their Jewish journey. However,
there are two parts to every Jew, the body and the soul. Both of these
elements must be influenced to serve G-d.
herefore the mitzva of giving to the poor must be to two needy Jews.
Some Laws and Customs -- Some PURIM-Related Observances
SHABBAT ZACHOR ["Shabbat of Remembering"] 9 Adar (Feb
This is the only Shabbat each year that every man and woman is
obligated (according to most authorities) by Torah law to go to
shul. On this day, Zachor is appended to the weekly Torah reading. By
hearing it read publicly on the Shabbat immediately preceding Purim, we
fulfill the Torah commandment in it [Deut. 25:17-19]: "Remember what
Amalek [the ancestor and inspiration of Haman, the villain of Purim] did
(Anyone who is unable to be present at this reading should make an extra
effort to hear the Torah reading [Ex. 17] that takes place immediately
before the morning Megillah reading on Purim, or at least to hear Zachor
read when it comes up in the regular Shabbat cycle of Torah readings [Aug.
29, 2015] as the final verses of the portion Ki Teitzei.)
TA'ANIT [Fast of] ESTHER 7 Adar (Wednesday, Feb 28)
The fast starts before dawn and ends after dark. No eating or drinking.
Special services at shul morning and afternoon. The money saved by not
eating should go to charity; the time, to Torah-study and mitzvot-performance.
PURIM 14 Adar (Wed. night - Thursday, Feb 28 - March 1)
1. Hear a public reading of the Scroll of Esther in the
evening and again during the day.
2. Give money [matanot l'evyonim] to at least 2 needy individuals.
(If you don't encounter anyone that qualifies, put the money in a safe
place until you do.)
3. Send (via a third party) a gift [mishlo'ach manot] of
2 or more kinds of ready-to-eat foods and/or drink to at least 1 friend
(not a relative).
4. Celebrate at a festive day-time meal with bread, good food,
and plenty of wine. The Talmud and Codes of Law instruct us to drink until
we can no longer differentiate between "Blessed is Mordechai"
and "Cursed is Haman"! (A few authorities opine that the minimum
obligation is to drink only "a bit more than what one is used to."
Looking ahead to Pesach night, perhaps the quantity implied is
4 cups plus!)
5. Add "Al HaNissim" to the Amidah prayers and
to the Blessings-After-Meals.
SHUSHAN PURIM 15 Adar (Friday, March 2)
Inhabitants of cities that were important enough to be surrounded by walls
at the time of the Jews' entrance into the Holy Land celebrate Purim one
day later than everyone else (see Esther 9:17-19). Prime example: Jerusalem.
The status of Tsfat and several other cities in Israel is unclear, so
the day is celebrated somewhat in addition to regular-Purim, "just-in-case."
(When Shushan Purim falls on Shabbat, the celebration in Jerusalem lasts
three days: The Megillah is read on Friday, the Al Hanissim
prayer additions are said on Shabbat, and the festive meal is conducted
last year's Purim page
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