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 the physical.
[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.
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.]
KABBALAH: Selections from Classic Kabbalistic Works from Raziel HaMalach to the
Present Day (Targum Press). Translations by Avraham Yaakov Finkel]
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?
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.
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.
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.
the mitzva of giving to the poor must be to two needy Jews. Happy Purim!
Some Laws and Customs -- Some PURIM-Related Observances
SHABBAT ZACHOR ["Shabbat of Remembering"] 8 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 to you."
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
TA'ANIT [Fast of] ESTHER 13 Adar (Thursday,
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 (Thurs. night - Friday, Feb. 25-26)
a public reading of the Scroll of Esther in the evening and again during
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!)
"Al HaNissim" to the Amidah prayers and to the Blessings-After-Meals.
SHUSHAN PURIM 15 Adar (Shabbat, Feb. 27)
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
(When Shushan Purim falls on Shabbat,
AS THIS YEAR, 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 on Sunday.)
last year's Purim page
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