Purim . . .
While this is not my FIRST Purim, this is the first Purim where I find myself in a Purim mood (last year's falling of this particular holiday was a rough spell for me) so I thought I might follow a now time-honored, and largely in the past, tradition and share with you a casual list of my ten favorite things about the occasion.
This year (5774)'s Purim starts Saturday (3/15) and sundown and rages until Sunday (3/16) at sundown.
I have no plans to go crazy for this Purim and did not last year. I will HOPEFULLY fix this failure in 5775!
Without any additional delays . . . PURIM!
1) Purim is, at its root, the joyful, fun, upbeat celebration (as perhaps too few Jewish holidays are) of a foiled plot to destroy all the Persian Jews in the 4th century BCE. While not the only time Jews have survived a plan to wipe us from the face of the earth this one was particularly complicated.
2) It has a great story behind it . . . Taken from the book of the beautiful Esther. Esther, you see, was born a Jew but was raised (her Jewish roots a secret) by her cousin/uncle (I am actually not sure which) Mordecai. Esther eventually joined Persian King Ahasuerus' harem (hate the game, not the playa') but - because of her beauty, passion, and spirit was made Ahasuerus' Queen. Enter Haman . . . an evil little man who had the King's ear and who had a very uncomfortable relationship with Mordecai. Mordecai, frankly, was "on to" Haman and didn't respect him and refused to bow down before him - something that was interpreted to be based on Jewish arrogance so because one Jew didn't bow to Haman, Haman decided all Jews should die - I'm paraphrasing but not by much). Haman convinced the King that it was in Persia's best interest to do this and it was to be ordered in writing. A single day was set aside when/where all Jews would be killed. Mordecai talked to Esther and convinced her to go see the King something NO ONE (not even a favorite harem member/wife/Queen) could do without being summoned under penalty of death - add in that Esther was to tell her King that she was, herself, a Jew and it was dicey but it WORKED. The written decree that the King passed down was actually to hang Haman and his sons and the Jews were spared. Let's party, yo!
3) I love Purim because . . . well . . . we-be-noshin' hamantaschen and I have a no sugar added recipe that bakes up triangular delights so good I want to cry and/or eat them ALL.
4) Purim is sorta' like the Jewish Mardi Gras and/or Halloween. Costumes and masks (for hidden identities), a MANDATE to eat, drink (specifically booze unless alcoholism, health, or a fear of getting drunk and breaking a commandment might result at which point, grape juice is Diet Mtn Dew is good for you), and be merry.
5) Groggers for everyone! And just yell "Chag Sameach" (KHAHG sah-MEHY-ahkh) to anyone you see. It means "Joyous Festival" so they should appreciate it.
6) Oh, yes. There IS a movie about Purim. "One Night with the King".
7) This song is about Esther and, by extension, Purim. It really is. I promise. Also - admit it, you ALSO love Mariah Carey's old stuff.
8) The book of Esther is the ONLY book in the Torah where G-d is not named by name. He is only alluded to. when Mordecai tries to convince the Jews that their salvation will come from someone - if not through Esther.
9) Many Talmudic scholars have argued that this is G-d's way of saying that he's always at work, that there is a plan that often involves one many moving pieces, etc. and that might even appear to be coincidence or luck and that not everything is about miracles and G-d's doings, etc. But maybe all that luck is really fate and fate is really the work of G-d and maybe everything happens for a reason. Or maybe people can and do affect change. Also, women are our saving graces (my own interpretation).
10) Maccabeats, yo!