Holidays

Purim


WHAT IS PURIM?

On one foot…

Purim is an upside-down day full of paradoxes and secret identities. The Book of Esther (Megillat Esther) tells the story of the Jewish fight for survival in which the lines between good and evil are blurred and the outcome seems to depend more on human acts of courage than on Divine intervention. At the heart of this holiday is a message of the precariousness of life, and a reminder that in a chaotic and sometimes cruel world, the best we can do is stay true to who we are.

WANT TO GO DEEPER?

READ: The Story of Purim


THE LAWS OF PURIM

There are four primary mitzvot with which we observe the Purim holiday. Three of them are taken straight from the 9th chapter of the Book of Esther: “These days in which the Jews enjoyed relief from their foes, and the same month that had been one of grief and mourning was transformed into one of joy and celebration. They made these days of feasting and merrymaking, sending food to one another, and giving gifts to the poor.” (Esther 9:22)
So every year on Purim, we:

1. Have a festive meal (with anyone in your pod, this year).

2. Send mishloah manot, sweet treats to our loved ones. (Did you get yours from IKAR this year? It’s one of the perks of membership!)

3. Give matanot l’evyonim, tzedakah to those in need. (Our mishloah manot package has tools to help with this as well!)

And then, the last mitzvah of Purim is the telling of the story itself, which we do by:

4. Reading the Megillah, once at night, and once again during the day.

That’s right… the whole Megilah!


YOUR PURIM TALMUD STUDY: Their Last Purim Together (2021)

Rabbi David Kasher
Babylonian Talmud Megilah 7b: What happened when one Rabbi took the mandate to drink until he couldn’t distinguish between Haman and Mordekhai a little too seriously.


SOME PURIM RESOURCES FROM THE IKAR VAULT:

Antisemitism Anywhere is a Threat to Jews Everywhere (2019) 
Rabbi Sharon Brous
The story of Purim, as told in Megillat Esther, warns us of two characteristics of antisemitism that feel eerily familiar: the facility and immediacy with which animus toward one Jew becomes a vendetta against all, and the danger of overt antisemitism colliding with its more subterranean counterpart. Are we prepared to reckon with the true nature of antisemitism?

The Priests of Purim (2017)
Rabbi David Kasher
There is a classic rabbinic tradition of searching for some connection between any upcoming holiday and the parsha, the Torah reading that happens to fall out on that particular week in the yearly cycle. The problem with Purim, however, the reading which most often accompanies it is Parshat Tetzaveh, a detailed description of the clothing of the High Priest. What could this possibly have to do with Purim?? Leave it to the brilliant Spanish medieval commentator, Nachmanides, to come up with the perfect answer.

Utzu Etza (2015)
Hillel Tigay
Many plots against the Jews have failed throughout history and this song is associated with Purim because it tells the story of another nefarious plan against the Jews, foiled.

On Purim, Seize the Day (2014)
Rabbi Sharon Brous
As we tell and retell our story of genocide narrowly averted, Purim awakens within an acute awareness of our vulnerability. This day is dedicated to confronting the reality that no matter how hard we work to control our lives — how diligently we plan and prepare — life is inescapably unpredictable.


PURIM SHPIEL GREATEST HITS


BONUS: Rabbi Brous’ Day Off