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   Psalm 122:6  /    Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.

Purim 2017

 Sundown on Saturday, the 11th of March until  Sundown on Sunday, the 12th of March 2017.



 Sundown March 11th, 2017 begins the celebration of Purim, a Persian word meaning “lots.”  It is a commemoration of the deliverance of the Jewish people of the ancient Persian Empire from Haman’s plot to annihilate them, as recorded in the Bible, Book of Esther.  Haman had cast lots to determine the day upon which to exterminate the Jews, thus the name of the holiday.

 The complete story makes up our Book of Esther.  In great summary, Haman was King Ahasuerus’ royal vizier.   Ahasuerus had banished Vashti, his wife and Esther (Persian name), Hadassah (Jewish name) replaces her.  Hadassah had been raised by Mordecai, a righteous Jew who spent time in the gate of the king’s palace, so as to stay close by for Esther.  When Haman went by, commanding all to bow down to him (he was decked out with heathen idols), Mordecai could not/would not bow down to him.  Upon realizing that he would not because he was Jewish, Haman decides to wipe out the entire race, not knowing the King’s wife was Jewish.  

 Lots are cast to determine the day on which to annihilate the Jewish race, and having duped the King into compliance a decree is set to carry out the evil plan on the 13th of Adar.

 After fasting and praying, Esther goes before the King (at great risk of her own life) and requests the honor of his presence, along with Haman’s at a feast.  A second feast is also made where she requests their presence and at this time reveals Haman’s wicked plot.

 As a King’s ordinance could not be repealed, another decree went out that enabled the Jews to defend themselves against any enemy; so on the 13th day of Adar, 500 attackers and Haman’s 10 sons die while another 7500 are slain throughout the Persian Empire.  Haman had already been put to death on the gallows he had been building to hang Mordecai.  On the 14th in Shushan (the Persian city) another 300 were killed.  This may be one reason why Purim is celebrated for 2 days by Israel and some others.  (Some state it is walled cities that were to celebrate on one day and unwalled on the next).  At any rate, it can be celebrated by fasting on the 13th *day decreed to kill all the Jews)and resting on the 14th (day of feasting and rejoicing) with continual resting on the 15th by those who want to remain faithful to the facts of the original days .)  

 Mordecai is given a prominent position in Ahasuerus’ court and institutes an annual commemoration of the deliverance of the Jewish people from annihilation, which is carried down to today!

 It is celebrated by:

- Reading the Book of Esther (usually in synagogue)

- Giving mutual gifts of food & drink (food baskets)

- Giving charity to the poor

- Celebratory meal

Often it is a festive celebration in the synagogues, with the children dressing up in costumes (best dressed , most beautiful Esther; most regal Mordecai; most evil looking Haman, etc.); today anything goes – festive and light time in syn. even reciting prayers to tunes of contemporary music, etc.

 As the Book of Esther is read, rejoicing and applauding at name of Mordecai;

  Ra’ashan (Hebrew meaning “noise”) or grogger (Yiddish word) is used to drown out the name of Haman the 54 times it is mentioned in the reading of the book.  (Some even write his name on the souls of their shoes and “stomp” him out; older tradition = name written on rocks, rubbed together which by end of book has his name rubbed out)


 In the morning the Book is read, the gifts are given and in the afternoon the feast takes place.


Eat “Hamantaschen”  (3 cornered filled pastry)

 German or Yiddish (“Homen” = Haman  “Taschen” =  pockets)  mng “Haman’s pockets because he stuffed his pockets w/bribe money (offering Ahasuerus 10 thousand talents of silver for rites to exterminate the Jews)

3 cornered = represent his 3-cornered hat or pockets  OR:

 also rep 3 patriarchs who spiritually inspired/inner strength for Esther, too

Israel: “oznia haman” = Haman’s ears (mocking their enemy (Haman was said to have had strange looking ears or even come from the practice of cutting off criminals’ ears before death)  -- at any rate: meant to mock, to eat up your enemy, etc.



 It is important to note that while the name of God is not read in the entire story, His fingerprint is all over it.  Only by God’s Hand is the preservation of the Jews seen.   How else did Esther, a Jew,  come into the position of Queen in a Persian land – except that God had placed her there, “for such a time as this.”  Mordecai’s great faith that God would find another way to save his people, should Esther falter was pure truth.

 God , through the ages, has seen to the preservation of the Jew.  No other people have remained outside of their homeland for over 2000 years, and yet remained a people.  As God has made promises that will come to the world only through the Jewish people and their land, we see Satan throughout time try to thwart God’s plan by annihilating the Jewish race as was true in the 5th century bce and in recent times via: crusaders and the holocaust (to name just a couple).  BUT FOR GOD…

 …even today we see it through the stirring up of the nations against Israel  -- trying to shrink her land and jeopardize her safety that she might be “wiped off the face of the map” and “pushed into the sea”  -- words spoken by 2 of her most potent enemies.


BUT God is working behind the scenes now as well as He did then and we know that Israel will prevail.

 However in these difficult times, it behooves us to show our solidarity with Israel, to stand with her, to defend her in any way we can and most importantly to share with her the love of God for her and His future plans of promise for her, too.  This we tangibly see in the work of Tom & Jeannie Gronewald, willing to go at perilous times into the eye of the storm, to spread God’s love and try to reach Jewish souls with the Words of Life.  They are here today to share with us…


Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purim

The Complete Book of Jewish Observance