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Purim Yemen

by Nissan Mindel


Library » Holidays » Purim » The Story | Subscribe | What is RSS?


Once upon a time there reigned in Sana, the capital of Yemen, a mighty ruler, the Great Imam. He had a young son, whom he loved dearly. The young prince was as wise as he was handsome. When he rode on his white Arab steed, he looked lovelier than any Arab prince in the world, and all the Arab mothers peered from their veils and wished that their sons would be even a little like the crown prince.

The Jews of Sana also loved the prince, and whenever he visited them in their Jewish quarter, they would all turn out to greet him with love and honor.

Now, the king of Yemen, the Imam, had a Jewish advisor. There was no decree or law, no tax or toll, which the king imposed upon his subjects without first consulting his Jewish advisor about it.

If it was good for the people as well as for the king, it became the law of the land, but if it was good only for the king, or only for some of the people, he would advise the king to reject it.

Many of the king's ministers were jealous of the Jewish advisor and resented the trust which the king put in him. They became even more jealous when the King appointed his Jewish advisor as the grand vizier of his kingdom, placing all the affairs of state in his hands.

Now the king's ministers began to plot the downfall of the grand vizier. At the same time they hoped to destroy the Jewish community in Yemen once and for all.

They bribed the two servants, whom the king had assigned to guard and serve the crown prince, and persuaded them to join them in the plot.

It came to pass that the crown prince, accompanied by his two servants, went for a ride through the streets of Sana. When the sun began to set, the servants said to their master: "Your Royal Highness! Tonight the Jews are celebrating their 'Sugar-Festival' -- they call it Purim. They prepare sweet pastries and candies which are very delicious, and they have lots of fun. Let us ride into the Jewish Quarter and visit their synagogue, where they are all assembled for the celebration!"

The suggestion was well received by the crown prince, and he made his way to the Jewish Quarter. News of the crown prince's visit spread quickly. When the crown prince and his two bodyguards arrived at the gate of the synagogue, the Chacham Bashi (chief rabbi) and the heads of the community were waiting to welcome the royal visitor with all due honor. The grand vizier, who had come to attend the Purim service in the synagogue, was also there to greet the prince.

The prince's servants alighted from their horses and hurried to the prince to help him dismount. As they had planned, one of them quckily unsheathed the Prince's sword, pointing it upwards, while the other held the prince's foot in the stirrup, causing the Prince to stumble and fall on the sword's edge. It pierced his heart, and the Prince fell dead at their feet.


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(fem. Tzidkanit; pl. Tzaddikim). A saint, or righteous person.
A one-day holiday celebrated in late winter commemorating the miraculous deliverance of the Jewish people from a decree of annihilation issued by Persian King Ahasuerus in the year 356 BCE.
An old-style Jewish school.
King of Israel who succeeded Saul, becoming king of Israel in 876 BCE. Originally a shepherd, he became popular after he killed the Philistine strongman, Goliath. He is the progenitor of the Davidic royal dynasty -- which will return to the throne with the arrival of King Messiah.
The Book of Psalms. One of the 24 books of the Bible. Compiled by King David; mostly comprised of poetic praise for G-d. A large part of our prayers are culled from this book.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.