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How is Purim celebrated?

by Rabbi Yossi Marcus

  

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


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1. Take a Scroll


Go to your local synagogue and listen as the whole story of Purim is read from a hand-written scroll of parchment called a Megillah. The megillah is read once on Purim eve and a second time the next morning, Purim day1 . During the reading, make sure to make lots of noise when the name of Haman is mentioned. You might want to get hold of a "gragger" a special noisemaker for the occasion. (If you are unable to make it to synagogue, contact your closest Chabad Center. It's quite likely they can get someone to come read the megillah for you.)


...to celebrate in a way that you're coasting on a plane that takes you beyond your natural inhibitions and constraints. Let loose and celebrate
2. Food Gifts


Send a gift of at least two ready to eat food-types to at least one friend on Purim2 . See Mishloach Manot: Who What Where and When?


3. Gifts to the Poor


Give a monetary gift to at least two poor people3 . It is best to give directly to the poor on Purim but if that is not possible, give to a charity organization or place money in a charity box. See Why do we give charity on Purim?


4. Eat


Some time on Purim day, have a great feast. The Talmud instructs us to get so "spiced" (drunk) that we know not the difference between blessed is Mordechai and cursed is Haman4. Obviously this does not apply to minors or those sloppy with their drinks. The idea is to celebrate in a way that you're coasting on a plane that takes you beyond your natural inhibitions and constraints. Let loose and celebrate. (Remember: Purim practitioners drink responsibly. Don't drink and drive.) See If getting drunk is inappropriate, why is it a Mitzvah to get drunk on Purim?


5. Thank G-d


We add a short section of thanksgiving to the Amidah and to the Grace After Meals called "Al HaNissim". See Where can I download the prayers for Purim?

Footnotes

  • 1. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 142:7; Shulchan Aruch, Orech Chayim 687:1
  • 2. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 141:1
  • 3. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 141:3
  • 4. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 141:65

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Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Purim
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.
Grace After Meals
Biblically mandated prayer, consisting of four blessings, recited after eating more than an ounce of bread.
Megillah
A scroll. Usually a reference to the Book of Esther, one of the books of the "Written Torah", which is read--from a scroll--on the holiday of Purim.
Haman
Descendant of anti-Semitic tribe of Amalek and prime minister of the Persian Empire in the 5th century b.c.e. Schemed to annihilate all the Jews, and the holiday of Purim was established when the plot was foiled.
Mordechai
Cousin of Queen Esther, and Jewish leader in the 4th century BCE. Played a large role in saving the Jews after Haman, the Persian prime minister, plotted to exterminate them all. The holiday of Purim was established to commemorate this miracle.
Amidah
Highlight of every prayer, recited silently while standing. Weekday Amidah consists of nineteen blessings, Sabbath and holiday Amidah contains seven blessings.
gragger
A small toy-like noisemaker used on Purim to make noise when Haman's name is mentioned during the reading of the Scroll of Esther.
G-d
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.