I watched a movie the other day, unfortunately I cannot remember its name, but it was a fictional story based on the true events of the holocaust. A young lady in our present day falls unconscious at a party and then is taken back to 1940’s
He was not the first either. This weekend is Purim. The celebration of how the Jews were saved from being annihilated in one day. Purim means lots, that is the casting of lots, because Haman cast lots to determine the day on which he planned to eradicate the Jewish nation, but I am getting ahead of myself. You can read the whole story in the Book of Esther, in the Bible.
I’ve been reading a lot on this celebration on the Internet. I have learnt so much from www.askmoses.com and http://www.aish.com/purimbasics/purimbasicsdefault/Lively_Megillah_Overview.asp. Very interesting stuff. I do not wish to re-invent the wheel, but I just wanted to reflect on one or two of the customs associated with Purim that I found interesting.
Children on the feast of Purim dress in disguise. Fun for children to play “dress up” but there is more to it than just dressing up. The reason they do that is that G-d is working in the background. The reason, according to Ask Moses is that there are two types of Miracle – the patent obvious miracle, for which there is no other explanation (The Red sea Crossing, the axe head floating, Naaman being healed of leprosy in the Jordan, to pick a few Old Testament examples) and then where circumstances work to cause a favourable outcome – what some might say was a “co-incidence.) The unique thing about the Book of Esther in the Bible is it is the only book where G-d’s name is not mentioned at all. However, clearly He was clearly at work in this desperate situation. Though G-d may be incognito at times, he is not being deceptive, which is what disguise suggests to me, but He uses everything at His disposal for His purposes. This includes the hearts of leaders. King Ahasuerus may have thought that his extending the scepter to Esther was his decision to make, but it was G-d who caused the decision to go His way. Haman may have thought that the 13th day of Adar was merely due to the rolling of the dice. As you know, the meaning of the word Purim is “lots” as in the casting of lots. But G-d controlled the fall of those dice, or however the lots were cast, as much as He moved to get Esther into her position of influence, and He caused Mordechai to hear the plotting of the men to assassinate Ahasuerus. In a local magazine a reader wrote saying that she had recently been attacked by muggers and felt “abandoned by G-d,” She briefly related what happened, and it turns out that just as the attack was starting a car turned into the avenue where it was taking place. The presence of the car frightened the attackers away. The counsellor pointed out that that car didn’t just happen to turn into the street.
Another custom, and this one took me surprise, is that people celebrating Purim are expected to get drunk. Apparently this has to do with the party that the King had at which Vashti was deposed and executed. Of course, they are not too insistent on this dictum these days.
Nowadays a highpoint in the Purim celebrations is the Purim Shpiel which is a play akin to the Christian Nativity play, in that the story of Esther is acted out. Part of the tradition is that the audience cheers for Esther and Mordechai and boo at Haman.
One last thing before I wish all my Jewish friends a very happy (not to say merry) Purim. There is a book that has been put out called One Night with the King – It follows a film of the same name, all about the story of Esther. I intend to buy it when I get some money.
Well, I’m a bit late for Purim, but I hope you enjoy reading it.