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Ask the Rabbi – What is Purim?

 

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After the destruction of the first temple in Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezer exiled the Jews from the land of Israel and many ended up in Persia, in the city of Shushan. According to many opinions the city is now called Hamadan, where the burial sites of Esther and Mordechai still exist and are visited by Jews every year on Purim till this day.

The leader of that time was someone by the name of Achashverosh. He was a dictator who had risen up militarily, but had taken a wife for himself of royal blood by the name of Vashti, in order to consolidate his power. Achashverosh throws a six month party to celebrate his third year in power and in a drunken state, has Vashti killed after she refuses to dance for him and his henchmen in her royal crown….only her royal crown.

Now single, Achashverosh begins the search for a new queen, and Esther, the niece of Mordechai, after much coaxing, takes the position.

Haman enters the scene, and as a descendant of King Agag, an Amalekite, he attempts to annihilate the Jewish people, particularly because of his annoyance at one Jew, Mordechai, who refuses to bow down to him!

Esther eventually reveals herself as a Jew, and the evil decree against the Jews is rescinded. Still some pockets of Jews are attacked and, whilst fasting for a redemption, win their battles. This is one reason why we fast on the 13th day of Adar.

In great celebrations for the incredible miracles performed on behalf of the Jews by Hashem, Esther and Mordechai establish that date every year for celebration, with four Mitzvot: sending food gifts to friends, giving charity to the poor, hearing the Megillah twice, once by night and one by day, and a festive meal eaten during the day.

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About Rabbi Lawrence

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Originally from London, England, Rabbi Lawrence Hajioff graduated with honors in political science from Manchester University. After working for MTV in news production, and moonlighting as a stand-up comedian, he traveled to study in Israel and then Monsey to receive his rabbinical smicha from Yeshiva Ohr Somayach. Rabbi Lawrence is available for speaking engagements, just email us at info@joyofkosher.com to reach him. Rabbi Lawrence works for Birthright Israel in New York as their educational director, leading trips to Israel three times annually for young professionals. He also serves on the faculty of Stern College for Women in the Judaic Studies department. He lives in Monsey New York with his wife Anita and their five children. For more about Rabbi Lawrence click on these links - jeconline The Jewish Home: Where Kindness Begins Health and Healing in Judaism" on eating right A video on Tisha be'av...really on Shalom Bayit

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