Hello SWUSY, Hannah Zhrebker here, talking to you about the upcoming Chag (holiday), Purim. I know it’s a month away, but there are things about Purim that some of you might not know, so I would like to tell you.
In the 4th century in Persia, there was King Achashverosh and Queen Vashti. One night, the King had his party and the queen had her party. King Achashverosh told Vashti to come to his party, but she declined, so she was executed. To find a new queen, Achashverosh had a beauty contest, and he picked Esther, who was Jewish.
After she became queen, Esther’s cousin, Mordechai, overheard two of the king’s men plotting to kill the king, so he told the king and they were hung. Meanwhile, Haman, an evil man who hated Jews and was a descendant of the nation of Amelek (a nation whom Jews hate also) was going to become Prime Minister. Since he became prime minister, the king ordered that everyone should bow down to him, but Mordechai didn’t, and explained to Haman that he was Jewish and Jews did not bow to anyone. Haman was so angry and he wanted revenge on all Jews, and he made the 13th day of Adar to be that day of revenge to Jews, which is the day of Ta’anit Esther (fast of Esther). Haman went to the king and told him he’d give him 10,000 silver in exchange for killing the Jews, but the king said he could do what he wanted with them and keep the money. Haman then sent out letters ordering that the Jewish people shall be killed on the 13th of Adar.
Mordechai heard of this, ripped his clothes and told Esther. She said she isn’t allowed to go to the king uninvited. He then sent another letter and she said she would go to the king only if the Jews fasted for 3 days and pray to Hashem, and so they did.
Esther had two dinners with Haman and the king, and at the second one Esther told Haman’s plan to the king, and he was hanged.
What are the mitzvot/ commandments for Purim you might ask? There are 3 commandments to do on Purim: You should listen to the Megilah reading; have a feast on Purim, Mishloach Manot/sending food baskets, and giving money to the poor. On Purim it’s a custom to dress up in costumes, from venahaphochu because we it’s a day of opposite, we were going to be killed but then we weren’t, we dress up because it’s the opposite of what we usually do.
Some fun facts:
- Haman was hanged on the second day of Pesach.
- Queen Esther’s Hebrew name was Hadassah and Esther is Persian.
- Mordechai was the first in history to be called a Jew, everyone else was called Hebrews or Israelites.
- Haman was one who told the king to kill Vashti. Vashti was a descendant of Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian emperor who destroyed the first beit hamikdash/temple.
- Some people say Esther wasn’t pretty, and had a green complexion.
- Mordechai is descendant of Benjamin, son of Yaakov, who didn’t bow down to Eisav.
I think that we can all agree that winter is normally a very drab time of year. There is hardly any sunlight, cold weather, and most importantly, the trees are completely bare!
But I think that one thing that many of us fail to realize is that trees have their own birthdays too! And the celebration of this birthday is called Tu B’Shevat!
Tu B’Shevat starts on Monday, January 25, 2016 (or “The 15th of Shevat” if you are awesome and follow the Jewish calendar) and is known as the beginning of the New Year of Trees. According to uscj.org, it is the day when the sap in the trees begins to rise, signalling the earth’s awakening from its winter slumber, and heralding the beginning of Spring. This mini-holiday is of major importance to our appreciation of Nature and our relationship to it.
Fruit lovers rejoice!! In order to celebrate this amazing holiday, we mark each day by eating fruit, more so from the “Seven Kinds” that are ruled out from the Torah to be praiseful of the Holy Land and its commemoration. These fruits are things like: grapes, figs, pomegranates, and dates. If you are not into the fruit, the Torah’s got you covered! You can have barley, wheat, and olives to celebrate.
If you want to read up on Tu B’Shevat, you can check the Chumash in Parashat Yitro on the 2nd Portion. Also, if you would like to know more on Tu B’Shevat or just on the 15th of Shevat, check out the link below! It can help you find a Q&A section and even recipes to use on Tu B’Shevat!
So go outside, hug a tree, and enjoy some figs!
Have fun, stay safe, and enjoy life.
Talk to y’all soon!