Like many Jewish holidays, we celebrate Purim with a mix of praying, eating, tzedakah and merriment.
We wear costumes, eat treats, shake graggers — and have all kinds of fun. But the story behind the holiday is worth re-reading.
King Ahasuerus of Persia called for Esther to be brought to his home to become part of his harem. Because he loved her more than any of of his other ladies, Ahaseuerus made Esther his queen. Mordecai, however, warned Esther not to reveal her identity as a Jew.
Enter into our tale the evil Haman, the king’s arrogant advisor. He hated Mordecai because Mordecai had refused to bow down to him. With revenge in his heart, he plotted to destroy the entire Jewish people. And, according to Esther 3:8, he told Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your realm. Their laws are different from those of every other people’s, and they do not observe the king’s laws; therefore, it is not befitting the king to tolerate them.”
When the king heard this, he turned over the fate of the Jewish people to Haman. Armed with this authority, Haman proceeded to plan the extermination of all Jews.
Mordecai persuaded Esther to speak to Ahasuerus to try to save the Jews – even though he knew if would be very dangerous for her. Anyone who came into the king’s presence without being summoned could be put to death.
So Esther fasted for three days, then put her personal safety aside and went before the king who (whew!) welcomed her. When she told him of Haman’s plot against her people, Haman was hanged on the very gallows that had been prepared for Mordecai. And the Jewish people were saved. Amen.
For ideas on how to welcome the holiday, see our latest issue of Simply Celebrating! at http://eepurl.com/jJV8D and an assortment of ideas culled from lots of creative folks at pinterest.com/JewishHolidays.