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Purim is recorded in the book of Esther in the Scriptures and was focused on the Jewish people and states clearly concerning the remembrance of Purim, in Esther 9:26-32, “The Jews ordained, and took upon them,” and “as they had decreed for themselves…”.

The book of Esther tell the story of the Jewish people and how they were saved from being destroyed by a subversive plot brought on by the jealousy and anger of Haman, an enemy of the Jews. Esther is the “heroine” of the story having presented herself before the King after a fast of three days – that he would accept her to come into his presence to speak of the plot against her and her people – which he did. Horrified at what Haman had done, the King had him hung with his ten sons on the gallows meant for Esther’s uncle Mordechai who had incited Haman to wrath by not bowing down in obeisance to him – which had led Haman to conceive the plot against the Jews.

When the Jews successfully fought and won against those who were sent to destroy them, as the edict could not be canceled;  the King allowed them to take up arms to fight – a time of rejoicing and celebration ensued. It was then decided to continue with a celebration yearly to commemorate the victory. Queen Esther signed a decree confirming the feast of Purim. The word “Purim” is a Chaldean word [“pagan” language] that means “lots” and refers to the lottery that Haman used to choose the date for the massacre.


It originally was viewed as non-religious and in an article “Purim”, written by Kaufmann Kohler and Henry Malter for the Jewish Encyclopeidia.com

“…Aside from the much-mooted question whether Purim is of Jewish or of heathen origin, it is certain that, as it appears in the Book of Esther, the festival is altogether devoid of religious spirit—an anomaly in Jewish religious history. This is due to the worldly spirit of the Book of Esther. The only religious allusions therein are the mention of fasting in iv. 16 and ix. 31, and perhaps the expression of confidence in the deliverance of Israel in iv. 14. This secular character has on the whole been most prominent in this festival at all times. Like Ḥanukkah, it has never been universally considered a religious holy day, in spite of the fact that it is designated by the term “yom-ṭob” (Esth. ix. 19, 22.). Accordingly business transactions and even manual labor are allowed on Purim, although in certain places restrictions have been imposed on work (Shulḥan ‘Aruk, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 696).

… It seems, therefore, that the observance of Purim was at first merely of a convivial and social nature. Gradually it assumed religious features….

The first religious ceremony ordained for the celebration of Purim is the reading of the Book of Esther in the synagogue, a regulation ascribed in the Talmud (Meg. 2a) to the “Men of the Great Synod,” of which Mordecai is reported to have been a member…” 1

From the article Legend of Hanukkah>

“… In Rabbi Hyam Maccoby’s, Revolution in Judaea, and as discussed in the article, To Embrace Hebrew Roots: Part II : The Bible & The Talmud, he noted that:

In the volume, Josephus, the historian, also contrasts the views of the Pharisees and Sadducees regarding the Oral Law:

“…the Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances by succession from their fathers, which are not written in the law of Moses; and it is for this reason that the Sadducees reject them, and say that we are to esteem those observances to be obligatory which are in the written word, and not to observe what are derived from the tradition of our forefathers. ” 22

In defense and support of the Pharisees, Hyam Maccoby adds this tribute to their preservation and multiplying of religious rituals and traditions:

“The Pharisees added new Festivals (Chanukah and Purim) to the Jewish religious year; they added to the canon of Scripture…they added new doctrine to Judaism…they added new rites to the Temple worship…as well as being continual creators of new prayers and ceremonies in the synagogue.” 23.” 2

From the Wisdom of Kabbalah newsletter and their online site kabbalah.info, Purim is discussed in the article The Inner Purim:

“Purim – the holiday of opposites – joy vs. grief, concealment vs. disclosure, Mordechay vs. Haman, genocide vs. redemption…

A Kabbalist is a person who seeks deep inside the causes for the events in his life . It is evident to him that whatever it is he is about to discover, already lies within him, waiting. All he has to learn is how to come in contact with the force that makes things happen. That force will lead and guide him to control the future events of his life, his personal happiness and the bounty that will flow through him to the whole of mankind.

In the eyes of Kabbalah, Megilat Esther tells of the forces that unfold in the innermost parts of man. Forces that tell of what one discovers with one’s relationship with the Creator, the forces that guides the events of everybody’s life. These forces are called Mordechay, Esther, Haman, etc. … Mordechay, the inner force within a Jew, which wants nothing more than to cling to the Creator and worship Him, lived happily and the kingdom was at peace…

The evil Haman, who represents the egotistical in us, the opposite of the Jew, wants to exploit the situation for self gain. He eventually wants to overthrow the king from his thrown.

He believes that the fact that the Jews are dispersed testifies to their weakness, confusion and lack of faith. Therefore he finds the situation to be a rate opportunity to eliminate the Jews from the face of the earth, as they are the sole force that stands between him and exploiting the Creator. …

What Haman fails to understand, however, is that the Jews are dispersed for a reason. It stems from the fact that the people of Israel has risen to a higher level now.

That higher level means a direct and open contact with the Creator. A bond so open, no one will be able to deny. Indeed we see the truth of it when at the end of the story, all peoples reform. The meaning is that all the desires in man, called Peoples, accept the main force that leads to confidence and happiness, called Israel. ….The Jew in a man is limited. That limitation can only be overcome by the evil Haman. That is why we need to find the Haman within us. ….”3

As we can see, Purim has religious and mystical meaning to those practicing Judaism. Purim was not a feast of the Lord.  It was in honor of victory over the enemy of the Jews, not a shadow of Christ like the Feasts that God had given to Israel to observe. Purim, as it is celebrated Rabbinically, puts the emphasis on the person. The Feasts of the Lord were a shadow, a prophecy of Jesus Christ and focused on Him, the fulfillment of those prophecies.

Although there is not any evidence that Purim was kept in the Old Testament other than in the book of Esther, Judaism has continued to keep this holiday under the instruction of the Talmud. The earliest reference to this celebratory holiday is in the second century CE.

Purim is celebrated on the 14th day of Adar, which is usually in March. The 13th of Adar is the day that Haman chose for the extermination of the Jews, and the day that the Jews battled their enemies for their lives. On the day afterwards, the 14th, they celebrated their survival. In cities that were walled in the time of Joshua, Purim is celebrated on the 15th of the month, because the book of Esther says that in Shushan (a walled city), deliverance from the massacre was not complete until the next day. The 15th is referred to as Shushan Purim.” 4

The Talmud is explicit in its Rabbinical instructions for keeping Purim, which is mandatory in Judaism.
* Hear the reading of the book of Esther called the Megillah [scroll]. The Megillah must be read in the evening before Purim and the morning of, in accordance with the commandment as found in the Talmud.

* Hiss, boo, stomp and rattle “gragers” (noise makers) whenever the name of Haman is mentioned so that his name is blotted out.

* Eat, drink and be merry – the Talmud instructs that “a person is required to drink until he cannot tell the difference between “cursed be Haman” and “blessed be Mordecai,” though opinions differ as to exactly how drunk that is.”

* The Jews are commanded to send out gifs of food and drink, and to give gifts to charity. One popular food item are “hamentaschen” (Haman’s pockets – also known as oznei haman, or Haman’s ears) – a type of triangular (3 cornered hat] shaped cookie filled with fruit preserves or poppy seed filling.

* Out of respect for the holiday people should not work or go about their normal business, but it is not considered a “Sabbath”.

* Fasting
As the story goes in Esther, she fasts for three days and three nights, requesting that all Jews in Shushan and her maids do the same so that the King will receive her in his court. The Rabbinical instructions for this fast for Purim only require one day of fasting, although some do additional fasting after Purim. 5

“Since the Fast of Esther is not one of the four Fast days which are specifically mentioned in the Prophetic Writings, it is observed with greater leniency than the other Fast days. Pregnant women, nursing mothers, as well as others of generally weak health, (who would suffer by fasting) do not fast therein. The additional penitential prayers, and the Torah Reading, which are prescribed for the other Fast days are also required for the Fast of Esther. 6

* Dressing up in costumes with masks for parades is all part of the fun and most definitely one of the favorite parts of celebrating Purim. Today, the children even dress up as Disney characters and super heroes. 7

It is customary to hold carnival-like celebrations on Purim, to perform plays and parodies, and to hold beauty contests. I have heard that the usual prohibitions against cross-dressing are lifted during this holiday, but I am not certain about that. Americans sometimes refer to Purim as the Jewish Mardi Gras” 8

In Israel, however, Purim is as intensely ruckus as Carnival in Brazil or Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Every city, large and small, has a parade. The one in Tel Aviv is so over-the-top that cross-dressing drag queens can usually be seen mingling amongst the clown-clad kiddies.”

“School children often have multiple costumes. After all, why pick just one superhero or princess when your teacher lets you come in costume the whole week! In the days leading up to Purim, even teachers and administrators come to school in costume.”

“The actual day of Purim is a holiday from school, so that is when kids attend their neighborhood Purim party, sponsored by the local community centers. These affairs are loud and rocking, with blaring DJs, smoke machines and copious amounts of junk food. Teenagers get in on the action at night, when there parties feature perhaps mellower music, but a near hyper-like consumption of alcohol.”

“While there is no trick-or-treating on Purim, the holiday still has that Halloween-like quality that most likely comes from ingesting way too many sugared treats. Religious and secular alike in Israel can be seen on Purim morning delivering baskets of food – usually sweet pastries and candy toffees – to their friends and family members.” 9

The “celebrations” included reading the story of Esther. When the reader came to the name “Mordechai”, everyone was supposed to cheer and clap. When the reader came to the name “Haman”,  all booed and hissed their disapproval.

Other traditions include:

Hamantashen – a triangular-shaped, poppy seed filled pastry. The name was intentionally distorted to “Hamantashan” which means “Haman’s pockets” in Yiddish. Some say that Haman wore a three-cornered hat, and that is why the pocket of dough is triangular.

In Hebrew, the pastry is called “Oznei Haman” which means Haman’s ears. This name may have come from the midrash which says that when Haman entered the King’s treasury, he was bent over with shame and humiliation (literally with clipped ears).

Mishloach Manot (literally “sending of portions”) is another Purim food tradition. These are baskets filled with cakes, cookies, nuts, fruits and other treats given to neighbors, friends, and especially the needy. Hamantashen is often the centerpiece of these food baskets.

Seudat Purim – It is traditional to have a Purim Seudah (feast) on Purim day. At this meal, some serve an especially long, braided challah (in memory of the rope used to hang Haman), soup with kreplach (triangular shaped in memory of Haman’s hat), and turkey (in memory of King Ahasuerus’s reign from India (“Hodu”) to Ethiopia and of his foolishness).
Others have a vegetarian meal since Esther ate as a vegetarian in order to keep kosher in the King’s Palace. Of course, for dessert there is hamantashen. 10

Some Messianic Judaism congregations actually pass out lists of Jewish musicians and movie stars as suggestions for dress up, as well as Biblical characters. The mixing of secular and religious seems hypocritical when considering these same “gentile Jews” ridicule Christians for dressing up at Halloween and going trick or treating. The emphasis of the costumes for Purim is no different than Halloween – it is to hide evil behind a mask.

Purim is the most carnivalesque Jewish holiday. It is a day when norms are subverted and reversed to commemorate the reversal of fortune recorded in the Book of Esther. Purim is celebrated with drinking, dressing up, and satirical performances, all recalling the evil decrees of Haman that were ultimately overturned.11″

The custom to wear disguises on Purim in general is based on G-d’s hiding His identity in the Megillah of Esther. The salvation of the Jewish People seems to be accomplished through the actions of people alone, and G-d’s Name doesn’t appear once.

The custom to wear disguises on Purim and to appear as non-Jews is related to our father Yaakov’s wearing of Esav’s clothes when he received the blessings that were due him. It is as if we announce that just as Yaakov only had the outer appearance of Esav, but was inwardly holy and pure, so are all appearances of evil in Israel only external, and inwardly we remain a holy people.

This custom has also been related to a verse in the Torah: ‘And I shall surely hide My face on that day,’ on which the Rabbis comment: ‘Where does the Torah allude to Esther?’ It is said (Dvarim 31) : V’Anochi haster astir panai…’ (And I will surely hide My face…’ ‘haster’ = ‘to hide’ – and ‘haster’ and ‘Esther’ are phonetically alike). From this we learn that hiding one’s face is proper on the day of Esther.

You thus find of David, King of Israel, that he appears like a sinner, whereas in truth he excelled in piety. The same trait characterized our father Yaakov, whose righteousness was so much concealed from all eyes, that even his father Yitzchak failed to recognize his true self until Rivkah revealed his hidden traits and caused the blessings to be given to Yaakov who alone was worthy of them”. 12

Although there has been much debate on the amount of alcohol that one can consume and still not violate other commandments, there appears to be a rather extreme latitude within Rabbinical opinion as to just how drunk that is.

“When it comes to drinking on Purim, the Talmud clearly understood what the scroll of Esther (the Megillah) was all about. In practically every chapter of the Megillah, someone is imbibing heavily at a drinking party. And the scroll concludes with Mordecai’s instruction to the entire Jewish people to celebrate these days as “yemei mishteh v’simchah, days of drinking and rejoicing” (Esther 9:22).”

“Rava said: It is one’s duty levasumei, to make oneself fragrant [with wine] on Purim until one cannot tell the difference between ‘arur Haman’ (cursed be Haman) and ‘barukh Mordekhai’ (blessed be Mordecai)” (Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 7b).

What degree of drunkenness is meant by this? The word levasumei is sometimes translated as “get mellow;” others simply say “drink.” The word levasumei, however, is from the same root as besamim (fragrant spices, like those that are smelled during Havdalah at the conclusion of the Sabbath). Minimally, one must drink so that others would smell it, although if they are also drunk, who would be able to check? Maximally, one must become, to use a technical term, “stinking drunk”. 13

The duty of “levasumei” [so drunk one cannot tell the difference between “cursed be Haman and blessed be Mordechai] is also defined through gematria, which is kabbalah.

Most people assume that one must become so befuddled that one can no longer distinguish between the most wicked of people and the most righteous. Some, however, have noted that the two phrases, “arur Haman” and “barukh Mordekhai” have the same numerical value according to the traditional counting of the Hebrew letters called gematria (502). This point is somewhat obscure. Are we to assume that people are sober enough to calculate the gematria of these phrases, but drunk enough to get the words confused because they have the same gematria? However puzzling, this seems to be the opinion of the 17th century halakhist R. Abraham Abele ben Hayyim haLevi Gombiner.” 14

The following story shows just how far the myth and legend of Purim is foundational to the understanding and celebrating with drunkeness, according to Rabbinical sources. Please note that this story is seen with humor, not seriously.

Alcohol and Swordplay Don’t Mix.
Perhaps the Talmud tells the following story in order to provide some degree of clarification of Rava’s requirement to get drunk: Rabbah and R. Zeira got together for Purim Seudah (the feast on the afternoon of Purim). They got very drunk, and Rabbah got up and cut R. Zeira’s throat (literally, Rabbah butchered him). The next day, Rabbah prayed on R. Zeira’s behalf and brought him back to life. A year later, Rabbah asked, “Would you like to have Purim Seudah with me again this year?” R. Zeira replied, “One cannot count on a miracle every time.” (Megillah 7b) Cute story, but what does it have to do with how much one is supposed to drink? Traditional interpreters have four basic approaches. The most eminent sources, including the Rosh, the Tur, and Yosef Karo, simply quote Rava’s statement that one “becomes fragrant” without any reference to the story of Rabbah. Presumably, R. Zeira had a hard night, but why should that spoil the party for everyone else?!” 15

Another reference in the Talmud to getting drunk on Purim:

How does one fulfill the obligation of the Purim Seudah? One should eat meat and prepare as nice a meal as one can afford and drink wine until one becomes drunk and falls asleep from drunkenness. (Laws of Megillah 2:15)” 16

If one is a follower of Jesus Christ and seeks to live according to New Testament guidelines, then participating in Purim according the customs of the Talmud would be against the Scriptures of the New Testament. What those in Hebrew Roots or those Messianics involved in this are doing, is no different than their railings against Christians for their participation with Christmas and Easter celebrations–which for true believers is focused on Jesus Christ’s birth, death and resurrection according to the inspired Word of God in the Bible. The keeping of feasts according to Talmudic/kabbalistic traditions and commandments are of man, not God. As Jesus said:

Matthew 7:3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Matthew 15:3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
6 … Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.


We are told explicitly in the NT:

1 Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

Luke 21:34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.

Romans 13:13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Eph 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

endnotes:

1 http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=613&letter=P
2. http://www.seekgod.ca/legend.htm
3. http://www.kabbalah.info/engkab/holidays_eng/inner_purim.htm

4. http://www.holidays.net/purim/

5. ibid

6. http://www.ou.org/holidays/purim/fast_of_esther

7. http://www.holidays.net/purim/

8. http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday9.htmhttp & http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/holiday9.html

9. http://www.holidays.net/purim/

10. http://judaism.about.com/od/purim/a/purimfood.htm

11. http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays_Purim.shtml

12.http://www.ou.org/holidays/purim/why_we_wear_disguises_on_purim

13.http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Purim/At_Home/Meal/Drinking_on_Purim.shtml

14. ibid

15. ibid

16. ibid

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What is Purim?  What are its origins?  Who celebrates Purim and why?  All these questions are answered in the following article, originally posted by Vic at:

http://www.seekgod.ca/forum/showthread.php?tid=160
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Purim

Purim is recorded in the the book of Esther in the Scriptures and was focused on the Jewish people and states clearly concerning the remembrance of Purim, in Esther 9:26-32, “The Jews ordained, and took upon them,” and “as they had decreed for themselves…”.It originally was viewed as non-religious and in an article “Purim”, written by Kaufmann Kohler and Henry Malter for the Jewish Encyclopeidia.com

“…Aside from the much-mooted question whether Purim is of Jewish or of heathen origin, it is certain that, as it appears in the Book of Esther, the festival is altogether devoid of religious spirit—an anomaly in Jewish religious history. This is due to the worldly spirit of the Book of Esther. The only religious allusions therein are the mention of fasting in iv. 16 and ix. 31, and perhaps the expression of confidence in the deliverance of Israel in iv. 14. This secular character has on the whole been most prominent in this festival at all times. Like Ḥanukkah, it has never been universally considered a religious holy day, in spite of the fact that it is designated by the term “yom-ṭob” (Esth. ix. 19, 22.). Accordingly business transactions and even manual labor are allowed on Purim, although in certain places restrictions have beenimposed on work (Shulḥan ‘Aruk, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 696).

… It seems, therefore, that the observance of Purim was at first merely of a convivial and social nature. Gradually it assumed religious features….

The first religious ceremony ordained for the celebration of Purim is the reading of the Book of Esther in the synagogue, a regulation ascribed in the Talmud (Meg. 2a) to the “Men of the Great Synod,” of which Mordecai is reported to have been a member…” 1

From the article Legend of Hanukkah>

… In Rabbi Hyam Maccoby’s, Revolution in Judaea, and as discussed in the article, To Embrace Hebrew Roots: Part II : The Bible & The Talmud, he noted that:

In the volume, Josephus, the historian, also contrasts the views of the Pharisees and Sadducees regarding the Oral Law:

“…the Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances by succession from their fathers, which are not written in the law of Moses; and it is for this reason that the Sadducees reject them, and say that we are to esteem those observances to be obligatory which are in the written word, and not to observe what are derived from the tradition of our forefathers. ” 22.

In defense and support of the Pharisees, Hyam Maccoby adds this tribute to their preservation and multiplying of religious rituals and traditions:

“The Pharisees added new Festivals (Chanukah and Purim) to the Jewish religious year; they added to the canon of Scripture…they added new doctrine to Judaism…they added new rites to the Temple worship…as well as being continual creators of new prayers and ceremonies in the synagogue.” 23.” 2

From the Wisdom of Kabbalah newsletter and their online site kabbalah.info, Purim is discussed in the article The Inner Purim:

“Purim – the holiday of opposites – joy vs. grief, concealment vs. disclosure, Mordechay vs. Haman, genocide vs. redemption…

A Kabbalist is a person who seeks deep inside the causes for the events in his life . It is evident to him that whatever it is he is about to discover, already lies within him, waiting. All he has to learn is how to come in contact with the force that makes things happen. That force will lead and guide him to control the future events of his life, his personal happiness and the bounty that will flow through him to the whole of mankind.

In the eyes of Kabbalah, Megilat Esther tells of the forces that unfold in the innermost parts of man. Forces that tell of what one discovers with one’s relationship with the Creator, the forces that guides the events of everybody’s life. These forces are called Mordechay, Esther, Haman, etc. …
Mordechay, the inner force within a Jew, which wants nothing more than to cling to the Creator and worship Him, lived happily and the kingdom was at peace…

The evil Haman, who represents the egotistical in us, the opposite of the Jew, wants to exploit the situation for self gain. He eventually wants to overthrow the king from his thrown.

He believes that the fact that the Jews are dispersed testifies to their weakness, confusion and lack of faith. Therefore he finds the situation to be a rate opportunity to eliminate the Jews from the face of the earth, as they are the sole force that stands between him and exploiting the Creator. …

What Haman fails to understand, however, is that the Jews are dispersed for a reason. It stems from the fact that the people of Israel has risen to a higher level now.

That higher level means a direct and open contact with the Creator. A bond so open, no one will be able to deny. Indeed we see the truth of it when at the end of the story, all peoples reform. The meaning is that all the desires in man, called Peoples, accept the main force that leads to confidence and happiness, called Israel. ….The Jew in a man is limited. That limitation can only be overcome by the evil Haman. That is why we need to find the Haman within us. ….”3

As we can see, purim has religious and mystical meaning to those practicing Judaism.

The question would be: Why are those who claim to believe the New Testament and Jesus Christ, involving themselves in these things? Eyerub

endnotes:

1 http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.j…3&letter=P
2. http://www.seekgod.ca/legend.htm
3. http://www.kabbalah.info/engkab/holidays…_purim.htm

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