Purim: What it is and how to observe. Read the Book of Esther; it’s not that long and reads like a novel, which it may well be. [Quick scorecard: Mordechai is the hero and the uncle of Esther, a nice Jewish girl who “passes” and marries the somewhat dim-witted Persian king, Achashveirosh (or Ahashuerus or… probably Xerxes) in place of his uppity wife Vashti. The villain is Haman, a courtier who wants to kill all the Jews.] Eat hamantaschen, get drunk (safely), give to the poor. If you visit Iran as a tourist someday, Susa (aka “Shushan”) is where the Biblical action is set (“Site-Seeing: Surprising Susa” by Todd Bolen in Bible History Today, 03/18/2019). You can still see the site of the palace built there by Darius in the 6th century BCE, consisting of a private residence of 9 acres and a public audience hall (apadana) of 3 acres.
On a more philosophical note, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wrote that, in addition to the holiday of Purim, this whole month of Adar is supposed to be joyful and therapeutic (The Therapeutic Joy of Purim). Indeed, in the Talmud we read, Mishe-nichnas Adar marbim be-simcha: ‘From the beginning of Adar, we increase in joy.”
“On Purim the Final Solution was averted. But it had been pronounced. Ever afterward, Jews knew their vulnerability. The very existence of Purim in our historical memory is traumatic.
“The Jewish response to trauma is counterintuitive and extraordinary. You defeat fear by joy. You conquer terror by collective celebration. You prepare a festive meal, invite guests, give gifts to friends. While the story is being told, you make a rumbustious noise as if not only to blot out the memory of Amalek, but to make a joke out of the whole episode. You wear masks. You drink a little too much. You make a Purim spiel.
“Precisely because the threat was so serious, you refuse to be serious – and in that refusal you are doing something very serious indeed. You are denying your enemies a victory. You are declaring that you will not be intimidated.”
Top Ten Status Updates on Facebook for Purim
10.Jews of Shushan plan on attending “Achashveirosh Gone Wild”
9. Vashti and Achashveirosh are no longer in a relationship.
8. Esther was tagged in an album “Shushan’s Next Top Maidel”
7. Esther removed ‘Jewish’ from her profile status
6.Bigson/Teresh’s* wall-to-wall conversation was read by Mordechai
5.Haman created a new group “Kill all 600,000 Jews on Facebook”
4. King Achashveirosh updated his status: ‘Still can’t sleep!’
3. Haman built a killer ‘Gallow’ application
2. Haman pokes Esther; Haman’s profile is removed due to abuse
1.Everyone’s current status: Any good costume ideas?
*Two men who plotted to assassinate the king and were exposed by Mordechai.
Purim Shpiel: Megillat Esther Alternative Names (2014) (selections, v. lightly edited)
Abbot: “Ready for Megillat Esther?” (the “scroll of Esther”)
Costellowitz: “Well actually where I come from, well – we call that book different things”
Abbot: “Like what?”
Costellowitz: “Well – say the guy who is reading is laughing and joking the whole time – We called that Megillat Jester”
If he is from Mexico, Megillat Siesta
If the reader has a scarlet letter A – Megillat Hester
If you accidentally read the megillah a day early, it’s called Megillat Yester
If you let that Purim story seep in so it affects your whole being, it’s called Megillat Fester
Now, if your sister reads the megillah for you, it’s called Megillat Schvester
If you read the megillah in a cheap shirt, it’s called Megillat Polyester
If you’re pregnant, it’s called Megillat Trimester
If you’re ever stuck in a courtroom and have to read the megillah, it’s Megillat Sequester
If you read the megillah on a college campus, it’s Megillat Semester
If you read the megillah with an annoying relative, it’s Megillat Pester
J Street Protests Purim; Claims Haman Was ‘Misunderstood’ (2011)
Washington, D.C. — J Street, the pro-Israel, pro-peace, propane and pro-forma lobby, announced today that the observance of the ancient Jewish holiday of Purim only serves to further alienate Jews from their Iranian and Arab enemies who seek to destroy them.
“Jews should not be reveling in the deaths of Persians that took place thousands of years ago,” Jeremy (Uncle) Ben asserted. “After all, how would Jews like it if Arabs reveled in their misfortunes?”
Informed that many Arabs do revel in Jewish misfortunes, he replied: “Oh,” and later said he never claimed otherwise.
Uncle Ben explained that J Street specifically sought to ban the wearing of Purim costumes by Jewish children, as well as the general spirit of gleefulness demonstrated by Jewish adults.
“Our official Purim policy is Don’t Mask, Don’t Kvell,” he insisted.
Top Ten Reasons the NCAA Tournament Needs to be on Purim
10.Stomping/Air Horns/ when hearing opponents name is normal
9.Queen Esther taught us when entered into a contest, never doubt the underdog
8.64 different uniforms make for a good costume party
7.The tourney feels as long as the megillah
6.Binge drinking every round now a mitzvah
5.Will definitely invest your Matanos Levyonim* cash into a NCAA pool
4.Sitting on your couch for 3 hours with friends, over-drinking/eating, screaming, making jokes…sounds like an awesome NCAA/seudah (festive meal) to me
3.On Purim, all your prayers are answered, including ones involving St. Joseph’s going all the way
2.Somebody will get unseated, dethroned, upset.
1.Misha Nichnas March, Marbim B’Madness
* the mitzvah of giving at least one gift to two different poor people on Purim day