Iran Threatens Israel: Hasn’t this Story Been Told Before?

Filed in Judaism by on 19/02/2013 0 Comments
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Iran Threatens Israel – Again

Iran threatens Israel is often in today’s headlines, but a quick look at the Jewish Festival of Purim, brings home that this is a story that’s been told before.

Purim Parade in Holon

Purim Parade in Holon (Photo: צילום:ד”ר אבישי טייכר, CC BY 2.5)

Purim, usually takes place sometime in February or March. It commemorates the celebration of events that occurred around 2500 years ago when, the Jews faced complete annihilation from the King of Persia (now Iran). After it all unfolded, Queen Esther had the events recorded in the Megillah, the Book of Esther. Every Purim, the Megillah is read twice, a vivid reminder of both the threat the Jews faced and their salvation.

The Story of Purim

The king of Persia, Ahasuerus (pronounced A-hash-vey-rosh) and his prime minister, Haman, drew lots to decide on which date they would wipe out all the Jewish subjects of the Persian Empire.

Purim in Mahane Yehuda

Purim in Mahane Yehuda (Photo: Yosarian, CC BY-SA 3.0)

At that time, because his empire included almost all of civilization, had this terrible plan come to fruition, it would have meant the annihilation of the Jewish people.

Cause for Celebration

After the date was announced together with a decree from the king passing the extermination of the Jewish People into law, Queen Esther, who had thus far hidden her Jewish identity from the king, interceded on behalf of the Jews, leading to Haman’s execution. On the date that had been set for the massacre, the Jewish People took up arms, with the King’s permission, and defeated all of their enemies. Hence, the day that had been set for mourning was transformed into a day of rejoicing.

Purim in Jerusalem

Purim in Jerusalem (Photo: Yoninah, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Just as G-d’s guiding hand was masked during the original events of Purim, so too the Jewish tradition became to dress up as part of the celebration. Streets of many cities and towns can be expected to swell with people of all ages in fancy dress, singing, dancing and having an all-round good time. Jewish tradition requires people to give food gifts to one another on this day, to give charity generously, and to sit down to a festive meal, at which alcohol consumption is highly encouraged, albeit in moderation.

Traditionally, while listening to the Megillah (Book of Esther) being read, both adults and children can be found waving a grogger, a noise maker or rattle to block out the name of the wicked Haman.

 Jerusalem – Visit and Celebrate Purim Twice

Although public transport still runs on Purim, much of the country takes the day off to celebrate. It’s important to be aware that in Jerusalem Purim is celebrated the day after the rest of the country; someone who wants to experience the maximum celebration can spend the first day in another part of the country, and as the festivities are dying down, make the trip to Jerusalem to extend the celebration for another day!

Hamantaschen with a glass of milk. Poppy seed ...

Hamantaschen with a glass of milk. Poppy seed filling on the left. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Purim baskets of sweets and food are exchanged in Jewish communities throughout the world, money given to the poor and a festive meals partaken in to celebrate this special holiday.

 Yummy Food

One of the traditional delicacies that can be found in the stores at this time of year is known as “ozney Haman” (literally “Haman’s ears”) – a small sweet triangular pastry filled with chopped dates, chocolate or poppy seeds. Not everyone calls them this; “hamantaschen”, a Yiddish word means “Haman’s pockets”, is also used in reference to these pastries. Many believe the pastries represent the triangular shape of Haman’s hat. Sweet thankfulness is recalled when these treats are eaten 2500 years after the near annihilation events took place.

 DID YOU KNOW?

Although Esther is a now a name commonly given to girls, especially those born around Purim time, Queen Esther’s Hebrew name was “Hadassah”.

 

 

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