The Jewish Holiday of Purim

  • Purim is a Jewish holiday celebrating a great miracle for the Jewish people.
  • Jewish people on Purim masquerade and wear masks and costumes.
  • Coronavirus is the enemy of civilization like the wicked Haman was to the Jewish people.

The Jewish people throughout the world will be celebrating in the next two weeks the holiday of Purim. The holiday of Purim was not initiated by Moses when he gave the Torah to the Jewish people when they entered the Land of Israel.  The holiday of Purim was added to the Jewish religion after the destruction of their first temple while the people were exiled in Babylon in the 4th century BC.

Most of the Bible, the five books of Moses, tell the story of the establishment of the Biblical Nation of Israel from the time of Adam in the Garden of Eden up until Joshua and the Jewish people stood at the edge of the Jordan River in preparation to enter the land.  The Jewish people are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Jacob had twelve sons who later became the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel which inherited the Land of Israel. Each tribe was given a portion in the land.  After the land was conquered, which took over four hundred years, the Kingship of Israel was established by King Saul followed by King David his son-in-law and King Solomon who built the temple in Jerusalem.  Judaism follows the Law of Moses given to the nation of Israel through which the nation continues to survive even after its exile first in Babylon and afterwards throughout the whole world after the conquest by the Romans and the destruction of the second temple.

The future of the Nation of Israel was in danger in Babylon when Haman an Achaemenid Persian Empire official attempted to destroy their nation through a decree of the King of Persia Achashverosh.  Haman resented that the Jewish people refused to assimilate in their nation to become like all Persians. Mordecai the leader of the Jewish people with foresight prepared their people for this eventual decree by sending his adopted daughter Esther who was very beautiful to become one of the Queens of the king. From thousands of young maids Achashverosh the king chose Esther to be his Queen. While she was already in the palace of the King, she was able to reverse this decree on her people which was started by Haman.  On the day of Purim when was decreed that Mordecai the leader of the Jewish people would be hung and the extermination of all Jews in Persia would begin, the decree was reversed that Haman was instead hung on these gallows with his children. This is called the miracle of Purim which is celebrated each year at this time.

The Jewish people were made a separate nation by God at Mount Sinai with their own law and customs. Survival of the nation of Israel is forever important to the Jewish people. Prayers for the survival of the nation of Israel to return to its previous glory at the time of King Solomon are an important part of Judaism.  Three times a day Jews pray that the Messiah should arrive and redeem the Nation of Israel and all the Jews should be able to return to a peaceful life in their homeland. The customs and laws of the Torah maintain the Jewish people as a separate nation living in the diaspora.

The hope of Jews to return to their land through the Modern State of Israel has been fulfilled.  Jews who were tested for their bravery when they were exiled in Babylon and survived this evil decree of Haman are tested throughout all generations; the last of these tests was in Nazi Germany. The State of Israel even though it has been established is still under attack by its enemies with the desire to destroy Israel and drive the Jews into the sea. Iran is the most public about its desire to destroy the State of Israel. Anti-semitism is on the rise throughout the world. However Israel and the Jews are loved also especially by Americans who support President Trump.

The holiday of Purim is celebrated by Jews through reading in their synagogues the Story of Esther called Megillah Esther describing the miracle of Purim.  It is also a custom on Purim to give charity to the poor and to send gifts in friendship.  At the end of the festival there is a holiday meal where Jews drink wine and alcoholic beverages to reach the point that they have escaped reality even to imagine that the wicked Haman has been erased with all the enemies of the nation of Israel called Amalek. In each generation Amalek tests the faith of Jews in their prophet Moses and his Torah. The Jewish people live through great sacrifice of the many of worldly pleasures of life in order to maintain their unique culture. At this holiday meal it is a custom to wear masks and costumes.

During the Persian Gulf War NATO soldiers and Israelis were instructed to wear gas masks in possible danger of his use of chemical weapons. Suddan Hussein shot over 39 missiles at Israel during the war in which sirens were heard throughout Israel. The people were instructed to enter rooms in their homes sealed from the outside and to wear gas masks which were distributed to them by Israel security. The Persian Gulf war ended on the day before the holiday of Purim. On the holiday of Purim of this year Jews wore these Gas masks as masquerades for fun instead of using them in fear as they did during the war. This was another Purim victory.

There is approximately two weeks until Purim which will fall out this year on March 10.  Before this date on March 2 will be the third Israel elections this year. Today there are people in Israel and throughout the world who are wearing masks in danger of Coronavirus. Sixteen hundred Israelis are in 14 day quarantine wearing these masks and the amount keeps growing as Israelis return from abroad.  The government has advised Israelis to remain in Israel and cancel their plans for trips abroad. Those Israelis that are returning from Italy will be required to be in 14 day quarantine. The elderly and chronically ill have been advised not to use public transportation.

President Trump is working to find a vaccine against Coronavirus.  Until then, the whole world will have to wear masks like Jews on Purim.  Coronavirus is the evil Haman who is threatening the lives of people throughout the world. Purim is a time for prayer against all the enemies of Israel and civilization. These prayers should be received soon in our days, Amen.

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David Wexelman

Rabbi David Wexelman is the  author of five books on the topics of World Unity and Peace, and Progressive Jewish Spirituality. Rabbi Wexelman is a member of the American Friends of Maccabee, a charitable organization helping the poor in the United States and in Israel.  Donations are tax deductible in the USA.

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