FACT 1: The Jewish holiday of Purim commemorates Esther’s and Mordecai’s defeat of Haman’s plot to annihilate the Jews of ancient Persia.
FACT 2: Purim derives its name from the fact that Haman cast lots (purim) to determine the most propitious date for implementing his planned genocide.
FACT 3: The holiday is celebrated on the 14th day of Adar in the Jewish calendar.
Other less known observances of the Purim season
Shabbat Zachor, the Sabbath of Remembrance, falls on the Saturday preceding Purim. On that day Deuteronomy 25:17-19 is read in the synagogue. (The passage is a reminder of the plot against Israel contemplated by Amalek, and the later evil plans of Haman, who is thought to be an Amalekite.)
Ta-anit Ester, the Fast of Esther, precedes Purim by three days and is observed as a fast day by Orthodox Jewish people. It commemorates the three-day fast of Esther and the Jews of Sushan before Esther presented herself unsummoned to King Ahasuerus.
Sushan Purim, a semi-holiday on the 15th of Adar, commemorates the festivities in Sushan after the Jews of that city gained the victory over those who would have destroyed them.
The 1993 dates for these satellite observances are: Ta-anit Ester on March 4; Shabbat Zachor on March 6; and Sushan Purim on March 8.
Terms connected with Purim
Megillat Ester (The Scroll of Esther). The entire Book of Esther is read in the synagogues both on the eve and the morning of Purim.
Shalach Manot, the sending of gifts at Purim. In addition to the festive exchange of holiday delicacies with friends, this more serious tradition emphasizes the obligation to remember the poor and less fortunate by sending them gifts of food or money.
Seudah, the family dinner at home in celebration of Purim. This festive meal begins before sunset on the eve of the 15th of Adar.
Al Ha-Nissim, literally on” or “about the miracles,” a special prayer of praise and thanksgiving for God’s miraculous rescues from Antiochus Epiphanes and Haman, who both plotted the annihilation of the Jewish people. Al ha-nissim is recited at Hanukkah and at Purim in the synagogues and in Jewish homes during grace after meals.
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