Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Feast of Lots


Celebrated in biblical times on the 14th and 15th of the month Adar (Feb.-March), this festival has its origin in the book of Esther (Est. 3:7; 9:24ff). The wicked Haman had cast pur, or a lot, to ascertain a favorable day for the massacre of the Jewish exiles in Persia. The failing of his plans by Esther occasioned the institution of the feast, "a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another" (9:19).
Among Jews today the 13th of Adar is kept as the Fast of Esther. This custom of fasting before Purim is first heard of in the eighth century A.D. In the evening which is the beginning of the 14th, they assemble in the synagogue. After the evening service the reading of the book of Esther is begun. When the name of Haman is reached, the people cry out, "Let his name be blotted out," or "The name of the wicked shall rot," while the children spring rattles. The names of Haman's sons are all read in a breath, to indicate that they were hanged simultaneously.

The next morning they return to the synagogue,
and finish the formal services
and then devote the day to mirth and rejoicing.

The wealthy give gifts to the poor.
Purim masquerades,
Purim dramas, and many other customs attend the season.
Some' burn an effigy of Haman,
others write his name on stones and rub them together until it disappears,
still others chalk his name upon the soles of their shoes and stomp and shuffle until it is wiped out. Most Jewish children would agree that, "Purim is the jolliest of all holidays."

Truth Magazine XXII: 1, pp. 16-20
January 5, 1978


Yiddish Purim Rap

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