Purim traditions

Purim is a holiday celebrated on the 14th day of the month of Adar to commemorate the saving of the Jewish people from the terrible fate Haman the evil had in store for them.

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It is the most joyous of the Jewish holidays and one of the most joyous holiday sin the world. The Purim celebrations are focused on fun and the physical aspects of life, on this day everyone should be joyous and having fun. Friends send each other gifts consisting of boxes filled with sweets and candied fruit. It is also the holiday of charity and good will — if someone can’t afford a Purim feast they can count on help from their friends, neighbors or even strangers.

One of the mitzvoth (obligations) of the day is drinking alcohol until one can no longer distinguish between the phrases arur Haman (’Cursed is Haman’) andbaruch Mordechai (’Blessed is Mordecai’). “Adloyadas” (aram. ad de-lo yada — Until one no longer knows)-celebratory parades where hundreds of dressed up people dance and celebrate in the streets are held every year all over Israel in accordance with this tradition. Vistors from all over the world come to see these colorful processions. 

You should also listen to two readings of the Book of Esther — Megillah Esther — during the Purim celebrations. You should not remain calm during the reading, every time you hear ‘Haman’ you should make as much noise as possible to blot out the cursed name. A grager — a wooden ratchet which makes a horrible noise — can be used for that purpose. 

We cannot forget another, equally important, element of the holiday. Every Jew has an obligation to give charity to at least to people asking for donations (on this day one should not wonder whether the person truly needs it or what they might spend it on but simply make a donation).

Another tradition inextricably tied to the celebration of Purim are Purim spiels — dramatizations, usually comedic, of the Book of Esther. Originally they were put on by yeshiva students and later became a permanent element of Jewish culture. Purim spiels are generally considered to be the precursors of Jewish theater. Another tradition connected to this is the game of “Purim Rabbi” played by one of the yeshiva students. On this day he is the one to give teachings, usually parodying the Master or other well-known rabbis.

Purim also has its own treats — triangular pastries filled with poppy seeds or jam, called Hamantashen (Haman’s pockets) in Yiddish or Oznei Haman (Haman’s ears) in Hebrew. 

Another interesting fact about Purim is that in the Jewish leap year an extra month of Adar (Adar Sheni) is added which technically means that year has two Purims. However only the Purim during the second “added” Adar is celebrated. 

Purim s preceded by a day of fasting in remembrance of Esther’s fast. 

To properly understand the Purim customs and traditions you should first learn the history behind the establishing of the holiday.

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