What Purim Holds For You
Jewish Voice Ministries, March 13, 2019
Purim is one of the most festive Jewish holidays. It includes rejoicing, costume parties, reenactments, giving to charity, and sharing food gifts with friends. But other than the festivities, what does Purim hold for us today, removed as we are from the ancient times when the story took place? What kernels of spiritual nourishment can we glean from this holiday?
First, let’s refresh our memories with the story.
The Purim account
In the 5th century B.C.E., the Jewish people were under the rule of King Ahasuerus. After he banished his disobedient queen, he conscripted young maidens from throughout the kingdom to enter a beauty pageant from which he would select the next queen. When the process concluded after a full year, the king chose Esther, a young Jewish woman who had kept her lineage secret.
Meanwhile Mordecai, Esther’s cousin and guardian, overheard a plot to kill the king. He told Esther and thus saved Ahasuerus’ life. The event was recorded, but Mordecai received no thanks.
Haman, a wicked officer, convinced the king that the Jewish people were a threat. He persuaded Ahasuerus to issue an irrevocable decree offering payment to citizens who killed Jewish people on a selected day of the year.
When Mordecai heard of this, he begged Esther to approach the king to save their people. “Who knows whether you have attained royal status for such a time as this?” he said. Esther knew that going to the king without an invitation was strictly forbidden, punishable by death if she wasn’t welcomed by him.