Purim: Wikis

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Purim
Purim
A Purim gragger, also called "ra'ashan" (noisemaker), used when Haman's name is mentioned during the reading of the Megilla, as tradition dictates, to blot out the name of evil.
Official name Hebrew: פורים Translation: "Lots" (of a "lottery" performed by the wicked Haman)
Observed by Judaism
Type Jewish
Significance Celebration of Jewish deliverance as told in the Book of Esther. After the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah, the Jews were taken into the seventy-year Babylonian captivity. When ancient Persia took control, Haman, royal vizier to King Ahasuerus, planned to kill the Jews, but his plans were foiled by Esther and Mordecai.
Date 14th day of Adar (in Jerusalem and all ancient walled cities on 15th of Adar)
2010 date Sunset, 27 February – nightfall, 28 February
2011 date Sunset, 17 February – nightfall, 18 February
Celebrations Listening to the reading of the Book of Esther - the Megillah ("scroll") in synagogue. Giving Tzedakah "gifts to the poor" (matanot le'evyonim). Sending "gift food portions" (mishloach manot). Eating a festive meal.
Related to Hanukkah, as a rabbinically decreed holiday

Purim (Hebrew: About this sound פורים Pûrîm "lots", related to Akkadian pūru) is a festival that commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people of the ancient Persian Empire from Haman's plot to annihilate them, as recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther (Megillat Esther). According to the story, Haman cast lots to determine the day upon which to exterminate the Jews.

Purim is celebrated annually according to the Hebrew calendar on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar (Adar II in leap years), the day following the victory of the Jews over their enemies; as with all Jewish holidays, Purim begins at sundown on the previous secular day. In cities that were protected by a surrounding wall at the time of Joshua, including Shushan (Susa) and Jerusalem, Purim is celebrated on the 15th of the month, known as Shushan Purim. Purim is characterized by public recitation of the Book of Esther (keriat ha-megilla), giving mutual gifts of food and drink (mishloach manot), giving charity to the poor (mattanot la-evyonim), and a celebratory meal (se'udat Purim);[1] other customs include drinking wine, wearing of masks and costumes, and public celebration.

Jewish exiles from the Kingdom of Judah who had been living in the Babylonian captivity (6th Century BCE) found themselves under Persian rule after Babylonia was in turn conquered by the Persian Empire. According to the Book of Esther, Haman, royal vizier to King Ahasuerus planned to kill the Jews, but his plans were foiled by Esther, his queen. Mordecai, a palace official, cousin and foster parent of Esther, subsequently replaced Haman. The Jews were delivered from being the victims of an evil decree against them and were instead allowed by the King to destroy their enemies, and the day after the battle was designated as a day of feasting and rejoicing.

Contents

History

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The Persian Empire

The Achaemenid Empire (Persian: هخامنشیان IPA: [haχɒmaneʃijɒn]) (559 BC–330 BC) was the first of the Persian Empires to rule over significant portions of Greater Iran. It was the first of many successor Persian Empires to be accounted as such and to figure importantly in history—most often as a superpower. It is also the state which freed the Israelites (Jews) from their Babylonian captivity.

Encompassing approximately 7.5 million square kilometers, the Achaemenid Empire was territorially the largest empire of classical antiquity. At the height of its power, the Persian Empire spanned three continents, and eventually incorporated the following territories: In the east, modern Afghanistan and beyond into central Asia, and Pakistan. In the north and west, all of Asia Minor (modern Turkey), the upper Balkans peninsula (Thrace), and most of the Black Sea coastal regions. In the west and southwest the territories of modern Iraq, northern Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, all significant population centers of ancient Egypt and as far west as portions of Libya.

The empire began as a vassal state of the Medes but ended up conquering and enlarging the Median empire to include Ancient Egypt and Asia Minor. Under Xerxes I of Persia, it came very close to conquering Ancient Greece. The Achaemenids were finally overthrown by the conquest of Alexander the Great in 330 BC.

Achaemenid Persian Empire
Map achaemenid empire en.png
Achaemenid Empire.
Languages Persian, Elamite, Aramaic
Religions There was no official state religion. Zoroastrianism and numerous others religions, such as Judaism, were practiced.
Capitals Anshan,
Babylon,
Persepolis,
Pasargadae,
Susa
Area Near East
Existed 559 - 330 BC

Literature

Purim narratives

  • The primary source relating to the origin of Purim is the Megillat Esther (Book of Esther), which became the last of the 24 books of the Tanakh to be canonized by the Sages of the Great Assembly. It is dated to the 4th century BCE [2] and according to the Talmud was a redaction by the Great Assembly of an original text by Mordecai [3].
  • The Greek Book of Esther included in the Septuagint, is a retelling of the events of the Hebrew Book of Esther rather than a translation and records additional traditions, in particular the identification of Ahasuerus with Artaxerxes and details of various letters. It is dated to the second to first century BCE.[4] The Coptic and Ethiopic versions of Esther are translations of it instead of the Hebrew Esther.
  • A Latin version of Esther was produced by Jerome for the Vulgate. It translates the Hebrew Esther but interpolates translations of the Greek Esther where the latter provides additional material.
  • Several Aramaic targums of Esther were produced in the Middle Ages of which two survive - the Targum Rishon ("First Targum") and Targum Sheni ("Second Targum") [5][6] dated c. 500 - 1000 CE.[7] These were not targums ("translations") in the true sense but like the Greek Esther are retellings of events and include additional legends relating to Purim.[5] There is also a 16th century rescension of the Targum Rishon sometimes counted as Targum Shelishi ("Third Targum").[6]

Classical and medieval historians

Jewish historians
  • The first century CE historian Josephus recounts the origins of Purim in Book 11 of his Antiquities of the Jews. He follows the Hebrew Book of Esther but shows awareness of some of the additional material found in the Greek version in that he too identifies Ahasuerus as Artaxerxes and provides the text of the king's letter. He also provides additional information on the dating of events relative to Ezra and Nehemiah.[8]
  • An account of the origins of Purim is included in chapter 4 of the tenth century CE compilation of Jewish history, the Josippon. It too follows the account of the Hebrew Esther and includes additional traditions matching those found in the Greek version and Josephus (whom the author claims as a source) with the exception of the details of the letters found in the latter works. It also provides other contextual information relating Jewish and Persian history such as the identification of Darius the Mede as the uncle and father-in-law of Cyrus.[9]
Persian historians
  • A brief Persian account of events is provided by Islamic historian Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari in his History of the Prophets and Kings (completed 915 CE [10]) volume 4 The Ancient Kingdoms. Although following Jewish and Christian tradition, al-Tabari provides details not known in Jewish sources such as the original Persian form "Asturya" for "Esther" [11]. He places events during the rule of Ardashir Bahman (i.e Artaxerxes II Mnemon [12]) but confuses him with Ardashir al-Tawil al-Ba' (i.e. Artaxerxes I Longimanus) while assuming "Ahasuerus" to be the name of a co-ruler [11].
  • Another brief Persian account independent of al-Tabari as well as of Jewish and Christian sources, is recorded by the Arab historian Masudi in The Meadows of Gold (completed 947 CE [13]). He refers to a Jewish woman who had married the Persian king and delivered her people.[14][15] He refers to the king by the name Bahman i.e "(Artaxerxes II) Mnemon" [12] thus corroborating this identification of Ahasuerus. He mentions the woman's daughter, Khumay, who is not known in Jewish tradition but is well remembered in Persian folklore. Al-Tabari calls her Khumani and tells how her father (Ardashir Bahman) married her. Ferdowsi in his Shahnameh (c. 1000 CE) also tells of king Bahman marrying Khumay.[16]
Ancillary accounts
  • Josephus in his Contra Apionem quotes a work referred to as Peri Ioudaion (On the Jews), which he credits to Hecataeus of Abdera (late 4th century BCE).[8][17] It is commonly known as "Pseudo-Hecataeus".[18][19]) It records the Persian persecution of Jews and mentions Jews being forced to worship at Persian erected shrines. Berossus (early third century BCE) in his Babyloniaca (in a section preserved in Clement of Alexandria's Protrepticus) provides context for the account in that he records the introduction of idols of Anahita under Artaxerxes II Mnemon throughout the Persian Empire.[20] Although the Book of Esther refrains from mentioning Jewish or Persian religion, the Tosefta (Sanhedrin 61b) notes that Haman wore an image of an idol and that the decree that all must bow down to him related to the worship of this idol. Rashi's commentary notes a deification of Haman.[21] Strabo, in his Geographica 11.8.4 (early first century CE) records the worship of images of Omanos and Anadatos together with Anahita. Attempts to interpret these as gods are problematic [20], however they are arguably references to Haman and his father Hamedatha still being worshipped in his day.[17].
  • Plutarch in his Lives (75 CE) records alternative names Oarses and Arsicas for Artaxerxes II Mnemon given by Deinon (c.360-30 BCE [22]) and Ctesias (Artexerxes II's physician [23]) respectively.[24] These derive from the Persian name Khshayarsha as do "Ahasuerus" ("Xerxes") and the hypocoristicon "Arshu" for Artaxerxes II found on a contemporary inscription (LBAT 162 [25]). These sources thus arguably identify Ahasuerus as Artaxerxes II in light of the names used in the Hebrew and Greek sources and accords with the contextual information from Pseudo-Hecataeus and Berossus [17] as well as agreeing with Al-Tabari and Masudi's placement of events. The 13th century Syriac historian Bar-Hebraeus in his Chronography, also identifies Ahasuerus as Artaxerxes II citing the sixth century CE historian John of Ephesus.[26][27]

Religious laws and customs

  • The tractate Megillah in the Mishnah (redacted c. 200 CE) records the laws relating to Purim. The accompanying Tosefta (redacted in the same period) and Gemara (in the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmud redacted c. 400 CE and c. 600 CE respectively) [28] record additional contextual details such as Vashti having been the daughter of Belshazzar as well as details that accord with Josephus' such as Esther having been of royal descent. Brief mention of Esther is made in tractate Chullin (Bavli Chullin 139b) and Haman's idolatry is discussed in tractate Sanhedrin (Sanhedrin 61b).

Exegesis

  • The Esther Rabbah is a Midrashic text divided in two parts. The first part dated to c. 500 CE provides an exegetical commentary on the first two chapters of the Hebrew Book of Esther and provided source material for the Targum Sheni. The second part may have been redacted as late as the eleventh century CE contains commentary on the remaining chapters of Esther. It too contains the additional contextual material found in the Josippon.[29]

The Purim story

The Book of Esther commences with a six month (180 day) drinking feast given by king Ahasuerus, for the army of Persia and Media, for the civil servants and princes in the 127 provinces of his kingdom, at the conclusion of which a seven day drinking feast for the inhabitants of Shushan, rich and poor with a separate drinking feast for the women organised by the Queen Vashti in the pavilion of the Royal courtyard.

At this feast Ahasuerus gets thoroughly drunk and orders his wife Vashti to display her beauty before the people and the princess by dancing naked. She refuses, and Ahasuerus decides to remove her from her post. Rabbinic interpretations suggest that he had her killed, but this fact is not mentioned in the text.[30]. He then orders all young women to be presented to him, so he can choose a new queen to replace Vashti. One of these is Esther (Haddassah, who changed her name to Esther so that the king wouldn't know she was Jewish), who was orphaned at a young age and was being fostered by her cousin Mordecai. She finds favor in the king's eyes, and is made his new wife. Esther does not reveal that she is Jewish. Shortly afterwards, Mordecai discovers a plot by courtiers Bigthan and Teresh to kill Ahasuerus. They are apprehended and hanged, and Mordecai's service to the king is recorded.[31]

Ahasuerus appoints Haman, an Agagite (interpreted in later sources as a descendant of the Amalekite king Agag) as his prime minister. Mordecai, who sits at the palace gates, falls into Haman's disfavor as he refuses to bow down to him. Having found out that Mordechai is Jewish, Haman plans to kill not just Mordecai but the entire Jewish minority in the empire. He obtains Ahasuerus' permission to execute this plan, against payment of ten thousand talents of silver, and he casts lots to choose the date on which to do this - the thirteenth of the month of Adar. When Mordecai finds out about the plans he orders widespread penitence and fasting. Esther discovers what has transpired; she requests that all Jews fast and pray for three days together with her, and on the third day she seeks an audience with Ahasuerus, during which she invites him to a feast in the company of Haman. During the feast, she asks them to attend a further feast the next evening. Meanwhile, Haman is again offended by Mordecai and builds a gallows for him.[32]

That night, Ahasuerus suffers from insomnia, and when the court's records are read to him to help him sleep, he learns of the services rendered by Mordecai in the previous plot against his life. Ahasuerus is told that Mordecai has not received any recognition for saving the king's life. Just then, Haman appears, and King Ahasuerus asks Haman what should be done for the man that the King wishes to honor. Thinking that the man that the King wishes to honor is himself, Haman says that the man should be dressed in the king's royal robes and led around on the king's royal horse. To Haman's horror, the king instructs Haman to do so to Mordecai.

Later that evening, Ahasuerus and Haman attend Esther's second banquet, at which she reveals that she is Jewish and that Haman is planning to exterminate her people, which includes her. Ahasuerus orders Haman hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. The previous decree against the Jews cannot be annulled, and the King allows Mordecai and Esther to write another decree as they wish. They write one that allows the Jews to defend themselves during attacks. As a result, on 13 Adar, five hundred attackers and Haman's ten sons are killed in Shushan. Throughout the empire an additional 75,000 are slain (Esther 9:16). On the 14th, another 300 are killed in Shushan.[33]

Mordecai assumes a prominent position in Ahasuerus' court, and institutes an annual commemoration of the delivery of the Jewish people from annihilation.[34]

The holiday

The holiday of Purim has been held in high esteem by Judaism at all times; some have held that when all the prophetical and hagiographical works will be nullified, the Book of Esther will still be remembered, and, accordingly, the Feast of Purim will continue to be observed (Jerusalem Talmud, Megillah 1/5a; Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Megilla).

Like Hanukkah, Purim has more of a national than a religious character, and its status as a holiday is on a lesser level than those days ordained holy by the Torah. Accordingly, business transactions and even manual labor are allowed on Purim, though in certain places restrictions have been imposed on work (Shulkhan Arukh, Orach Chayim, 696). A special prayer ("Al ha-Nissim"—"For the Miracles") is inserted into the Amidah during evening, morning and afternoon prayers, as well as is included in the Birkat Hamazon ("Grace after Meals.")

The four main mitzvot of the day are:

  1. Listening to the public reading, usually in synagogue, of the Book of Esther in the evening and again in the following morning (k'riat megilla)
  2. Sending food gifts to friends (mishloach manot)
  3. Giving charity to the poor (matanot la'evyonim)
  4. Eating a festive meal (se`udah)

Reading of the Megilla

The first religious ceremony ordained for the celebration of Purim is the reading of the Book of Esther (the "Megilla") in the synagogue, a regulation ascribed in the Talmud (Megilla 2a) to the Sages of the Great Assembly, of which Mordecai is reported to have been a member. Originally this enactment was for the 14th of Adar only; later, however, Rabbi Joshua ben Levi (3rd century CE) prescribed that the Megillah should also be read on the eve of Purim. Further, he obliged women to attend the reading of the Megillah, inasmuch as it was a woman, Queen Esther, through whom the miraculous deliverance of the Jews was accomplished.

In the Mishnah, the recitation of a benediction on the reading of the Megilla is not yet a universally recognized obligation. However, the Talmud, a later work, prescribed three benedictions before the reading and one benediction after the reading. The Talmud added other provisions. For example, the reader is to pronounce the names of the ten sons of Haman (Esther 9:7-10) in one breath, to indicate their simultaneous death. The congregation was to recite aloud with the reader the verses 2:5, 8:15-16, and 10:3, which relate the origin of Mordecai and his triumph.

The Megilla is read with a cantillation (a traditional chant) differing from that used in the customary reading of the Torah. Besides the traditional cantillation, there are several verses or short phrases in the Megilla that are chanted in a different chant, the chant that is traditional for the reading of the book of Lamentations. These verses are particularly sad, or they refer to Jews being in exile. When the Megilla reader jumps to the melody of the book of Lamentations for these phrases, it heightens the feeling of sadness in the listener.

In some places, the Megilla is not chanted, but is read like a letter, because of the name iggeret ("epistle"), which is applied (Esther 9:26,29) to the Book of Esther. It has been also customary since the time of the early Medieval era of the Geonim to unroll the whole Megilla before reading it, in order to give it the appearance of an epistle. According to Halakha ("Jewish law"), the Megillah may be read in any language intelligible to the audience.

"Observance of Purim in a German Synagogue of the Eighteenth Century", from Bodenschatz, Kirchliche Verfassung, 1748.

According to the Mishnah (Megillah 30b), Exodus 17:8-16, the story of the attack on the Jews by Amalek, the progenitor of Haman, is also to be read.

Purim gave rise to many religious compositions, some of which were incorporated into the liturgy. These include a large number of hymns intended for the public service. Other writings (dramas, plays, etc.) intended for general edification, both in Hebrew and in other languages, have been composed as well.

By the 18th century in eastern Romania and some other parts of Eastern Europe, Purim plays (called Purimshpiln, Yiddish: פּורימשפּילן) had evolved into broad-ranging satires with music and dance, precursors to Yiddish theater, for which the story of Esther was little more than a pretext: indeed, by the mid-19th century, some were even based on other stories, such as Joseph sold by his brothers, Daniel, or the Binding of Isaac. Since satire was deemed inappropriate for the synagogue itself, they were usually performed outdoors in its court. Purimspiels are still performed in many communities.

Boisterousness in the synagogue

One of the requirements in the Book of Esther is to celebrate the occasion by feasting. Purim is an occasion on which much joyous license is permitted within the walls of the synagogue itself. For example, during the public service in many congregations, when the reader of the Megillah mentions Haman (54 occurrences), there is boisterous hissing, stamping, and rattling. This practice traces its origin to the Tosafists (the leading French and German rabbis of the 13th century). In accordance with a passage in the Midrash, where the verse "Thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek" (Deuteronomy 25:19) is explained to mean "even from wood and stones", the rabbis introduced the custom of writing the name of Haman, the offspring of Amalek, on two smooth stones and of knocking or rubbing them constantly until the name was blotted out.

A depiction of a Purim "ra'ashan", a noisemaker which is spun by hand, often made of wood and used only when Haman's name is mentioned.

Ultimately, the stones fell into disuse, with the knocking alone remaining. Some wrote the name of Haman on the soles of their shoes, and at the mention of the name stamped with their feet as a sign of contempt. For noisemaking, others used a noisy rattle, called a ra'ashan (from the Hebrew ra-ash, meaning "noise") and in Yiddish a grager. Some of the rabbis protested against these uproarious excesses, considering them a disturbance of public worship, but the custom of using noisemakers in synagogue on Purim is now almost universal.

Purim is also a time for other unusual goings-on. For example, some prayer-leaders will sing prayers in ways that would be considered sacrilegious on any other occasion during the year (perhaps with the exception of Simchat Torah); for example, singing some prayers to the tune of widely-known songs, to add to the levity—or employing melodies used on other Jewish holidays.

Burning of Haman's effigy

Outside the synagogue, the pranks indulged in on Purim by both children and adults have been carried even to a greater extreme. Some of them date from the Talmudic period. As early as the 5th century, and especially in the Geonic period (9th and 10th centuries), it was a custom to burn Haman in effigy on Purim, semblant of the British customs for Guy Fawkes Day. The burning custom, which persisted into the 20th century, is no longer practiced.

In Italy, Jewish children used to arrange themselves in rows, and pelt one another with nuts; while the adults rode through the streets with fir-branches in their hands, shouted, or blew trumpets round a doll representing Haman and which was finally burned with due solemnity at the stake. In Frankfurt am Main, Germany, it was customary to make a house of wax wherein the figures of Haman and his executioner, also of wax, were placed side by side. The whole was then put on the bimah, where stood also the wax figures of Zeresh (Haman's wife) and two guards—one to her right and the other to her left—all attired in a flimsy manner and with pipes in their mouths. As soon as the reader began to read the Megillah, the house with all its occupants was set on fire, to the enjoyment of the spectators.

These customs often aroused the wrath of Christians, who interpreted them as a disguised attempt to ridicule Jesus and the Cross. Prohibitions were issued against these displays; e.g., under the reign of Flavius Augustus Honorius (395-423) and of Theodosius II (408-450) comp. Johann Jakob Schudt, l.c. ii. 309, 317, and Cassel, l.c.) To avoid danger, the rabbis themselves tried to abolish these customs, often even calling the magistracy to their aid, as in London in 1783.

Women and Megilla reading

Women have an obligation to hear the Megilla because "they also were involved in that miracle." Most Orthodox communities, including Modern Orthodox ones, however, generally do not allow women to lead the Megilla reading except in rare circumstances owing to the notion of "Kavod HaTzibbur". Authorities who hold that women should not read the Megilla for themselves, because of an uncertainty as to which blessing they should recite upon the reading, nonetheless agree that they have an obligation to hear it read. According to these authorities if women, or men for that matter, cannot attend the services in the synagogue, the Megilla should be read for them in private by any male over the age of thirteen. Often in Orthodox communities there is a special public reading only for women, conducted either in a private home or in a synagogue, but the Megilla is read by a man.

Some Modern Orthodox leaders have held that women can serve as public Megillah readers. Women's megilla readings have become increasingly common in more liberal Modern Orthodox Judaism, though women may only read for other women, according to Ashkenazi authorities.[35]

Giving of food gifts and charity

Gaily wrapped baskets of sweets, snacks and other foodstuffs given as mishloach manot on Purim day.

The Book of Esther prescribes "the sending of portions one man to another, and gifts to the poor" (9:22). Over time, this mitzvah has become one of the most prominent features of the celebration of Purim.

According to the halakha, each Jew over the age of bar or bat mitzvah must send two different, ready-to-eat foods to one friend, and two charitable donations (either money or food) to two poor people, to fulfill these two mitzvot. The gifts to friends are called mishloach manot ("sending of portions"), and often include wine and pastries; alternately, sweets, snacks, salads or any foodstuff qualifies.

Although the sending of mishloach manot is technically limited to one gift for one friend, for some the custom has evolved into a major gift-giving event. Families often prepare dozens of homemade and store-bought food baskets to deliver to friends, neighbors, and relatives on Purim day. Charitable organizations, synagogues, Jewish schools and other groups also tap into the spirit of gift-giving by turning mishloach manot into a fund-raising device. These organizations collect money from members and either send out actual food gifts to other members, or mishloach manot "certificates" which indicate that a donation has been made to their organization.

To fulfill the mitzvah of giving charity to two poor people, one can give either food or money equivalent to the amount of food that is eaten at a regular meal. It is better to spend more on charity than on the giving of mishloach manot.

In the synagogue, regular collections of charity are made on the festival and the money is distributed among the needy. No distinction is made among the poor; anyone who is willing to accept charity is allowed to participate. It is obligatory upon the poorest Jew, even one who is himself dependent on charity, to give to other poor people.

The Purim meal

On Purim day, typically toward evening, a festive meal called Se`udat Purim is held, often with wine as the prominent beverage; consequently, drunkenness is not uncommon at this meal. The jovial character of this feast is illustrated in the saying of the Talmud (Megilla 7b) stating that one should drink on Purim until he can no longer distinguish between (ad delo yada) the phrases, arur Haman ("Cursed is Haman") and baruch Mordecai ("Blessed is Mordecai"). In Hebrew these phrases have the same gematria ("numerical value"), and some authorities, including the Be'er Hagolah and Rabbi Avraham Gombiner known as the Magen Avraham, have ruled that one should drink wine until he is unable to calculate these numerical values.

This saying was codified by Rabbis Isaac Alfasi (the "Rif"), Asher ben Jehiel (the "Rosh"), Jacob ben Asher (the "Tur"), Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 695, and is interpreted simply (as explained above) by the Chatam Sofer. This interpretation of the Talmudic statement, or the acceptance of the statement itself, is disputed (for various reasons) by the Tosafists (based on the Jerusalem Talmud), Maimonides, Rabbeinu Ephraim, Ba'al HaMa'or, Nissim of Gerona (the "Ran"), Orchot Chaim, Be'er Hagolah, the Magen Avraham, Rabbis David HaLevi Segal (the "Taz"), Moses Isserles (the "Rema"), Vilna Gaon, Samuel Eidels (the "Maharsha"), Rashash, Tzeidah LaDerech, Hagahot Maimoniyot, Ra'avyah, Korban N'tan'el, Yoel Sirkis (the "Bach"), Yaakov ben Moshe Levi Moelin (the "Maharil"), P'ri M'gadim, Kol Bo, Chochmat Mano'ach, Yisrael Meir Kagan in Mishnah Berurah and others. These authorities all advocate drinking wine in some quantity, but all (excepting Hagahot Maimoniyot and Ra'avyah) discourage the level of drunkenness suggested by the Chatam Sofer. The Rema says that one should only drink a little more than he is used to drinking, and then try to fall asleep whereupon he certainly will not be able to tell the difference between the two phrases indicated by the Talmud. This position is shared by the Kol Bo and Mishnah Berurah, and is similar to that of Maimonides.

Many kinds of merry-making and mockery are indulged in on Purim, so that among the masses it is believed that "on Purim everything is allowed." However, Jewish leaders such as Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan known as the Chofetz Chaim and modern-day rosh yeshivas insist on decorum even in the midst of the merry-making. According to some halakhic rulings, men should not dress in women's attire (nor vice-versa). Those rabbis that allow men to dress in women's attire on Purim do not allow men to completely disguise themselves as women but require that they remain perceptibly male. Ribald jokes remain forbidden, as during the rest of the year. Comically denigrating one's fellow, teachers, or Jewish leaders, even in the "spirit" of Purim, is forbidden.[36]

Masquerading

A typical Purim street scene in a Jerusalem neighborhood.

Most evidence suggests that the concept of "masquerading in costumes" (on Purim) is a fairly recent addition to Purim, which was added sometime during the past five hundred years - in Europe. The exact date is debated. The practice probably did not exist in Middle Eastern countries earlier than 150 years ago. Sources in the oral law (or even some mystical works), which describe the validity of "hiding" (as it relates to Purim) are referenced to support this practice.

Dressing up in masks and costumes is one of the most entertaining customs of the Purim holiday. Children in particular enjoy dressing up as the protagonists in the Book of Esther, including Queen Esther and Mordecai; other Biblical personalities such as King David and the Kohen Gadol ("High Priest"), and modern-day costumes from flower girls to indigenous peoples of the Americas to animals to policemen.

Costumes and masks are worn to disguise the wearers' identities. Mistaken identity plays an important role in The Book of Esther, as Esther hid her cultural origins from the king, Mordecai hid his knowledge of all the world's languages (which allowed Bigthan and Teresh to discuss their plot openly in his presence), and Haman was mistaken for Mordecai when he led Mordecai through the streets of the capital city of Shushan. According to the Talmud, Haman's daughter, thinking that it must be Mordecai leading her father around, dumped a chamber pot on her father's head as he passed by, and, realizing her error, committed suicide.

Purim revellers in costume, from a 1657 print.

The custom of masquerading on Purim was first introduced among the Italian Jews about the close of the fifteenth century under the influence of the Roman carnival. This custom spread over all countries where Jews lived, except perhaps the Orient. The first among Jewish authors to mention this custom is Judah ben Eliezer ha-Levi Minz (d. 1508 at Venice) (known as the "Mahari Minz") in his Responsa no. 17, quoted by Moses Isserles on Orach Chayim 696:8. He expresses the opinion that, since the purpose of the masquerade is only merrymaking, it should not be considered a transgression of the Biblical law regarding dress. Although some authorities issued prohibitions against this custom, the people did not heed them, and the more lenient view prevailed. The custom is still practiced today amongst religious Jews of all denominations, and among both religious and non-religious Israelis.

In Israel there are Purim parades called Adloyada (Ad-עד Lo-לא Yada-ידע, Until one didn't know the other). The name refers to the drinking feast described in the book of Ester, after which the guests couldn't tell their friends apart from the other attenders. In these Parades men, women, boys and girls dress in costumes and masks and celebrate publicly.

Hidden/Revealed

The one who is truly hidden behind all the events of the Megillah is God. The Jewish Sages referred to His role as הסתר פנים (hester panim, or "hiding of the Face", which is also hinted at in a word play (Megilat Hester ) regarding the Hebrew name for the Book of Esther, Megillat Esther—literally, "revelation of [that which is] hidden"). Although Jews believe that everything turned out in the end for the best as a direct result of Divine intervention (that is, a series of miracles), the Book of Esther lacks any mention of God's name and appears to have been nothing more than a result of natural occurrences. On the other hand, Jewish philosophy and scriptural commentators believe that the reason for the omission of God's name is in order to emphasize the very point that God remained hidden throughout this series of events, but was nonetheless present and played a large role in the outcome of the story. Furthermore, this lesson can be taken into consideration on a much larger scale: Throughout Jewish history, and especially in the present Jewish diaspora, God's presence has been felt more at certain times than at others. Megillat Esther (and the omission of God's name in it) serves to show that although God may not be conspicuously present at times, He nevertheless plays (and has played) an important role in everyone's lives and in the future of the Jewish nation.

In remembrance of how God remained hidden throughout the Purim miracle, Jews dress up on Purim and many hide their faces.

Songs

Songs associated with Purim are based on sources that are Talmudic, liturgical and cultural.

Traditional Purim songs include Mishenichnas Adar marbim be-simcha ("When [the Hebrew month of] Adar enters, we have a lot of joy"—Mishnah Taanith 4:1) and LaYehudim haitah orah ve-simchah ve-sasson ve-yakar ("The Jews had light and gladness, joy and honor"—Esther 8:16). The prayer, Shoshanat Yaakov, read at the conclusion of the Megillah reading, is often sung to various popular melodies.

Traditional foods

Homemade hamantaschen

During Purim it is traditional to serve triangular pastries, called Hamantaschen ("Haman's pockets") in Yiddish and Oznei Haman ("Haman's ears") in modern Hebrew. A sweet cookie dough is rolled out, cut into circles, and traditionally filled with a sweet poppy seed or prune filling, then wrapped up into a triangular shape with the filling either hidden or showing.

Costumed sellers gragging a ratchet beside their hamantaschen display in the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem

(Seeds and nuts are customarily eaten on Purim, as the Talmud tells us that Queen Esther ate only these foodstuffs in the palace of Ahasuerus, since she had no access to kosher foods.) More recently, prunes, dates, apricots, and chocolate fillings have been introduced. This pastry belongs to the Ashkenazi cuisine; its Sephardi equivalent is a thin dough called Fazuelos.

Kreplach shaped in the form of hamantaschen float in a bowl of chicken soup made for the Purim seudah.

Kreplach, a kind of dumpling filled with cooked meat, chicken or liver and served in soup, are also traditionally served by Ashkenazi Jews on Purim.

Purim Torah and Purim spiel

Some Jewish communities spice up the Purim celebrations with comical, yet erudite, "Torah teachings" known as Purim Torah, which resort to a variety of comedic and linguistic tricks to the amusement of the listeners.

A Purim spiel is a comedic play that attempts to convey the saga of Purim's origins and its cast of characters. Purim spiels can revolve around anything relating to Jews and Judaism that will bring cheer and comic relief to an audience celebrating the day.

Focus on children

During the days before Purim, children are often entertained with Purim puppet shows similar to a Punch and Judy performance where the entire Purim story is presented out by puppeteers using small puppets dressed up as Mordecai, Esther, Ahasuerus, Vashti, Haman and more. During the celebration children are also entertained with games, rides and fun of a Purim Carnival

Children's Songs

Both before and on Purim, special children's songs (with non-liturgical sources) may be sung:

  • Once There Was a Wicked Wicked Man [37]
  • Ani Purim [38]
  • Chag Purim, Chag Purim, Chag Gadol Hu LaYehudim [39][40]
  • MisheNichnas Adar[41]
  • Shoshanas Yaakov[41]
  • Al HaNisim[41]
  • VeNahafoch Hu[41]
  • LaYehudim Hayesa Orah[41]
  • U Mordechai Yatza[41]
  • Kacha Yay'aseh[41]
  • Chayav Inish[41]
  • Utzu Eitzah[41]

Shushan Purim

Shushan Purim (the 15th day of Adar) is the day on which Jews in Jerusalem and Shushan (in Iran) celebrate Purim. The Book of Esther explains that while the Jews in unwalled cities fought their enemies on the 13th of Adar and rested on the 14th, the Jews in the walled capital city of Shushan spent the 13th and 14th defeating their enemies, and rested on the 15th (Esther 9:20-22).

Although Mordecai and Esther decreed that only walled cities should celebrate Purim on the 15th, in commemoration of the battle in the walled city of Shushan, the Jewish sages noted that Jerusalem, the focus of Jewish life, lay in ruins during the events of the Book of Esther. To make sure that a Persian city was not honored more than Jerusalem, they made the determination of which cities were walled by referring to ancient cities walled during the time of Joshua. This allowed Jerusalem to be included on the basis of that criteria; paradoxically, they included Shushan as the exceptional case since the miracle occurred there, even though it did not have a wall in Joshua's time.

The Megillah is also read on the 15th in a number of other cities —see below— but only as a custom based on a doubt over whether these cities were walled or sufficiently walled during the time of Joshua. These cities therefore celebrate Purim on the 14th, and the additional Megillah reading on the 15th is a stringency. Jews in these cities do not recite the blessings over the reading of the Megillah on the 15th.

Shushan in today's Iran is an example of another walled city from the above era. Others possibly included are Acre, Ashdod [42], Ashkelon [42], Beersheva [42], Gaza [42][43][44], Haifa [42][44], Hebron, Jaffa, Lod [42][43], Safed, Shechem [42][43], and Tiberias.

Purim HaMeshulash

When the main Purim date, the 14th of Adar, comes out on a Friday, then in Jerusalem there is a situation called Purim HaMeshulash - a 3 part Purim celebration. Shushan Purim is then on the 16th day, rather than the 15th day, of Adar. Each day has a different focus. The giving of money can't occur on Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, and since it would be unfair to make the poor wait a day, it is moved to the 14th of Adar. The Megilla reading in Jerusalem takes place on the 14th as well. The "Al HaNissim" addition to the Amidah and Birkat Hamzon is said on Shabbat (Friday Night and Saturday) along with the traditional Purim day Torah portion being read in the synagogues on Shabbat day. Sunday (the "Meshulash day") contains the obligation of Mishloach Manot and the Seudat Purim (the festive Purim meal).

These are not very common; they cluster (about every 2–3 years) and then they leave gaps as large as 13 years. The last occurrence was in 2008. The next occurrence will be in 2021.

Purim Katan

In leap years on the Hebrew calendar, Purim is celebrated in the second month of Adar. (The Karaites, however, celebrate it in the first month of Adar.) The 14th of the first Adar is then called Purim Katan ("Little Purim" in Hebrew) and the 15th is Shushan Purim Katan, for which there no set observances but have a minor holiday aspect to it. The distinctions between the first and the second Purim in leap years are mentioned in the Mishnah (Megillah 1/46b; compare Orach Chayim 697).

Fasting before and after Purim

The Fast of Esther, observed before Purim, on the 13th of Adar, is an original part of the Purim celebration, referred to in Esther 9:31-32. The first who mentions the Fast of Esther is Rabbi Achai Gaon (Acha of Shabcha) (8th century CE) in She'iltot 4; the reason there given for its institution is based on an interpretation of Esther 9:18, Esther 9:31 and Talmud Megillah 2a: "The 13th was the time of gathering", which gathering is explained to have had also the purpose of public prayer and fasting. Some, however, used to fast three days in commemoration of the fasting of Esther; but as fasting was prohibited during the month of Nisan, the first and second Mondays and the Thursday following Purim were chosen. The fast of the 13th is still commonly observed; but when that date falls on a Sabbath, the fast is pushed forward to the preceding Thursday, Friday being needed to prepare for the Sabbath and the following Purim festival.

Other "Purims"

In addition to the official Purim, other occasions arose to celebrate deliverance of communities or families from the threat of annihilation. These celebrations were called Purims:

Public / Communal

Until recently, many Jewish communities around the world celebrated local "Purims" that commemorated its deliverance from a particular antisemitic ruler or group. The best known is Purim Vintz, traditionally celebrated in Frankfurt am Main, one week after the regular Purim. This commemorates the Fettmilch uprising (1616-1620), in which one Vincenz Fettmilch attempted to exterminate the Jewish community.[45] According to some sources, the influential Rabbi Moses Sofer (the Chasam Sofer), who was born in Frankfurt, celebrated Purim Vintz every year, even when he served as a rabbi in Pressburg.

Private / Family

Many Jewish families have also had "family Purims" throughout the centuries, celebrated at home, whereby they celebrate their escape from persecution, an accident, or any other type of misfortune.

For example, in Krakow, Poland, Rabbi Yom Tov Lipmann Heller (1579-1654) asked that his family henceforth celebrate a private Purim, marking the end of his many troubles, including having faced trumped-up charges.[46] Since Purim is preceded by a fast day, the rabbi (known as the Tosfos Yom Tov because of his work of the same name) also directed his descendants to have a (private) fast day, the 5th day of Tamuz, marking one of his imprisonments (1629), this one lasting for 40 days.[47][48]

References

  1. ^ As noted in Esther 9:22: "[...] that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor".
  2. ^ NIV Study Bible, Introductions to the Books of the Bible, Esther, Zondervan, 2002
  3. ^ Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra 15a
  4. ^ George Lyons, Additions to Esther, Wesley Center for Applied Theology, 2000
  5. ^ a b Prof. Michael Sokoloff, The Targums to the Book of Esther, Bar-Ilan University 's Parashat Hashavua Study Center, Parashat Tezaveh/Zakhor 5764 March 6, 2004
  6. ^ a b S. Kaufman, CAL TARGUM TEXTS, Text base and variants, The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon, Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
  7. ^ Alan J. Hauser, Duane Frederick Watson, A History of Biblical Interpretation: The Ancient Period, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2003
  8. ^ a b William Whiston, The Works of Flavius Josephus, the Learned and Authentic Jewish Historian, Milner and Sowerby, 1864, online edition Harvard University 2004
  9. ^ David Flusser, Josephus Goridines (The Josippon) (Vols. 1-2), The Bialik Institute, 1978
  10. ^ Ehsan Yar-Shater, The History of al-Tabari : An Annotated Translation, SUNY Press, 1989
  11. ^ a b Moshe Perlmann trans., The Ancient Kingdoms, SUNY Press, 1985
  12. ^ a b Said Amir Arjomand, Artaxerxes, Ardasir and Bahman, The Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 118, 1998
  13. ^ The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition article Abd al-Hasan Ali ibn al-Husayn Masudi, Columbia University Press, 2007
  14. ^ Lewis Bayles Paton, Esther: Critical Exegetical Commentary, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2000
  15. ^ Abd al-Hasan Ali ibn al-Husayn Masudi, Murūj al-dhahab (Meadows of Gold), ed. and French transl. by F. Barbier de Meynard and Pavet du Courteille, Paris, 1861
  16. ^ Richard James Horatio Gottheil ed., Persian Literature, Volume 1, Comprising The Shah Nameh, The Rubaiyat, The Divan, and The Gulistan, Colonial Press, 1900
  17. ^ a b c Jacob Hoschander, The Book of Esther in the Light of History, Oxford University Press, 1923
  18. ^ J. R. Davila, Quotation Fragments (Pseudo-Hecataeus), online lecture, University of St Andrews, 1999
  19. ^ Bezalel Bar-Kochva, Legitimizing the Jewish Diaspora, University of California Press, 1997. Here it is argued that the work may have been by an anonymous Alexandrian Jew and not Hecataeus.
  20. ^ a b Albert De Jong, Traditions of the Magi: Zoroastrianism in Greek and Latin Literature, chap. 3, BRILL, 1997
  21. ^ Rabbi Howard Jachter, Why Did Mordechai Refuse to Bow Down to Haman?, Rabbi Jachter's Halacha Files (and other Halachic cmpositions), Vol.12 No.21 Parshat Vayikra, Isaac and Mara Benmergui Torah Academy of Bergen County, March 15, 2003
  22. ^ Wolfgang Felix, Encyclopaedia Iranica, entry Dinon, 1996-2008
  23. ^ Jona Lendering, Ctesias of Cnidus, Livius, Articles on Ancient History, 1996-2008
  24. ^ John Dryden, Arthur Hugh Clough, Plutarch's Lives, Little, Brown and Company, 1885
  25. ^ M. A. Dandamaev, W. J. Vogelsang, A Political History of the Achaemenid Empire, BRILL, 1989
  26. ^ E. A. W. Budge, The Chronography of Bar Hebraeus, Gorgias Press LLC, reprinted 2003
  27. ^ Jan Jacob van Ginkel, John of Ephesus. A Monophysite Historian in Sixth-century Byzantium, Groningen, 1995
  28. ^ Jacob Neusner,The Talmud: What it is and what it Says, Rowman & Littlefield, 2006
  29. ^ Moshe David Herr, Encyclopedia Judaica 1997 CD-ROM Edition, article Esther Rabbah, 1997
  30. ^ http://www.torah.org/learning/yomtov/purim/5756/vol1no69.html
  31. ^ Esther chapters 1 and 2
  32. ^ Esther chapters 3-5
  33. ^ Esther chapters 6-9
  34. ^ Esther chapters 9-10
  35. ^ Frimer, Ariyeh: Women's Megilla Reading (2003)
  36. ^ Kitov, Eliyahu: The Festive Purim Meal: Seudat Purim[1], Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, accessed March 16, 2006.
  37. ^ http://www.musicnotes.com/sheetmusic/mtd.asp?ppn=MN0033435, http://www.ou.org/chagim/purim/megillah1.htm, http://www.zemerl.com/cgi-bin/display.pl?subcategory=Purim, among others
  38. ^ "Congregation B'nai Jeshurun - Purim Songs: ani purim". http://www.bj.org/purim_songs.ani_purim.php.  
  39. ^ http://www.chabad.org/kids/article_cdo/aid/477407/jewish/Chag-Purim.htm
  40. ^ http://www.adathjeshurun.info/hazzan/PurimWeb07.htm
  41. ^ a b c d e f g h i aish.com staff. "Aish.com - purim songs". http://www.aish.com/purimmultimedia/purimmultimediadefault/Purim_Songs.asp.  
  42. ^ a b c d e f g His Word: Stories and Insights of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, ZT"L, by Hanoch Teller, 1990, p. 233, Feldheim Publishers,ISBN 1881939057>
  43. ^ a b c Jewish Press,May 8, 2009,p.F3
  44. ^ a b http://www.wzo.org.il/en/resources/view.asp?id=183
  45. ^ Ulmer, Rivka: Turmoil, Trauma, and Triumph. The Fettmilch Uprising in Frankfurt am Main (1612-1616) According to Megillas Vintz.[2]
  46. ^ OU: This Day in Jewish History: Adar
  47. ^ Fine, Yisroel: It Happened Today
  48. ^ Rosenstein, Neil: The Feast and the Fast (1984)

See also


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PURIM, a Jewish festival held on the 14th and 15th of Adar, the last month of the Jewish calendar. According to Jewish tradition it is held in celebration of the deliverance of the Jews from the massacre plotted against them by their enemy Haman in the time of Artaxerxes, who fixed upon the former date by casting "lots" (= Hebrew loan-word Purim) . It is preceded by a fast on the 13th day of Adar, known as the Fast of Esther, based upon Esther iv. 16.

Purim is the carnival of the Jewish year. Friends exchange gifts, and thus occasion is taken to relieve the necessities of the poor in the most considerate manner under the guise of gifts. The children masquerade, and their parents are enjoined to drink wine until they cannot distinguish between blessing Mordecai and cursing Haman. The Megillah or Roll of Esther is read both at home and in the synagogue, and wherever, during the reading, the name of Haman is mentioned, it is accompanied with tramping the feet. In former times Haman was burnt in effigy, holding on to a ring and swinging from one side of the fire to the other (see L. Ginzberg, Geonica, 1909, pp. I, 419; Davidson, Parody, pp. 21-22). This custom, which is still observed among the Jews of Caucasia (Tchorni, Sepher ha-Masaoth, pp. 191-192), is very ancient, as it is mentioned in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 64). From the 17th century onward Purim plays were performed mostly by the children, who improvised a dramatic version of the story of Esther. This grew to be the characteristic folkdrama of the ghetto, and has not died out in eastern Europe to the present day.

Much ingenuity has been spent upon the name and origin of the feast. As regards the name, we may dismiss at once the suggestions of J. Fuerst (Kanon des Alten Testaments) that it is derived from the Persian bahar, " spring," and of Hitzig (Geschichte Israels), who derives it from the modern Arabic Phur, " the New Year." These conjectures were made in the pre-scientific era of philology. Scarcely more is to be said in favour of the suggestion made by Von Hammer; but better known in connexion with the name of Lagarde, who connects the name Purim with the old Zoroastrian festival of the dead, entitled Farwardigan. Lagarde, who is followed by Renan, connects this form with the LXX. variant of the Hebrew (4 poupal); but there is absolutely nothing about Purim which suggests any relation with a festival of the dead. Graetz's suggestion (Monats. .Tud. xxxv. 10 seq.) that it is derived from the Hebrew purah, meaning wine-press (Is. lxiii. 3), obviously fails to connect a spring festival of joyousness with the autumn vine harvest. Zimmern (Zatw xl. 157 seq.) connects Purim with the puchru or assembly of the gods, which forms part of the Babylonian New Year festival Zagmuku, but the inserted guttural is against the identification.

The most plausible etymology connects the name with the Assyrian guru, either in the sense of "turn" of office at the beginning of the New Year or in that of "pebble" used for votes or lots. as with the Greek k40s. It is a curious coincidence, to say the least, that Dieulafoy found among the ruins of the Memnonium at Susa (the ancient Shushan, given as the scene of the events narrated in the Book of Esther) a quadrangular prism bearing different numbers on its four faces. This etymological connexion, suggested by Jensen (Kosmologie, 84), brings the festival of Purim into close relation with the Babylonian New Year festival known as Zagmuku, in which one of the most prominent ceremonials was the celebration of the assembly of the gods under the presidency of Marduk (Merodach) for the purpose of determining the fates of the New Year. Meissner (ZDMG, i. 296 seq.) and others have suggested that the drunkenness and masquerading current at the period of Purim are directly derived from the general period of licence allowed at the Sacaea festival of the Babylonian New Year. Even the fact that this latter was celebrated on the first of Nisan, or a fortnight after the Jewish date for Purim, is confirmed by the Book of Esther itself, which states that "In the first month, which is the month Nisan, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman" (Esther iii. 7 - ix. 26). The change of date may have been made in order not to conflict with the Passover on the 15th of Nisan. The connexion that has been suggested between the names of Mordecai and Esther and those of the Assyrian deities Marduk and Ishtar would be a further strong confirmation of the proposed etymology and derivation of the feast (see Esther). Going still further, J. G. Frazer connects Purim with the whole series of spring festivals current in western Asia, in which the old god of vegetation was put to death and a new human representative of him elected and allowed to have royal and divine rights, so as to promote the coming harvest (Golden Bough, 2nd. ed., vol. iii. p. 154 seq.). The death of the god, he suggests, is represented by the Fast of Esther on the 13th of Adar, the day before Purim, while the rejoicing on Purim itself, and the licence accompanying it, recall the union of the god and goddess of vegetation, of which he sees traces in the relations of Mordecai and Esther. There may possibly be "survivals" of the influence of some such celebrations both on the Book of Esther and on the ceremonies of Purim, but there is absolutely no evidence that the Jews took over the interpretation of these festivals with their celebration. Nor is there any record of royal privileges attaching to any person at the period of Purim such as occurs in the festivals with which it is supposed to be connected by Frazer. His further suggestion, therefore, that the ironical crowning of Jesus with the crown of thorns and the inscription over the Cross, together with the selection of Barabbas, had anything to do with the feast of Purim, must be rejected. The connexion of the Passion with the Passover rather than Purim would alone be sufficient to nullify the suggestion. However, it is practically certain, both from the etymology of the word Purim and from the resemblance of the festivals, that the feast, as represented in the Book of Esther, was borrowed from the Persians, who themselves appeared to have adapted it from the Babylonians. This is confirmed by the fact that the Book of Esther contains several Persian words and shows throughout a familiarity with Persian conditions. This renders it impossible to accept Haupt's suggestion that Purim is connected with the celebration of Nicanor's Day, to celebrate the triumph of Judas Maccabaeus over the Syrian general Nicanor at Adasa (161 B.C.) on the 13th of Adar, since this is the date of the Fast of Esther, and, besides, the Second Book of Maccabees, which refers to Nicanor's Day, speaks of it as the day before Mordecai's Day (2 Macc. xvi. 36). if, as seems probable, the earlier Greek version of the Book of Esther was made about 179 B.C. (Swete, Introduction of the Old Testament in Greek, p. 25), this suggestion of the connexion of Purim with the Maccabean period made by Haupt and, before him, by Willrich, falls to the ground.

At the same time it is difficult to understand why Jews in Palestine and Egypt should have accepted a purely Persian or Babylonian festival long after they had ceased to be connected with the Persian Empire. One can understand its adoption during, or soon after, the reign of Cyrus, whose policy was so favourable to the Jews, and it might easily have become as popular among them as Christmas tends to become among modern Jews. When The exiles returned from Babylon they probably brought back with them the practice of keeping the festival.

The date at which the feast of Purim was first adopted by the Jews from their Persian neighbours would be definitely determined if we knew the date of the Book of Esther. The festival is first mentioned in 2 Macc. xv. 36, and from that time onwards has formed one of the most popular festivals of the Jewish calendar. It became customary to burn an effigy of Haman at the conclusion of the feast, and this was regarded as in some ways an attack on Christianity and was therefore forbidden by the Theodosian code, XVI. viii. 18. This prohibition may have been due to the fact mentioned by Socrates (Hist. eccles. vii.) that, in 416 A.D., the Jews of Inmester, a town in Syria, illtreated a Christian child during some Purim pranks and caused his death. It has even been suggested that this gave rise to the myth of the blood accusation in which Jews are alleged to sacrifice a Christian child at Passover; but this is unlikely, since it has never been suggested that this crime was committed in connexion with Purim. But Jewish sources of the 10th century state that the custom of burning an effigy of Haman was still kept up at that time (L. Ginzberg, Geonica, ii.), and this is confirmed by Albiruni (Chronology, tr. Sachau, 273) and Makrizi, and indeed the custom was carried on down to the present century by Jewish children, who treated Haman as a sort of Guy Fawkes. Frazer suggests (loc. cit. 172) that this is a survival of the burning of the man-god, like Hercules or Sandan, who again represented the old spirit of vegetation which was dying away in spring to revive with the new vegetation. The earliest mention, however, of this burning of Haman in effigy cannot be traced back earlier than the Talmud in the 5th century.

In connexion with Purim many quaint customs were introduced by the Jews of later times. All means are adapted to increase the hilarity of the two days, which are filled with feasting, dancing, singing and making merry generally. In Germany it was even customary for men to dress up as women, and women as men, against the command of Deut. xxii. 5. In Frankfort the women were allowed to open their lattice windows in the synagogue in honour of the deliverance brought about by Esther. Execration of Haman, as the typical persecutor of the Jews, took various forms. In Germany wooden mallets were used in the synagogue to beat the benches when Haman's name was read out from the scroll of Esther, and during the festivities these mallets were sometimes used on the heads of the bystanders. Cakes were made of a certain shape to be eaten by the children, which were called, in Germany, Hamantaschen (Haman-pockets) and Hamanohren (Haman-ears), and in Italy, Orecchie d'Aman. In Italy a puppet representing Haman was set 'up on high amidst shouts of vengeance and blowing of trumpets. In Caucasus the women made a wooden block to represent Haman, which, on being discovered by the men on their return to the synagogue, was thrown into the fire. Besides gifts to friends, parents made Purim gifts to their children, especially in the form of Purim cakes. To preside over these festivities it was customary to have a master of the ceremonies, who was called king in Provence, somewhat after the manner of the Feast of Fools. In later days the same function was performed by the Purim Rabbi, who often indulged in parodies of the ritual.

With Purim is connected the only trace of a true folk-drama among Jews. The first Spanish drama written by Jews was entitled "Esther," by Solomon Usque and Lazaro Gratiano, published in 1567; and there is another entitled "Comedia famosa de Aman y Mordechay," produced anonymously in Leiden in 1699. Among the German Jews Purim-Spiele were frequent and can be traced back to the 16th century, where there is reference to their being regularly performed at Tannhausen. The earliest one of these printed was entitled "AhasweroshSpiel," appeared at Frankfort in 1708, and was reprinted by Schudt in Juedische Merck-Wuerdigkeiten, ii. 314 seq. These were followed by a large number of similar reproductions, none of any great merit, but often showing ingenuity in parodying more serious portions of the Jewish ritual (F. Davidson, Parody, pp. 2 7, 5 o, 199 Besides the general festival of Purim, various communities of Jews have instituted special local Purims to commemorate occasions when they have been saved from disaster. Thus the Jews of Cairo celebrated Purim on the 28th of Adar in memory of their being miraculously saved from the persecution of Ahmed Pasha in 1524. The Jews of Frankfort celebrate their special Purim on the 10th of Adar because of their deliverance from persecution by Fettmilch in 1616. The Jews of Algiers similarly celebrated the repulse of the emperor Charles V. in 1541, by which they escaped coming once more into the yoke of the Spaniards. Similar occasions for rejoicing were introduced by individuals into their families to celebrate their escape from danger. Thus Abraham Danzig celebrated in this manner his escape from the results of an explosion of a powder magazine at Wilna in 1804. Rabbi Enoch Altschul of Prague recorded his own escape on the 22nd of Tebet 1623 in a special roll or megillah, which was to be read by his family on that date with rejoicing similar to the general Purim. David Brandeis of Jung-Bunzlau in Bohemia was saved from an accusation of poisoning on the 10th of Adar 1731, and instituted a similar family Purim celebration in consequence.

See Biblical Dictionaries of Hastings and Cheyne, s.v.; Jew. Ency., s.v. " Purim"; "Purim Plays," "Purims, Special"; W. Erbt, Die Purimsage (Berlin, 1900); Abrahams, Jewish Life in the Middle Ages; Lagarde, Purim, ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Religion (Gottingen, 885); Steinschneider, Purim and Parodie (Berlin, 1902); P. Haupt, Purim (Leipzig, 1906); I. Davidson, Parody in Jewish Literature, pp. 21, 27, 30, 135-9 (New York, 1908). 1908).

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

Etymology

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Hebrew פורים lots

Proper noun

Singular
Purim

Plural
-

Purim

  1. (Religion, Jewish) A Jewish festival, celebrated on the 14th day of Adar, commemorating the deliverance of the Persian Jews from a massacre.

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki


Jewish feast celebrated annually on the 14th, and in Shushan, Persia, also on the 15th, of Adar, in commemoration of the deliverance of the Persian Jews from the plot of Haman to exterminate them, as recorded in the Book of Esther. According to that book the feast was instituted as a national one by Mordecai and Esther. For a critical view of Purim see ESTHER (Jewish Encyclopedia). In the present article are treated only the various features of the feast as developed after its institution.

Contents

Non-Religious Character.

Aside from the much-mooted question whether Purim is of Jewish or of heathen origin, it is certain that, as it appears in the Book of Esther, the festival is altogether devoid of religious spirit—an anomaly in Jewish religious history. This is due to the worldly spirit of the Book of Esther. The only religious allusions therein are the mention of fasting in iv. 16 and ix. 31, and perhaps the expression of confidence in the deliverance of Israel in iv. 14. This secular character has on the whole been most prominent in this festival at all times. Like Ḥanukkah, it has never been universally considered a religious holy day, in spite of the fact that it is designated by the term "yom-ṭob" (Esth. ix. 19, 22.). Accordingly business transactions and even manual labor are allowed on Purim, although in certain places restrictions have beenimposed on work (Shulḥan 'Aruk, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 696).

Nevertheless Purim has been held in high esteem at all times and in all countries, some even maintaining that when all the prophetical and hagiographical works shall be forgotten the Book of Esther will still be remembered, and, accordingly, the Feast of Purim will continue to be observed (Yer. Meg. i. 5a; Maimonides, "Yad," Megillah, iii. 18; comp. Schudt, "Jüdische Merkwürdigkeiten," ii. 311). It is also claimed that Purim is as great as the day on which the Torah was given on Sinai ("Mordekai" on B. M. ix., end; comp. Lampronti, "Paḥad Yiẓḥaḳ," s.v. "Purim"). In Italy the Jews, it seems, have even used the word "Purim" as a family name, which also proves the high esteem that the festival enjoys among them (Vogelstein and Rieger, "Gesch. der Juden in Rom," ii. 420; but comp. Steinschneider in "Monatsschrift," 1903, p. 175).

The Book of Esther does not prescribe any religious service for Purim; it enjoins only the annual celebration of the feast among the Jews on the 14th and 15th of Adar, commanding that they should "make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor." It seems, therefore, that the observance of Purim was at first merely of a convivial and social nature. Gradually it assumed religious features.

Reading of the Megillah.

The first religious ceremony ordained for the celebration of Purim is the reading of the Book of Esther in the synagogue, a regulation ascribed in the Talmud (Meg. 2a) to the "Men of the Great Synod," of which Mordecai is reported to have been a member. Originally this enactment was for the 14th of Adar only; later, however, R. Joshua b. Levi (3d cent.) prescribed that the Megillah should be read on the eve of Purim also. Further, he obliged women to attend the reading of the Megillah, inasmuch as it was a woman, Queen Esther, through whom the miraculous deliverance of the Jews was accomplished (Meg. 4a; see, however, Yer. Meg. ii. 5, where this law is reported in the name of Bar Ḳappara; comp. "R. E. J." xxxii. 42).

In the Mishnah there is a difference of opinion as to how much of the Megillalh one must read in order to discharge one's duty. According to R. Judah, the portion from ii. 5 to the end suffices; others considered the portion from iii. 1, or even from vi. 1, to the end sufficient; while R. Meïr demanded the reading of the entire scroll, and his view was accepted in the Talmud (Meg. 19a). In some congregations it was customary to read the first portion of the Megillah, i.-vi., at the "outgoing of the first Sabbath" in Adar and the rest on the outgoing of the second Sabbath of that month. In other places the whole Megillah was read on the outgoing of the second Sabbath (Soferim xiv. 18). In some places it was read on the 15th of Adar also (ib. xxi. 8), for example, at Tyre (comp. Zunz, "Ritus", p. 56). According to the Mishnah, the "villagers" were permitted for the sake of convenience to read the Megillah on the Monday or Thursday of the Purim week, on which days they came to the towns for divine service.

In the Mishnah the recitation of a benediction either before or after the reading of the Megillah is not yet a universally recognized obligation. The Talmud, however, prescribed three benedictions before and one after the reading (comp. Meg. 21b; Yer. Meg. iv. 1; Masseket Soferim xiv. 5, 6, where the formulas for the closing benediction differ; comp. also Shulḥan 'Aruk, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 692, 1). The Talmud added other provisions also in connectionwith the reading of the Megillah. For example, the reader was to pronounce the names of the ten sons of Haman (Esth. ix. 7-10) in one breath, to indicate their simultaneous death (Meg. 16b; Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 690, 15). The congregation was to recite aloud with the reader the verses ii. 5, viii. 15-16, and x. 3, which relate the origin of Mordecai and his triumph (Abudarham, ed. Amsterdam, 1726, p. 76; Oraḥ Ḥayyim, l.c.). This rule is of geonic origin (see Brück, "Pharisaische Volkssitten," p. 158). Saadia Gaon demanded that only the first two verses of the four mentioned above be read aloud; and this was the custom in Spain (Abudarham, l.c.).

The Megillah—How Read.

The Megillah is read with a traditional chant differing from that used in the reading of the pericopes or the Pentateuch. In some places, however, it is not chanted, but is read like a letter, because of the name "iggeret" (epistle) which is applied (Esth. ix. 26, 29) to the Book of Esther (comp. Judah 'Ayyash, "Bet Yehudah," No. 23, Leghorn, 1747). For the same reason it has been also customary since the time of the Geonim to unroll the whole Megillah before reading it, in order to give it the appearance of an epistle (Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 690, 17; comp. Brück, l.c. p. 159).

Finally, it is to be mentioned that the Megillah may be read in any language intelligible to the audience. In Hebrew and also in Greek it may be read even when not understood (Meg. 18a; Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 690, 8-12; see, however, Soferim xxi. 8, where it is said that all Israel is in duty bound to read the Megillah in Hebrew). In Saragossa the Megillah was read in Spanish, a practise against which Isaac ben Sheshet (Responsa, Nos. 388-391) and Nissim Gerondi protested (see Grätz, "Gesch." viii. 35; Abrahams, "Jewish Life in the Middle Ages," pp. 345 et seq.; Steinschneider, in "Monatsschrift," 1903, p. 178). Talking during the public recitation was prohibited (Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 692, 2). According to the Mishnah (Meg. 30b), In addition to the Megillah Ex. xvii. 8-16, the story of the attack on the Jews by Amalek, the progenitor of Haman, is to be read.

Purim gave rise to many religious compositions, some of which were incorporated into the liturgy. For the large number of hymns intended for the public service as well as other writings (dramas, plays, etc.) intended for general edification, both in Hebrew and in other languages, see the exhaustive study by M. Steinschneider, "Purim und Parodie," in "Monatsschrift," xlvi.-xlviii., Index, especially xlvi. 279 et seq., 372 et seq.; for Karaitic rites see ib. pp. 373 et seq.

Social Customs.

As pointed out above, the Book of Esther prescribed "the sending of portions one to another, and gifts to the poor." This became in the course of time one of the most prominent features of the celebration of Purim. Jews sent gifts of food, especially dainties, to one another; and the poor were made recipients of charity. In the synagogue, too, regular collections were made on the festival, and the money so procured was distributed among the needy. No distinction was to be made among the poor; any one who was willing to accept, even a non-Jew, was to be allowed to participate (Oraḥ. Ḥayyim, 694). It was obligatory upon the poorest Jew, even on one who was himself dependent on charity, to give to other poor—at least to two (ib.). In some congregations it is customary to place a box ("ḳuppah") in the vestibule of the synagogue into which every one may put the half of the unit coin ("maḥaẓit ha-sheḳel") of the country, corresponding to the half-shekel which, had been given to the Temple in Adar (ib.). The general provision is for every one to give three halves; but some give according to the number of persons in the family (comp. Jehiel Epstein, "Ḳiẓẓur Shene Luḥot ha-Berit," p. 105b, Amsterdam, 1701). The amount of money thus distributed on Purim by wealthy members of the community often reached very large sums (see Steinschneider, l.c. xlvi. 180 et seq.). Dedications of works appear among the various forms of Purim presents (ib. and xlvii. 174 et seq., Nos. 5, 7, 19)

Feasting.

The national rather than the religious character of the festival made it appear appropriate to celebratethe occasion by feasting. Hence it was the rule to have at least one festive meal, called "se'udat Purim," toward the evening of the 14th (Meg. 7b; Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 695, 1). In this connection it may be mentioned that for the celebration of Purim there developed among the Jews a special kind of baking. Cakes were shaped into certain forms and were given names having some symbolic bearing on the historical events of Purim. Thus the Jews of Germany eat " Hamantaschen" and "Hamanohren" (in Italy, "orrechi d'Aman"), "Kreppchen," "Kindchen," etc. (comp. Steinschneider, l.c. xlvii. 177, 360 et seq.). The jovial character of the feast was forcibly illustrated in the saying of the Talmud (Meg. 7b) that one should drink on Purim until he can no longer distinguish "Cursed be Haman" from "Blessed be Mordecai," a saying which was codified in the Shulḥan 'Aruk (ib.), but which was later ingeniously explained as referring to the letters occurring in the sentences (image) and (image) , in each of which the numerical value of the letters amounts to 502 (comp. Abudarham, l.c.; Lewin, "Gesch. der Juden in Lissa," p. 212, Pinne, 1904). While the Jews have always been noted for abstemiousness in the use of intoxicants, drunkenness was licensed, so to speak, on Purim, to comply with the command which seemed to lie in the Biblical term "mishteh" (drink) applied to Purim (Abudarham, l.c.). It is, therefore, not surprising that all kinds of merry-making, often verging on frivolity, have been indulged in on Purim, so that among the masses it has become almost a general rule that "on Purim everything is allowed" (comp. Steinschneider, l.c. p. 186), even transgressions of a Biblical law, such as the appearance of men in women's attire and vice versa, which is strictly prohibited in Deut. xxii. 5. This went so far that if through exuberance of spirits a man inflicted damage on the property of another on Purim he was not compelled to repair it (Oraḥ Ḥayyim, l.c., and the references there given).

Masquerading.

One of the strangest species of merrymaking was the custom of masquerading, which was first introduced among the Italian Jews about the close of the fifteenth century under the influence of the Roman carnival. From Italy this custom spread over all countries where Jews lived, except perhaps the Orient (Steinschneider, l.c. p. 181; xlvii. 469, No. 9). The first among Jewish authors to mention this custom is Judah Minz (d. 1508 at Venice) in his Responsa, No. 17, quoted by Isserles on Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 696, 8. He expresses the opinion that, since the purpose of the masquerade is only merrymaking, it should not be considered a transgression of the Biblical law regarding dress. Although some rigorous authorities issued prohibitions against this custom (comp. Isaiah Horowitz, "Shene Luḥot ha-Berit," 261b, Amsterdam, 1653), the people did not heed them, and the more lenient view prevailed (comp. Isserles, l.c., and Lampronti, l.c.). The custom still obtains among the Orthodox Jews of the eastern parts of Europe. Boys and girls walk from house to house in grotesque masks and indulge in all kinds of jollity. As a rule, they sing some comic doggerel, e.g., "heut' is Purim, morgen is aus, gebt mir a Kreuzer, und werft mich hinaus"; and theyare often given a few coins (comp. Steinschneider, l.c. xlvi. 176, 182).

Songs.

Purim songs have even been introduced into the synagogue. For the children's sake certain verses from the Book of Esther have been sung in chorus on Purim (Abrahams, l.c. p. 33).

Boisterousness in the Synagogue.

Indeed, Purim was an occasion on which much joyous license was permitted even within the walls of the synagogue itself. As such may be reckoned the boisterous hissing, stamping, and rattling, during the public service, at the mention of Haman or his sons, as well as the whistling at the mention of Mordecai by the reader of the Megillah. This practise traces its origin to French and German rabbis of the thirteenth century, who, in accordance with a passage in the Midrash, where the verse "Thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek" (Deut. xxv. 19) is explained to mean "even from wood and stones," introduced the custom of writing the name of Haman, the offspring of Amalek, on two smooth stones and of knocking or rubbing them constantly until the name was blotted out. Ultimately, however, the stones fell into disuse, the knocking alone remaining (Abudarham, l.c.; Brück, l.c.; see, however, Löw,"Lebensalter," p. 297, also p. 291, No. 10). Some wrote the name of Haman on the soles of their shoes, and at the mention of the name stamped with their feet as a sign of contempt; others used for the same purpose a rattle—called "gregar" (= Polish, "grzégarz"), and producing much noise—a custom which is still observed by the Russo-Polish Jews. Some of the rabbis protested against these uproarious excesses, considering them a sinful disturbance of public worship (comp., for example, Isaiah Horowitz, l.c. pp. 260a, 261a, below), but often in vain (see Brück, l.c., and Zunz, "Ritus," P. 69).

Burning of Haman's Effigy.

Outside the synagogue the pranks indulged in on Purim by both children and adults have been carried even to a greater extreme. Some of them date from the Talmudic period (see, e.g., the tale in Meg. 7b; Sanh. 64b and Rashi ad loc.; comp. also "'Aruk," s.v. (image) and Abudarham, l.c.). As early as the fifth century (see Schudt, l.c. ii. 309), and especially in the geonic period (9th and 10th cent.), it was a custom to burn Haman in effigy on Purim. This is described in the "'Arnk" (l.c.) as follows: "Four or five days before Purim the young men make an effigy of Haman and hang it on the roof. On Purim itself they make a bonfire into which they cast the effigy while they stand around joking and singing, at the same time holding a ring above the fire and waving it from side to side through the fire" (see Ginzberg in "J. Q. R." xvi. 650; Abudarham, l.c.; Brück, l.c.). In Italy the Jewish children used to range themselves in rows, and pelt one another with nuts; while the adults rode through the streets with fir-branches in their hands, shouted, or blew trumpets round a doll representing Haman and which was finally burned with due solemnity at the stake (Abrahams, l.c. p. 260; and especially Güdemann, "Gesch." p. 211, Vienna, 1884). In Frankfort-on-the-Main it was customary to make a house of wax wherein the figures of Haman and his executioner, also of wax, were placed side by side. The whole was then put on the almemar, where stood also the wax figures of Zeresh, the wife of Haman, and two guards—one to her right and the other to her left—all attired in a flimsy manner, and with pipes in their mouths. As soon as the reader began to read the Megillah the house with all its occupants was set on fire to the enjoyment of the spectators (comp. Schudt, l.c. ii. 309; S. Cassel, "Juden," in Ersch and Gruber, "Encyc." section ii., part 27, pp. 78 et seq.).

It must be mentioned here that these customs often aroused the wrath of Christians, who interpreted them as a disguised attempt to ridicule Jesus and the cross and issued prohibitions against them; e.g., under the reign of Honorius (395-423) and of Theodosius II. (408-450; comp. Schudt, l.c. ii. 309, 317, and Cassel, l.c.). Moreover, the Rabbis themselves, to avoid danger, tried to abolish the obnoxious customs, often even calling the magistracy to their aid, as in London in 1783 (see Mahamad).

Fasting Before and After Purim.

Finally, it must be stated that the Fast of Esther, celebrated before Purim, on the 13th of Adar, is not an original part of the latter, nor was it later instituted "in commemoration of the fasting of Esther, Mordecai, and the people" (Hastings, "Dict. Bible, " i. 854, col. 2), since this fasting fell, according to rabbinical tradition, in the month of Nisan and lasted three days. The first who mentions it is R. Aḥa of Shabḥa (8th cent.) in "She'eltot," iv.; and the reason there given for its institution is based on an arbitrary interpretation of Esth. ix. 18 and Meg. 2a, "The 13th was the time of gathering," which gathering is explained to have had also the purpose of public prayer and fasting (comp. Asheri on Meg. i., beginning; Abudarham, l.c. p. 94; Brück, l.c. pp. 56 et seq.; and Berliner, in "Kaufmann Gedenkbuch," p. 270, Breslau, 1900). Some, however, used to fast three days in commemoration of the fasting of Esther; but as fasting was prohibited during the month of Nisan (see Soferim xxi. 2) the first and second Mondays and the Thursday following Purim were chosen (ib. xvii. 4, xxi. 1; Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 686, 3). The fast on the 13th is still commonly observed; but when that date falls on a Sabbath the fast is put back to Thursday, Friday being needed to prepare for the Sabbath and the following Purim festival (Abudarham, l.c. p. 94b; Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 686).

Purim Ḳaṭan.

In leap-years Purim is celebrated in the second Adar, but by the Karaites in the first; the respective days of the first Adar being then called "Purim Ḳaṭan" (Little Purim), for which there have been set forth certain observances similar to those for Purim proper, with the exception of reading the Megillah, sending gifts to the poor, and fasting on the 13th of the month. The distinctions between the first and the second Purim in leap-years are mentioned in the Mishnah (Meg. i. 46b; comp. Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 697).

Bibliography

  • Abrahams, Jewish Life in the Middle Ages, Index, s.v. Purim;
  • Berliner, Aus dem Leben der Deutschen Juden im Mittelalter, p. 32. Berlin, 1900;
  • M. Brück, Pharisäische Volkssitten, pp. 56, 156, Frankfort-on-the-Main;
  • Cheyne and Black, Encyc. Bibl. s.v. Esther and Purim;
  • Grätz, Gesch. iii. 171, viii. 35;
  • Epstein, in Kaufmann Gedenkbuch, pp. 313 et seq.;
  • Güdemann, Gesch., 1884, p. 211;
  • Hastings, Dict. Bible, s.v. Esther and Purim;
  • J. Q. R. xvi. 650 et seq.;
  • Leopold Löw, Die Lebensalter in der Jüdischen Literatur, pp. 291, 295 et seq., Szegedin, 1875;
  • Perles, in Grätz Jubelschrift, p. 35, Breslau, 1887;
  • Schudt, Jüdische Merkwlirdigkeiten, part ii., pp. 307-317, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1714;
  • Vogelstein and Rieger, Gesch. der Juden in Rom, i. 337 et seq.;
  • Steinschneider, Purim und Parodie, in Monatsschrift, xlvi.-xlviii.;
  • Zunz, Ritus, p. 56;

and the articles Esther; Fasting and Fast-Days; Mahamad.

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.

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