Rabbi Dovid Saks
529 Wyoming Ave.
Scranton, PA 18509
108 N. Abington Rd.
Clarks Summit, PA 18411
"This is what is done to the man whom the king wishes to honor." The king then ordered Haman to do all that he described for Mordechai the Jew.
Haman did exactly what he was commanded to do. He returned home totally humiliated. He was then called to the party that Esther had prepared for him and the king. At the party the king pressed Esther to reveal her request. Esther then took the opportunity to reveal her Jewish identity and pleaded on behalf of her people who were faced with the threat of annihilation. The king was furious. He asked her who was behind such a plan. She replied. "Haman the wicked". The king ordered Haman to be hanged on the same gallows that Haman had originally prepared for Mordechai.
Mordechai’s Rise to Power
The king gave all the power and prestige of Haman to Mordechai. Mordechai and Esther pleaded with the king to annul the original decree that called for the annihilation of the Jewish people. The king did not annul the first decree, but issued a counter edict giving the Jews the right to defend themselves. On the 14th and 15th of Adar the Jewish people successfully defended themselves and won a great victory over their opponents. Darius, the son of Esther and Achashvairosh, later became king and granted the Jews permission to rebuild the holy Temple of Jerusalem.
The Celebration of Purim
Purim is a joyous Holiday because of the great miracles that occurred. Our Rabbis therefore instituted the Holiday of Purim on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar, the day that the Jews celebrated their victory.
- Listening to the Megilla, read from a scroll (by night and by day).
- The prayer of "Al Hanissim" is added to our prayers and Grace after Meals.
- Sending varieties of food to one another (by day).
- Giving charity to the needy (by day).
- Having a festive meal, at which one traditionally partakes in some wine in the spirit of the holiday (by day). This all serves to strengthen the sense of caring, friendship and unity between fellow Jews.
The Megilla is read following the conclusion of Shabbat on Saturday night, February 23rd, and once again Sunday February 24th, during the day. All are obligated to hear the Megilla reading. It is customary to make noise whenever Haman's name is mentioned in the Megilla, as a symbol of our derision of him.
The Fast of Esther – Thursday February 21st
We recall how Esther instructed Mordechai to gather the Jews and have them pray and fast for three days (Esther fasted as well) so that she would be successful in her mission of approaching the king - uninvited, in order that he annul the decree of genocide against the Jews. We fast on the 13th of Adar, the date that was originally set by Haman to wipe out the Jews.
The Fast of Esther is normally observed on the 13th day of Adar. This year the 13th falls on the Shabbat and fasting is inappropriate to be observed on the festive day of Shabbos (Aside for Yom Kippur).. The fast is observed on the preceding Thursday, February 21st. The fast begins Thursday morning at 5:37 a.m. and ends at 6:26 p.m. (times calculated for the Scranton and Abington areas)
Purim - means lots, referring to the lots that Haman drew.
Hamantashen - symbol of the three cornered hats that Haman and his militia used to wear.
Masquerade - the miracle of Purim came in a hidden way. Wearing of masks or getting dressed up is symbolic of the hidden miracles.
Mordechai and Esther
Incidentally, the tomb of Mordechai and Esther is located in the northwestern Iranian city of Hamadan, which is about 335 kilometers west of Tehran. According to tradition, Hamadan is believed to be the site of the city of Shushan, which played such a central role in the events described in the Book of Esther. The tomb is under official Iranian government protection and responsibility.
When things began to turn in favor of the Jews, the Megilla states, “The Jews had light and gladness, and joy and splendor.” Our sages in the Talmud explain that each adjective in the verse refers to a particular Mitzvah to which the Jews devoted themselves more passionately during the episode of Purim. “Light is a reference to the study of Torah. Gladness refers to the holidays. Joy refers to circumcision. Splendor refers to Tefillin.”