By Uri Lampoon
When is Purim?
This year, 2007, Purim starts on Saturday night, the 3rd
of March and continues through Sunday, the 4th of March untill night time. In
certain cities that have an ancient tradition of being enclosed
with a wall, such as Jerusalem, Purim celebration begins on Sunday
night, the 4th of March and continues untill nightfall Monday the 5th of March. The fast of Esther is pushed ahead to the week before Purim, (since the day before Purim is the Shabbat) to Thursday, the 1st of March. The fast is from sunrise to sunset only. Anyone who is in ill health or suffers pain from the fast may eat.
What are the basic things to do on Purim?
There are four basic thing to do on Purim and they begin with
|Megilah||The book of Esther
||The book of Esther is read twice, once in the evening and again in the morning.
|Mishloah Maanot||Sending food to our friends
||We send two different potions of food to our friends
|Matanot Le'evyonim||Giving money to poor persons
||We give charity to needy people|
|Mishteh||Having a good drinking party
||We have a festive meal during the day, replete with great wine!
When is the Fast of Esther?
Normally it is the day before Purim. This year, 2007, since Purim starts on Saturday night and we can not fast on the Shabbat and we do not fast on Friday since it would take away from the joy of the Shabbat, it is pushed ahead to Thursday, March 1st 2007, begining at sunrise and ending at sunset. Check your papers for local times or ask at the local synagogue.
Does everyone have to fast?
Yes, but if you have difficulties fasting and experience pain, you may break your fast. Pregnant and nursing mothers do not fast as well as children who may begin to fast buy are not to complete it.
When is the Megillah read?
The Megillah is first read on the night of Purim and then read a second time on the day of Purim. You should contact your local synagogue for reading times. Remember that most cities start Purim on Saturday night, but there are exceptions, like Jerusalem, where the reading begins on Sunday night.
Do people dress up in costumes on Purim?
Children have the custom to wear costumes and many drunken men
seem to have taken hold of this custom also. The custom began in Shushan the ancient capitol of Persia when the Jews found favor with King Achasveous and were given permission to liquidate their enemies, many non-Jews dressed up like Jews,therefore it is customary to wear costumes on Purim.
What exactly is the portions of food (Mishloach Manot)
to be sent to my friends?
You can send anything that is edible with out preparation. There
should be two different types of foods. As an example: a bottle
of wine and cake, or a can of sardines and a bag of popcorn. Even though asprin and alkaselzer are a welcome relief, they do not qualify as two portions of food, since they are not food.
purpose is to spread the simcha (happiness). The minimum
is two items to one friend, but many people try to send many
food items to many of their friends.
What about giving charity?
Giving charity is considered a really big thing. How can we sit
down to have a great time if some person is suffering because
of financial straits and can not enjoy a good meal? The minimum is to give money to two needy persons. The more you give, the more praiseworthy you are. On Purim,
we give to whom ever asks for money, hence the custom of Purim
gelt (money) for children.
How is the meal to be conducted?
Invite over your family and friends. Prepare a scrumptious meal.
Don't be embarrassed to ask your guests to bring over a salad or
cake. Have plenty of wine on hand. Make sure you invite everyone that you can think of. Call me up or send me an e-mail and invite me to your feastive meal, too! How could you have such a nice meal and not invite a nice person like me??
When should the meal take place?
The meal is on Purim day. Even if you ate and drank like a truly rightgeous person Purim night, you are required to have another meal by day. Many have the custom to have it in the afternoon since the morning is generally busy with reading the Megillah, sending food portions, and giving charity to needy people.
Is it true that we are to get drunk
Yup! Unless drinking is difficult for you or if you may do some unworthy act.
May one drink other alcoholic beverages besides wine?
Yes, however, wine is the best, since the miracle of Purim came though drinking
wine. Some people refer other drinks such as beer, vodka, whiskey
How much are we to drink on Purim?
We are to drink until we do not know the difference between "Blessed
is Mordachai" and "Cursed is Haman". Of course,
if you don't know the difference then you should not begin to
drink! So the first thing to do is to read the Megilah and know a bit about Mordachai and Haman!
from the February 2007 Edition of the Jewish Magazine