Ken and Flora Wilsker
We want to wish you all a very joyful and blessed Purim. In this abbreviated edition, we will give a brief description of Purim and its significance for Jews, Catholics, and all believers alike.
Purim begins on the eve of Saturday, March 15. Purim is a celebration of God’s deliverance and his covenantal faithfulness to his people.
Purim literally means the “Feast of Lots”. Let us explain: Around 450 BC, the events of Purim take place and are recorded in the Book of Esther (Hadassah in Hebrew).
The King of Persia was Achashveros or Xerxes during this time. He conquered the Babylonians, and among the many cultural groups in his Kingdom was a sizable Jewish community. Under the previous Persian leaders, the Jewish community enjoyed some favor, and the community assimilated into their new home. However, under King Achashveros, things changed quickly for the worse.
The prime instigator of this attitude was a government official by the name of Haman (boo!). Haman insisted that all the other servants in the Kingdom bow to him. Among the King’s servants was a Jew by the name of Mordechai (Mordy). In years past, Mordecai uncovered a plot to kill the King, so he enjoyed some favor in the Kingdom. Mordechai (Yay!) would not bow to Haman because, being a Jew, this would be considered idolatry.
Because of Mordecai’s refusal to bow, Haman was filled with rage. He was determined to do away with all the Jews. He devised an evil plot to set the exact time of the extermination of the Jews, so he cast “Lots” (Pur in Hebrew, or the plural is Purim) to set that time to kill all the Jews on a single day. The day that was cast was the 13th of Adar.
Mordecai and his people turned to prayer and fasting. This is when a plan came together to save his people. A beautiful Jewish maiden named Esther had earlier won a beauty contest and was proclaimed “Miss Shushan”, and she was appointed Queen of Persia. Mordechai, her Uncle (Uncle Mordy), suddenly could see this great coincidence as a way for the Jewish Queen to help. Uncle Mordy challenged Esther with these words as recorded in Scripture:
“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house, you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the Kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14)
Esther approached the king pondering this dilemma and requested that the King and Haman be present at a banquet that evening. It turned out that the night before, the King was restless and decided to read his court records (this would surely put him to sleep? ha), and he reread the account of Mordechai uncovering the plot to kill the King. Now he wanted to honor Mordechai at the banquet. During the banquet, Queen Esther exposed the evil plot to which the King promptly responded by hanging Haman (boo) on the same gallows that Haman had built to hang Mordechai (YAY). Ah, poetic justice!
Now with Haman executed, the King faced a legal dilemma. He could not break his law, but he could make a new law so that while the Jewish community could be open to attack, they could now defend themselves. The Jews did successfully repel the attacks. The very day that was meant for the destruction of the Jewish community turned out to be a great deliverance and victory filled with joy!
Traditional observance starts with a fast the day before to remember the somberness of this event. Then there is a time of great rejoicing. Another tradition is to send portions of food to our neighbors and gifts to the poor. (This could be a perfect time to give a few shekels to the AHC?)
Of course, any self-respecting Jewish holiday would not be without some kind of food! Special cookies, called Hamantashen, are eaten. These are 3-cornered cookies filled with apricot or prune. The 3 corners remind us of Haman’s (Boo) ears. Since Purim begins this year on the Lord’s Day (liturgically it starts on Saturday evening) when fasting is suspended, we can partake in the joy of enjoying just a few of these delicious treats.
The Book of Esther is read in Synagogue and every time Haman’s name is mentioned, there is a big BOO, and noisemakers called groggers are sounded. When Mordechai’s name is mentioned, great cheers (YAY) of rejoicing are sounded.
Purim is a great reminder of God’s plan for his world, how that plan will be implemented through the coming of the Messiah, and ultimately of his second coming!
The main lesson for all of us is the witness of God’s faithfulness to his covenant and his covenant people. In Genesis 12:3, we find that part of the promise to Abraham is divine protection. “I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you”.
God will always be faithful to his promises of protection for his chosen people as St. Paul writes in Romans 11:29: “Gods gifts and calling are irrevocable”. This also extends to all believers and His Church.
Lastly, we learn that it is the responsibility of all of us to accomplish God’s will. We all have a responsibility to act if the will of God is to be accomplished. God desires to use us who are available in the Church. We all have been placed in the “Kingdom” for such a time as this!
Ken and Flora Wilsker
P.S. Be sure to send us stories and pictures of your celebrations of Passover and Easter for the next edition of the AHC Havurah Newsletter. We would love to hear from all of you. You continue in our prayers as always.
We have over 120 people registered to attend the Passover Seder in the Light of Christ presentation with Roy Schoeman here in Louisville, KY USA. Let’s pray for the conversion of souls during this Passover/Easter season!
We ask for the intercession of Mother Miriam and St. Edith Stein and deliverance through our Messiah Yeshua!