March 16, 2014, - 8:21 am

Purim 2014: To My Friends & Readers . . .

By Debbie Schlussel

Today is the Jewish holiday of Purim, which began yesterday evening. To all my Jewish friends and readers, I wish you a Happy Purim. To all my non-Jewish readers, as I note each year, Purim is kind of like a mix of the Jewish version of St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween, but a whole lot more spiritual and meaningful, as it marks how G-d through Queen Esther and her uncle, Mordechai, saved the Jewish people from destruction at the hands of Xerxes I, who at the time was essentially the king of the universe ruling over 100 kingdoms and lands. Xerxes (Achashverosh, in Hebrew), a foolish king, took the advice of his evil, anti-Semitic advisor, Haman, and signed a decree for destruction, which was eventually overcome when Esther let her husband, Xerxes, know she was a Jew and beseeched him to stop the destruction. Yes, it is the same Xerxes depicted in the “300” movies (though I beg to differ with that fictional depiction).

WWII Jewish Welfare Board Purim Postcard Sent Home By U.S. Soldiers

In the past, I’ve posted the Purim postcard, below, from a Jewish U.S. soldier observing the holiday while fighting in World War I. Many U.S. soldiers fighting with the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe sent that home. This year, I post the first one, above, from a Jewish U.S. soldier celebrating Purim during World War II. The JWB symbol stands for Jewish Welfare Board, a Jewish organization that helped American soldiers of all faiths, providing them stationery, postcards, shaving kits, games, meals and drinks, etc. Many Jewish U.S. soldiers sent postcards like the one above home during the war. (You won’t see any Ramadan or Eid Al-Fitr postcards like this from World War II. Muslims didn’t fight most of our wars, and don’t have this long history that Jewish Americans do of fighting for the U.S. in every American war, including the Revolutionary War.)

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purimworldwaria

WWI Jewish Welfare Board Purim Postcard Sent Home By U.S. Soldiers

As I note each year, I love the holiday because it’s got everything that’s politically incorrect, from a worldwide beauty pageant Xerxes holds to find his wife, to the reported back story that Xerxes beheaded–and definitely dumped–his first wife, Vashti, because she wouldn’t come to his party to exhibit her beauty to the men in attendance. The King was advised to do something about it because otherwise, his advisors told him, wives throughout his vast kingdom would disobey their husbands as Queen Vashti did. There’s also Zeresh, the shrewish, henpecking wife of the villain Haman. I imagine her to be something like Hillary Clinton.







And there are a lot of other great things about the holiday and the story behind it that are so fascinating, including many parallels to today: a foolish but powerful king who then was Xerxes, but today is Obama; and a sworn enemy of the Jewish people whose descendants are the Muslims we face today. Sadly, there’s a dearth of Esthers or Mordechais and too many Islamo-pandering masses of my fellow co-religionist Jews who would have sold Esther and Mordechai down the river to get a smile from Haman.

On Purim, we hear the Scroll of Esther read twice and use noisemakers whenever Haman’s name is read. We also eat hamantaschen or ozney haman–triangular pastries with fruit and/or other fillings (like chocolate), meant to represent the pointy, creepy ears of Haman. And no, contrary to Islamic allegations, we don’t use non-Jewish blood to make them. And it’s a commandment to give money/gifts to poor people, as well as gift baskets or bags with at least two ready to eat foods in them. Finally, there is the commandment to eat a big meal. On the holiday, we are supposed to get so drunk that we cannot tell the difference between the hero, Mordechai, and the villain, Haman, but few people actually partake in that because of obvious health, behavioral, and driving reasons. It is a holiday of joy, happiness, and celebration that the Jewish people survived a decree of certain destruction.

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Purim Hamantashen Pastry, Queen Esther, Tomb of Mordechai/Esther

Here’s my Debbie’s Notes version of the Purim story, from a previous post on Purim:

King Xerxes I, in the 5th Century B.C., was King of Persia, though he ruled most of the world, as his kingdom consisted of 127 states and provinces. He had a beautiful wife, Vashti, who refused to show up to his big, boozed-up party with the Kingdom’s men. He wanted to show her off, but she didn’t want to leave her own party.

He was advised that he should get rid of her (some say she was beheaded), or else all of the wives throughout his kingdom would take it as an example not to obey their husbands. So, Xerxes gets rid of her and held a giant beauty pageant throughout his entire kingdom (the first Miss Universe pageant). Eventually, he chose the the beautiful, Jewish Esther as his queen. Esther hid her Judaism from the king and her uncle, Mordechai, once overheard a plot to kill the king, which he exposed. For that, he was honored by the King.

Haman, the king’s trusted advisor, hated Mordechai because he would not bow down to Haman (he would only bow down to G-d). Haman was henpecked by his ambitious wife, Zeresh, who was kind of like Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi. And he had ten sons who were equally pushy.

Soon, Mordechai found out that Haman wanted to annihilate the entire Jewish population of the world (and hang Mordechai), and he got King Xerxes to sign a decree ordering that. The Jews fasted and mourned over their impending destruction, and Mordechai beseeched Esther to appeal to the King to save the Jews.

One night, Esther approached the King (against protocol because only the King could summon the queen, not vice versa–and she could have been beheaded for this; it wasn’t exactly the days of Hillary Clinton wearing the pants). She invited him to a dinner, where she told him that she was Jewish and of the plans to annihilate her people. King Xerxes was angry when he learned of this and had Haman hung on the gallows prepared for Mordechai. He also agreed to try to stop this and arm the Jewish people so they could respond to the decree for their destruction and live.

The holiday is called Purim because Haman literally conducted a lottery to decide in which month to mass murder the Jews.

And the story is absolutely true. While some wish to believe it isn’t, the tombs of Queen Esther and her uncle, Mordechai, are tourist sites marketed by the Ahmadinejad government in modern day Hamadan, Iran (pictured above; Esther is called “Khashayarsh,” there). Yup, gotta love those Iranians–they wanna destroy the Jews just like Haman did, but they continue to use our history to make a buck.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. That’s why we gotta remember our history, lest we repeat it. Attention, Obama-voting Jews . . . .

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34 Responses

OH, Debbie! Nooooo! It is not anything like Halloween. It is actually against the halacha to dress up. I don’t know why the European Rabbis ever allowed it. It is ABSOLUTELY forbidden to CROSS dress, even for children. And NO, we are not supposed to get stinking drunk. We are to be slightly tipsy on hard liquor but not to the point we disgrace the Jewish people, ourselves or commit sins of depravity we ordinarily wouldn’t consider. The RABBINIC commandment to get drunk enough to not be able to distinguish between Mordechai and Haman has been interpreted simplistically and used as an excuse to have our version of Mardi Gras.

You don’t notice it there because of all the spiritual filth around you anyway, but this is not a fun day. I feel a real spiritual heaviness because of the way it’s been perverted here. I HATE it, absolutely HATE this day.

This is supposed to be a day we rejoice in Hashem’s miracles and love for the Jewish people. This is truly the festival of our Eternal Survival but what do we do? We spit in God’s face by acting like the worst of the Gentiles and imitating their debaucheries.

Take off the glad rags and makeup/masks and go listen to the Megilla being read. Then fall on your face and thank Hashem that despite Inquisitions, Holocausts Wars to obliterate us, corrupt politicians and smaller pogroms, we are still here.

Meira on March 16, 2014 at 8:49 am

Oh, yeah! SOBER UP!!!!!!!!

Meira on March 16, 2014 at 8:50 am

Okay, here is the rest of the story in the Magillah that most Jews don’t learn.

The King, in addition to hanging Haman, “gave permission” (probably mean gave weapons) to the Jews to defend themselves, as the message not to kill the Jews did not reach every corner of the Kingdom. The Jews killed 170,000 of their enemies who followed Haman.

Haman was actually making a power play on the king, and the king, through Esther, realized it. As much as Haman hated the Jews, this was a power grab by Haman.

Jonathan E. Grant on March 16, 2014 at 9:27 am

    That’s right, Jon because any decree of the king could not be annulled, even by the king so to nullify the decree to kill the Jews, he had to sign one permitting a preemptive strike.

    Meira on March 16, 2014 at 1:35 pm

thanks, all, delightful, the whole megillah is still playing out…going downstairs to dust off my gregor.

HK on March 16, 2014 at 9:43 am

My favorite part of the story has always been that Haman hung from the very gallows he had build to hang an innocent man.
The message being that the tools built by our enemies may actually be the thing that is used to destroy them.
In modern vernacular “paybacks are a bitch”.

I look at all of the total lawlessness that Obama and the Democrats are doing.
Obama just changing laws at his whim in total violation the Constitution. I hope and pray that the precedence he has started comes back to destroy the Democrats when Republicans are back in charge.

Steve G. on March 16, 2014 at 9:50 am

    To Steve G:

    Amen to your posted comment.

    commonsense on March 16, 2014 at 11:37 am

Thanks for the story, Debbie. I know very little about Jewish heritage. Now I know just a little bit more. However, I do like the depiction of Xerxes in ‘300’ as a HUGE fag! Have a nice holiday.

Pray Hard on March 16, 2014 at 10:03 am

Xerxes was involved in 2 critical points in history. His marriage to Esther eventually helped preserve the Jews and his army’s loss at Thermopylae helped preserve the future of the West.

Concerned Citizen on March 16, 2014 at 11:19 am

Blessed Purim to you, Debbie.

Kevin Sherlock

Kevin Sherlock on March 16, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Debbie, for such a time as this ..

Blessings

Jack on March 16, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Happy Purim to Debbie, the Jewish readers, and to any other readers here on this site who celebrates the holiday.

JeffE on March 16, 2014 at 1:44 pm

My atheism notwithstanding, I wish you and yours a Chag Sameach. I see Purim as a celebration against corruption and greed and as a testimony of a people that refused to back down and die.

Have a drink for me, eh?

The Reverend Jacques on March 16, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Unfortunately, though, the Politically Correct crowd does not like the politically incorrect aspect of Purim. For the last few decades, the PCers have been trying to transform or obliterate American holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, Columbus Day, etc. The Jewish Holidays are not exempt from this effort.

Many know what they have been doing to Passover — Freedom Seders,etc., and Purim is also in their sights now. They are now trying to transform Purim into a festival against genocide. Whose genocide? Certainly not the Jews;.

No, they are thinking of illegal aliens, oops, I mean Mexican Nationals, Palestinians, and so on. Hopefully they will be less successful than they have been against Americans.

Little Al on March 16, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Chag Purim Sameach Debbie and everybody

Frankz on March 16, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Thank you for sharing this with us Gentiles, Debbie. Very much appreciated! God bless!

Navymom on March 16, 2014 at 8:29 pm

?? ????? ???

Thiago Rey on March 16, 2014 at 9:33 pm

Hag Purim Sameaj !

Thiago Rey on March 16, 2014 at 9:34 pm

Happy Purim. I am christian but know and love the story about Queen Esther!

Alley on March 17, 2014 at 1:50 am

O/T but here’s an update on the plane. Of course, the “rationalists” want to believe it crashed and any other theory is a wild imagination but this does support the piracy theory. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/malaysia-pilot-t-shirt-fuels-talk-hijacked-flight-article-1.1723724

Meira on March 17, 2014 at 5:32 am

It’s sickening to see people celebrate the pre-emptive killing of Persians.

John Smith on March 17, 2014 at 9:56 am

    You’re wrong and you’re an idiot: http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/165094/reading-megillah-in-tehran

    What? When the king decreed that ALL Jews be slaughtered we were supposed to sit back and take it?

    FYI, we are not celebrating the slaughter of Persians, even tho they were obligated to slaughter us or be killed anyway, we are celebrating the downfall of Haman and his 10 evil sons and the deliverance that God provided for us.

    I will say this, however, John, the sort of “celebration” Debbie describes is directly responsible for your feelings and I actually understand that. Costumes, especially the sort one finds at Mardi Gras, getting plastered and other debauched behavior are an abomination. It certainly does look like pagans prancing around the bonfires as they sacrifice their enemies and drink their blood. This will anger some people here but too bad; Sefaradim reject this behavior for the most part if they have a modicum of religious observance. At most they may let the kids dress up in “nice” costume, not the demonic stuff.

    The PROPER was to “celebrate” is to go to the synagogue in normal clothing, in the evening, listen to the Book of Esther being read and then do the same the next day. We are supposed to have a feast, not an ordinary meal and we also have special prayers of thanksgiving we say.

    IT IS NOT HALLOWEEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Meira on March 17, 2014 at 11:53 am

The fact that Jews are celebrating the killing of thousands of Persians shows they are the eternal enemy of Iran.

John Smith on March 17, 2014 at 9:57 am

    So John Smith are you saying you would welcome a people and nation sworn to kill you ???

    HK on March 17, 2014 at 11:53 am

    BTW its easy to be a sworn enemy of your sworn enemy (that is the world’s loudest screamer of your destruction)

    HK on March 17, 2014 at 11:58 am

The home-church Bible study group I attend celebrated Purim. The group’s goal is to study the Bible within the context of its Jewish roots.

Our daughter and I had the flu, so we had to miss it. But I’ve loved the story of Esther since I was a little girl, even though I had very little religious guidance at that time. My parents tried joining our local Methodist church for about two or three years. Then they suddenly quit. We did have, however, a collection of very colorfully illustrated Bible stories for children in our home.

As I read the book about Esther back then, I remember being chilled to the bone and thinking, “Why does he want to kill all of those people?”

Stranger still–to add to my early experiences–was the fact that my mom baked hamantashen in the springtime. So did both of my grandmothers. I was told they were Haman’s hat. And we sang the “My hat, it has three corners” song. I can still sing it in German. The ‘big, dry saltines’ began to appear, too. We either snacked on them or they were put in recipes and soups.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I began to question my mom about some of these things. Like, why do boxes of matzo mysteriously appear in the house in the Spring? “Because I like them,” she’d say. She tries to avoid my questions and insists we are not Jewish. I suspect otherwise. When I ask why we did other things like light a menorah around Christmastime, she says things like it was ‘pretty’ or ‘interesting.’

Oh, I’m interested alright!

I’ve collected my own few things: menorahs, Jewish cookbooks, candlesticks, Siddur, mezuzahs.

Makes me think it would be very difficult for the ‘Hamans’ of this world to round up all the Jewish people today. They, or maybe I can say ‘we,’ may be impossible to find?

Aurora on March 17, 2014 at 10:15 am

    HI Aurora, Of course you’re Jewish, with that background but it’s obvious why your mom would be scared to admit it. My old in-laws were from Germany and they passed themselves off as German immigrants for years but privately acknowledged they were Jews. Actually, in the NY area they did all the time. It was only when they moved South they hid it. My MIL was naturally blond so easy to do. Don’t distress your Mom with this but seek out your own information and do what you need to do. There are organizations that help “lost” Jews reconnect. Start googling.

    Meira on March 17, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Aurora…have you ever sought the reason foryour pu’s denying the history of your ethnicity? shame ? fear ? …

    HK on March 17, 2014 at 1:31 pm

BTW, as an small note– the megillah states that Esther (Hadassah) was the daughter of Mordechai’s Uncle– which sounds to me like she was his COUSIN, albeit much younger, hence, when her parents died he could adopt and raise her as his child. As for attacking Persions, John Doe Smith Jones whatever– the “Persions” were poised to EXTERMINATE the Jews, and the Jews were given the “right” by the king to DEFEND THEMSELVES AND FIGHT BACK. You should actually try reading the megillah in a correct translation, not by picking up some Jew hating BS on Vanguard or Stormfront web sites. “8:11 Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them”

Phreak on March 17, 2014 at 2:11 pm

What happened to my reply to John Smith? The one in which I called him an idiot for spewing what he did and asking if we were supposed to just sit there and take it? But I did also allude to the fact that maybe Jews turning Purim into a Jewish version of carnival, and yes, I’m sorry you don’t like it but it IS the Ashkenazim who did that, is what gives people like John the idea that we cavort amidst the dead bodies celebrating slaughter as the pagans did because Halloween definitely has that connotation as does Carnival which was the time the Church’s pogroms against non-believers hit their peak.

Meira on March 17, 2014 at 5:55 pm

“On the holiday, we are supposed to get so drunk that we cannot tell the difference between the hero, Mordechai, and the villain, Haman…”

Hi Debbie, Beautiful write-up (as usual)on Purim. Just one minor point about a common misstatement (also in comments): The above quotation is somewhat incorrect. Jews are supposed to get drunk so they can’t tell the difference between “BLESSED is Mordechai and CURSED is Haman”, i.e., between Blessed is the good and Cursed is the evil. They’re two sides of the same coin, like the positive and negative commandments. God forbid one couldn’t tell the difference between Mordechai and Haman—that’s a psycho, not a drunk.

Vic on March 19, 2014 at 5:17 pm

Happy Purim to you, as a Christian I have read this O.T. narrative, and believe that it has worth.

Sadly in our world it seems every couple centuries Satan (and God allows, but does not wish) tyrants to come to power that try to genocide the Jewish people.

Really it makes me remember the history told of the more recent suffering of the Jewish people under Nazism and Communism.

God Bless!

J Sallee on March 22, 2014 at 1:07 am

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