Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Note: Achashveros is also known as Xerxes.
Tonight begins the Jewish holiday of Purim. The story goes that during the time of Xerxes..think The 300 (the battle of Thermopylae), an evil man arose in the kingdom of Persia (Iran) called Haman.
Haman was a very important councilor to King Xerxes. Haman became infuriated as he felt that the Jewish merchant Mordecai did not honor him correctly. Haman prescribed to commit genocide against all the Jews of Persia as punishment to regain his honor.
Mordecai's niece, Esther, was married to Xerxes. Upon learning of the plot Mordecai implored Esther to intervene with her husband to stop the slaughter. Esther spent the day before Purim (today) fasting and asking for God's help. She later went to Xerxes and told him of Haman's plot. Xerxes in turn became so enraged at Haman that not only did he prevent the slaughter of the Jewish people he executed Haman.
So the Jews celebrate the holiday of Purim every year to remember once again how we came a hair's breath away from annihilation yet somehow triumphed.
The holiday is characterized by eating hamantaschen, a special three-cornered cookie with all kinds of fillings, making lots and lots of noise at the mention of Haman's name and dressing up in costume. We eat sweets becasue it is a joyous celebration. We make noise at the mention of Haman's name so that history drowns out such evil. The reason we wear costumes is not to scare away the evil (as with Halloween), but to remind ourselves that no matter what we do, no matter where we go, just because we do not see or take notice of God's presence, does not mean He is not there. God is the hidden miracle of Purim, as who we are is hidden behind the costumes.
Meanwhile, I have written two past posts about the meaning of Purim here and here and of course how it all relates to the boys and autism.
Also, just as an aside...for anyone who thinks that today's issues have no root historical cause, guess again. Plus ca change, plus ca la meme chose. To some it makes no sense. But believe me, it all fits perfectly into the historical context.
For those who celebrate, happy Purim....or as we say in Hebrew....Purim Sameach.
Until next time,