Thursday, March 8 corresponds with the 14th of Adar, which means it is time to celebrate Purim! Purim is told in the Book of Esther. The heroes of the story are Esther, a beautiful young Jewish woman living in Persia, and her cousin Mordecai, who raised her as if she were his daughter. Esther was taken to the house of Ahasuerus, King of Persia, to become part of his harem. King Ahasuerus loved Esther more than his other women and made Esther queen, but the king did not know that Esther was a Jew because Mordecai told her not to reveal her identity.
The villain of the story is Haman, an arrogant, egotistical advisor to the king. Haman hated Mordecai because Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman, so Haman plotted to destroy the Jewish people. In a speech that is all too familiar to Jews, Haman told the king, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your realm. Their laws are different from those of every other people’s, and they do not observe the king’s laws; therefore it is not befitting the king to tolerate them.” Esther 3:8. The king gave the fate of the Jewish people to Haman to do as he pleased to them. Haman planned to exterminate all of the Jews.
Mordecai persuaded Esther to speak to the king on behalf of the Jewish people. This was a dangerous thing for Esther to do, because anyone who came to the king’s presence without being summoned could be put to death, and she had not been summoned. Esther fasted for three days to prepare herself, then went to the king. He welcomed her. She told him of Haman’s plot against her people. The Jewish people were saved, and Haman and his ten sons were hanged on the gallows that had been prepared for Mordecai.
The book of Esther is unusual in that it is the only book of the Bible that does not contain the name of G-d. In fact, it includes virtually no reference to G-d. Mordecai makes a vague reference to the fact that the Jews will be saved by someone else, if not by Esther, but that is the closest the book comes to mentioning G-d. Thus, one important message that can be gained from the story is that G-d often works in ways that are not apparent, in ways that appear to be chance, coincidence or ordinary good luck.
Today, we celebrate Purim by:
- Reading the Megillat Esther, the Scroll of Esther
- Sending Mishloach Manot , sending food to friends. These are typicall baskets filled with fruit, nuts and sweets
- Matanot L’evyonim, which means giving gifts to the poor and giving to those less fortunate then you are
- Enjoying a Purim Seuda, a meal
- Dressing in costumes of the characters in the story
- Baking and eating hamentaschen , which are special cookies that are shaped like Haman’s hat
Partly adapted from JewFAQ.org
Make your own hamentaschen!
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes
Ready in: 27 minutes
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 cup fruit preserves, any flavor
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until lightly and fluffy. Stir in the oil, vanilla and orange juice. Combine the flour and baking powder; stir into the batter to form stiff dough. If dough is not stiff enough to roll out, stir in more flour. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to 1/4 inch in thickness. Cut into circles using a cookie cutter or the rim or a drinking glass. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of preserves into the center of each one. Pinch the edges to form three corners.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Allow cookies to cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheet before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
Amount Per Serving Calories: 246 | Total Fat: 7.7g | Cholesterol: 26mg
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