Coming soon to your synagogue…
Megillat Esther, a satirical work "laced with allusions to the fact that Am Yisroel does not answer the Divine call during the Persian time period" to return to their Homeland after the 70-year exile predicted by the prophet Jeremiah and the resultant Divine punishment for their apathy. [Rabbi Menachem Leibtag]
Don't miss this popular story of life in the Persian Court of Shushan in the fourth (or fifth) century BCE!
Ponder the deeper meaning of this satirical tale filled with greed, emotion, irony, comedy and tragedy. It's a story as relevant today as it was when it happened.
Come to the Megillat Esther readings for excitement, noise and fun. An event voted by Jews 'round the world as the place to be on Purim eve and Purim morn.
Meet the cast of characters as they come to life:
KING ACHASHVEROSH (“IT’S GOOD TO BE KING") the seemingly foolish ruler of Persia who in fact is an anti-Semite. Fearing the Jews, their God and public opinion (how would it look for the King to order the murder of a sizable portion of his citizens?), his Royal Majesty devises a clever strategy that employs Haman to execute (pun intended) his dastardly plot. And, of course, it is ultimately Haman the Evil One that is hanged (alongside his 10 sons) and the King who comes out looking like the Good Guy.
HAMAN (a Persian name meaning “illustrious”) of Amalek (he wasn't even Persian but still went to the top) — the man who had it all but still wanted more! He was Chief Advisor to the King. He had wealth, honor, an excellent job and nachas from his ten kindah. But was that enough? Noooooo! He couldn't take it that one Jew (Mordechai) refused to bow down to, or even acknowledge, his presence. And, in the tradition of all anti-Semites, he decided on a punishment that "fit the crime" — killing every Jew because of his irritation with the one.
VASHTI the queen reputed to be of royal blood (unlike her husband the King who possibly was not) who both strikes a blow for Women's Rights and manages to embarrass the King when she refuses the King's request to appear at the Royal Palace stag party wearing her crown (and nothing else). Her independence backfires, she pays for it with her life and the King issues a Royal Proclamation making every husband King of his home.
MORDECHAI a good human being ("Ish Yehudi") who was also pious, scholarly and a member of the Sanhedrin (High Court). Though a man of few words, he finds the right ones to catalyze Queen Esther into action to save the Jews.
ESTHER the unassuming Jewish maiden destined to become Queen of an essentially pagan empire. In a dangerous and stressful situation (remember what happened to the King's first wife who spoke up?) she still manages to rise to the occasion and parties her way to save the Jews.
CHARVONA is the opportunistic leech who just happens to be present at Esther's party when the King finds Haman sprawled on Esther's bed and just happens to remind the King of a Hanging Tree that was originally meant for Mordechai that just happens to be available.
GOD appears nowhere but, in fact, is "Here, There, and Everywhere"(in the famous words of Uncle Moishy) as alluded to by the word Hamelech (The King) at the beginning of each column in the Megillah scroll.
Perspectives on the Megillah
Many think that King Achashverosh is King Xerxes I of Persia and that the Purim story occurred in about 474 BCE. (For historical perspective, the Second Temple was built about 516 BCE, some 42 years earlier.) Other scholars suggest that Achashverosh ruled immediately after King Koresh (Cyrus the Great) who allowed and encouraged the Jews of Persia to return to Yerushalayim and rebuild the Second Temple. This view places events in the Megillah in or about 519 BCE.
Uncertainty surrounds the questions of when the Megillah was written, and who its author is. Some maintain that Mordechai and Esther are the authors. Others claim that the Megillah was written well after the actual events occurred, at a time when the holiday of Purim already was widely observed. The author certainly was someone familiar with the language, culture and court intrigue of Persia. Although the Talmud states that the Megillah was written by the Anshei Knesset HaG'dolah (supreme council during the Second Temple), their influence lasted for many years, making it difficult to pinpoint an exact year.
The Megillah Plays Out Like A Comic Opera…
Parties and partying take up much of the story line—and are the cause of, and resolution of, the Jewish crisis. Coincidences abound. Characters make their entry as if on cue. The author seems to go out of his way to mock the King, his royal court and their declaration of national policy immediately after a drunken stupor. Legislating male kingship over one's home is deemed a pressing issue, necessitating immediate action. Even clearly identified secondary characters in the drama have their role to play.
"Ish Yehudi haya b'Shushan habira u'shmo Mordechai..." ("In the capital city of Shushan, there was a Jewish man whose name was Mordechai..."). What kind of name is Mordechai for a good Jewish boy in Persia? Would any self-respecting Jew name a child after a Babylonian deity, Marduk? The name Esther comes from the Hebrew word, le’haster, to hide. Also, the word Habira is interesting: it is mentioned in only one other place in Tanach and there it refers to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem!
The Megillah provides interesting detail on life in the Royal Palace. Materials described and vessels used in the Royal Hall -- where the King threw his wild parties--sound remarkably like the vessels of the Temple. Indeed, the Talmud states that King Achashverosh donned the High Priest’s garments at his party. The six-month party followed by a seven-day special celebration harkens back to the time it took to build the Mishkan and the seven-day milu’im ceremony that followed. The layout of the Palace and its environs closely resemble the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and its surrounding areas. The King's Palace consisted of different sections:
• Chatzar P'nimit, the inner chamber--like the Kodesh Kedoshim (Holy of Holies) in the Holy Temple
• Chatzer Chitzona, the waiting area outside the inner chamber--Kodesh (holy) in the Holy Temple
• Sha'ar Bait HaMelech, where citizens congregate, sounds like the Azara
• Rechov Ha'Ir Shushan, the city streets in Shushan, are like the streets of Jerusalem
Partly drawing on these observations, Rabbi Menachem Leibtag concludes that the Megillah was written as a critical satire on the behavior of the Jewish people during this most important time in their history. In the Torah, God had warned that should the Israelites betray Him and His covenant, He would “hide His face” (“hester panim”) and punish them in a hidden manner [but also ultimately redeem them]. The Megillah events occurred. The story is true and based on historic facts, but the message is communicated using satire and irony, often a more effective and poignant literary tool for criticism. Allusions and “hiddenness” are employed rather than explicit message.
God had communicated (via the prophet Yermiyahu) that after the seventy years of Exile in Babylonia, He would keep his promise and return the nation to its Homeland. Despite this opportunity to return and rebuild their Homeland, relatively few went. Instead, they…
• Stayed in Persia
• Replaced God with King Achashverosh
• Made Shushan into their own "Bira" (i.e., Holy Temple)
• Preferred the Holy Temple-substitute (the Royal Palace) to the real thing in Jerusalem
• Chose the partying “service” of King Achashverosh in his Royal Palace over the true service of God in the Temple in Jerusalem.
The near-destruction of our people at the hands of evil Haman as portrayed in the Megillah may be understood as a planned Divine punishment for the sin of apathy toward their Homeland. Jews became too comfortable in their surroundings in Persia. Perhaps it took the threat of the anti-Semites to get us to achieve our true destiny.
Why is God Hidden in the Megillah?
Contemporary Bible scholar Rav Yoel Ben Nun is convinced that the Megillah needs to be read not just for what is on the surface but for what it reveals beneath the surface about religious faith. As opposed to the rest of the biblical books which describe the realm of God and God’s supervision of the world, the Megillah portrays deliberately, in an exaggerated and very extreme way, the “realm of the reversals”, the reversal of everything that holiness can connect with. The Megillah “was deliberately written in such a radically secular style to teach us that divine providence exists in places and situations far from the realm of holiness, and that God’s hand directs the world even in places where God appears to be hidden.”
Rabbi H.L. Berenholz
Purim & the Challenge of the Holocaust
Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo
.In a remarkable midrash on Mishlei, we read the following: “All of the festivals will be nullified in the future [the messianic age], but Purim will never be nullified”.
This assertion seems to fly in the face of Jewish tradition, which states categorically that the Jewish festivals mentioned in the Torah, such as Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot will never cease to be celebrated. This is mentioned by Maimonides in the Mishneh Torah:
All the books of the Prophets and all the Scriptures will be nullified in the days of the Mashiach, except for Megillat Esther, which is as permanent as the Five Books of Moshe and the laws of the Oral Torah [including the festivals], which will never lose their relevance.
Rabbi Baruch Halevi Epstein, in his famous commentary Torah Temimah, explains this contradiction – in the name of his father, Rabbi Yechiel Michel Halevi Epstein – in the following most original manner:
The miracle of Purim is very different from the miracles mentioned in the Overt miracles take place, such as the ten plagues in Egypt, the splitting of the Red Sea, the revelation at Sinai and the falling of the man (manna) in the desert, but the miracle of Purim was covert. Unlike with the miracles narrated in the Torah, no law of nature was ever violated in the Purim story, and the Jews were saved from the hands of Haman harasha (the evil Haman) by seemingly normal historical occurrences. Had we lived in those days we would have noticed nothing unusual, and many secularists would have explained the redemption of the Jews in Persia as the logical outcome of a series of natural and coincidental events. Only retroactively, when looking back at the story, would we have been astonished by all the incidents, their unusual sequence, and the seemingly unrelated and insignificant human acts that led to the complete redemption of the Jews during the time of Achashveirosh’s reign. The discovery that all these events actually concealed a miracle could only be made after the fact.
Covert miracles will never cease to exist, explains the Torah Temimah. In fact, they take place every day. But overt miracles such as the splitting of the Red Sea have come to an end. In light of this, the midrash on Mishlei is not suggesting that the actual festivals mentioned in the Torah will be nullified in future days, since this would contradict Jewish belief. Rather, it is stating that the original reasons for celebrating the festivals, namely overt miracles, have ceased.
So, one should read the midrash as follows: Overt miracles, which we celebrate on festivals mentioned in the Torah, no longer occur. But covert miracles such as those celebrated on Purim will never end; covert miracles continue to occur every day of the year. In other words, all the other festivals will still be celebrated to commemorate great historical events in Jewish history, events to be remembered and relived in the imagination of man so as to make them relevant and teach us many lessons for our own lives. Purim, on the other hand, although rooted in a historical event of many years ago, functions as a constant reminder that the Purim story never ended. We are still living it. The Megillah is open-ended; it was not and will never be completed! Covert miracles still happen.
On Purim we read Megillat Esther and do not recite Hallel. Megillat Esther is the story of a hidden miracle, and through the reading of this story in front of a congregation, God receives praise in the appropriate way – in a subtle and hidden manner. After all, it is not God who needs praise, but people who need to praise; they must therefore do it in a way that corresponds to the actual miracle. They must realize what kind of miracle took or takes place.
Moreover, one often wonders why the story of Purim is still relevant at all, after the Holocaust. Not even a hidden miracle was performed to save. Why continue to praise God for a hidden miracle when it seems that even hidden miracles came to an end with the Holocaust? This question should be on the mind of every Jew who celebrates Purim. And it is not only the Holocaust that should raise this issue. The Spanish Inquisition; the many pogroms; and the various forms of exterminating complete Jewish communities throughout all of Jewish history, in which God’s saving hand was absent; all of these beg that very question. Shouldn’t these events convince Jews to abolish Purim altogether? History has proven Purim to be irrelevant and even offensive. How can we continue celebrating Purim when six million Jews, collectively, did not see the hidden hand of God and were left with no divine intervention? Is celebrating Purim not an affront to all those millions who were tortured and died under the most hideous circumstances?
Hundreds of personal stories describe how Jews risked their lives to rejoice in their Jewishness while facing the Nazis’ atrocities. In the extermination camps, they celebrated Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Pesach and even Purim, and they literally had to decide whether to sing Hallel after failed attempts to find a Megillah. What was it that kept them going? Was it just wishful thinking? What they realized then, as never before, was the eternity and indestructibility of the Jews. Perpetuity is the very essence of the Jews. When Rabbi Moshe Friedman of Boyan, war Poland, was brought to Auschwitz with a transport of deeply religious Jews, during Pesach 1943, he was asked to undress prior to the “shower.” He turned to the Oberscharführer (senior squad leader), grasped the lapel of his Nazi jacket and said to him: “You, the most despicable murderers in the world! Don’t imagine for one moment that you will succeed in destroying the Jewish people. The Jewish nation will live forever. It will not vanish from the stage of history; instead, you will be erased and disappear”.
It was indeed the famous, somewhat anti-Semitic historian Arnold Toynbee who, with great annoyance, alluded to what history Toynbee has taught us: any nation that will stand up against the Jews will ultimately disappear. Such was the fate of the ancient Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Persians and the Greeks, and such may yet be the fate of the Germans.
Jews have been an ever-dying people that never died. They continuously experience resurrection, like the dry bones that Yechezkel saw in the valley. This has become the sine qua non of every Jew. It is the mystery of the hidden miracle of survival in the face of overwhelming destruction. True, the Führer was Amalek, and Haman prevailed, but ultimately they were defeated. We live in spite of peril. Our refusal to surrender has turned our story into one long, unending Purim tale. To this day, a large part of the world does not know what to do with us. We make them feel uneasy because we represent something they can’t put their finger on. Jews are sui generis. More than anything else, it is the existence and survival of the State of Israel that irritates many. The rules of history predicted that the Jews would die a definite and final death; instead, we have become the greatest success story in all of modern history. Perplexity morphed into aversion. Where does this small nation, which does not comprise even one percent of the world population, have the chutzpah to play such a crucial role in science, technology, and many other areas of human knowledge?
What would the world do without Jews, who are responsible for so many inventions that are vital to the survival of the modern world? Great progress and major breakthroughs in the world of medicine, such as the treatment of paralysis, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and DNA breakdown, are Israeli accomplishments. What about Windows, voice mail, and the most advanced anti-terror systems? Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation, and in proportion to its population has the largest number of start-up companies in the world. It is ranked second in the world for venture capital funds. And the list goes on.
Even if, God forbid, the State of Israel would not survive Iran – the Haman of our day – every Jew instinctively knows that the Jewish people will endure, even without their homeland, and will climb the ladder and surprise the world once again. Purim will never cease.
As the camp commander…took several young Gerer Chassidim to be put to death, one of them, Israel Eisenberg, asked for permission to say a few words of farewell to his friends. I stood opposite them and heard every word. He did not speak many words…. He got hold of the hands of another young man and started singing. They were calling to each other: “Kiddush Hashem, the most important thing, let us rejoice!” They all began to sing and to dance as if a fire had been lit within them. Their sidelocks, which were then hidden under their hats, they now pulled out and let them hang over their faces. They paid no attention to what was going on around them. They were dancing and singing. And I thought I would lose my senses; that young people should go to their death as one goes to a dance! Thus dancing, they jumped into the pit as a rain of bullets was pouring down on them.
Which Jew, even secular, or atheist, dares to betray these young people by not celebrating Purim? Which Jew dares to ignore Judaism, thereby being guilty of spiritual bankruptcy in the face of these fearless Chassidim? This is the ultimate question that all Jews must ask themselves. Not to do so would be a tragic dereliction of duty.
Purim Guide for the Perplexed
Ambassador Yoram Ettinger (ret.)
1. Purim and deliverance. Purim is one of the Jewish national liberation holidays, such as Passover and Chanukah, which commemorate the transformation of the Jewish people from slavery and subordination to liberty and independence. It is celebrated, annually, at a time when the relatively dark and stormy winter shifts into the relatively warm and pleasant spring.
2. 5th century BCE Queen Esther, the heroine of Purim. Purim’s Scroll of Esther is one of the five Biblical Scrolls: Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, The Scroll of Esther). Esther, who was Mordechai's niece (or cousin), demonstrates the centrality of women in Judaism, shaping the future of the Jewish People, as did Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah (the four Matriarchs), Miriam (Moses’ older sister), Batyah (who saved Moses’ life), Deborah (the Prophetess, Judge and military leader), Hannah (Samuel’s mother) and Yael (the warrior). Esther was one of the seven Biblical Jewish Prophetesses: Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah and Esther (Megillah tractate, 14:71). Sarah was the first - and Esther the last - Jewish woman mentioned in the Bible. Sarah lived 127 years and Esther was the Queen of 127 countries. 1+2+7=10, which is a symbol of totality, wholesomeness, completeness.
The name Esther was a derivative of Ishtar, the Mesopotamian goddess of beauty and fertility, as well as Stara, the Persian morning star – which shifts darkness into light, thus becoming a symbol of deliverance – evolving into Aphrodite and Venus, the Greek and Roman goddesses of love, beauty and fertility, and Noga - a Biblical divine light and the second-brightest star in the night-sky after the moon (as well as, the name of my oldest granddaughter).
The name Esther (אסתר) could also be a derivative of the Hebrew wordהסתר , "to conceal" - reflective of the initial concealment of her Jewish identity. In fact, Esther’s original Hebrew - Hadassah (myrtle tree with medical properties) - was changed in order to conceal her Jewish identity. At the same time, the Hebrew word for “scroll,” מגילה, derives from מגלה – “to reveal,” since Esther decided to reveal her Jewish identity in a thundering, game-changing manner.
Furthermore, God is concealed in the scroll of Esther, which is the only Biblical book that does not mention God. However, while God's name is hidden/absent in Esther’s Scroll, Michael Bernstein suggests that the Esther Scroll makes 182 references to "King," corresponding to 26 (the numerical value of Jehovah in Hebrew) times 7 (days of creation).
3. The Nazi-Haman parallel. “Purimfest 1946” yelled Julius Streicher, the Nazi propaganda chief, as he approached the hanging gallows (Newsweek, October 28, 1946, page 46). On October 16, 1946, ten convicted Nazi war criminals were hanged in Nuremberg. An 11th Nazi criminal, Hermann Goering, committed suicide in his cell.
The Biblical Scroll of Esther (which tells the story of Purim) documents Persia’s King Ahasuerus allowing the Jews to defend themselves and hang Haman and his ten sons, who were about to annihilate the Jewish people. According to the Talmud (Megillah tractate, 16a), Haman had an 11th child, a daughter, who committed suicide upon witnessing the demise of her father and brothers.
The late Eliezer Cotler, a Jewish Holocaust survivor who was my relative, told me that Julius Streicher’s library, in his ranch (which served as a camp for young Jewish survivors on their way to Israel), indicated Streicher’s conviction that the Purim saga was relevant to the fate of the Nazi regime. Hence, the yelling: “Purimfest 1946!” Streicher underlined, in red ink, each historical reference to the Amalekites and Haman, noting that the origin of the Aryan race was in Iran. Moreover, Haman was a member of the Agagite clan, named after Agag who a king of the Amalekites was - the most lethal enemy of the Jewish people since the Exodus from Egypt.
The Torah Portion (Deuteronomy 25:17-19) - which commands the remembrance of the Amalekite’s attempt to annihilate the Jewish people - is read in synagogues/temples on the Sabbath preceding Purim.
Purim highlights the self-destructive fate of peoples and regimes, who intend to annihilate the Jewish people, as has been demonstrated from ancient times, including the demise of the Nazi regime and the Stalin regime.
4. The Mordechai-Haman Clash of civilizations. The Purim saga represents the physical and spiritual clash of civilizations between the values of Mordechai and Haman. The numerical value of the Hebrew spelling of “blessed Mordechai” (ברוך מרדכי) and “cursed Haman” (ארור המן) is identical, 502, cautioning us that evil can easily misrepresent itself as benevolence.
A similar clash of civilizations/values - between right and wrong, liberty and tyranny, justice and evil, truth and lies - has taken place between nations, communities and within each person. For example, Adam/Eve vs. the snake, Abel vs. Cain, Abraham vs. Sodom and Gomorrah, Jacob vs. Esau (the grandfather of Amalek), the Maccabees vs. the Assyrians, the Allies vs. the Nazis, the West vs. the Communist Bloc and the Free World vs. Islamic rogue regimes and terror organizations.
5. The politically-incorrect Mordechai. Mordechai, the hero of Purim, exposed an attempt to topple King Ahasuerus, and became the King’s top advisor, analogously to Joseph, who became the top deputy of Egypt’s Pharaoh. As a result of Joseph’s advice, Egypt was spared economic calamity.
Mordechai influenced the King’s decision to allow the resettling of Jews in Zion, the reconstruction of the Temple and the restoration of the wall around Jerusalem.
Mordechai, one of the deputies of Ezra the Scribe, led a wave of Jewish ingathering from Babylon to the Land of Israel, and was a role model of principle-driven optimism in defiance of colossal odds, in the face of a super power and in defiance of the Jewish establishment. He fought Jewish assimilation and urged Jews to sustain their roots and return to their Homeland.
Mordechai was an out-of-the-box thinker and a retired military commander, who preferred a disproportionate pre-emptive offensive to retaliation, appeasement and defense. The first three Hebrew letters of Mordechai (מרדכי) spell the Hebrew word “rebellion” (מרד). Mordechai did not bow to Haman, when the latter was the second most powerful person in the Persian Empire.
Mordechai was a descendant of King Saul. Both were members of the Jewish Tribe of Benjamin, the only son of Jacob who did not bow to Esau, just like Mordechai who did not bow to Haman. However, King Saul defied a clear commandment to eradicate the Amalekites, sparing the life of Agag, the Amalekite king, thus precipitating further calamities upon the Jewish People. Consequently, Saul lost his royal position and his life. Mordechai learned from Saul’s crucial error and eliminated Haman, a descendant of Agag the Amalekite, thus sparing the Jewish People a major disaster.
6. Purim’s historical background. The 586 BCE destruction of the First Jewish Temple (on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount), and the expulsion of Jews from Judea and Samaria, by the Babylonian Emperor, Nebuchadnezzar, triggered a wave of Jewish emigration to Babylon and Persia, which eventually replaced Babylon as the leading regional power. In 538 BCE, Xerxes the Great, Persia’s King Ahasuerus, the successor of Darius the Great, proclaimed his support for the reconstruction of the Jewish Temple and the resurrection of national Jewish life in the Land of Israel, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish Homeland. In 499-449 BCE, Ahasuerus established a coalition of countries, which launched the Greco-Persian Wars, attempting to expand the Persian Empire westward. However, Persia was resoundingly defeated (e.g., the 490 BCE and 480 BCE battles of Marathon and Salamis), and Ahasuerus’ authority in Persia was gravely eroded.
Purim's Scroll of Esther represents fundamental tenets of Judaism:
In God We Trust - in contrast to idolatry, hedonism, cynicism and insecurity – can catapult human-beings to unexpected heights
Faith in mankind's capabilities, if faith in God is sustained
Value/principle-driven realism, in contrast to opportunism and wishful-thinking
Attachment to religious, cultural and historical Jewish roots, in contrast to detachment and assimilation
Liberty – the core of personal/national existence (just like Sukkot/Tabernacles, Chanukah and Passover)
Community/national-driven responsibility, in contrast to selfishness as demonstrated by Mordechai and Queen Esther, who switched from assimilation to national-Jewish responsibility, while risking their lives;
Centrality of the Land of Israel, and the ingathering of Jews to their Homeland
Optimism, confidence and courage, in contrast to pessimism, despair and fear
Tenacious defiance of enormous adversity, in contrast to defeatism, submission and accommodation.
Purim is celebrated on the 14th/15th days of the Jewish month of Adar. Adar (אדר) is the root of the Hebrew adjective Adir (- (אדיר glorious, awesome, exalted, magnificent. It is, also, a derivative of the Akkadian word Adura (heroism). In Jewish tradition (Babylonian Talmud), Adar is featured as a month of happiness, singing and dancing. The zodiac of Adar is Pisces (fish), which is a symbol of demographic multiplication. Hence, Adar is the only Jewish month, which doubles itself during the 7 leap years in each 19-year cycle.
Purim is celebrated on the 14th day in non-walled towns and in Jerusalem on the 15th day of Adar, commemorating the deliverance of the Jewish People from the jaws of a holocaust in Persia. It also commemorates the 161 BC victory of Judah the Maccabee over Nikanor, the Assyrian commander. Moses - who delivered the Jewish People from a holocaust in Egypt and whose burial site is unknown - was born and died (1273 BC) on the 7th day of Adar, which is Israel's Memorial Day for soldiers, whose burial sites are unknown.
Purim's (פורים) Hebrew root can mean…
Lottery (commemorating Haman's lottery which determined the designated day for the planned annihilation of the Jewish People),
To shutter, referring to the demise of Haman.
Purim's four statutes:
Reading/studying the Scroll of Esther (מגילה) within the family, emphasizes the centrality of the family, education, memory and youth as the foundation of a solid future.
Gifts (מתנות) to relatives, friends and strangers emphasize the importance of family, community and collective responsibility.
Charity (at least the value of a mealמשלוח מנות - ) reflects compassion and communal responsibility. According to Maimonides, "there is no greater or more glorious joy than bringing joy to the poor." Purim is celebrated when Jews study the portion of the Torah, תרומה (charity, donation in Hebrew), which highlights giving and contributing to others as a means of enhancing solidarity and reducing egotism. According to the Torah, contributions benefit the contributor more than the recipient.
Celebration and Happiness (משתה) sustain optimism and faith - the backbone of individuals and nations.
The Hebrew spelling of each statute starts with the letter מ, which is the first letter in the Hebrew spelling of Mordechai (מרדכי), as well as Moses (משה), who was born and died, a week before the Hebrew date of Purim. In addition, the numerical value of מ is 40, representing the 40 days of prayers, before Purim, aimed at the final elimination of the Amalekite enemies of the Jewish people.