Purim is not the Jewish Halloween. It is a holiday that dates back to 356 BCE (that’s 2,374 years ago), when the wicked Haman’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day” was miraculously foiled. The festivities on this day commemorate the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from that terrible decree of another one of history’s madmen.
The only common denominator between Purim & Halloween is that during both holidays, people dress up and give out candy. But for totally different reasons.
The reason for dressing up on Purim in disguising costumes, has nothing to do with scaring people. But rather shows that what you see, is not always the reality. Sometime there’s a deeper truth lying beneath the surface. Just like in the original Purim story, many ‘natural occurrences’ took place, but in reality it was all the hand of G-d. Those ‘natural occurrences’ were the mask, dressing up the hidden reality, the hand of G-d orchestrating everything.
It’s for this reason that we eat on Purim the traditional Hamantashen, which is a cookie dough filled with delicious filling. To show that beneath what we see, is another whole reality.
This is also the reason there is no mention of G-d in the Megillah, the Book of Esther. It’s actually the only book in the Tanach (Bible) where G‑d’s name is not mentioned even once, illustrating G‑d’s invisible hand in history.
There’s nothing natural about nature. Nature is just G‑d’s way of managing the details without showing off.
The giving of candy has nothing to do with tricking people, but rather with the Mitzvah of Mishloach Manot (aka Shalach Manos), the commandment to give a gift of (at least) two (ready to eat) foods to at least one friend on Purim day.
The other 3 Mitzvahs that we do on this holiday are 1) give charity to at least two individuals in need during Purim day, 2) have a festive feast that includes bread or Challah, wine and meat, and 3) reading of the Megillah (Book of Esther) which recounts the story of the Purim miracle on both Purim evening and Purim day.
The theme of Purim is one of Divine Providence. The Purim story demonstrates the concept that everything is orchestrated by G‑d and he hears the cry of the oppressed.
We not only survived but triumphed because of our active unity and unshakable commitment to our identity as a practicing Jewish community.
This Purim, let’s take the time to recognize, reflect and show thanks for our daily miracles. The simple gifts that we take for granted, like waking up, breathing, talking, walking, eating, laughing… and of course enjoying the ‘natural’ beauty of Sunny Florida!
Purim begins this year Wednesday evening, Feb 28 and concludes Thursday evening, March 1 (2018). There will be tons of Purim celebrations at Chabads and other synagogues throughout South Florida & I encourage you to find one and participate. You are of course welcome to join me at our annual Purim Block Party in front of Chabad Chayil in Highland Lakes, Thursday March 1, 5:00-10:00pm.
For party details, Megillah reading times or to learn more about the holiday & the complete Purim story call (305) 770-1919 or visit www.ChabadChayil.org/Purim.
About the author:
Rabbi Kievman is the ambassador of The Rebbe to Highland Lakes, FL. He’s founder of CHAP – an afterschool program for Jewish children in Public Schools, rabbi at The Family Shul & together with his wife directs Chabad Chayil. He can be reached at (305) 770-1919 or rabbi@ChabadChayil.org