February 20, 2008

Purim Katan

Purim actually falls on Good Friday this year because of the 19-year cycle of the Jewish Leap Year. So in leap years they actually celebrate Purim twice. Today is the early Purim - Purim Katan.

Purim celebrates victory over enemies, like the redeemer in Esther. Mordecai self-sacrificed himself in raising and teaching Esther - passing on the Torah by educating the children. The lesson of Purim is to not lose hope and continue to teach the generations.

In the story of Esther lots were cast ("pur" in Persian) and a day was chosen for the annihilation of the Jews. Persian law could not be changed, but the people were allowed to defend themselves - but only because of Esther's intervention. She was called, and she obeyed, saying, "If I perish, I perish".

Purim is a carnival celebration full of hilarity. It's celebrated with costumes and the story of Esther is either read or dramatized. Every time the name 'Haman' is said, everyone noisily stomps their feet, hisses and boos. Lots of cheering with Mordecai's name.

It celebrates survival, and the question is asked, "How do we live with people who hate us?"

Some years I make Hamantaschen (Haman's pockets) cookies. Sweet dough is rolled and cut in circles. A filling is added in the center and the edges are folded over to make three corners. The filling is either a poppy seed filling or fruit (often prune, but any jam can be used).

My first thought when I saw Purim and Good Friday fell together was, "Oh great, such opposite emotions." But it's only seemingly opposite when Purim is a 'Hilarious' holi(y)day. But maybe Good Friday (it is called 'good') should be celebrated hilariously too. With hissing, booing, and stomping of feet (much as Jesus did to the snake in the Garden of Eden in the "Passion" movie) over Satan, and cheering for our Redeemer Jesus who sacrificed his life for us, that we might have life.

And ask myself, "Who am I for such a time as this?"
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