Sign up to TorahFax


Thursday, Adar2 7, 5779 / March 14, 2019


The festive holiday of Purim begins next week, Wednesday night, March 20 through Thursday, March 21.  The following are more Questions & Answers about Purim:


Q.  During Torah reading, we are obligated to show respect, to be quiet and listen to each word. But during the Megilah reading on Purim, there are times when lots of noise is made. Why?


A. WhenHaman's name is mentioned during the megilah reading, we make noise. Haman, who wanted to annihilate all the Jews was a descendant of Amalek, who had the same intentions one thousand years before Haman. The Torah commands us, "You must erase the remembrance of Amalek."  Thus, when Haman’s name is mentioned, we "erase" and blot out his name by making noise.


Q.  Why do we read from a megilah which is folded in layers, rather than a megilah rolled like a Torah?"


A.  Esther and Mordechai refer to the megilah as "Igeret" - "letter". Thus, we fold the megilah to look like a "letter".


Q.   In the Megilah it says that on Purim we should send gifts of food to a friend and to distribute charity to the poor and needy.  These mitzvot are called, “Mishloach manot” and “Matanot La’evyonim.” We can understand giving charity to the poor and needy, so they too can rejoice in the holiday, but what is the significance of sending gifts of food to friends?


A.  When Haman tried to convince king Achashveirosh to have all Jews killed in one day, he described the Jewish people like this, “There is one people scattered and dispersed among the nations in all the provinces in your kingdom; and their laws are different from the laws of all the people.” The words, “scatteredand dispersed,” also mean that there is a lack of unityand harmony amongst the Jewish people themselves. For this reason, when G-d performed the miracle of Purim and the Jewish people were saved from Haman’s decree of annihilation, Mordechai and Esther instituted that the holiday be celebrated by acts which display friendship, unity and harmony


Mordechai and Esther instituted the exchange of gifts and the distribution of charity to the needy, to show harmony amongst each other and that we do care for each other. The requirement is to give charity to twopoor people. But our sages say, “We should give whoever stretches out their hand.”


On the lighter side: A known anti-Semite minister, who made Jews much trouble, was not feeling well one day.  Being concerned about his mortality, he consults a psychic about the date of his death.


"You will die on a Jewish holiday," she tells him.


"Which one?” He asks nervously.


"It doesn't matter," replied the psychic. "Whenever you die, it will become a Jewish holiday."