© 2019 by Rabbi David Paskin

JPaL is a program of Temple Sinai of North Dade
Call Us: 305-932-9012   /   rabbi.david@tsnd.org   /  18801 NE 22nd Ave, Miami, FL 33180

Enduring Understandings:

You will understand that...

  • Jews build community through holiday observance and ritual celebrations.

  • Jewish life is best lived in community.

  • The Jewish holidays teach us to appreciate the many cycles of renewal and rebirth.

Essential Questions:

What do you think?

  • What are some of the important lessons from these Jewish holidays?

  • How does the idea that Jews everywhere celebrate these same holidays connect me to the Jewish community?

I can explain the meaning and significance of the Purim symbols and ritual items

Let's dig even deeper. By now you know all of these holiday symbols and how to use them. You also know the blessings that go along with them. But why are they important? What is their significance to us today? 

We're going to focus on two ritual items - the מְגִלָּה and the רַעֲשַׁן.

רַעֲשַׁן

It is a widespread custom for the listeners at the מְגִלָּה reading to make noise, usually with special noisemakers called graggers, or in Hebrew רַעֲשָׁנִים, whenever Haman’s name is mentioned. Some congregations also encourage the use of wind and percussion instruments as noisemakers.

The custom of blotting out the name of Haman appears to be the outgrowth of a custom once prevalent in France and Provence, where the children wrote the name of Haman on smooth stones, then struck them together whenever Haman was mentioned in the reading so as to rub it off, as suggested by the verse “the name of the wicked shall rot” (Proverbs 10:7).

Can you think of something so terrible that you just don't want to hear about it? How do you "erase the memory" of those uncomfortable and terrible things in your life?

מְגִלָּה

The primary synagogue observance connected with פּוּרִים is the reading of the Book of Esther, called the מְגִלָּה (“scroll”). It is traditionally read twice: in the evening, after the Amidah prayer of the Maariv service and before the Aleinu, and in the morning after the Torah reading.

The מְגִלָּה is read from a parchment scroll that is written the same way a Torah is written — by hand, with a goose quill. If there is no such scroll available, the congregation may read the Book of Esther from a printed text, without the accompanying benedictions.

The Book of Esther is chanted according to special cantillation used only in the reading of the Book of Esther. [This cantillation parodies the tropes used for reading at other times of the year.] 

Before the reading, the custom is to unroll the scroll and fold it so that it looks like a letter of dispatch, thus further recalling the story of the great deliverance.

Create an infomercial about one of the symbols of Purim. Imagine you are trying to sell this symbol. You'll need to talk all about its function, when it is used, how it is used and why it is valuable.

I can describe the big ideas of Purim and can draw connections to my life

There's a famous story about a great rabbi who lived about 2000 years ago named Hillel. He is challenged to teach the entire תּוֹרָה while standing on one foot. Since it's hard to balance on one foot for a long time Hillel had to sum up the most important lessons of the תּוֹרָה really quickly. In other words, he had to figure out what the BIG Ideas of the תּוֹרָה were. 

 

We're giving you the same challenge - but not for the whole תּוֹרָה, just for פּוּרִים. Using all you've learned about this holiday - what would you say are the BIG ideas of פּוּרִים?

Once you've got some BIG ideas think about what they have to do with your life. 

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I can recognize patterns amongst the holidays of the Jewish calendar and express the holidays' relationships to one another

Jewish חַגִּים are important and meaningful on their own but they are even more special when we see each Jewish חַג as part of a larger whole. Use the interactive Jewish calendar below to figure out what some of the connections are between different Jewish חַגִּים.

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Click above to visit our interactive Jewish Holiday calendar

I can use appropriate Purim vocabulary in proper context and demonstrate comprehension of their meanings

You've learned a whole bunch of Hebrew words for this חַג. You know the names of this חַג in Hebrew, the names of the symbols and the holiday greetings. When you speak about this חַג with your family and friends, can you use all of these Hebrew words? Here are some of the Hebrew words you know related to פּוּרִים:

Holiday Names

פּוּרִים - Purim

Holiday Greetings

חַג שָׂמֵחַ - Happy Holiday
חַג פּוּרִים שָׂמֵחַ - Happy Festival of Purim

Holiday Symbols

רַעֲשַׁן - Grogger
מְגִלָּה - Scroll of Esther
מִשְׁלוֹחַ מָנוֹת - Purim Gifts 

אָזְנֵי הָמָן - Hamantaschen
מַתָּנוֹת לָאֶבְיוֹנִים - Gifts for the Needy

Write a children's book complete with illustrations using the holiday vocabulary above. If you do your best work - we might just read your book in our Pre-School program!

I can express the meaning of each b'racha associated with the Purim symbols and of selected t'fillot

Let's take a closer look at one of the תְּפִלּוֹת we say on פּוּרִים

עַל הַנִּסִּים וְעַל הַפֻּרְקָן וְעַל הַגְּבוּרות וְעַל הַתְּשׁוּעות וְעַל הַמִּלְחָמות שֶׁעָשיתָ לַאֲבותֵינוּ בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם בִּזְּמַן הַזֶּה:

עַל הַנִּסִּים is aprayer that relates briefly to the story of חֲנֻכָּה and פּוּרִים. Since עַל הַנִּסִּים serves as an expression of thanksgiving, it is inserted into the 18th benediction of the עֲמִידָה, which is the blessing called מוֹדִים or "thanksgiving."

The introductory sentence reads as follows: Al Hanisim —“We thank You for the miracles, the redemption, and the triumphant victories, and liberation which You have brought for our ancestors in days of old at this season.” Following that is a description of the basic events of פּוּרִים (“Bimay Mordehcai–in the days of Mordecai”].

Some people think miracles are a thing of the past - only found in the תּוֹרָה. This prayer seems to suggest that miracles can actually happen everyday and everywhere. What is a miracle that you've witnessed in your life? What made it miraculous?

I can draw connections between the mitzvot and minhagim of Purim and the Purim narrative and big ideas

Think about all of the מִצְווֹת and מִנְהָגִים that we do on פּוּרִים. How do these rituals tell the story of these holidays? Here's an example:

 

On פּוּרִים we send מִשְׁלוֹחַ מָנוֹת (gift baskets) to our friends and family. The ninth chapter of the Book of Esther states (verse 19): “Therefore the Jews of the villages, that dwelt in the unwalled towns, made the 14th day of the month of Adar a day of gladness and feasting, a holiday, and of sending portions to one another (מִשְׁלוֹחַ מָנוֹת).” There are two reasons why we might send מִשְׁלוֹחַ מָנוֹת on פּוּרִים. The first is that Haman accused the Jews of being “a scattered, and divided nation.” So, the Jewish people send gifts to each other in order to show that they are not divided, but rather are united. The second reason is to guarantee that rich and poor alike are provided for at the Purim meal. 

Think of some of the other symbols and rituals of פּוּרִים. Can you make connections between these symbols and rituals and the big ideas of the holidays?

I can express how the holiday values are lived through the ritual practices of Purim

There are some specific Jewish values that we learn from פּוּרִים. Here is one of them: 

מַאֲכִיל רְעֵבִים

 

מַאֲכִיל רְעֵבִים means "feeding the hungry." There are two ways that we live this value on פּוּרִים:

1. The first way that we feed the hungry is by sending מִשְׁלוֹחַ מָנוֹת (gift baskets) to our friends and family. We talked about that above.

 

2. The second way is by fulfilling the מִצְוָה of מַתָּנוֹת לָאֶבְיוֹנִים (sending gifts to the poor). After the Jews were saved from the decree of Haman, they agreed “to observe [the days of פּוּרִים] with…donations to the needy” (Esther 9:22). Giving to the poor is a מִצְוָה all year round. However, the מִצְוָה to do so on פּוּרִים is separate even from the general מִצְוָה of צְדָקָה (charity). To fulfill the מִצְוָה of מַתָּנוֹת לָאֶבְיוֹנִים we give charity to two individual poor people. We should give each poor person enough money to provide for a meal. One may also give someone the equivalent in food.

You may not have enough money to provide two people with a פּוּרִים meal. How can you fulfill the מִצְוָה of מַתָּנוֹת לָאֶבְיוֹנִים?