Your Purim Guide
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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12
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We are pleased to present, to the visually impaired and the blind, our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.
In this week's issue, we focus on:
1) The Seventh and Ninth of Adar.
2) The festive holiday of Purim, which begins on Monday night, March 1.
Therefore, we present here "Your Purim Guide,"* and other related material about Purim.
This Jewish year, is the year 5759 since Creation. The Hebrew letters are Hei-Tav-Shin-Nun-Tes. Over a decade ago, in the year 5742, the Rebbe stated that the Hebrew letters for that year were an acronym for "This should be the year of the coming of Moshiach."
Since that time, the Rebbe has publicized a phrase describing the year according to the acronym of its Hebrew letters. This year has been designated by the Rebbe's followers as "Hoyo T'hei Shnas Niflaos Tovoh" meaning "It surely will be a good year of wondrous miracles."
Our sincere appreciation to L'Chaim weekly publication, published by the Lubavitch Youth Organization, for allowing us to use their material.
Also, many thanks to our copy editor, Reb Mordechai Staiman, for his tireless efforts.
It is our fervent hope that our learning about Moshiach and the Redemption will hasten the coming of Moshiach, NOW!
Rabbi Yosef Y. Shagalov,
Committee for the Blind
7 Adar, 5759
Brooklyn, New York
*) Published by Prestige Litho.
Special thanks to Rabbi M. Borisute for his help.
In the Torah portion of Teruma, G-d commanded the building of a copper altar upon which would be offered various sacrifices. At the end of the Torah portion of Tetzave, the Torah commands us to build yet another altar, this one of gold.
These two altars differ from all the other vessels that were in the Sanctuary and the Holy Temple, in that they could never be rendered impure. Other vessels and implements could become contaminated and impure, but not these two altars.
The purity inherent in the altars can also be interpreted on a deeper, personal level. It refers to the soul of every Jew. And the mitzvah to build the Sanctuary of G-d, in addition to being a general commandment for the Jewish nation, also contains within it the commandment to build a personal "sanctuary" in one's heart. A Jew can make himself a "holy place" in which the light of G-dliness dwells and is revealed.
In the spiritual Sanctuary within each one of us there are also vessels and implements with which to worship G-d. These "vessels" are the brain, the heart, the mouth, the hands, the feet, etc. A Jew is required to utilize his brain for learning Torah, his heart to be filled with love and fear of G-d, his mouth for speaking words of Torah and prayer, his hands for performing mitzvot, his feet for running to perform good deeds, and so on. This is how a Jew transforms himself into a Sanctuary for G-d.
Unfortunately, we find that these "vessels" sometimes become impure when used in a manner not in accordance with Judaism. There is one vessel, however, that can never be defiled--the altar. The altar is the basis and foundation of the entire Sanctuary. The altar expresses the absolute attachment to G-d, and the longing to annihilate the sense of self in the consuming love for G-d. In this place there is no room for impurity. The altar, thus, symbolizes the essence of the soul, the pintele Yid within every Jew, that can never lose its purity. This essence is above being affected by the person's thoughts or behavior. It is an inner point that always remains connected to G-d, which the Jew can never sever even if he should so desire.
The particular covering of the altar, be it gold or copper, is not important. These outer layers, the gold and the copper, symbolize the paths which temptation can take in an attempt to test our devotion to G-d: poverty (copper) and wealth (gold). A person can be tempted to veer off the true path of righteousness by the enticement of riches or by the hardships of poverty. But this can only affect a person's exterior. The internal part of a Jew, the essence of his soul, always remains bound to G-d. The Torah promises that through true repentance, the inner purity of the Jew's soul will, in the end, triumph over all the other variables and temptations. And that the "Sanctuary" and all its "vessels" will eventually become cleansed and purified.
The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of Lubavitch, issued a call that "The time of our Redemption has arrived!" and "Moshiach is on his way!"
The Rebbe stressed that he is saying this as a prophecy, and asks us all to prepare ourselves for the Redemption, through increasing acts of goodness and kindness.
Let us all heed the Rebbe's call.
The Seventh of Adar (Tuesday, Feb. 23), is the birthday and yahrtzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu (Moshe our teacher).
The Rebbe has spoken numerous times about the significance of this date in our G-dly service. In one of the Rebbe's last public addresses, the Rebbe delved further into the significance of this date.
On a person's birthday, "his mazal (source of influence) shines powerfully." If this concept applies to the birthday of any Jew, surely it applies with regard to the birthday of a nasi (leader) of the Jewish people. Nor is this relevant merely as an event in the past. Instead, each year, the positive influence associated with the Seventh of Adar is increased, reaching a level immeasurably higher than in previous years.
The birthday of a nasi affects every member of the Jewish people, for the nasi is the source of influence through whom G-d's blessings are drawn down for the entire people.
Seven is symbolic of a complete cycle. Thus, the Seventh of Adar should inspire every Jew to carry out his service in a complete manner. The positive influence of the month of Adar will facilitate the performance of this service.
Similarly, these positive influences will hasten the coming of the Redemption. It is of utmost importance that the Redemption come sooner, even a moment sooner, for the Divine Presence and the Jewish people are in exile. Therefore, it is important to hasten the coming of the Redemption; every single moment its coming can be speeded is significant. The potential for this certainly exists: the very next moment can be the last moment of the exile, and the moment that follows, the first moment of Redemption.
* * *
Jewish teachings (Shemos Rabba) state that "Moshe is the first redeemer and he is also the final redeemer." This does not mean that Moshe himself will be the "final redeemer." For, Moshe belongs to the tribe of Levi, while Moshiach is from the tribe of Judah.
However, many traditional sources view the redemption from Egypt as the prototype of the Final Redemption, based on the verse in our Prophets: "As in the days of your exodus from the land of Egypt, I will show you wonders."
In this way, Moshe--who was the leader of the Jewish people in his generation--is the prototype of every Jewish leader and ultimately, of Moshiach.
Thus, for example, in Egypt, first G-d appointed the redeemer--Moshe. He spoke to the Children of Israel, telling them that G-d had remembered them and that the time had come for them to leave Egypt. Only afterward did Moshe redeem the Children of Israel and take them out of Egypt. Similarly, first Moshiach informs us that the time of the Redemption has arrived, and only afterward does the actual Redemption take place (Sfas Emes).
In one of his kabbalistic works, Rabbi Chaim Vital describes Moshiach as a tzaddik, a human being born of human parents, and writes that he will receive the soul of Moshiach that has been stored in the Garden of Eden. Rabbi Chaim Vital then explains how this may be compared to Moshe and his progression to self-perfection.
The Chatam Sofer, as well, describes Moshe, the first redeemer, and then compares him to the final redeemer, "And when the time comes, G-d will reveal Himself to him, and the spirit of Moshiach, which has been hidden in the higher worlds until his coming, will light upon him."
The story of Moses taking the Children of Israel out of the land of Egypt is well known, but long before he emerged as the redeemer of the Jewish people his life was full of wonders and miracles.
Times were bitter for the Jews. Their favored status as Joseph's people had long ago been replaced by the degradation of a harsh and cruel slavery. Pharaoh's star-gazers had foreseen the birth of a baby boy who would one day lead the Jewish slaves to freedom, but would die because of water. Pharaoh would forestall that possibility by ordering the death by drowning of every boy born to the Jews. He would make sure the Jews would never leave Egypt.
Jewish women refused to despair. They beautified themselves and went out to the fields where their husbands labored in the burning sun. "Do not despair, do not give up hope," they would tell their husbands. "G-d will not forget us forever." They gave birth in secret, hiding the babies as long as possible. Yocheved and Miriam, popular midwives, were commanded to kill the babies, but what could they do, they dissembled, "The Jewish women give birth quickly, before we can even get to them."
Soon, it was Yocheved's turn to hide her precious little boy. For a few months she succeeded, but she knew the attempt was futile. The Egyptians had spies everywhere. When there was the slightest suspicion, they would bring an Egyptian baby into the Jewish house and pinch it to make it cry. It was impossible to quiet the Jewish baby who would wail in response. Then the soldiers would seize the child from his helpless parents and toss him into the Nile.
Yocheved had an idea. In a desperate attempt to save her son's life, she set him afloat in a little reed basket, which she lovingly prepared to withstand the waters of the Nile.
"Go and watch your brother, and see what will happen to him," she instructed Miriam. Obediently, she stood on the banks of the Nile where she watched her beloved brother's fate unfold.
Batya, Pharaoh's daughter, had just come down to the river to bathe and, startled by a baby's cry coming from the direction of some reeds, she sent her servant girl to fetch the semi-hidden basket.
When she opened it, a bright light emanated from the child's face and he peered at her with a mature intelligence. She knew it must be a Hebrew child, but she couldn't bear the thought of this beautiful boy being killed.
"Go, bring me a wet-nurse," she commanded, but when the Egyptian woman arrived, the starving baby refused to drink. At that point Miriam saw her chance. "If you wish, I will bring a nurse from the Hebrew women," she offered, and without a moment's pause, Batya agreed.
And so, G-d's plan unfolded in unexpected ways. Yocheved was not only able to bring up her beloved child in her own home, but she had the explicit permission of Pharaoh's daughter--she was even paid for her "services."
Moses was a beautiful child--radiant, intelligent, the favored child on whom the princess lavished her love and attention.
One day, the young child was brought to a royal banquet--the first time he witnessed such a gala event. Everyone assembled sparkled in all their finery. Suddenly, baby Moses reached out his little hand and seized, of all things, the king's golden crown. And what's more, he set the glittering symbol of kingship on his own tiny head! The shocked gasps were audible throughout the great hall. The king's advisors saw that this act boded ill for the monarchy. "Put the child to death before he grows up and seizes your throne!" they said. But then one other voice was heard, that of Jethro, the Priest of Midian, a highly respected sage and great magician.
"Your majesty, it is a known fact that every child will reach out for a glittering object. Why should you assume that this child is intelligent enough to discern the great meaning of your majesty's crown. Why should you take away your daughter's beloved child if this is just a childish whim? I suggest that you put him to the test: Put before him a piece of burning coal and your crown. See which he will grab. If he reaches for the coal, which is shinier than the golden crown, you will know he has no understanding of his actions."
Jethro's advice seemed sensible enough, and a burning coal was brought and put in front of the child. Moses, however, was not a child like all others; he knowingly extended his hand toward the crown. Suddenly his hand moved, pushed by an angel, and he seized the coal and put it into his mouth. He screamed in pain, and Batya's heart jumped--Moses was hurt, but he would live. The proof was incontrovertible, the child simply liked glittering objects.
Moses, the great redeemer of the Jewish people, was raised in the king's palace, tutored in the ways of royalty and even bounced on his would-be murderer's own knee, until the time arrived for him to begin his mission.
This week contains within it a special date for the American Chabad-Lubavitch community, yet possibly even more so for the American Jewish community at large.
The date is the Ninth of Adar, (Thursday, Feb. 25). On this day, in 5700 (March 19, 1940), the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, arrived in the United States.
For all purposes, this day marks the beginning of the "dissemination of the wellsprings (of Chasidus) to the outside" in the Northern Hemisphere.
Though weakened in body--as he was confined to a wheelchair--he was not weakened in spirit.
After his arrival in the United States, the previous Rebbe successfully devoted himself to establishing a strong educational system here. Within two years, yeshivot in New York, Montreal, Newark, Worcester and Pittsburgh were founded. This flurry of activity, however, did not at all affect the manner in which he continued to work toward the establishment of educational organizations in other parts of the world. For, within ten years, programs were started in Paris, Safaria (Israel) and North Africa.
Before his arrival in the United States, the previous Rebbe was told that "America is different." The customs and ways from the "old country" just wouldn't do here. The Rebbe replied in his usual indomitable manner, "America is not different!" and proceeded, throughout the rest of his life, to prove that he was right.
The Jewish community here is greatly indebted to this prophetic and visionary giant.
* * *
The Previous Rebbe announced, upon his arrival, that he was going to open the first Chabad-Lubavitch yeshivah in America. He said, "America iz nisht andersh--America is not different [from Europe]." Just as yeshivot had dotted the European landscape for centuries, so too would they flourish here in America.
Upon hearing this, many people came to the Previous Rebbe and tried to dissuade him, citing examples of prominent rabbis who had also tried to establish yeshivot in America and had failed.
The Rebbe replied, "I did not come to America to relax, but rather, Divine Providence brought me to America to start rebuilding Judaism." He refused to go to sleep that night until he was assured that the yeshivah would open as he wished. The following day, Tomchei T'mimim Lubavitch Yeshivah in Brooklyn opened with ten students.
* * *
The Previous Rebbe wrote and spoke at great length about the process of education and the momentous task that is bestowed upon teachers.
In "The Principles of Guidance and Education," the Previous Rebbe describes the process of introspection and refinement that an educator must undergo in order to properly guide his/her students. He also explains how a teacher must carefully examine each individual pupil's character and tailor his/her teaching style to best educate the student with both love and firmness.
Contrary to the old saying that "those who can, do, and those who can't, teach," the Rebbe shows us that only a person with a truly fine, exceptional character can properly carry out the task of teaching the next generation.
The Rebbe explains that the arrival of the Previous Rebbe on our shores marked the beginning of the primary efforts to spread Chasidus and Judaism to the outer reaches of the world at large.
We should intensify our efforts to carry out the service begun on the 9th of Adar, namely, to spread the light of Torah to the entire world, until the Redemption comes and this world is revealed as G-d's dwelling.
Rosh Chodesh Adar II, 5738/1978
As you surely know, the special additional Torah portion, Parshat Zachor, which is read on the Shabbat before Purim, contains the commandments to remember what Amalek, the arch-enemy of our Jewish people, did to our people when they were on their way to receive the Torah at Sinai. Amalek's unprovoked and stealthy attack was calculated to shake their belief in G-d and dampen their enthusiasm for His Torah and mitzvot.
Haman, a direct descendant of Amalek, was driven by hatred of the Jews, because "their laws were different from those of any other people," as the Megillah states. Likewise did all subsequent Amalekites and Hamans of all ages hate the Jews.
But "Amalek"--in a wider sense--represents all obstacles and hindrances that a Jew encounters on his or her way to receive and observe the Torah and mitzvot with enthusiasm and joy in the everyday life. And so Parshat Zachor comes to remind us, and never forget, that Amalekites exist in every generation and in every day and age, and that we must not allow ourselves to be deterred or discouraged by any Amalekite in any shape or form.
If the question be asked, "Why has G-d done thus?" Why should a Jew be confronted with such trials and difficulties? The answer is, that every Jew has been given the necessary powers to overcome all such Amalekites, and he is expected to use them, in order to demonstrate to himself and others that nothing will deter him, nor dampen his fervor, in the observance of the Torah and mitzvot in accordance with G-d's Will. And once he recognizes that whatever difficulty he encounters is really a test of his faith in G-d, and resolves firmly to meet the challenge, he will soon see that no Amalek of any kind is a match for the Divine powers of the Jewish soul. Indeed, far from being insurmountable obstructions, they turn out to be helpers and catalysts for ever greater achievements, having been instrumental in mobilizing those inner powers that would have otherwise remained dormant.
This is also forcefully brought out in the Megillah, in the example of Mordechai the Jew, who "would not bend his knee nor bow down" before Haman. As a result of this indomitable stance, not only was Haman's power totally broken, but many enemies became friends, as the Megillah tells us that "many of the peoples of the land were becoming 'Jewish,' for the fear of Mordechai fell upon them!"
May G-d grant that each and all of you should go from strength to strength in emulating Mordechai the Jew, advancing in all matters of Judaism, Torah and mitzvot, with joy and gladness of heart, and may you all be blessed with a full measure of "light, joy, gladness, and honor," both in the plain sense as well as in the inner meaning of these terms in accordance with the interpretation of our Sages--"Light--this is the Torah... Honor--this is tefillin"--since the Torah and mitzvot, though a "must" for their own sake, are the channels and vessels to receive and enjoy G-d's blessings in all needs, materially and spiritually.
Wishing each and all of you a happy Purim, and may its inspiration be with you every day throughout the year.
On the festival of Purim, when we all listen carefully to the reading of the Megillah and ponder upon the story it tells us, let us all remember a few important details and facts that took place in those days at this time:
There arose a Haman, who issued a decree to murder and destroy all Jews at a fixed date.
Queen Esther then calls upon Mordechai to "gather all the Jews and fast" and then she would go and plead with the King to rescind the terrible decree.
Mordechai thereupon goes and gathers tens of thousands of Jewish children and teaches them the Torah; he teaches them the procedure of offering the Omer when the Bet-HaMikdosh would be rebuilt.
All the children are so enchanted by the new spirit that Mordechai had inculcated into them, that even facing the danger of death, they exclaim: We stick with Mordechai and the Torah--for life or death!
In that very same day the decree becomes null and void. Haman's downfall is already assured and the Jews are saved, even though they learn of it only after a number of months.
The experience of our fathers is a lesson to us all.
Let us remember that one of the chief means of frustrating the Haman's of our time, bring about their downfall and bring light and joy to our people is:
TO GATHER JEWISH CHILDREN AND TEACH THEM TORAH AND YIDDISHKEIT!
To tell them that the true and complete redemption really lies in our own hands, for as soon as we Jews return to G-d in complete repentance--we are redeemed immediately, by our Righteous Messiah.
To tell them further, that our Holy Bet-HaMikdosh will be rebuilt soon, and we must all be worthy and prepared to serve our G-d in the Holy Sanctuary.
On the day when the Jewish children are imbued with this spirit, and are ready to exclaim--"We remain with thee, our Torah, for life or death"--on that very day, our Torah assures us, all the Hamans will be defeated, and all Jews will have 'light, gladness, joy and respect,' speedily in our time.
Wishing you a Happy Purim,
Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson
Danger in Exile
Jewish morale was at an all-time low. The Temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed, the nation conquered, and for almost 70 years, had been dispersed in foreign lands. The prophesied end of Exile had not materialized, and the blight of assimilation had set in.
Just then, the enemy arose to carry out his evil plans. This time it was Haman. Descended from the Jew-hating tribe of Amalek, Haman devised his scheme to solve "the Jewish problem" once and for all, by annihilating every Jew, men, women and children, throughout the world, in a single day.
Rallying the Jews
And it almost worked. Were it not for Mordechai. A descendent of King Shaul, and advisor to King Achashverosh, Mordechai sensed the danger. Donning sackcloth and ashes, he went to the gate of the palace, crying aloud, rallying the Jews to return to Torah.
His niece, Queen Esther, called for him. He told her that she must go to the King and plead for her people. Officially in disfavor, she feared to go, but saw that she had no choice. She undertook a three-day fast of penitence, and called upon the whole Jewish people to do likewise. Then she went to the King . . .
It is a story of great courage and self-sacrifice--first and foremost by Queen Esther and Mordechai, and ultimately by the whole Jewish nation. For throughout the duration of the whole year, not one single Jew chose to convert, even to save his life. The nation was awakened to a whole-hearted return to Torah and mitzvot, and throughout the year strengthened their faith and observance.
And in the merit of this, they were able to rise up against their enemies and destroy them, on the 13th of Adar, the very day destined for the "final solution."
The Jewish people had shown their true character. They had earned the right to leave Exile, to return to the Holy Land, and rebuild the Temple.
As it was in those days, so may it be with us today. Each year in fulfilling the special mitzvot of the Purim festival, we reaffirm our commitment to the eternal values of the Torah . . . and we share in the very same merit that redeemed the Jewish people in the days of Mordechai and Esther.
Remembered and Reenacted
One of the Purim mitzvot is the reading of the Megillah--the Scroll of Esther, in which the miracle of Purim is recounted. The Talmud tells us that "whoever reads the Megillah backwards does not fulfill his obligation." Our Sages explain that "backwards" does not only mean in reverse order; it also means that whoever reads the Megillah merely as ancient history has missed the point.
The Purim story is directly relevant to our contemporary world. As the Megillah itself tells us, that when we celebrate Purim each year, the miraculous events of Purim are "remembered and reenacted" in our lives.
Haman, Then and Now
One does not have to look far to find Haman's modern-day heirs. Now, as then, there are evil schemers who seek to scapegoat the Jewish people and--Heaven forfend--to erase us from the face of the earth. Each time they rise up to destroy us, their schemes are foiled by the miraculous Hand of G-d.
The most striking example in recent times was the Persian Gulf War that ended victoriously on Purim, 5751/1991.
From Redemption to Redemption
Throughout our history, we have seen miracles. Despite centuries upon centuries of persecution, we have survived and flourished, by the Grace of G-d.
Yet we have remained in exile for nearly 2,000 years, hoping and praying for the final and complete Redemption--the Redemption that will end suffering and exile forever. May the observance of Purim be a precursor to the coming of Moshiach, our Righteous Redeemer, whose imminent arrival will bring about a better life for all the nations of the world.
Purim is the festival that commemorates the breathtaking victory over the murderous designs of Haman. Observed on the fourteenth of Adar, this joyous festival reveals the hidden Hand of G-d in the events of man.
It is a day to be celebrated by the entire family--not only adults and boys and girls past bar/bas mitzvah, but youngsters too should be encouraged to fulfill the mitzvot of Purim.
Listen to the Megillah
To relive the miraculous events of Purim, we listen to the reading of the Megillah (the Scroll of Esther) on Monday night, March 1, and again on Tuesday, March 2, during the daytime.
When Haman's name is mentioned, we twirl graggers and stamp our feet to "drown out" his evil name. Tell the children Purim is the only time when it's a mitzvah to make noise!
Send Gifts of Food
On Purim we emphasize the importance of Jewish unity and friendship by sending gifts of food to friends. Send a gift of at least two kinds of ready-to-eat foods (for example, pastry, fruit, beverage), to at least one friend on Tuesday, March 2, during the daytime.
It is proper that men send to men and women to women. Sending these gifts should be done through a third party. Children, in addition to sending their own gifts of food, make enthusiastic messengers.
Give Gifts to the Needy
Concern for the needy is a year-round responsibility for the Jew. On Purim, particularly, it is a special mitzvah to remember the poor. Give charity to at least two, but preferably more, needy individuals on Tuesday, March 2, during the daytime.
The mitzvah is best fulfilled by giving directly to the needy. If, however, you cannot find poor people, place at least several coins into pushkas (charity boxes). Even small children should fulfill this mitzvah.
Eat the Festive Meal
As on all festivals, we celebrate Purim with a special festive meal on Tuesday, March 2, during the daytime, when family and friends gather together to rejoice in the Purim spirit.
The Fast of Esther
To commemorate the day of prayer and fasting that the Jews held before their victory, we fast on the day before Purim, on Monday, March 1, from approximately 72 minutes before sunrise until 40 minutes after sunset.(1)
It is a tradition to give 3 half-dollar coins to charity to commemorate the half-shekel given by each Jew in the time of the Holy Temple.
This mitzvah, usually performed in the synagogue, should be done on Monday, March 1, or Tuesday, March 2, according to your custom.
On Purim we recite the V'Al HaNissim liturgy in the Amidah (Silent Prayer) for evening, morning and afternoon, as well as in the Grace After Meals.
In the morning service there is a special reading from the Torah Scroll in the synagogue.
1. In New York City, at 6:25 p.m.
Hamentaschen, a traditional Purim delight, is a three-cornered pastry filled with mohn (poppy seed) or other sweet filling.
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup margarine
4 cups flour
1/2 cup orange juice
3 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
2 lbs. mohn filling
Cream sugar, oil and margarine. Add eggs and juice and mix well. Blend with dry ingredients and roll into a ball. Divide into four parts. Roll out each piece very thin (approximately 1/8 inch) on a floured board. With the rim of a cup or glass (depending on desired size), cut into the dough to make circles. Place 1/2 to 2/3 teaspoon of filling in the middle of each circle.
To shape into triangle, lift up right and left sides, leaving the bottom side down, and bring both sides to meet at center, above the filling. Lift bottom side up to center to meet other two sides.
Preheat oven to 350o . Brush dough with beaten egg before baking. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350o for approximately 20 minutes.
Yields 4 dozen Hamentaschen.
Purim is such a great holiday.
Children and adults alike love to celebrate Purim with the exciting and unusual mitzvot and customs of the day. Dressing up, eating hamentaschen for dessert at the Purim meal (do you like prune, poppy seed, raspberry or apricot?), twirling the gragger at Haman's name in the Megillah, and giving shalach manot--food gifts to friends. These are the reasons why the young of age and the young at heart look forward to Purim each year.
Did you ever stop to think what the Purim mitzvot and customs have in common? Let's take off the masks, open up the shalach manot, look inside the Megillah--peel the layers off of everything--and see the common denominator intrinsic to all of them.
When someone is dressed up in a costume or mask, his identity is concealed. Rich or poor, smart or average, pretty or homely, we no longer perceive the physical, economic, or intellectual differences that often separate us. Yes, one costume is expensive, another more original, and there are hundreds of Queen Esthers. But it's obvious that these are just externals. They aren't the person inside the costume. On a very basic level, when we dress up on Purim our superficial differences are, for the moment, concealed.
The Megillah, that exciting story recounting the triumph of right over might, good over evil, and the Jews' faith in G-d over the vile schemes of Haman, is also a lesson in Jewish equality and unity. For, it was only once the Jews united, that they were saved from Haman's plan of total annihilation. Men, women and children, scholars and shoe cobblers, peasants and the Queen all fasted and prayed as one for three days and nights to avert the evil decree. And because they united, because each one felt equally responsible and able to effect a change, their prayers and penitence were accepted.
Now, on to those delicious hamentaschen of varying fillings and recipes. Some say they are meant to remind us of Haman's hat or his ears. But they are also symbolic of that which is hidden within. G-d's Hand, so to speak, was hidden during the whole Purim episode--the incidents that led up to Esther being crowned queen, Mordechai overhearing the palace guards' plot to kill Achashverosh, etc., seemed quite natural. But they were--like everything in life--Divine Providence, G-d's way of putting together an intricate puzzle.
Just as the filling is concealed in the hamentaschen and the Divine was hidden during the Purim epoch of Jewish history, the Divine within each one of us is hidden--very often to others and often even to ourselves. The Divine within each of us is our soul--the actual part of G-d that gives us life. And though it is intangible, though its existence is often concealed, the soul is the great equalizer of all of us. For, though one Jew might do more mitzvot than another, or have a more comprehensive Jewish education, or be kinder or gentler, the essence of our souls and their source are the same--an actual part of G-d.
Lastly, we have the shalach manot, those delightful packages of goodies. They range from a sandwich bag with raisins, cookies and a drink to a three-foot-high wicker basket filled with aged-wine and elegant treats. There are numerous differences in packaging, price and products, but, once again, all shalach manot have one thing in common: they foster unity. Unity not just because we feel good when we give and when we receive. But unity also because we customarily give the shalach manot through a messenger--we involve another person in the mitzvah. When giving the shalach manot we connect not only with the person to whom we are giving, but to a third person as well. And the messenger can be anyone--young or old, friend or stranger, male or female.
This Purim in particular is a special time to participate in the mitzvot of Purim or to enhance our observance of them. For, as the Rebbe explained, the Redemption is imminent and each act of kindness, every deed, any additional mitzvah, helps us better prepare ourselves for that era which is unfolding before our very eyes.
The Jews of Persia celebrated their victory over Haman and their other enemies on Adar 14. The Jews of the capital city of Shushan--a walled city--however, had a longer battle, waging war on the 13th and 14th of Adar. They therefore celebrated on the 15th.
To honor the Land of Israel, our Sages ordained that any city in Israel that had been surrounded by a wall--like Shushan--during the times of Joshua would also celebrate Purim on Adar 15. Thus, the 15th of Adar became known as Shushan Purim.
Jerusalem is the only city in Israel where Purim is celebrated on Adar 15.
The Rebbe's slogan is: "The main thing is the deed." We therefore present from the Rebbe's talks suggestions what we can do to complete his work of bringing the Redemption.
The Rebbe has called on every Jew to observe the mitzvot of Purim: hearing the Megillah read, giving charity, eating a festive meal, sending gifts of food to friends and reciting the V'Al HaNissim prayer.
In addition, the Rebbe asked that everyone take part in spreading the awareness of the mitzvot of Purim. "There should not be a single Jew in a far-off corner of the world who does not have the opportunity to fulfill all the mitzvot of Purim."
May this Most Joyous of Jewish Festivals
Bring Joy to You and All Your Loved Ones...
May the Miracle of Purim Be Reenacted
in Your Life, Your Family's Life
and in All Our Lives...
And May We Rejoice Together
in the Culmination of the Miracle of Purim--
the Imminent Arrival of Moshiach,
and a Better World for All Humankind.
Jewish Women and Girls Light Shabbat Candles
For local candle lighting times:
consult your local Rabbi, Chabad-Lubavitch Center, or call: (718) 774-3000.
For a free candle lighting kit:
contact your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.
For a listing of the Centers in your area:
In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).
Friday, Feb. 26, Erev Shabbat Parshat Tetzave:
Saturday, Feb. 27, Shabbat Parshat Tetzave:
2. The Shabbat candles must be lit 18 minutes before sunset. It is prohibited and is a desecration of the Shabbat to light the candles after sunset.
Laws of Shabbat Candle Lighting for the Blind
Shabbat Candle Lighting Blessing
"Let There Be Light" - The Jewish Women's Guide to Lighting Shabbat Candles.
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