So, just what is Purim and how is it celebrated? If those are questions you would like a brief answer to, read on.
The word Purim means lots, and refers to the lottery Haman used to choose the date for the massacre of Jews in the book of Esther. The primary commandment related to Purim is to hear the reading of the book of Esther.
It is customary to boo, hiss, stamp feet, and rattle noisemakers whenever the name of Haman is mentioned in the service. The purpose of this custom is to “blot out the name of Haman.”
The story of Esther and her for such a time as this is a story of God’s sovereignty and protection. Purim reflects that story. Purim is one of the most joyous and fun holidays on the Jewish calendar. It commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination.
The heroes of the story are Esther, a beautiful young Jewish woman living in Persia, and her cousin Mordecai, who raised her as if she were his daughter after her parents died. Esther was taken to the house of Ahasuerus, King of Persia, to become part of his harem. King Ahasuerus loved Esther more than the other women in his harem and made her queen. However, the king did not know Esther was a Jew. Mordecai told her not to reveal her Jewish identity.
The villain of the story is Haman, an arrogant, egotistical advisor to the king. Haman hated Mordecai because Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman. Haman plotted to destroy the Jews in all of Persia because of that.
Haman told the king, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your realm. Their laws are different from those of every other peoples’ and they do not observe the king’s laws; therefore, it is not befitting the king to tolerate them.” Esther 3:8.
The king gave Haman permission to do as he pleased to the Jewish people. With that permission, Haman planned to exterminate all of the Jews.
When Mordecai learned of the plot, he persuaded Esther to speak to the king on behalf of her people. This was a dangerous thing for Esther to do. Anyone who came into the king’s presence without being summoned, could be put to death.
Esther was not summoned. To prepare herself to go uninvited before the king, she prayed and fasted. She told Mordecai to have the people do the same.
When Esther went before the king, he welcomed her. She told him of Haman’s plot against her people. The Jewish people were saved. Haman and his ten sons were hanged on the gallows that Haman prepared for Mordecai.
One important message from the story of Esther and Purim is that in God’s sovereignty, he often works in ways which are not apparent. In ways that appear to be chance, coincidence, or ordinary good luck.
But make no mistake. Purim is not a story of chance, coincidence, or luck.
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In the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on its thirteenth day … on the day that the enemies of the Jews were expected to prevail over them, it was turned about: the Jews prevailed over their adversaries. Esther 9:1
And they gained relief on the fourteenth, making it a day of feasting and gladness. Esther 9:17
[Mordecai instructed them] to observe them as days of feasting and gladness, and sending delicacies to one another, and gifts to the poor. Esther 9:22
You can find my March Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.
I wish you well.
Gluten-free Hamantaschen Cookie Recipe
The triangular shape of the cookies represents Haman’s (Boo! Hiss!) hat.
This recipe for Hamantaschen is adapted from https://littleferrarokitchen.com/gluten-free-hamantaschen-for-purim/
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter softened
- 2/3 cups sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2 1/4 cups gluten-free flour
- preserves or jam for filling
- In a large stand mixer cream the butter until light and soft. Add sugar and cream together.
- Add 1 egg, vanilla and zest and mix well.
- In another bowl, sift together the flour and salt.
- With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined.
- Once mixed, take dough out and knead on a lightly floured surface until a smooth ball forms. Form the dough into a round, flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for about 1 hour.
- Remove dough from refrigerator and flour surface very well. Roll out the dough.
- Roll out dough to about 1/4 thick and use a 3-inch round cookie cutter to cut out circles.
- Take one circle and place a teaspoon of filling in the center. Take one side of circle and fold in. Take other side and fold in, bringing the top corners together.
- Now here’s the tricky part. Take the bottom part and fold up while making it overlap the 2-sides. So essentially, you want the left side-corner to be OVER the bottom flap and the right-side corner under the flap. Overlapping, creating a secure triangle.
- Pinch the corners and place the hamantaschen on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake cookies at 350 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. (Watch closely so the cookies don’t burn.)
- Let cool on baking sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack and serving.