Purim: A Celebration of Deliverance

Saturday, March 23, 2024

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place... Who knows whether you have attained royal status for such a time as this?”

Esther 4:14

The nation of Israel and the Jewish people find themselves still in the thick of war after nearly 6 months of battle. And yet, we have seen the strength and resilience of the Lord in the Jewish people as we continue to live each day and not back down on fighting the enemy.

As the holiday of Purim approaches, all of us can relate to how the Jewish people must have felt during the time of Esther in the Bible. Haman and many others had planned to destroy the Jewish people, and this is exactly what Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran want to do to the nation of Israel. And yet in the book of Esther, God had a sovereign plan to deliver His people and make a way for the Jewish people to fight and defeat our enemies. Today, all of us living in Israel and those praying around the world, are pressing into the Lord to see Him do it again. We pray, “Lord, come fight for your people, protect and shield them from the enemy, and deliver Israel and the Jewish people again!”

As the Jewish people celebrate Purim this month, on the 14th of Adar, we remember the story of God delivering the Jewish people from imminent destruction in the ancient Persian Empire. This holiday is named after the word "pur" (lots), for the lots cast by Haman who was the prime minister under King Ahasuerus (Xerxes I), to determine the day he would exterminate the Jews. This story, encapsulated in Megillat Esther (Book of Esther), showcases themes of courage, faith, and God’s divine orchestration.

The Story of Purim: Courage and Providence

The Purim narrative highlights Esther, a Jewish girl who becomes queen and conceals her Jewish identity. Her cousin Mordecai refuses to bow down to Haman, which incites Haman's wrath. Haman persuades the king to sign an edict to annihilate the Jews. The story unfolds as Mordecai discovers a plot against the king. Mordechai encourages Queen Esther to rise up to defend the Jewish people by telling her that she has come to her royal position for such a time as this. Esther bravely calls a fast for 3 days and risks her life to approach the king to expose the plot against the Jewish people. She reveals her Jewish identity, and God turns the story around. The story culminates with the king ordering Haman's execution, Mordecai being elevated by the king, and a new edict written, allowing the Jews to defend themselves against their enemies. In the end, God gave the Jewish people victory over their enemies, and they celebrated with great feasting and joy!

“On the 13th day of the 12th month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them. The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those determined to destroy them. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them.” - Esther 9:1-2

Traditions of Purim: Joy, Memory, and Generosity

Purim traditions are designed to celebrate God’s miraculous deliverance of the Jewish people and to instill the story's lessons throughout generations. Some of these traditions include:

  • Megillah Reading: During the public recitation of the Book of Esther in synagogues, it is customary to drown out Haman's name every time he is mentioned with noise made by groggers or boos. This symbolized the eradication of evil.
  • Mishlo’ach Manot: Sending gifts of food to friends and Matanot La'Evyonim (giving gifts to the poor) emphasizes the importance of community and charity during this holiday. One of the most iconic items that is included in the Mishlo'ach Manot is Hamantaschen, a triangular cookie that is typically filled with a sweet filling such as dates or poppy seeds.
  • Purim Spiel: Theatrical presentations retell the Purim story, and often use humor and satire.
  • Dressing up in costumes and masks: The costumes symbolize the hidden miracles of the Purim story and Esther's concealed Jewish identity.

Tzedakah: The Essence of Purim and Vision for Israel's Work

“to have them celebrate annually the 14th and 15th days of the month of Adar as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.” - Esther 9:21-22

Tzedaka, the act of giving to the poor and the less fortunate, is a Purim cornerstone. Vision for Israel extends this biblical principle throughout the year, providing essential aid to those in need across Israel. In light of this Purim, we invite you to celebrate this holiday by giving gifts to the poor in Israel. To learn more about our work visit our projects page.

Antisemitism Today: The Shadow of Haman in Modern Times

The eerie resemblance between Haman and Hamas is not lost on contemporary observers. Just as Haman cast lots to annihilate the Jewish people, Hamas launched an attack against Israel on October 7th, the day of Simchat Torah, seeking our destruction.

But it didn’t end there. Following the attack and the subsequent war in Gaza, we are seeing a rise in antisemitism around the world today. This is a grave concern and we must learn from history.

This parallel highlights the enduring struggle against antisemitism and the importance of unity, resilience, and vigilance in safeguarding Jewish lives and heritage against modern threats. Let us raise our voices against antisemitism and stand together with our Jewish brothers and sisters.

The Timeless Message of Purim

God’s message through the Purim story is that when His people stand in courage and trust in Him, He will deliver His people from the hands of their enemies. This holiday also serves as a call to action in today's world, reminding us of the importance of standing against oppression, supporting one another, and fostering a community bound by generosity and love. God's message through the book of Esther remains ever-relevant, and now more than ever, for Israel as we find ourselves still at war.

Today, with many enemies surrounding Israel on all sides, we look to the Lord who is our deliverer and shield. He will protect and fight for His people. We expect to see Him do miracles and He will receive all the glory and honor for faithfully protecting His people and nation.

Learn more about this joyful holiday in these blogs:
Purim—The Victory of God’s People

How an Orphan Turned Queen Saved a Nation

Are you willing to bless Israel, make a difference in the lives of people, and partner with God's plan for restoration of the land of Israel?

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