Friday, March 21, 2008

Purim, and all stuff springy!!!

So, being jewish i thought i would talk a little bit about the holiday of Purim which is celebrated on the 14th day of Adar, which is usually in March. 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 story of Purim is told in the Biblical book of Esther. 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. Esther was taken to the house of Ahasuerus, King of Persia, to become part of his harem. King Ahasuerus loved Esther more than his other women and made Esther queen, but the king did not know that Esther was a Jew, because Mordecai told her not to reveal her 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, so Haman plotted to destroy the Jewish people. In a speech that is all too familiar to Jews, 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 people's, 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 the fate of the Jewish people to Haman, to do as he pleased to them. Haman planned to exterminate all of the Jews.

Mordecai persuaded Esther to speak to the king on behalf of the Jewish people. This was a dangerous thing for Esther to do, because anyone who came into the king's presence without being summoned could be put to death, and she had not been summoned. Esther fasted for three days to prepare herself, then went into the king. He welcomed her. Later, she told him of Haman's plot against her people. The Jewish people were saved, and Haman was hanged on the gallows that had been prepared for Mordecai.

The book of Esther is unusual in that it is the only book of the Bible that does not contain the name of G-d. In fact, it includes virtually no reference to G-d. Mordecai makes a vague reference to the fact that the Jews will be saved by someone else, if not by Esther, but that is the closest the book comes to mentioning G-d. Thus, one important message that can be gained from the story is that G-d often works in ways that are not apparent, in ways that appear to be chance, coincidence or ordinary good luck.

The word "Purim" means "lots" and refers to the lottery that Haman used to choose the date for the massacre.

Dressing up in masks and costumes is one of the most entertaining customs of the Purim holiday. Children in particular enjoy dressing up as the characters found in the Scroll of Esther, including King Ahashverosh, Vashti, Queen Esther, Mordechai, and the evil Haman.

Costumes and masks are worn to disguise the wearers identity. Mistaken identity plays an important role in Purim, possibly originating from Esther's concealment of her Jewish heritage or in Haman's mistaken belief that the King's reward was ment for him

It is also evident in the Purim saying "that you are to drink until you can not distinguish between Haman and Mordechai." But what ever the origin, masks and costumes help to make Purim a very festive holiday.

I forgot to mention the graggers! Oooh fun...

Graggers are the noisemakers used during the reading of the Meglliah. Every time the name of Haman is mentioned, everyone boos, hisses, stamps their feet and twirls their graggers.

In addition, we are commanded to send out gifts of food or drink, and to make gifts to charity. The sending of gifts of food and drink is referred to as shalach manos Among Ashkenazic Jews, a common treat at this time of year is hamentaschen (my favorite) These triangular fruit-filled cookies are supposed to represent Haman's three-cornered hat. Not raw, i know this...but i partake! My mom used to make them homemade every single Purim, but she's older now and not in the best of health so we have to settle for the bakery version! Still, i partake.

It's a fun holiday, in the sense that it involves children, they love it! Today as i was out and about i noticed many people walking the streets in costume! It felt like halloween, only it wasn't. Just a terrific holiday in every sense.

There's other stuff. Running has become more and more of a joy to me. It helps in so many ways! I always used to say, and i still do that you either hate to run, or you love to run...i love it! Simple. I feel free when i run, i feel light and happy. See, i'm not hard on myself if i don't run 5 miles or can't run 5 miles. I listen to my body. A good 3 mile run to me, is so much better than a bad 5 mile run. Plus, running is basically free! Well, of course you need a good pair of running shoes and some cool looking running outfits but thats it! After that, its pretty much up to you where you want to take it. Long runs, runs on the beach, runs with friends or just with your many choices! Love it!

I'm happy today! I do not know if its spring time that is giving me this high or just me. I love to wake up everyday with a smile on my face and face the day head on. To me, there is no other way. I guess in a way i am an all or nothing kinda gal. Is this healthy? I do not know. I guess its one more thing to discuss with my beloved therapist!

I am considering doing some sort of planting in my neighborhood. Mostly wild edible greens.( dandelion, purslane, lambs-quarters, and plantain). I have talked at length to a friend of mine about this and he will be doing the same. He says "Why not replant all public spaces with wild greens?" I agree, don't you? It is not expensive, very easy to do and wild greens spread! So, once they are planted you just have to wait for them to grow and grow and then partake in the natural goodness!

So, life is good! Lets celebate the goodness that is life. Purim, Easter, Spring, and all things green!!!
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