Feminist Purim

From: Rivi Dear Rabbi, Am I correct in noticing that Purim features the role of a woman, Esther, as heroine more so than other Jewish holidays? If so, why might this be and what is the message? Dear Rivi, Purim is not the only holiday which features a female protagonist. The holiday of Pesach which[…]

Facade of Fury

From: David Dear Rabbi, I have learned that the reason for the decree against the Jews in the Purim story is that they partook of the feast of Achashverosh. Yet, I have also learned that the king had kosher food and kosher wine served for the Jews at his feast. If so, what was the[…]

Thorny Business

From: Melissa Dear Rabbi, What is the significance of Haman being hanged on a tree? Dear Melissa, The Sages taught (Ester Raba 9:2) that when Haman became infuriated with Mordechai for not bowing before him as everyone else did, his wicked wife Zeresh advised him to plot a death for Mordechai that none of his[…]

To Bow or Not to Bow?

From: Carrie Dear Rabbi, Haman was a malicious maniac who demanded homage from all – and most people obeyed. What I’m wondering is why Mordechai didn’t bow as well. Aside from this being one of the venues through which the salvation occurred, what were Mordechai’s reasons for not bowing down in honor of Haman as[…]

Poor and Purim

From: Henry Dear Rabbi, I know there is a special mitzva on Purim to give to the poor, but I’m not sure why. What’s the connection between the poor and Purim, and what are some of the specifics on how the mitzva is to be performed. Thanks for your time. Dear Henry, One particular aspect[…]

Parashat Zachor

From: Todd Dear Rabbi, What is Parashat Zachor, what does it have to do with Purim, and why is it read on Shabbat and not on Purim itself? Thanks for your time. Dear Todd, It is a positive Torah commandment to remember and verbally recall the wicked attack perpetrated by the people of Amalek against[…]

Purim Feast

From: Scott Dear Rabbi, I understand why we are to drink wine on Purim, but why is it important to eat a special meal? Dear Scott, One reason is that the decree of Achashverosh and Haman was directed against the “body” of the Jewish People. There was no interest or attempt to uproot the Jews[…]

Purim and Yom Kippur

From: Jake Dear Rabbi, I seem to recall that Purim is connected in some way to another holiday, maybe like Yom Kippur? Is that possible? If so, how? Sorry for the ignorance but I mentioned this to a friend of mine and he said that a holiday from the Torah like Yom Kippur can’t be[…]

Puerile Purim

From: Pamela in Portland, OR Dear Rabbi, I seem to remember some story about school children saving the day for Mordechai against Haman. Could you refresh my memory and explain what that was all about. I teach at a Jewish school and think my kids could relate to the involvement of children in the Purim[…]

Giving to Those Who Have

From: Hilary in Austin, TX Dear Rabbi, On Purim there are two mitzvot of giving: 1) to the poor and 2) to friends and acquaintances. I understand the first: to enable the needy to participate in and enjoy the holiday. I don’t understand the second. Why give to people who already have? For one, it[…]