Happy Purim!

March 8, 2012

Thank you for all the concern about my burned-to-a-crisp leg. It really doesn’t hurt at all. I just hope I don’t have a permanent tattoo advertising the cheapest curling iron I could find at Target.

You guys. I am sad. I am pretty much done with the Little House books. I still have to read The First Four Years and Farmer Boy, but both of them are different in tone and characters. I just finished These Happy Golden Years.

Laura is all grown up and she just got married to Almanzo. It’s happy, but also sad because she is no longer a little girl playing with Mary along the banks of Plum Creek. Now she cooks and teaches and sews dresses for herself. On her very last night at home, she asks Pa to play the fiddle and she remembers each of the songs and is reminded of her home in the big woods, and on the prairie, and in the dugout and on Silver Lake. “Then while the sun was going down he played all the old tunes that Laura had known ever since she could remember.”

It’s OK to cry at books, you guys.

So we’re celebrating Purim this evening! Like I mentioned yesterday, the holiday of Purim comes from the book of Esther. During this time, the Israelites were in exile and under the control of the Persian king. This king decided he wanted a new wife, so he searched the kingdom for some beautiful ladies. Hadassah (Esther) was one of them. She won the favor of the king and became queen, but she never told him that she was a Jew. Esther had a cousin named Mordecai and he made a man named Haman angry because he would not bow down to him. Haman apparently took things a little too personally because he decided to kill all of the Jews in the whole world simply because Mordecai made him mad. Haman managed to get the king to agree to this killing, and he planned to murder all the Jews in the month of Adar. Well, Esther stepped up and was very brave — she ended up telling the king that she was Jewish, and she exposed Haman’s plot and the king sided with her. The Jews would not be killed, and instead, Haman was hanged on the very gallows he had built for Mordecai. Bam! Haman, what now?!

So, in Esther 9, the holiday of Purim is instituted. Purim is the plural of “pur” which means “lot” because Haman cast a lot against the Jews. This holiday is celebrated every year because God saved his people from destruction. For the Jews, the Bible says,  “it was a month which was turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and rejoicing and sending portions of food to one another and gifts to the poor.”

Purim is a very celebratory holiday. You eat good food and drink wine and read the story of Esther to remember God’s work. Whenever Haman’s name is read, you shake noisemakers to blot out his name from the earth. This is because Haman was a descendent of Amalek, and Deuteronomy 25:19 says that when the Israelites get to the Promised Land they should “blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven; you must not forget.”

One tradition of Purim is to make Hamantaschen which are triangular cookies. Hamantaschen means “Haman’s pockets” in Yiddish. I made some last night — some filled with a poppyseed/honey mixture and some filled with Nutella. They did not all stay so triangular, but I tried.

I’ve never celebrated Purim before, so it’s been fun to learn about it. We’re celebrating tonight at small group, which should be great. We’re bringing canned goods to give to the food shelf at our church, and we’ll eat and read the story of Esther. We’re also dressing up in costumes and masks — it’s traditional to “masquerade” during Purim because the name of God is actually never mentioned in the book of Esther, but it is clear that he was at work behind the scenes, saving his people from destruction.

So, that’s Purim! It’s fun and celebratory and a remembering of God’s continued faithfulness to his people.

Alright, I must be off. Have a Happy Purim!