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February 25, 1983 - Image 25

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-02-25

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Friday, February 25, 1983 25

Purim the Festival of Lots

By DVORA WAYSMAN

Service
JERUSALEM — Purim,
the Feast of Lots, is cele-
brated on 14 Adar. It was
a fast that became a feast in
the Book of Esther, as
Esther and her kinsman
Mordecai triumphed over
the evil machinations of
Harhan, vizier of King
Ahasuerus of Persia.
The name Purim means
lots, and Haman had
selected the date for the ex-
termination of the Jews by
casting lots:
"In the first month, that is
the month of Nisan, in the
12th year of King
Ahasuerus, they cast, Fur,
that is, the lot, before
Haman from day to day, and
from month to month, to the
12th month, that is the
month Adar" (Esther
3:7).
Although gambling is
never referred to in the
Bible, the casting of lots is
frequently mentioned
and was evidently re-
sorted to very often. An-
other instance occurred
when lots were cast to de-
termine which of two
goats was to be offered
up to God and which sent
to Azazel (Lev. 16:8).
Rashi's commentary
mentions that tablets were
taken from an urn, each tab-
let being alike in size and
shape. "Azezel," which lit-
erally means "dismissal" re-
fers to the scapegoat being
driven into the wilderness
to remove sin and guilt from
the community.
Again the casting of lots
occurs in the affair of
Jonathan: "And Saul said:
Cast lots between me and
Jonathan my son. And
Jonathan was taken" (I
Samuel 14:42-43).
Twice the Bible mentions
casting lots to divide up the
land: ". . the land shall be
divided by lot; according to
the names of the tribes of
their fathers they shall in-
herit. According to the lot
shall their inheritance be
divided between the many
and the few" (Numbers
XXVI:55-56).
And also: "And the lot
of the tribe of the chil-
dren of Judah by their
families, near the border
of Edom, was the wilder-
ness of Zin . . ." (Joshua
XV).
The sailors in the Book of
Jonah cast lots in order to
determine who was respon-
sible for their condition
(Jonah 1:7).
The German Halakhic
scholar, Jair Bacharach
(1639-1702), even goes so
far as to conclude, on the
basis of these Biblical pas-
sages, that a raffle is a
legitimate means of allow-
ing God's providence to op-
erate in favor of the winner
(Responsa Havvot Yair 61).
He quotes: "The lot is cast
into the lap; but the whole
disposing thereof is of the
Lord" (Proverbs 16:33).
On the other hand, the
Mishna states that two
types of gambler are dis-
qualified from being wit-
nesses in a Jewish court of
law . . . not because he is a

World Zionist Press

thief, but because he plays
no part in the betterment of
society.
The Shulkhan Arukh
(the authoritative Code of
Jewish Law) refers to the
occasional custom of
gambling and permits it
(Hoshen Mishpat 207:13).
In Israel, "the casting of
lots" is a favorite pastime
for much of the population,
hoping to ease its three-
figure inflation. Not only at
Purim, but all the year, you
can see people lining up at
small kiosks for their "Mifal
Hapayis" lottery tickets.
Often the line includes

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several ultra-Orthodox plagues" and "Many are
Jews — black clad and de- the friends at the palace
vout, with sidelocks and gates; few at the gates of
1141DT SEWN 'E
tzitzit (ritual fringes) who the debtor's prison."
consider that if they win, it
So, since it's Purim and a
will be a special gift from time to be happy, I'm off to
God. Hasidic communities Jaffa Road to have a mild
All work guaranteed
in Eastern Europe'often or- flutter and hope that Mifal
ganized lotteries of their Hapayis will cast its lots in
Free Estimates.
own, the proceeds going to my favor.
Reliable and Experienced since 1930
charity — as do those of
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gion to grapple with life's Jewish police officers, was
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