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February 26, 1988 - Image 59

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-02-26

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A Toast
To Jewish Living

The Joy of Purim: Turning Sorrow To Gladness


Marvin Kasoff is the education
director at Cong. Shaarey Zedek
and the author of this month's
L'Chayim theme — Purim. For each
edition of L'Chayim, a rabbi, a
Jewish educator or other notable
from the community will present an
"When Adar comes in, joy
reigns supreme."
The holiday of Purim has been
a source of joy and merriment for
the Jewish people for hundreds of
years. In Jewish communities all
over the world, the beginning of the
Hebrew month of Adar signals the
approaching holiday, and imminent
arrival of the festivities of Purim. For
on this day, the Jews celebrated
their victory over the evil Haman,
and they were urged to "keep the
14th and 15th days of the month
Adar, the days when the Jews had
rest from their enemies, and the
month which was turned for them
from sorrow to gladness, and from
mourning to celebration; that they
should make them days of feasting
and gladness, of sending portions to
each other and gifts to the poor."
So Purim over the centuries
has become a victory celebration, a
symbol of one of the few occasions
in Jewish history when right
triumphed over might.
Whenever Jews remembered
this time of great joy, it helped to
alleviate the despair which they felt
during those times of persecution
and injustice which were all too
often their lot. Purim was the Jewish
version of Mardi Gras, when all
kinds of behavior, normally frowned
upon, was permitted. Parties and
celebrations, drinking and clowning,
play-acting and horseplay, all came
to be tolerated, if not always
encouraged. Purim was, and
remains, one of the favorite times of
the year, certainly for the young,
and for the young in spirit.
In a sense, Purim was the

antidote to depression for Jews
throughout the centuries. When the
Jewish people felt persecuted, when
times were not so good, along
came Purim to brighten their lives.
Coming as it does at the end of
winter, Purim also was a time of
release, for it meant that spring was
about to set in.
In some ways the very unreality
of the Purim story, the almost fairy-
tale quality of it all, has increased
the pleasure and made the entire

holiday that much more fun. Many
historians believe that the story of
Esther and Mordechai really never
took place, that it is all allegory and
fable grafted into Persian mythology.
Other rabbis noted that God is
nowhere mentioned in the story,
even though it is one of the books
of the Bible. Nevertheless, the
power of Purim has made it endure
over the centuries, and the holiday
has come down to us as the source
of much comfort and much joy.

The centerpiece of the holiday
is the reading of the Megillah, which
is the obligation of each Jew,
preferably both on the eve of Purim,
and in the morning. Although
attention is supposed to be paid to
every word in the ancient story of
Esther and her triumph, nevertheles,
it is permissible to raise a great din
whenever the name of Haman is
mentioned, so as to blot out even
the sound of his name.
Continued on Page L-3

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