This year again —it doesn’t happen so often — Purim falls on Shabbat in Jerusalem (and similar places in Israel). But not all of the Laws of Purim can be done on Shabbat. So, they are spread out over three days. To see the forest from the trees, here are the main Laws and when to keep them:
Thursday: the Fast of Esther, Bible reading. This year, the same day for all.
Thursday night and Friday morning: Reading of the Scroll of Esther.
Thursday/Fridays: The chance to give in Memory of the Half Shekkel.
Thursday/Fridays: Giving of gifts to the poor. Some prepare extra food.
Shabbat: Insert ‘Al haNissin’ in the Prayers (4x) and Table Hymn (3x).
Shabbat: Two readings on Amalek and a sermon on the Purim Miracle.
Shabbat: A month before Pesach, we start learning its elaborate Laws.
Sunday: Handing food to friends.
Sunday (afternoon): Eat a special festive meal. Don’t drink too much.
Throughout, happiness and local corona directives must be followed to a T.
Mnemonic Devices to Remember the Above
T T T T: Before: Day 5: Tzom, Torah, (HafTarah), BirkaT Kohanim.
מ מ מ מ: Day 6: Zeycher Mechatzit haShekkel, Megilah (x2), Matanot.
ע ע ע ע ע: Shabbat: Al haNissim, Amalek (2x), Eydut, Inyana De’yoma.
מ מ מ מ: Day 1: Marbim beSimchah (30x), Misloach Manot (x2), Mishtey.
Two Shabbat Sermons About the Purim Miracle
Some are appalled that Jews would celebrate these massacres. Answers:
1. The message was never that murder must always be an option.
2. Rather: Stop being naive about how murderous some enemies can be.
3. Jews are very careful about not murdering; this message fits them.
4. Those murdered were unstoppable men set to execute genocide.
5. As a measure of last resort, preventively killing to prevent murder is OK.
Layehudeem hoyetho oaro wesimcho wesosoan weekoar. (Esther 8:16)
The whole Scroll of Esther is one giant Miracle story. Now, what could be the biggest miracle in it?
We know that G^d copies our behavior, so to speak. So, what did we do?
The Sages teach us that we Jews accepted the Jewish way of life twice. The first time, a bit under duress, at the giving of the Torah at Sinai. And the second time, totally from our Free Will at the time of the Purim story.
That we, the stubborn People, said: ‘Now we’ve seen it all and we accept,’ that is the biggest Miracle of all if you’d ask me.
The first time, it’s harder to take something upon yourself freely.
However, after some time, to continue doing something virtuous, it’s harder to do so if you got obligated. Voluntary devotion is easier.
Yet, the most virtuous is to do something you’re obligated to do but to do it from your Free Will. Not because you should, but because you want to.