Tag Archives: Bible

The Festival of Purim

EstherPurim has been described as a Jewish mash-up of Halloween and Mardi Gras. The story of Purim is well-known to readers of the Old Testament. The Book of Esther tells how Esther, the Jewish wife of a Persian king, saved the Jewish people from the plot of an evil advisor to the king, named Haman. 

Haman had a grudge against Mordecai, who happened to be Esther’s cousin. Haman convinced the king to send out a decree that called on the rest of the kingdom to kill all the Jewish people. This decree would have included Esther but the king did not know she was Jewish.

Esther – knowing that the fickle king could easily have her killed – asked the Jewish people to fast for three days and then she went to the king and informed him that she was Jewish and that Mordecai was her cousin.

The king promised to give her anything she wanted. Haman was hanged for his evil plan and Mordecai became the king’s advisor in his place. Although it was too late to rescind the order to have the Jewish people killed, Mordecai amended the order so that the Jewish people could defend themselves. The following day the Jewish people celebrated and it is this celebration that is known today as Purim.

Jewish people typically observe Purim by publicly reading the story from the Book of Esther, giving to the poor, and sharing food. Some people produce plays, dress up in costumes, hold beauty contests, and have parades.

One popular food on Purim is a cookie called hamantaschen. It is translated to mean “Haman’s pockets” or “Haman’s ears,” and their triangle shape is said to mimic Haman’s triangle hat. Check back tomorrow for a post on this awesome – and fun – cookie.

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Why Do We Bother? Here’s One Perspective

One of the things that I just take for granted is that people are interested in learning about other people; that there is something worthwhile in stepping outside of your own cultural identity to try and “walk a mile” in someone else’s shoes.

I don’t question why this is important but – thanks to increasingly embarrassing rhetoric from pundits too ignorant to comprehend – I guess not everyone in America feels this way.

Here’s the thing: there’s a long history in this world that does not include America in the way we know it today. And it’s worth having a little humility when it comes to other people and cultures because we just might not have all the facts.

I refuse to let other Americans’ ignorance embarrass me. Just as I refuse to let other Christians’ ignorance embarrass me. The fundamental rule still applies – from Casablanca to my casa: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I would no more permit someone to burn a Koran than I would permit them to burn a Bible or a Torah in my presence. Because – as Jesus taught – it’s just not cool to disrespect others.

Here’s an article about vegetarianism and living in West Africa that I think gets to the heart of that idea without talking about religion or the pundit class. It’s just a simple story about appreciation, acceptance, and understanding – both yourself and others – and I think it’s a great read.

And to paraphrase the immortal words of “Hill Street Blues,” let’s be kind out there.

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