/Purim – Feast of Lots (14th day of Adar)

Purim – Feast of Lots (14th day of Adar)

Purim is a rabbinical holiday. The Jewish holiday of Purim is celebrated in memory of events recounted in the ‘Book of Esther’ in the Bible. It is not part of the Torah (the Five Books of Moses). Haman, first minister to the King of Babylon, wanted to destroy any Jews remaining in the country after their release from captivity. However, the King’s Jewish wife Esther was able to prevent the massacre. The name of the festival comes from the word pur (lot), because Haman cast lots (purim) to determine the date on which the Jews should be put to death.
Purim is a happy celebration, customarily marked in a carnival-like atmosphere. Jewish parishes often arrange big costume parties and a fun-filled programme. The entire ‘Book of Esther’ (Megillat Ester) is read aloud at the synagogue and whenever the text mentions the full name of first minister Haman, shouting and other noises rise up from the congregation to prevent his name from being heard.
Despite the biblical (although not Torah) origin of the festival, there are no Sabbath prohibitions attached to Purim, unlike many other feasts. In that sense it is similar to Hanukkah and Tu B’ishvat for example.