Anywhere in the world, Purim is observed on the 14th day of the Jewish month of Adar. However, it is celebrated a day later in Jerusalem because Jerusalem falls under the rules connected to a “walled city” in our holy books.
And so, on Wednesday evening and Thursday, March 6 and 7, costumes, parades, festive meals and parties occurred around Jerusalem.
Non-Jews, often compare Purim to Mardi Gras or Halloween because of its connection to dressing in costume and boundless merriment. But it is pretty different. It is a profoundly spiritual and meaningful Jewish holiday with material and spiritual components.
Most people are aware of the material aspects. It is celebrated by young and old with enthusiasm and delight, the wearing of costumes, performing ad-hoc plays, exchanging gifts of food, shelach-manot/the sending of portions, and all this is followed by a festive family meal, a seudah, in the late afternoon before the end of the holiday.
The spiritual aspect is connected to the Hebrew reading of the Megillah, which tells the story of Purim. Women have a special connection to Purim as listening to the main text of Purim, the Megillah, is one of the few commandments incumbents on women, and of course, the heroine of the text, Queen Esther, is a woman.
The Megillah can be chanted in synagogues or private homes and is repeated many times so that everyone can conveniently participate in listening to the chanting.
This year I attended the evening Megillah reading at Simhat Shlomo, my previous Yeshiva in Nahlaot, close to the Jerusalem open-air market, the shuk. The shuk was wild, with all the stalls open, selling their usual wares, Purim masks, and goodies. And restaurants blaring music and people jostling and dancing into the night. Here is a small insight into the festivities as you enter the shuk.
Some merriment intruded on a cell phone service store at a Jerusalem mall where I happened to be. I also took some videos inside the Yeshiva at the time of the megillah reading. So here we are, getting into the spirit of Purim.
We were all gathered, men, women and children, waiting for our megillah reader, Rabbi Leibish Hundert, and amusing ourselves with stories and singing.
And then Leibish began the megillah reading.
In the afternoon, I was invited to join my nephew, niece, and their family to join their friends and have a shared seudah.
If you are interested in more Purim Torah, I refer you to my previous blog on What Purim Can Teach Us Today.