Purim Nuggets

Created by Rabbi Shari Shamah, Jewish Life Specialist


There are four Mitzvot for Purim

  • Reading of the Megillah – מקרא מגילה/ Mikra Megillah
  • Sending of gifts to friends & family – משלוח מנות /Misloach Manot
  • Gift to the poor – מתנות לאביונים /Matanot L’evyonim
  • Festive Purim meal – סעודת פורים /Seudat Purim

Who are the characters in the Purim Story?

  • Vashti – King Ahashverosh’s first wife who refused to dance before the king.
  • Esther – The king’s 2nd wife, the namesake of the Megillah, and the heroine of the story
  • Mordechai – Esther’s cousin (uncle?) who refused to bow down to Haman
  • Haman – King Achashverosh’s vizier or chief advisor
  • King Ahashverosh – The King of Persia

What was Queen Esther’s real name?

  • From the Talmud: Rabbi Yehuda differs and says: Hadassah was her real name. Why then was she called Esther? Because she concealed [mastered] the truth about herself, as it is stated: “Esther had not yet made known her kindred nor her people” (Esther 2:20 – Text from Talmud, Megillah 13a)

Why do some people drink on Purim?

אָמַר רָבָא: מִיחַיַּיב אִינִישׁ לְבַסּוֹמֵי בְּפוּרַיָּא עַד דְּלָא יָדַע בֵּין אָרוּר הָמָן לְבָרוּךְ מָרְדֳּכַי.

  • From the Talmud: Rava said: A person is obligated to become intoxicated with wine on Purim until he is so intoxicated that he does not know how to distinguish between cursed is Haman and blessed is Mordecai. (Talmud, Megillah 7)

What is Shushan Purim?

  • Purim is unique in that when you celebrate it depends on where you live. If you live in a walled city like Jerusalem, or Shushan Persia, you celebrate on the 15th of Adar instead of the 14th.  Why?  During the time of Queen Esther, the King gave the Jews of Shushan permission to defend themselves for an extra day on the 13th and 14th of Adar, so they couldn’t celebrate until the 15th.

What is your favorite flavor hamantaschen?

Where does the name Purim come from?

  • Purim means “Lots” in Persia. Haman (Boo!) had a plot to get rid of all the Jews.

“In the first month, that is, the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, pur—which means “the lot”—was cast before Haman concerning every day and every month, [until it fell on] the twelfth month, that is, the month of Adar.”  (Esther 3:7)

What are those things called that we shake during the reading of the Megillah?

  • How did graggers get their name?  According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary:  grager (greger, gregger, grogger) is a noun meaning a rattle or noisemaker traditionally used by children during the Purim festival at every mention of Haman’s name during the reading in the synagogue of the scroll of the Book of Esther. The Etymology comes from the Yiddish grager, greger, or from Polish grzegarz rattle.

Why do we wear costumes on Purim?

  • “Why do we disguise ourselves on Purim? Because on Purim nothing is as it seems. Was the banishment of Vashti simply one of those things that happen when a debauched Persian emperor gets drunk? Was it just coincidence that Mordechai happened to overhear a plot to kill the king? Did Achashverosh choose Esther to be his queen because she happened to be the most beautiful woman in the empire? Was it plain bad luck for bad Haman that he happened to come visit Achashverosh just when the king was having Mordechai’s heroic deed read to him? Was it Esther’s charm and Achashverosh’s flippancy that made the king suddenly hang his favorite minister?” (https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1506/jewish/Masquerade.htm)

Why is there a Fast of Esther?

  • Taanit Esther in Hebrew. This morning to evening fast is held the day before the festival of Purim to remind us of the significance of what happened during the Purim story (tragedy into victory) and is a nod to the fact that Esther fasted on the day before she went to see the King to appeal to him to save the Jewish people.