A brilliant business mind, a flare for statesmanship and a charismatic personality… today’s Jewish Treat focuses on a renowned Jewish Renaissance Woman: Dona Gracia Mendes (Dona Gracia Nasi).
Unique to the Jewish calendar, Purim is actually observed on different days depending on location.
This Shabbat is Shabbat Parashat Zachor, the Sabbath of Remembering.
Purim is celebrated on Sunday, March 20th (beginning after Shabbat on March 19th). Four mitzvot are associated with the holiday:
“Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day; I also and my maidens will fast in like manner; and so will I go into the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). So responded Esther to her uncle Mordechai when he requested that she present herself, unbidden, before King Achashverosh.
Bashert, which in Yiddish means “predestined,” is most commonly applied to the concept of one’s intended soul-mate. This idea that, when dating, one is searching for his/her bashert, his/her divinely intended life partner, stems from Sotah 2a, which states: “Forty days before the creation of a child, a Heavenly Voice issues forth and proclaims: ‘The daughter of A is for B.’”
Those who first hear about the custom of Purim costumes might assume that the tradition began as an imitation of Halloween. Research, however, places the origin of Halloween costumes in the 18th century, while Purim disguises are mentioned in rabbinic texts as far back as the 13th century.
The climax of the Shabbat morning service is the Torah reading, which is often accompanied by great ceremony and beautiful chants. It is also an “interactive” ritual, since numerous congregants are involved. In contrast to this ceremony of great fanfare is the Torah reading of Shabbat Mincha (afternoon service).
“In the third year that Achashverosh, who reigned over 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia, sat on the throne in Shushan the capital…With the army of Persia and Medea…(Esther 1:1-2)
“Rabbi Aha said in the name of Rabbi Hanina ben Pappa that God regards the study of the laws of sacrifices equal to offering them” (Leviticus Rabbah 7:3).