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Thursday, March 24, 2016

פורים Purim, Further Proof of Jewish Survival

Here in Shiloh, Purim seems to go on forever, two full days, instead of the standard one. Before living in Shiloh, we had been living in Jerusalem which has the easiest Purim of all. You have the Fast of Ta'anit Esther, then a day's break to take care of all the Purim preparations, or go to family and friends, and then, twenty-four 24 hours after breaking the fast, it's Purim, Shushan Purim.

That day's break is so convenient, because the rest of the Jewish World rushes into Purim, including costumes (for those who do it for themselves or the kids) and cooking, baking and assembling Mishloach Manot during the fast. And then still fasting we go off to hear the Megillat Scroll of Esther being read. So when we moved to Shiloh, not only did I lose my precious break, but we had to keep on celebrating Shushan Purim, yes, double all the requirements the Megilla readings, now four 4, festive meals, now two 2, the giving (and preparation) of Mishloach Manot for two 2 days and of course giving more charity... which is always a good thing.

And why is Shiloh one of the very few places in the Jewish World to celebrate both days? There definitely was a wall around Shiloh, not only prior to the time of the Purim story/history, but parts can still be seen today.

The remains of Biblical Shiloh as seen today in Shiloh Hakeduma

It has to do with the fact that there is no proof that there was a Jewish Community in Shiloh at the exact time of the Purim story, which took place after the destruction of the First Holy Temple. And apparently, this will be difficult to prove, which is why for the close to forty years since Jews have returned to live in Shiloh, which had been the first Capital of the Jewish Nation after the Exodus from Egypt and before King David brought the Ark back to Jerusalem, we celebrate both days.

There are references to Jewish Life in Shiloh after the Destruction of The Mishkan Tabernacle, which had been in Shiloh for three-hundred-sixty-nine 369 years, soon before Kings Saul and David, but since the focus on Shiloh had ended there seems to be no way to prove anything.

Here is a clear, well-written historical timeline which was sent out by the Phoenix, AZ Chabad.
         Purim 5776 (Starting Wednesday night, March 23) we shall, G-d willing, celebrate 2,371 years since the very first miracle of Purim.
          Our Sages state that the Purim Festival shall remain on the Jewish calendar even after the arrival of the Righteous Moshiach.
          During the Jewish people’s Exodus from Eygypt the nations of the Middle East were in great awe of G-d’s miracles performed in that country in defense of the Jewish people.

          The nation of AMALEK (descendants of Esau) was the first and only to come from afar and attack the Jews in the desert, thereby trying to undermine the universal respect and fear for the people of Israel. Amalek became the symbol of a war waged against the Creator of the World. 
          Today, there is no identified nation of Amalek. Rather, their descendants are sprinkled throughout the world, exercising their animosity toward the people of Israel.
          Mordechai the righteous was a descendant of King Saul, the first King of Israel, from the tribe of Benyomin.
          Haman was a descendant of King Agag (of the nation of Amalek) whom King Saul failed to exterminate as commanded by G-d., through the prophet Samuel.      517 years later the descendants of King Saul and King Agag, confronted each other in the Persian Empire (Iran).  Mordechai sought to correct some of his forefather King Saul’s failures by:
1)   Vanquishing Haman and all Amalekites of Persia.
2)   Ordering the Jewish troops not to benefit from the spoils of the war, as Saul had been ordered generations before (and disobeyed.)  The Megilah mentions 3 times that the troops did not touch the spoils of war. (Chapter 9: 10-15-16)
          Purim took place before the rebuilding of the second temple, during the time of Mordechai and Esther.         
Year of Creation   (Secular)                  
3389 (-371)  Cyrus, King of Persia, encouraged the Jews of Babylonia to return to Eretz Yisrael and to rebuild the Holy Temple.                  
3391 (-370)  The building of the second Temple began.                                         
3392 (-369)  Achashverosh II (who was not of royal descent) becomes the emperor after the death of Cyrus and orders the cessation of construction of the Temple, at the urging of Vashti, his wife (“the Temple that my forefathers destroyed, you are  permitting to be rebuilt?) 
3395 (-366)  Three years after coming to power, Achashverosh made his great banquet. 
3399 (-362)  Esther was unwillingly taken to the palace in the 7th year of King Achashverosh, contrary to the wishes of Mordechai. 
3404 (-357)  During the 12th year of Achashverosh, Haman cast the lot starting the plot to annihilate the entire Jewish people - men, women and children. In the same year, Esther took action against Haman's decree.                    
3405 (-356)  Eleven months after the decree, on the 14th (and 15th) of Adar, the Jews finally rejoiced in their relief. The entire Purim miracle occurred within a 9 – 10 year period.  It is celebrated on the day the Jews enjoyed peace and safety rather than the day of the battle and victory.
3406 (-355)  Mordechai proclaimed Purim. King Achashverosh dies; succeeded by Darius II, son of Esther. Esther was thus with the king about 7 years (from 3399 to 3406). 
3408 (-353)  70 years after the destruction of the first Temple, the building of the second Temple was resumed by order of Darius II. The King of Persia requested that a remembrance of the city of Shushan (capital of the Persian Empire) be placed in the Holy Temple, as a clear indication of who had authorized it’s rebuilding. It was placed on the eastern gate, which was consequently named Sha'ar Shushan (The Gate of Shushan). 
3413 (-348)  Ezra, head of the Sanhedrin (Jewish Supreme Court) led the return to Eretz Yisrael. Only 42,000 returned with him to Jerusalem   
              Mordechai and Esther are buried side-by-side in Iran (the capital of the Persian Empire).  Iranian Jews, for generations, have prayed at that site. They tell us that Moslems come to that sacred site to pray for themselves and their families, in the full knowledge that Mordechai and Esther were leaders of the Jewish people. 
2.    As a sign of Jewish unity and friendship we send GIFTS OF FOOD to each other.
3.    GIFTS OF MONEY – to at least two needy people.
4.    Participate in a PURIM FESTIVAL MEAL.
One thing that impresses me each year as I listen to the readings of the Megillat Scroll of Esther is that here we are at least two thousand five hundred 2,500 years later, and we are doing exactly what we had been told to do then. It shows the Jewish People as a very ancient people totally connected to our history. The Megillat Scroll of Esther is written in Hebrew, our ancient language, and is perfectly comprehensible today in the twenty-first century. That means that we still use the same language and follow the same theology, religious laws. Is there any other people/religion/nation like the Jewish People? No! We are unique and that is the proof that we really are special. We are the Chosen beloved Nation of Gd Almighty. 

Chag Purim Sameach to All
May You All Have a Joyous Purim!

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