Saturday, March 11, 2017 • 13 Adar 57777:35 PM - 10:05 PM
Ta’anit Esther Purim and Megillah Reading at UOS
March 9th, 11-12 ,2017
Fast of Esther - March 9th
Begins: 5:29 am
Fast Ends: 6:53 pm
Parshat Zachor is read on the Shabbat immediately preceding Purim (Shabbat, March 11th). We choose this Shabbat to observe the commandment to remember the evil of the nation of Amalek who are central to Purim as well. In Exodus 17:8-16, we read about their war against the Jewish people when they attacked us without mercy. The command in Deut. 25:17-19 states: “Remember what Amalek did to you, on your way as you departed from Egypt… you shall obliterate the memory of Amalek, you shall not forget.” According to most authorities, it is a Torah level commandment to hear this portion read in synagogue.
Men and women are encouraged to come to shul to hear Parshat Zachor. Torah reading begins at 10:00AM.
There will be a second reading immediately after services on Shabbat morning.
Family Megillah Reading – Sat. Night March 11th – 7:35PM
In order to maintain the sanctity and uniqueness of Shabbat, our tradition has special protections in place. One of those is to make sure we do not prepare for post Shabbat activities on Shabbat. This even includes preparing for the joyous day of Purim. As such, please make sure not to bring or wear your costume (the same goes for graggers and personal megillahs) to shul on Shabbat or change into your costume on Shabbat.
There will be a Special Youth Program (K-5th) - Sat. Night March 11th - 7:35PM including an arts and crafts project an a magic show.
Maariv and Havdallah – We will daven Maariv at the conclusion of Shabbat. Megilah reading will follow. Havdallah will follow Megillah reading. Those who are not in shul for Maariv should daven Maariv at home before getting ready for Purim.
The Amidah for Maariv should include the paragraph for ending Shabbat –
Ata chanantanu - and Al HaNissim for Purim
A short break has been built into the Saturday night schedule to allow for families to come back to shul after Shabbat. Instead of a gragger, please bring a box of macaroni that can donated to RMBA who will be collecting for a local food bank.
Please remember that if you bring your children, it is your responsibility to make sure they remain quiet throughout the entire reading. Consider sending children to the children’s program where they will have a fun and educational experience. Having children at megilah reading does not take precedence over the obligation to hear the entire megilah reading.
FOLLOWED BY THE PURIM CARNIVAL
There will be Special Youth Megillah Experience starting at 7:35PM during the Megillah Reading. K ‐ 5th
(Please note, while parents are welcomed to accompany their children to this program, It will not include a full megilah reading).
PINDROP Reading: - 9:30PM This reading is for adults and teens only. We respectfully ask that small children not be brought to this reading. Parents can fulfill the Mitzvah of hearing the Megilah reading by having one parent attend the Kids Program while the other attends the regular reading. The other parent can then attend the 10:00 PM reading.
Sunday March 12th
Shacharit and Megillah reading: 8:00AM
Additional Megillah Reading on Sunday March 12th at 10:30AM
Annual Women’s reading of Megilat Esther will take place on Purim – Sunday March 12th at 9:00 am at UOS. All women and girls are welcome to join. For information please call Dena Brody 713-721-1330.
PURIM: HOW WE COMMEMORATE AND CELEBRATE
The Four Parshiot:
The rabbis designated the four weeks surrounding Purim with special readings for maftir and the haftorah in order to remind us of this unique time in the Jewish calendar. Parshat Shekalim (Shabbat February 25th) reminds us how the people gave towards the communal fund for sacrifices offered in the Beis Hamikdash.
Parshat Zachor is read on the Shabbat immediately preceding Purim (Shabbat, March 11). We choose this Shabbat to observe the commandment to remember the evil of the nation of Amalek who are central to Purim as well. In Exodus 17:8-16, we read about their war against the Jewish people when they attacked us without mercy. The command in Deut. 25:17-19 states: “Remember what Amalek did to you, on your way as you departed from Egypt… you shall obliterate the memory of Amalek, you shall not forget.” According to most authorities, it is a Torah level commandment to hear this portion read in synagogue. Men and women are encouraged to come to shul to hear Parshat Zachor. There will be a second reading immediately after services on Shabbat morning.
Similarly, hearing the reading of Parshat Parah (Shabbat, March 18th) is also a mitzvah reminding us to purify ourselves now so that we’ll be ready to take part in the Korban Pesach when the night of Pesach finally arrives.
Parshat Hachodesh (March 25th) is read to herald the coming of the month of Nissan and the onset of the Pesach season.
Taanit Esther (13th of Adar)
*Because Adar 13 (the day before Purim) falls on a Shabbat this year, the "Fast of Esther," usually observed on that date, is moved back to Thursday, March 9, 2017. This year the fast begins at 5:29AM and ends at 6:53PM.
The 13th of Adar is mentioned in the Megillah as the day chosen by Haman to destroy the Jewish people. We fast in memory of the war that took place on that day and, like the fast of the first born, we use the fast to recognize our salvation. (cf. Esther 9:31). Taanit Esther is unlike the other fasts of the Jewish calendar, insofar that it is a day of thanksgiving and not sadness.
Customs of the Fast Day
The "Half Coins" (Machatzit Hashekel) It is a tradition to give three coins in "half" denominations -- e.g., three half-dollar coins -- to charity, to commemorate the half-shekel that each Jew contributed as his share in the communal offerings in the time of the Holy Temple. This custom, usually performed in the synagogue, is done on the afternoon of the "Fast of Esther," or before the reading of the Megillah.
PURIM (14th of Adar)
Work is not forbidden on Purim, but we also have no tachanun, eulogies or fasting; a mourner displays no outward signs, like on Shabbat. There are a number of commandments to fulfill on Purim (that apply equally to men and women):
Megillah: The sages tell us we must hear every word of the Megillah reading. Please help others fulfill this mitzvah by following the instructions of the rabbi as to when to cease noisemaking.
Megillah: The obligation is both at night and during the day. We cannot hear two at night or two during the day to count for the whole holiday.
Mishloach Manot: Sending gifts of food to friends: Two foods to one person is the minimum. The foods must be ready-to eat. There is a custom to give two separate “brachot”.
Matanot l’evyonim: Gifts to the Poor : The megillah mandates that each person give money to at least two poor people for them to use on Purim day. I have arranged for funds to be distributed in Jerusalem to help the Jerusalem poor celebrate Purim. Please make
checks payable to Rabbi Gelman’s Discretionary Fund (write “Purim funds” in note) and mail them to the synagogue or leave funds in the baskets in the synagogue lobby on Purim night and day. The individual I work with has no overhead and takes NO money to cover their expenses. This is 100% tzedakah.
Seudah: Festive meal with rejoicing. Purim should be celebrated with a special festive meal on Purim Day, at which family and friends gather together to rejoice in the Purim spirit. It is a mitzvah to drink wine at this meal.
Intoxication: We are enjoined to drink intoxicating spirits on Purim. Many authorities limit the drinking to the seudah, and even then, the command is just to drink more than we are used to. In no fashion should we become so intoxicated that we would harm ourselves or others or act in an unbecoming manner.
Special Prayers: We add Al Ha-Nisim to our shemona-esrei and to bircat hamazon. Yet, we do not say Hallel on Purim. Three reasons are given for the lack of Hallel. The first is that the Megillah acts as Hallel; the second is that the miracle of the day occurred secretly and outside the land of Israel; the third is that (in the words of the Talmud, Arachin 10b): “We are still servants to Achashverosh.”
During the reading of the Megillah, we fulfill the commandment to “blot out” the name of Amalek by making loud noises whenever his name is read aloud. Another custom is to recite a few specific verses aloud as a congregation before the reader recites them. We read aloud four verses: 2:5, 8:15, 8:16, 10:3 and the list of the ten sons of Haman, 9:7-9.
Another widespread custom is to wear costumes, while some authorities hold that “yom tov” clothing should be worn (because it is called a Yom Tov in Esther 9:19). Costumes are to depict the “hiddenness” of the miracle of Purim, and also to heighten the “turnabouts” of the day.
SHUSHAN PURIM (15th of Adar)
Any city with walls since the time of Joshua celebrates Purim one day later on Adar 15. The Megillah relates how the war against our enemies lasted one day later in the city of Shushan. Nowadays, Shushan Purim only applies to Jerusalem (yet a few other cities in Israel have taken on both days as a longstanding custom, e.g. Acco, Yaffo, Tiberias).
As I once heard someone say, in an attempt to encourage aliyah: “Israel does it correctly. In America there are two days of Passover and one day of Purim, in Israel, there are two days of Purim and one day of Passover!”
May you have a healthy, happy, freilichen Purim!
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