Adar is the month of the happy holiday of Purim, the celebration of the miracle of the story of Esther. The Sages say that in the month of Adar, joy increases. As the days grow longer and warmer and we sense the approach of springtime, our hearts begin to rise.
The Torah says nothing about Purim because the story of Esther did not happen until about a thousand years later. And yet, four mitzvot of Purim are observed today. How could new commandments be given to the Jewish people so long after the revelation at Mount Sinai?
Shabbat Zachor is one of the four special Sabbaths that occur before or during the month of Adar or Adar II in leap years. On Shabbat Zachor, the Sabbath before Purim, we read Deuteronomy 25:17-19, which mentions the commandment to remember and exterminate the evil of Amalek and his memory.
The book of Esther doesn’t mention God at all, yet it is obvious throughout the entire narrative that God is working behind the scenes to secure the survival of his people. While no overt miracles take place, it is clear our heavenly Father leaves nothing to chance.
It probably won’t surprise you to know, but like so many other out-of-the-ordinary things we’ve experienced over the last year or so, Purim will be a bit different in Jerusalem. It’s called Purim Meshulash, and you’ve probably never heard of it
Whether or not the original writer of Esther had this intention, based on Isaiah 56, I believe this passage prophetically alludes to Gentiles who have been grafted into the olive tree of Israel. Purim is a Jewish holiday but it is also for Gentiles who have found Messiah and cast their lot with the Jewish people.
On the day before Purim, we fast from the first light of dawn until after reading the book of Esther. This fast trains us in the most ancient of all martial arts: spiritual combat. Even today, otherwise godly people fret about perceived existential threats. While evil must be opposed, let us not forget where the true battle rages.
Do you feel as though hope is lost? It most certainly is not. Do you feel as though things are spinning out of control? They may look and feel that way but the author hasn't finished writing! Look up. God is the author of events. It is not over and it may very well turn out to be exactly the opposite of what we fear.
The Amalekites struck down not the warriors and soldiers but the weak, sick, and elderly who were traveling at the back of the pack. These were not the tactics of an army that sought to win a battle or a war but the merciless strategy of an enemy that desired to see Israel wiped off the face of the earth.
The month of Adar offers evidence that, no matter how bad things may seem to be, they are going to get better. The same God who transformed the month of Adar from a month of mourning into a month of joy will surely transform our sorrows into joys.
I am sorry that the holiday has taken on such a secular emphasis. It seems that we spend our time baking, designing costumes, and writing skits and songs (Purim Shpiels). Sometimes the bigger picture is lost amid all the noise.
Why the shekel in the fish’s mouth? Yeshua could have just produced a coin from behind Peter’s ear like magicians do today, or perhaps he could have just told him to look in a place one might normally expect to find a lost coin such as under a bed or between the stones of the floor. I believe that the key to understanding this passage is the story of Purim.
Though the name “Jew” has been spoken in hatred and rage, stamped on people’s arms and sown upon their chests as a badge of shame, this title for the ever-wandering descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is no byword, but a blessing. May we Jews merit to bear this name along with the Messiah, the ideal Jew of Jews.
When I think of Purim, I think of the wonder and awe of God’s sovereign plans for us. The theme of "For such a Time as This" perfectly pictures God’s hand in the life of Esther, an orphan, reared by her uncle and then miraculously placed in the palace courts of the king.