Before we begin the cycle of months again next month, we are privileged to remember and celebrate the events recorded in the Book of Esther. This celebration, which is in the middle of the month, is known as Purim, where the Holy One rescued the Jews from an evil decree. Also during this month, we remember the rededication of the temple after the Babylonian Exile. Ezra and Nehemiah led this Jewish return in rebuilding the temple with non-believers taunting them, but never the less, with the help of Hashem, they triumphed.
On the third day of the month, Ezra and those that returned from Babylon, finished restoring the Beit HaMikdash, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 6:15). Even as we commemorate this blessed, historical event, we anticipate the future time when the Holy One will also rebuild His Temple. Further, we can look to our own lives as being a "temple in progress" that will one day be completely perfected through the work of God's Spirit. Even though your temple will not be complete until the return of Messiah (1 John 3:2)...
On the thirteenth day of Adar, we fast to commemorate or to remember the Fast of Esther that she instituted that all Jews undertake before she was to plead with King Ahasuerus. She understood that there was not to be any haughtiness when beseeching the Almighty to have His strong hand intercede for His people. Because of the fast being of great importance a long time ago, we continue to fast, not only as a remembrance of the deliverance by Hashem, but for any time and occasion while His people are in the way of the adversary.
In stark contrast to the solemnity of Esther's Fast, on the fourteenth day of Adar, we, with whole-heart, celebrate the deliverance that Hashem brought to His people. Oftentimes, we have a festive meal on the afternoon and then gather for a public reading of the Book of Esther. This is a unique book since it is obvious that Hashem is at work throughout the narrative to save His people from their enemies, yet His name is not mentioned throughout the text of the book.
It is also good to send gifts ('mishloach manot') of food to family, friends, and others who may be in need. Traditionally, these gifts include at least two different types of food. It is a meaningful tradition to prepare gifts to share the love of Messiah with others.
Also, by contributing tzedakah, acts of loving-kindness and charity, to widows and orphans, the elderly, and the poor and needy, you will be partaking of the heart of Messiah. Originating from from Mordechai's instructions that "they should make them days of feasting and rejoicing and sending portions of food to one another and gifts to the poor" (Esther 9:22), we are able to partake in some of the weightier commands found in the Torah.
So, let us join together that, even at the end of the cycle of months we are mindful of His mercy. Mercy for Esther and the Jews in dispersion, mercy on the Ezra and Nehemiah and the Jews of the return and rebuilding, and mercy on us through the work of Messiah, through whom we are being made into His likeness.