Why Are Purim Baskets So Special

By: sharadbhai jain

The story of Purim is one of great interest because it begins such a beautiful holiday, a holiday in which we give such gifts as food baskets and half shekels while we celebrate our victory some twenty five hundred years ago. But, the days leading up to the final events weren’t so beautiful. There was horrendous turmoil and our heroes were faced with tough decisions.

The action begins with King Ahasuerus on a particularly frisky night when he made a strange request of Queen Vashti, his wife. It appears that in the reading, some translation is debatable. But it seems that in King Ahasuerus’s drunkenness, he may have requested that his wife come to the banquet in only her crown.

The entire kingdom had been invited to the banquet so the queen would have understandably been humiliated by such a request. The queen vehemently refused. Angered, King Ahasuerus banished the queen from the palace.

Thus enters Esther and a series of events that would change the lives of the Jewish community forever. The king held a beauty pageant and Esther was chosen as the winner. She hid her true identity from the king and she became his second queen.

Esther’s uncle Mordecai heard of a vicious plan to overthrow the king. Ironically, the villains were some of the king’s most trusted subjects, his ministers. Mordecai got word of this to Esther who faithfully told her husband, the king. The sinister ministers, Bigthan and Teresh were hanged and another horrendous turn of events took place.

Haman was chosen by the king as his new senior minister. He was so power hungry that he demanded all the subjects of the king to bow down to him. Mordecai refused, citing that it was against the Jewish faith to bow down to any person. Haman saw this as a problem and reported it to the king. With the king’s blessings, Haman was given full power to rid the kingdom of the Jewish population.

Haman cast “Purim” or lots to determine the day that he would carry out his annihilation of the Jewish community. Esther once more had to intercede. But, this was a different task. The king didn’t like when people entered into his presence without being summoned. So, Esther fasted for three days and then risked entering into the king’s presence to tell him of Haman’s plans.

Instead of Mordecai being hung in the gallows that had been prepared for him, Haman was hung there. Thus, the Jewish people were saved and Mordecai proclaimed it a holiday not only for those who lived then but for generations to come. That’s why Purim is celebrated every year.

There are several traditions associated with Purim. Besides drinking until you can’t tell the difference between “cursed be Haman” and “blessed be Mordecai” there are traditions of giving. One meal prepared and placed in a basket is a mandate of Purim known as Shalach Manot. The baskets can be hand delivered or delivered through a third party. Some of us like to send food baskets through a designated company that will deliver the baskets for us.

Purim is a fun time of year. It is one of those times when we get to let others know that we care about them. That even though it’s a bleak time of year, we can still have fun and give to those who are less fortunate than ourselves. And in light of that fact, make sure you not only give to friends, but to others in the community who are new or who will benefit greatly by the surprise.

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