Purim in the Community

Print this page Print this page

During the reading, it is customary for the congregation to drown out the name of Haman by making noise, usually using a special noisemaker called a gragger, whenever the reader utters the villain's name. Another custom is to read the verses listing the ten sons of Haman (found in chapter 9) in one breath. One theory regarding the significance of this practice says that it is done to symbolize how the brothers all died together, while a second theory suggests that we should not draw out the reading of the names so as not to gloat over their fate.

Traditionally, an additional Torah reading, in addition to the weekly reading, is inserted on the Sabbath preceding Purim. Called Shabbat Zachor (the Sabbath of Remembrance), the additional reading is one of the four special parashiyyot (weekly Torah portions) leading up to Pesach (Passover). This excerpt from the Book of Deuteronomy (25:17-19) discusses the battle with Amalek. Jewish tradition views Amalek as the ancestor and in some ways the precursor of Haman. Both sought to annihilate the Jewish people, and both were thwarted in their plans.

Besides the reading of the Megillah, the only liturgical additions for the day of Purim are the addition of the Purim Al Hanissim ("for the miracles") both in the Amidah Prayer and in the Birkat Hamazon (grace after meals). There are a number of explanations for why Hallel (Psalms of Praise) is not recited on Purim as it is on other joyous holidays. Among them is the theory that on Purim, unlike on Passover or Hanukkah, the redemption is not complete. On Passover and Hanukkah, the Jews are completely delivered from a foreign king, while on Purim the Jews are still subjects of Ahasuerus. The reading of the Megillah is seen to achieve the same purpose as Hallel. Also, Hallel is generally not said for events that took place outside the land of Israel.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.