Purim’s Spiritual Theme: Genocide
Purim is a popular Jewish holiday that celebrates the Jewish victory of Haman, an Babylonian minister who had plans to kill on the Jews in a single day. As the story is told in the biblical story of Esther, the Jews thwarted his plan and instead were able to kill 10,000 enemies of the Jews over the course of two days, with the king’s permission.
Broadly, Haman is thought to be a descendant of Amalek, a nation who is believed to be the sworn enemy of the Jews (Hitler is often invoked as an example of Amalek). Jews are commanded to commit mass genocide on Amalek, and publically read from the bible twice a year the commandment to kill every man, woman and child from the nation. The only reason they don’t is because no one who knows who Amalek actually is, as they disappeared from history thousands of years ago.
Apologists often explain the war against Amalek as being a “spiritual war” to eradicate Amalek, aka evil or non spiritual elements from our heart. This parallels Muslim apologetics who explained that incitement to Jihad, or holy war, often invoked by terrorists, is a metaphor for personal growth.
The Purim Story
The Hero’s of the purim story, as told in the Book of Esther, are Mordechai and Esther. Esther was Mordechai’s niece, and possibly also his wife, according to some opinions. When king Achashverosh (Ahasuerus) killed his wife in a fit of rage, he decided to summon every virgin in the land to find his optimal next wife, and Esther was deemed fairest of them all.
Achasverosh does not realize that Esther is Jewish, and she’s able to whip out this information in a grand reveal right when Haman is trying to finalize his plans to kill all the Jews. The king is horrified that Haman was trying to kill his wife’s people, and promptly orders Haman killed and the Jews permission to go on a counter-offensive. Esther remains queen, married to a non-Jewish king, and lives happily ever after.
From Wikipedia: The apparent historical difficulties, the internal inconsistencies, the pronounced symmetry of themes and events, the plenitude of quoted dialogue, and the gross exaggeration in the reporting of numbers (involving time, money, and people) all point to Esther as a work of fiction, its vivid characters (except for Xerxes) being the product of the author’s creative imagination.
An interesting anecdote that helps support this is that the name of God does not appear once in the entire story. Furthermore, the names Mordechai and Esther correspond perfectly with with the names of the Babylonian gods Marduk, the god of war, and Ishtar, goddess of sex, war, justice, and fertility.
How is Purim celebrated?
In many ways, Purim parallels Halloween, with people dressing up, giving Mishloach Manot food packages to one another, and giving Matanot L’evyonim, alms for the poor.
People are commanded to be happy on Purim, regardless of their actual emotional state, part of Judaism’s continued attempts to control people’s emotions. Wine is seen as a key to this end, with people being commanded to get so drunk they cannot tell the difference between wrong and right, or “Between cursed is Haman and blessed is Mordecai”. Boys aged 13 and up are required to get this level of drunk, resulting in irresponsible amounts of alcohol being consumed by teenagers.
A triangle cookie called Hamentashen, is often consumed on this day, and referred to in Hebrew as “haman’s ear”, even though his ear probably didn’t look like that. Based on the theory above that Purim actually has influences from Ishtar, the goddess of fertility, it has been speculated that Hamentashen actually are shaped like vaginas, and that the poppyseed they often fills them represents, well, semen.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and imagine amalek baking in there
- Mix the dough, while taking frequent swigs of Jonny Walker Black label
- Cut the dough into circles, feeling happy because you were told to.
- Carefully jerk off into the center of each hamantaschen, then fold it into a triangle
- Bake and enjoy!