Your Purim 2022 guide contains the story of Purim, and all you need to know about the 4 mitzvahs of Purim and the other observances of the day
Purim, celebrated on the 14th of Adar, is the most fun-filled, action-packed day of the Jewish year. It commemorates our nation’s miraculous salvation more than two millennia ago.
Purim Dates: Purim 2022 begins Wednesday night, March 16 and continues through Thursday, March 17 (extending through Friday in Jerusalem).
The Purim Story in a Nutshell
The Persian empire of the 4th century BCE extended over 127 lands, and all the Jews were its subjects. When King Ahasuerus had his wife, Queen Vashti, executed for failing to follow his orders, he orchestrated a beauty pageant to find a new queen. A Jewish girl, Esther, found favor in his eyes and became the new queen—though she refused to divulge the identity of her nationality.
Meanwhile, the antisemitic Haman was appointed prime minister of the empire. Mordechai, the leader of the Jews (and Esther’s cousin), defied the king’s orders and refused to bow to Haman. Haman was incensed, and convinced the king to issue a decree ordering the extermination of all the Jews on the 13th of Adar—a date chosen by a lottery Haman made (hence the name Purim, “lots”).
Mordechai galvanized all the Jews, convincing them to repent, fast and pray to G‑d. Meanwhile, Esther asked the king and Haman to join her for a feast. At the feast, Esther revealed to the king her Jewish identity. Haman was hanged, Mordechai was appointed prime minister in his stead, and a new decree was issued granting the Jews the right to defend themselves against their enemies.
On the 13th of Adar the Jews mobilized and killed many of their enemies. On the 14th of Adar they rested and celebrated.
How We Celebrate Purim
Though we dress up in holiday finery, Purim doesn’t feature holiday work restrictions. Nonetheless, all the better if you can take the day off from work and focus on the holiday and its four special mitzvahs:
- Hear the Megillah
Head to your synagogue to hear the whole Megillah. The Megillah, a.k.a. “The Book of Esther,” is the scroll that tells the Purim story. Listen to the public reading twice: once on Purim night, and again on Purim day. This year, that’s Wednesday night, March 16 and Thursday, March 17. Pay attention—it is crucial to hear every word.
When Haman’s name is mentioned (Chabad custom is that this is only when it is accompanied with a title), you can twirl graggers (noisemakers) or stamp your feet to eradicate his evil name. Tell your kids that Purim is the only time when it’s encouraged to make noise during services!
The Megillah is read from a handwritten parchment scroll, using an age-old tune. Contact your local Chabad rabbi if for any reason you can’t make it to your synagogue for the Megillah reading. He’ll do his best to send a Megillah reader to your home or office.
- Give to the Needy (Matanot LaEvyonim)
One of Purim’s primary themes is Jewish unity. Haman tried to kill us all, we were all in danger together, so we celebrate together too. Hence, on Purim day we place special emphasis on caring for the less fortunate.
Give money or food to at least two needy people during the daylight hours of Purim, March 17. In case you can’t find any needy people, your synagogue will likely be collecting money for this purpose. At least, place two coins in a charity box earmarked for the poor.
On Purim, we give a donation to whoever asks; we don’t verify his or her bank balance first.
As with the other mitzvahs of Purim, even small children should fulfill this mitzvah.