Friday, March 2, 2007

Purim Myths and Facts

As I was preparing spiritually for the holy day of Purim, I compiled a list of Purim myths and facts, which I would like to share with my readers.

Please feel free to add your own, which assuming I agree, I will add to the post.

1 –
Myth – Ta’anis Esther is in commemoration of the three day fast that Esther declared before entering Achashveirosh’s quarters.
Fact – It is a commemoration of the fast that the Jews fasted on the thirteenth of Adar, the day on which they fought their enemies. It is named after Esther since she is an example of someone whose Tefilos were answered. (Tur Orach Chaim 686, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 141:2, & Mishna Brurah 686:2).

2 –
Myth – The reason Hashem punished the Jews by allowing Haman to threaten them with annihilation was because they took part in Achashveirosh’s party.
Fact – They were punished for bowing down to the idol of Nevuchadnetzar. (Gemorah Megillah 12a).

3 –
Myth - The two foods of Mishloach Manos must be of two different Brachos, otherwise they are considered as one.
Fact – As long as they are two distinct foods, even two types of meat, they are considered as two. (Gemorah Megillah 7b, Rambam Hilchos Megillah 2:15).

4 –
Myth – One should spend more on Mishloach Manos than on Matanos L’Evyonim.
Fact – It is better to spend more money on Matanos L’Evyonim than on Mishloach Manos, since bringing joy to downtrodden people is a greater Mitzvah. (Rambam 2:17).

5 –
Myth – One is obligated to get drunk on Purim.
Fact – Not necessarily. Although there are those Rishonim who rule that way, many others argue and rule that one should simply drink more than he is accustomed to and then nap a little. (Rambam 2:15, Shulchan Aruch and Rema 695:2, Mishna Brurah 695:5, & Aruch Hashulchan 695:5).

6 –
Myth – Haman’s daughter, after realizing that she dumped a pail of refuse on her father’s head, jumped off the roof.
Fact – She actually fell off the roof, apparently from shock, and not that she committed suicide. (Gemorah Megillah 16a).

7 –
Myth – Achashveirosh was simply fooled by Haman and felt no dislike towards the Jews.
Fact – He hated the Jews just as much as Haman, and was happy to get rid of them. (Gemorah Megillah 14a).

8 –
Myth – Haman had ten sons.
Fact – There are actually three opinions. He either had thirty, ninety, or two hundred and eight. Apparently Megillahs Esther refers to his ten higher-ranking sons, though he had more. (Gemorah Megillah 15b).


socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Well I am proud of myself I knew every one besides the last one. Myth is that Purim is a fun day and not infused with spirituality. Fact is that Purim is the holiest holiday more so than Yom Kippur.

Anonymous said...

As for myth #2 - Check Rashi on the Megillah. It seems that they were punished for both.

The Dreamer said...

to add to anono 2:11
The party was a chance to fix the wrongdoing of bowing down to the idol. SInce they failed that test, too, they were slated to die.

Independent Frum Thinker said...

I’m glad you almost knew them all.
As for your Myth and Fact; frankly, I think everyone realizes Purim is a holy day, just not everyone knows how to utilize it properly.

Anonymous Mar 2, 12:43 –
I assume you are referring to Rashi on Megilas Esther 4:1, where he mentions both the sin of the party and of bowing to the idol.
However, the Gemorah clearly states that if only for the sin of the party, only the Jews of Shushan, who attended the party, would be punished.
The commentaries grapple with Rashi’s words which seem to contradict the Gemorah.
The simple answer is that the Jews in Shushan were liable for both sins, while all the rest of the Jews were liable only for the sin of bowing to the idol. When Rashi mentions the sin of the party he meant it only in regards to the Jews of Shushan, as the rest of the Jews were not liable for this at all as stated in the Gemorah.

The Dreamer –
I hear your argument.
Please see what I just wrote in my previous comment.

Peter Chen said...

Hi Independent Frum Thinker,

Just dropping by to thank you for leaving a comment in my post Adding graphic background to Blog Header and for taking interest in my well-being. I have responded to your comment.

Natural Remedies

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Nice new template hope Purim was good. I know my myth and fact was kind of lame but could only think of that and I don't think most ppl know it or atleast really think about it in conscuousness.

Shpitzle Shtrimpkind said...

Very, very interesting, although I'm sure there are more. And mazel tov on the new layout. It's very nice.

steve said...

Unfortunately, myth #3 is taught in many Bais Yaakovs as halacha.

FrumWithQuestions said...

What do you think the reason is for all of the misconceptions? Is it because people are unknowledgable and assume they know everything so someone made this stuff up and people took it to be fact?

Peter Chen said...

Hi Independent Frum Thinker,

Thanks for leaving a comment in my post Adding an image backgroud to your blog header. I have responded to your comment.

Peter a.k.a. enviroman
Enviroman Says

Peter Chen said...

Hi Indepent Frum Thinker,

I see you made 2 comments in my post Adding an image background to your blog header. I think it has been answered, just that I was going from the earliest comment to the latest comment, and I answered your first comment before I came across your second comment. If my first response does not answer your question, please feel free to comment again.

Peter a.k.a. enviroman
Enviroman Says

Independent Frum Thinker said...

Peter Chen –
Thank you for being such a wonderful help.
People like you who take time out of their busy schedules to help others without expecting any reward for their actions are a shining example for the rest of us.

I’m glad you like the new template.
Unfortunately, many people might not think of Purim as a spiritual day, but I still believe everyone knows it.

Shpitzle –
Thank you.

Steve –
I know, but it is a mistake. I know of one school that the principal asked the teachers to refrain from teaching that anymore.

Frumwithquestions –
Unfortunately, I think you are right. If one would spend time studying the original material on any topic, one would realize that there is so much to be learned.

Anonymous said...

as to myth #6 and #7
You should learn a little more Midrash you would see some more on these subjects.
1 - that she indeed did commit suicide.
2 - that Acacshveirosh was simply a chonef trying to please everyone

Independent Frum Thinker said...

Anonymous Mar 6, 9:29 –
You could have left out the negativity and still made your point.
1 – The Midrash, Esther Rabbah 10:5, does seem to say that she committed suicide, so perhaps I should not have been so strong in my post. However, generally speaking, when we have a difference between a Gemorah and a Midrash, we assume the Gemorah’s version over the Midrash’s, and the Gemorah seems to say that she fell from shock.
2 – On this I must disagree completely. Many Gemorahs and Midrashim make clear that Achashveirosh was a rabid Jew-hater. The only reason we don’t get this impression from the simple reading of the Megillah is because the Megillah was written while still under his rule, hence the need to be extremely careful with his honor.

Anonymous said...

"1 –
Myth – Ta’anis Esther is in commemoration of the three day fast that Esther declared before entering Achashveirosh’s quarters.
Fact – It is a commemoration of the fast that the Jews fasted on the thirteenth of Adar, the day on which they fought their enemies. It is named after Esther since she is an example of someone whose Tefilos were answered. (Tur Orach Chaim 686, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 141:2, & Mishna Brurah 686:2)."

The reason for the taanis is a machlokes rishonim. See:

Independent Frum Thinker said...

Anonymous Mar 7, 5:54 -
Thank you.
However, I skimmed through your links and all I found relevant was that some “feel” that Rashi “implies” Ta'anis Esther is in commemoration of the fast that Esther kept before entering Avchashveirosh's quarters. But let’s keep things in proper perspective. Rambam, Rabbenu Tam, Tur, Mishna Brurah, and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch say clearly, not imply, otherwise.

seraphya said...

Myth - The names Mordechai and Esther have nothing to do with the persian gods Marduk and Ishtar

Fact - Gemorah Megillah 13a gives an opinion that Esther was the persian name of Haddasah and was related to the goddess ishtar

Independent Frum Thinker said...

Seraphya -
Thank you for sharing that with us, though the Gemorah does not say anything about the Goddess Ishtar. Rashi says Istahar was the Persian name for the moon, since Esther was as beautiful as the moon. There is no mention of any Goddess.

Anonymous said...

I believe you err when you say that hamans daughter fell. In gemara, fell off roof, can be a euphemism for suicide.

Independent Frum Thinker said...

Anonymous Mar 16, 2:05 –
It may be a euphemism for suicide, but without proof to that we should understand the words of the Gemorah for their simple meaning.

Anonymous said...

a euphemism is a "simple" meaning

NoPeanutz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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dovid ha'ana said...

i want to say im new to ur blog and i must say it is very insightful and helpful. i commend u on wat u r doing by writing this blog.
but i do have a q: y do these myths exist?

dovid ha'ana said...

another q: if achashvarish hated the jews then y did he have no prob when ester said she was jewish and she asked him to save the jews, if he hated them then y save them?

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

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