Monday, March 03, 2008

In Preparation For Purim - Book Recommendations

Last year, I took Chabakuk Elisha's recommendation and read Turnabout. This year, I highly recommend Me'am Lo'ez, Esther. Reading either of these books will definitely give you a clearer understanding of the megillah and a better appreciation for the yom tov of Purim.


At March 3, 2008 at 7:31:00 AM EST, Blogger Gandalin said...


Purim is the most worldly and the most mystical of the holidays. As of course you know, Yom HaKippurim is Yom-ha-ki-purim.

I'd like to make one small point about the history of Purim. With all the talk in the Jewish blogosphere about redemption and miracles, it behooves us to remember that the miracle of Purim was not worked through such an obvious extra-normal miracle. Nor did the Persian King countermand Haman's (yimach shmo) order to his minions in the provinces and satrapies of the empire. The Persian Emperor "only" allowed the Jews to defend themselves. But of course that was enough, more than enough, to qualify as a miraculous redemption.

The mystical meaning of this is that Hashem empowered the Jews of the Persian Empire to take charge of their destiny. Although we are certainly allowed to view the difference between the miracle of the Splitting of the Sea as on an altogether different plane than the miracle of Jewish self-defense, and though we are not wrong to yearn for the direct and unmediated perception of Hashem's manifest Will in our lives, the progression of the Jewish people through the Tanakh, from Bereishis to Esther, is a story of growing maturity and developing empowerment. As tinukim, the Jews who had escaped from Egypt were incapable of handling themselves, and were carried through the stormy sea by a direct and incontrovertible miracle. As our national conscience matured, through all of the usual trials of tribulations of a troubled adolescence, our Father gradually allowed us more and more ability to effect our own destiny.

It is therefore somewhat paradoxical that our observance of Purim is to render ourselves incapable of distinguishing Mordechai from Haman (yimach shmo), thus returning to a state of moral idiocy, or perhaps better stated, innocence. In that we make a plaintive appeal to our Father to rescue his cherished kinderlach one more time!

At March 3, 2008 at 8:56:00 AM EST, Blogger yitz said...

i'm really enjoying masechet megillah as a warm-up to purim.. it's the most midrashic of any gemara i've ever come across (which is less impressive than it sounds because i haven't delved into shas very much.)

At March 3, 2008 at 1:32:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Malbim on Meggilas Esther is me'ein olam haba and very geshmak - but its not so much a dip-in-dip-out peirush as one you should religiously read to get the different type pf geshmakeit of having clarity and beautiful, innovative pshat of every last phrase in every single posuk.

Unlike the Vilna Gaon on Esther which I haven't learned through but from cursary glances it seems to be a more up-front type of geshmakeit, quoting zohar, midroshim, gemoros, gematrios etc - more openly geshmak. Malbim is a different and more subtle Bechinah, but really no less in any way.

At March 3, 2008 at 3:39:00 PM EST, Blogger A Talmid said...

The Kav Hayashor has a few fascinating chapters on Tanis Esther and Purim. He expains on a simple level the Arizal's explanations of some of the "Sheimos" hidden in the Megila and many other things. It will change the way you look at the "story" in the Megila.

At March 4, 2008 at 3:52:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you have an open mind then you must read this book. This is a man who dafka can read the Persian Chronicles of the kings and explain step by step what happened to trigger the story of Purim. Its out of print but can be ordered for download or reprint with quality cover and paper and binding

The Book of Esther in the Light of History
By Jacob Hoschander

At March 9, 2008 at 11:46:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Esther" is misspelled on the bottom of the dust jacket. Please notify the publisher!


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