The Story of Esther

1. A lavish six-month celebration marks the third year in the reign of Ahasuerus, king of Persia.
2. Queen Vashti refuses the king's request to appear at the celebration and display her beauty for the assembled guests.
3. The king's advisors counsel that Vashti be replaced with a new queen.

1. Across the Persian Empire, officials are appointed to identify beautiful candidates to succeed Vashti as queen.
2. A Jewish girl, Hadassah, the niece of Mordechai, is brought to the capitol of Persia as one of the candidates.
3. Mordechai tells her to conceal her identity. So, Hadassah takes the name Esther.
4. Esther is chosen to be the queen.
5. Mordechai learns of a plot to overthrow the king. Mordechai informs Esther, Esther tells the king, and the plotters are hung.

1. Ahasuerus appoints Haman to be his prime minister. All bow in homage to Haman.
2. Mordechai consistently refuses to bow to Haman.
3. An enraged Haman vows to kill all the Jews of Persia.
4. Haman prevails upon Ahasuerus to destroy the Jews.
5. A royal edict is disseminated throughout Persia. The 13th of Adar is designated as the date to exterminate all the Jews and plunder their possessions.

1. Mordechai tears his clothes and puts on sackcloth and ashes as a sign of public mourning.
2. Mordechai sends a copy of the decree to Esther and asks her to intercede with the king.
3. Esther replies that to approach the king without being summoned is to risk death.
4. Mordechai tells her that she has no choice.
5. Esther tells Mordechai to ask the Jews to fast and pray for three days before she will approach the king.

1. King Ahasuerus receives Esther and grants her virtually any request.
2. Esther's request: that the king and Haman join her at a banquet.
3. After the banquet, Haman sees Mordechai who once again refuses to bow.
4. When Zeresh, Haman's wife, suggests that Mordechai be hung, the gallows are prepared.

1. The king can't sleep and asks to hear the royal chronicles.
2. For the first time, the king learns of the assassination plot that Mordechai had revealed.
3. That same night, Haman comes to see the king about hanging Mordechai.
4. Before Haman can speak, the king tells Haman to honor Mordechai by dressing him in royal garments, to place him on a royal stallion and to personally lead him through the streets of Shushan, capitol of Persia.


The Banquet of Esther and Ahasuerus

1. At the second banquet, Esther reveals her identity and announces that she and her people are about to be murdered.
2. Esther identifies Haman as her archenemy.
3. The king has Haman hung on the gallows that had been prepared for Mordechai.

1. Mordechai is named prime minister to replace Haman.
2. A second royal edict is promulgated empowering the Jews to fight and kill anyone who would try to harm them.

1. On the 13th of Adar, a day that had been designated for Jewish destruction, the Jews are victorious over their enemies.
2. The 10 sons of Haman are hung.
3. The 14th and 15th of Adar are designated to celebrate the salvation. These are the days of Purim.
4. Mordechai initiates the Purim practices -- consisting of a festive meal, the exchange of gifts of food, and the giving of monetary gifts to the poor.

1. Persia, with Mordechai as prime minister, flourishes.
2. The role of Mordechai in the history of the Persian Empire is recorded in the king's chronicles. So, this is the story of Esther; the only book in the bible that does not contain the name of God. But throughout the message is the revelation of God's plans for Israel and for His people. Twice Mordechai is used by God to reveal a plot to the king. The first one would have brought destruction to the king himself; the second would have caused the destruction of the Jewish people throughout much of the world. But letÌs look a little deeper. In the first instance of revelation, Mordechai goes to Esther, his cousin and tells her of the plot that would kill her husband, and would, therefore, have taken away her lofty position as well. She immediately goes to the king with the news and all is saved!

But after some time passes, her cousin returns with news of an even more far-reaching nature - a plot to destroy her own people. But Esther's answer is an excuse. Let's look at Esther's situation. She is the Queen and no one even knows she is Jewish. Now, her cousin, who raised her like a daughter, comes along and solicits her help in saving all of her own people. She is not connected to them at all. She has a very nice life and all is well. In order to do as her cousin asks, she would have to lay her reputation down and let her heritage be known. And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king's palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
... from Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf

Esther's son, King Darius, later gave permission for the Jews to return to the Land of Israel and rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

The name Purim means "lots," which, like rolling dice, were used to determine when the Jews would be destroyed.  The Jews' fate was reversed, however, when the heroic Queen Esther led the quest for survival.  It is the most festive of Jewish holidays, a time of prizes, noisemakers, costumes and treats. The Festival of Purim commemorates a major victory over oppression and is recounted in the Megillah, the scroll of the story of Esther. In 2004 Purim began at sundown on March 6th. Hamantaschen can be stuffed with a variety of fillings, including levkar (prune filling), fruit jam, poppy seeds, or, the perennial favorite with kids, chocolate chips....Other customary Purim culinary traditions include foods containing seeds, such as sesame seed cookies, and nuts, such as ma'amoul, a cookie usually eaten in Middle Eastern countries like Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. These dishes remind us of Esther's attempts to keep kosher by maintaining a strictly vegetarian diet while in Ahashverous' palace.

The Purim meal is eaten on Purim afternoon. Bread is broken, and the Grace After Meals contains a special paragraph, Al HaNissim, commemorating Purim. Many traditional foods are enjoyed at the feast, including turkey, kreplach, and the ubiquitous hamantashen.

Recipe for Hamentaschen

* 2/3 cup butter or margarine

* 1/2 cup sugar

* 1 egg

* 1/4 cup orange juice (the smooth kind, not the pulpy)

* 1 cup white flour

* 1 cup wheat flour

* 2 tsp. baking powder

* Various preserves, fruit butters and/or pie fillings.

Blend butter and sugar thoroughly. Add the egg and blend thoroughly. Add OJ and blend thoroughly. Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, alternating white and wheat, blending thoroughly between each. Add the baking powder with the last half cup of flour. Refrigerate batter overnight or at least a few hours. Roll as thin as you can without getting holes in the batter (roll it between two sheets of wax paper lightly dusted with flour for best results). Cut out 3 or 4 inch circles. Put a dollop of filling in the middle of each circle. Fold up the sides to make a triangle, overlapping the sides as much as possible so only a little filling shows through the middle. Squeeze the corners firmly, so they don't come undone while baking. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, until golden brown but before the filling boils over!

Traditional fillings are poppy seed and prune, but apricot is my favorite. Apple butter, pineapple preserves, and cherry pie filling all work quite well...The number of cookies this recipe makes depends on the size of your cutting tool and the thickness you roll. I use a 4-1/4 inch cutting tool and roll to a medium thickness, and I get 20-24 cookies out of this recipe.