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Rabbi Alex Chapper, Ilford Federation Synagogue
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Last weekend, Jewish people around the world celebrated the festival of Purim. Of all the festive days in the calendar this is perhaps the most joyous of all of them and is marked by eating and drinking, dressing up and sending of food parcels between friends and gifts to the poor.
Purim commemorates an historical event that took place over two thousand years ago when the Jewish inhabitants of the ancient Persian Empire were saved from a plot that had been formed to destroy them. The whole story is recorded in the Book of Esther.
Purim means ‘lots’ and refers to the random way in which the date of the proposed annihilation was chosen and this theme of chance permeates the entire story but there is one key word that explains why this is such a happy festival. ‘V’nahafoch - and it was turned around’ describes how everything that was planned to be done to the Jews by the chief protagonist ended up happening to him. As a result, they experienced a complete turnaround from darkness to light and from mourning to rejoicing.
Thus Purim contains a tremendous message of hope for every person in every generation and in whatever situation. However dire things look, just remember it can all change in an instant, events may seem random and to be conspiring against you but something better may be just around the corner.