General

Half-Shekel Equality – Before Purim, the rabbi put out a plate and told everyone to give a half-shekel (or its local equivalent). I understand this was done in the times of the Tempe to purchase public offerings. But what is its relevance today? More »
Haman and the Half-Shekel – I read that the Half Shekel that Jews give relates to Haman's offer to pay 10,000 "kikars" to Achashverosh for the right to annihilate the Jews (Esther 3:9). My question: If one kikar equals 3,000 shekels, and Haman offered 10,000… More »
Hamentaschen and Haman’s Three-Cornered Hat – Is there a deeper meaning behind Haman’s 3-cornered hat? Why do we eat hamentaschen in memory of that of all things? More »
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Fast of Esther

Eating Before Hearing the Megillah – Ta’anit Esther doesn’t end that late, but another hour goes by until the synagogue finishes the Megillah, especially with all the carrying on. This makes the fast much longer and more difficult. Is it possible to eat and drink after… More »
Exemptions from Fasting – I tend to get bad headaches when I fast. Am I obligated to fast on the Fast of Esther? Likewise, I have a friend who is pregnant. What is her status? More »
Why Fast? – My daughter, a preschool teacher, has a child in her class with sickle cell anemia who is presently in the hospital. Yesterday she visited the hospital and was instrumental in cheering up the child. She was asked by the family… More »

Scroll of Esther

Banging for Haman – I find going to the synagogue on Purim to hear the Megillah an unnerving experience to say the least. Why do the children have to set off explosives and make such a ruckus at various times during the reading? More »
Blessings on Rabbinical Mitzvahs – On Chanukah and Purim, we say the blessing, Asher Kidishanu - "Which God has commanded us..." Yet aren't those words inappropriate, given that nowhere in the 613 mitzvahs of the Torah are these holidays mentioned. More »
Don’t Miss a Word – I see many people in synagogue who bring their own Megillah scrolls for the reading. Is there any reason for that? I mean, shouldn’t they be quietly listening to the reader the entire time? Isn’t the reader’s scroll sufficient? More »
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