FAST OF ESTHER
This fast commemorates the days of fasting and prayer which preceded the Purim Miracle.
According to Jewish tradition, Haman was a descendant of the nation Amalek, who were the first enemy of the new Jewish nation after the exodus from Egypt. On the Sabbath before Purim we read a special portion from a second Torah Scroll about this first confrontation between Haman's people and our people.
The foremost observance of Purim centers around the public reading of the Megillat Esther. This reading is conducted at night and again in the morning. Men, women and children are all included in this Mitzvah. It is our custom upon hearing Haman's name read, to make loud noises, being careful to allow the Congregation to hear every word of the Megilla reading.
It is a Mitzvah to send at least one friend a gift package of food. This gift should contain at least two varieties of food that require no further preparation
Purim is the time of giving....this year let's all get involved! Additionally it is a Purim tradition for every Jewish man and woman to give charity to at least two poor people on Purim. If this is not possible, the charity should be set aside on Purim to be given later.
It is also the custom for every Jew to give three half dollars to charity on Purim. This custom was instituted to recall the collection of the half shekel which took place in Temple times during the month of Adar, the month in which Purim falls.
It is a mitzvah to celebrate Purim with a festive meal. This meal traditionally takes place late Purim afternoon to ensure that some of our celebration overflows to the next day. At this meal, it is customary to drink wine until one can no longer distinguish between "Baruch Mordecai" and "Ahror Haman".
If, however, as a consequence of excessive drinking he will neglect mitzovs, he should drink only a little more than usual.