Purim, the Feast of Lots

Purim is based on the Persian word, Pur (sounds like poor). In English it means lots. Okay! What exactly are we talking about? What do we mean by lots?

Using lots is a way in which to decide something randomly. For example, we use choosing straws, rolling dice, or a lottery. Leaving the decision to chance alone may be an attempt on our part to be as impartial as possible.

The Persian culture, at the time of the Purim story, was highly influenced by astrology and similar beliefs. The Babylonians, who preceded the Persians, had made some important observations about the movement of the heavenly bodies because they believed that all life was influenced by them. For them, astrology had the same validity as science in our own times; it provided the reason things happened the way they did. Since everything was influenced by the stars, even an act such as drawing lots would be influenced.

When Haman decided to get rid of the Jews living throughout the Persian empire, he wanted to pick a date which would “line up with the stars.” We could surmise that he had a container of lots with the months of the year and a container containing each day of the month. He could dip his hand into one to choose the correct month and then into the other to pick the right day. According to the Megillah, he did this procedure over the span of a year and came to the conclusion that the 13th day of the month of Adar was the day “blessed by the stars!”

From Haman’s point of view, the date he picked for his plan had a level of success that approached certainty. What he wasn’t counting on was Esther’s courage and the power of the Jewish people to fast and pray to God.

Purim celebrates how God overrode the power of Haman’s scientific astrology by preventing this plan from maturing.
There’s a saying in our tradition: “Ha-Ahavah mekalkelet et haShurah” roughly translated, “Love conquers all.” In this case, we’re speaking of Divine love.
In other words, Divine Love conquered Lots. May your Purim days be filled with joy!