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Frequently Asked Questions About Hebrew Roots

Hebrew Roots FAQ's and Myths

 

Sacrifices, Feasts, Celebrations

 

 

Myth: We should celebrate Purim as part of the holidays found in the Old Testament.

 

A.  Purim is recorded in the book of Esther in the Scriptures and was focused on the Jewish people and states clearly concerning the remembrance of Purim, in Esther 9:26-32, "The Jews ordained, and took upon them," and "as they had decreed for themselves...".

The book of Esther tell the story of the Jewish people and how they were saved from being destroyed by a subversive plot brought on by the jealousy and anger of Haman, an enemy of the Jews. Esther is the “heroine” of the story having presented herself before the King after a fast of three days – that he would accept her to come into his presence to speak of the plot against her and her people – which he did. Horrified at what Haman had done, the King had him hung with his ten sons on the gallows meant for Esther’s uncle Mordechai who had incited Haman to wrath by not bowing down in obeisance to him – which had led Haman to conceive the plot against the Jews.

When the Jews successfully fought and won against those who were sent to destroy them, as the edict could not be canceled; the King allowed them to take up arms to fight - a time of rejoicing and celebration ensued. It was then decided to continue with a celebration yearly to commemorate the victory. Queen Esther signed a decree confirming the feast of Purim. The word "Purim" is a Chaldean word [“pagan” language] that means "lots" and refers to the lottery that Haman used to choose the date for the massacre.


Originally viewed as a non-religious holiday, in an article "Purim", written by Kaufmann Kohler and Henry Malter for the Jewish Encyclopeidia.com, they suggest that although the holiday appears in the Book of Esther, it is "altogether devoid of religious spirit." They view it as an anomaly for Jewish religious history. Viewing the whole book of Esther as having a worldly spirit, they note that the only religious activity of mention is fasting. They also write that it is not unlike Hannukah which is also not viewed by most Jews as an actual religious holiday. What started as a social observance over time became somewhat religious in nature. In fact the religious observance began due to it being required to be celebrated according to the Talmud.  1.

In Rabbi Hyam Maccoby’s, Revolution in Judaea, and as discussed in the article, To Embrace Hebrew Roots: Part II : The Bible & The Talmud, he noted that the Pharisees brought many traditions, observances and festivities that were not part of the written law of Moses given by God. These additional traditions, often referred to as the oral law, are what are rejected by the Sadducees. They rejected the additions to the law of Moses. However, most Jews defend and fully support the additions found throughout the Rabbinic writings which have become ingrained in Judaism as it is known today. According to Hyam Maccoby, the Pharisees not only added the festivals of Hannukah and Purim, they added to the canon of Scripture and added new doctrine to Judaism, which included new rites to Temple worship, and they have continually brought in new prayers and ceremonies for use in Jewish synagogues. 2. These are all additions that many Messianic congregations utilize and participate in.


From the Wisdom of Kabbalah Newsletter and their online site kabbalah.info, Purim is discussed in the article The Inner Purim. The author Gilad Shadmon writes that Purim is a "the holiday of opposites – joy vs. grief, concealment vs. disclosure, Mordechay vs. Haman, genocide vs. redemption..." According to Mr. Shadmon, Kabbalists view the story of Esther as revealing the forces that come from inner man, and reveal the relationship each has with the Creator. These forces are viewed as guiding the events of each person's life. The forces themselves are called, Mordechai, Esther, Haman and whatever other names appear in the book. Mordechai is equated with being the inner force of all Jews.. Haman represents the evil, egotistical and selfish part of each person. Everything is related to the Jews as individuals and as a people, historically and currently. Haman is viewed as wanting to eliminate the Jews because they stand in the way of accomplishing his goal of exploiting the Creator. 3

 

Some of the belief presented concerning the reason that the Jews were dispersed is because, according to Mr. Shadmon, "the people of Israel have risen to a higher level now." That means they have "direct and open contact with the Creator" The bond between them is so obvious that none would be able to deny it, and the end of the Book of Esther means that all peoples reform because of it. "The meaning is that all the desires in man, called Peoples, accept the main force that leads to confidence and happiness, called Israel. ....The Jew in a man is limited. That limitation can only be overcome by the evil Haman. That is why we need to find the Haman within us. ...." 3

As we can see, Purim has religious and mystical meaning to those practicing Judaism. Purim was not a feast of the Lord. It was in honor of victory over the enemy of the Jews, not a shadow of Christ like the Feasts that God had given to Israel to observe. Purim, as it is celebrated, puts the emphasis on the person and the Jewish people. The Feasts of the Lord were a shadow, a prophecy of Jesus Christ and focused on Him, the fulfillment of those prophecies.

Although there is not any evidence that Purim was kept in the Old Testament other than in the book of Esther, Judaism has continued to keep this holiday under the instruction of the Talmud. The earliest reference to this celebratory holiday is in the second century CE.

 

It is celebrated on the 14th day of Adar, which usually means March 14th. It is believed it is the 13th that Haman picked to exterminate the Jews. The resulting battle and victory is celebrated as Purim. In walled cities Purim was celebrated on the 15th because it was believed the full victory was not completed until then. 4

The Talmud is explicit in its Rabbinical instructions for keeping Purim, which is mandatory in Judaism. Some of the instructions include:

 

* The reading of the book of Esther called the Megillah [scroll], must be read in the evening before Purim and the morning of, according to the commandment in the Talmud.

* Hiss, boo, stomp and rattle noise makers whenever the name of Haman is mentioned so that "his name is blotted out."

* Eat, drink and be merry – the Talmud instructs that “a person is required to drink until he cannot tell the difference between "cursed be Haman" and "blessed be Mordecai," though opinions differ as to exactly how drunk that is.”

* The Jews are commanded to send out gifts of food and drink, and to give gifts to charity.

* People should not work or go about their normal business, but it is not considered a “Sabbath”.

* Although Esther, fasted three days and three nights, Rabbinical instructions only require one day of fasting, although some do additional fasting after Purim.
5, 6

* Dressing up in costumes with masks for parades, and carnivals is all part of the fun and most definitely one of the favorite parts of celebrating Purim. Today, children even dress up as Disney characters and super heroes.
7  It's sometimes called "The Jewish Mardi Gras". 8   Not unlike Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the carnival in Israel itself removes all restrictions, with some cities such as Tel Aviv having "cross dressing drag queens" mingling with "clown-clad kiddies". Children often have multiple costumes as they celebrate for a week, although only the actual day of Purim is a holiday. Alcohol is consumed to drunkenness as part of the celebrations. 9,  10

Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

Isaiah 5:11-12 Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them! 12. And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands.

Some Messianic Judaism congregations actually pass out lists of Jewish musicians and movie stars as suggestions for Purim dress up, as well as Biblical characters. The mixing of secular and religious seems hypocritical when considering these same “gentile Jews” ridicule Christians who may  dress up at Halloween or allow their children to go trick or treating. The emphasis of the costumes for Purim is no different than Halloween – it is to hide evil behind a mask.

As one source stated, Purim is the holiday with the carnival quality, where "norms are subverted and reversed" to commemorate the "reversal of fortune" observed in the Book of Esther. Accordingly, Purim is celebrated with "drinking, dressing up, and satirical performances, all recalling the evil decrees of Haman that were ultimately overturned."
11

The custom of wearing disguises on Purim is, according to the belief, because God hid His identity in the Book of Esther. The salvation of the Jewish people was accomplished through the actions of the people themselves and that is who is celebrated. God's name is never mentioned in Esther. According to the belief, the choice to appear as non-Jews during Purim does not change that inwardly "they are holy and pure." Meaning that "all appearances of evil in Israel is only external, and inwardly we remain a holy people."  The beliefs are also paralleled to particular Scripture and rabbinic interpretation of such, with the conclusion that it is Scripturally correct to hide one's face on Purim. 12  

 

Although there has been much debate on the amount of alcohol that one can consume and still not violate other commandments, there appears to be a rather extreme latitude within Rabbinic opinion as to just how drunk that is. However the consensus is to become excessively drunk as part of the celebration. 13, 14, 15

Another reference in the Talmud to getting drunk on Purim:

"How does one fulfill the obligation of the Purim Seudah? One should eat meat and prepare as nice a meal as one can afford and drink wine until one becomes drunk and falls asleep from drunkenness. (Laws of Megillah 2:15)" 16

Those Messianics or those in Hebrew Roots who enter into these things and prefer the OT Scriptures seem to have missed these warnings.

Proverbs 23:29-35 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? 30. They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. 31. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. 32. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. 33. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. 34. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. 35. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.

Isaiah 28:7-8 But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment. 8. For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.

Isaiah 56:12 Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.

If one is a follower of Jesus Christ and seeks to live according to New Testament guidelines, then participating in Purim, which traditions are of  Judaism, that is, the customs found in the Talmud and Zohar, would be against the Scriptures of the New Testament.

1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

Romans 13:13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

 

Luke 21:34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.

What those in Hebrew Roots or those Messianics involved in Purim are doing is taking part in traditions of men, and which involvement can be no different than their railings against Christians for their participation with Christmas and Easter celebrations. Christmas and Easter are, for true believers, focused on Jesus Christ's birth, death and resurrection according to the inspired Word of God in the Bible. The keeping of feasts according to Talmudic/kabbalistic traditions and commandments are of man, not God. As Jesus said:

Matthew 7:3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Matthew 15:3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? 6 ... Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

We are told explicitly in the NT:

1 Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:22-25 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23. Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;


Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Peter wrote:

1 Peter 4:1-6 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2. That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 3. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 4. Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: 5. Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. 6. For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

Colossians 3:16-17 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

 

Endnotes:

1 "Purim", by Kaufmann Kohler and Henry Malter Jewish Encyclopeidia.com http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=613&letter=P
2.
To Embrace Hebrew Roots: Part II  The Bible & The Talmud  http://www.SeekGod.ca/embracebible.htm ;

The Legend of Hannukah > http://www.SeekGod.ca/legend.htm
3. The Inner Purim Author: Gilad. Shadmon  Translator: C. Ratz  Editor: C. Marce

http://www.kabbalah.info/engkab/holidays_eng/inner_purim.htm ;  Newsletter: The Wisdom of Kabbalah from Kabbalah-Benei Baruch July 5, 2007  Newsletter #117 - A Kabbalist, a Scientist and a Couple were pursuing happiness, until... http://www.kabbalah.info/engkab/holidays_eng/inner_purim.htm?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter-117
4.-5  http://www.holidays.net/purim/
6. http://www.ou.org/holidays/purim/fast_of_esther
7. http://www.holidays.net/purim/
8. http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday9.htmhttp & http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/holiday9.html
9. http://www.holidays.net/purim/
10. http://judaism.about.com/od/purim/a/purimfood.htm
11. http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays_Purim.shtml
12. http://www.ou.org/holidays/purim/why_we_wear_disguises_on_purim
13. http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Purim/At_Home/Meal/Drinking_on_Purim.shtml
14. - 16  ibid

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Hebrew Roots FAQS & Myths

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Note: "Strong's" for Hebrew and Greek Word definitions from Strong's Exhaustive Concordance by James Strong

"Thayers" >  Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament

"BDB" >Brown-Driver-Brigg's Hebrew Definitions

03/25/2012

 

All Scripture King James Version unless otherwise stated

Copyright . All articles are the sole property of SeekGod.ca and Vicky Dillen. All Scripture King James Version unless otherwise stated.

 

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