Ta’anit Esther – The Fast of Esther

Purim is just around the corner and wherever you go in Jerusalem, Purim presents are being sold. Small, medium or larger baskets with food, candy and wine. The holiday is big business and people never stop buying alcohol.
However, before Purim, there is a fast called TA’ANIT ESTHER. 
Ta’anit Esther always takes place on the 13th of Adar unless the day falls on a Shabbat. This year this is the case. The 13th Adar is a Shabbat and we are not allowed to fast on a Shabbat unless Yom Kippur falls on a Shabbat.
When the 13th Adar falls on a Shabbat, Ta’anit Esther takes place on the Thursday before. The historical background is that on the 13th Adar, Esther and the Jews prayed and fasted in order to arouse G – d’s mercy. When a person fasts and sincerely repends, G – d will help. The result was that the Jews were not killed but evil Haman.
Ta’anit Esther is a day of private prayer and repentance. Many people say Psalm 22.
Amalek, a descendant of Esav, doesn’t only represent one of the worst anti – Semites but Amalek is also a concept. It represents the YETZER HA’RAH (Evil Inclination) in each of us. When Amalek (the evil inclination) wants to convince us to do the opposite of good such as “Maybe I shouldn’t pray but watch TV or play around with my smartphone.” All the tiny little excuses we find in order not to do something for G – d.
On Ta’anit Esther we repent and try to overcome the evil inclination. At least sometimes. 🙂
Regarding PURIM itself: The whole world will be celebrating Purim next Sunday. In Jerusalem, however, we celebrate SHUSHAN PURIM on Monday!!! Meaning, that we read the Megillah (the Book of Esther) on Sunday night. Most Synagogues start their Megillah reading at around 6.30 pm.
On Monday afternoon, the Purim Se’udah (festive meal) is taking place. Chassidic communities celebrate their Purim Tishes. Unfortunately, many chassidic places only let their members in. At least on the holidays.
I am having a day off from work on Monday and will walk around a bit in order to take pictures and make a few videos. I hate it when people are rolling around drunk and start screaming. On the other hand, I want to show you some Purim atmosphere from Jerusalem. 🙂

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