Saturday, February 24, 2007

Purim and Puraya

This one is sure to have everyone thinking. The Gemara refers to Purim as Puraya, which also means a bed in Aramaic. What does Purim have to do with a bed? Towards the end of the Megillah it is said (Esther 7:8) veHaman nofeil al hamitah asher Esther aleha, Haman had fallen onto the couch upon which Esther was. Essentially, this was the downfall of Haman, because when Achashveirosh saw Haman fallen on the couch, he accused Haman of assaulting the queen while he, the king, was in the house. When the king uttered this, they covered Haman’s face and he was subsequently hanged. Thus, it is fitting that the festival is called Purim, or Puraya, because Haman had intended to hang Mordechai and instead, because he fell on the bed, he was hanged. Furthermore, the Seder HaYom writes that one should become intoxicated to the point that he falls to the ground, as Haman sought to spill Jewish blood to the ground. This interpretation would also be in line with the idea that Haman fell on the Puraya, the bed, and since our potential downfall was transformed to Haman’s downfall, i.e. when he fell on the bed, we refer to the festival as Puraya. An alternative interpretation of Puraya is that it is said (Tehillim 128:3) eshtecho kigefen poriyah, your wife will be like a fruitful vine. Thus, Puraya also connotes wine, and the mitzvah on Purim is to drink wine. For this reason the festival is referred to as Puraya.

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