On Purim, just like Queen Esther, it is customary to hold a large celebration with food and drink filling the table for guests and friends and family. This year we followed tradition and invited our friends to our home for a Purim Feast.
Everyone prepared something delicious for dinner and so our table was filled with many special and tasty dishes as each one made their own specialty. We also wore the traditional Purim masks and brought the traditional rashonim or noisemakers.
On Purim we read the Scroll of Esther out loud and whenever Haman’s name is mentioned, everyone shakes their rashonim to make loud annoying noises. This is an ancient custom from the 11th century among the Jewish communities in the Diaspora. They used to write “Haman” on stones and whenever they read the scroll and Haman’s name was mentioned, they would bang and bump the stones together in order to erase his name.
Later on, the custom developed into using rashonim, but the purpose was the same. Every time Haman’s name is mentioned a great noise broke out in the synagogues so as not to hear and in fact erase his memory.
The source of the custom is related to the family origins of Haman who came from the people of Amalek. The Torah states concerning Amalek that “You shall blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven” (Deut. 25:19). Deleting the name of the Amalakite Haman symbolizes the destruction of Amalek, Israel’s archenemy.
Our Purim Feast with friends.
Facing today’s enemy
We did not read the scroll at home, but we did have rashonim. And since everyone is talking about the corona epidemic constantly, we decided that every time someone mentions the word “Corona” in a conversation, we would all rattle our noisemakers and make a loud commotion.
In a way, the coronavirus and Haman signify the same to us. As it is written, “In every generation there is someone who wants to destroy us, but the Holy One of Israel is our Savior.”
Today it’s the coronavirus that has fallen upon us alarming people as it spreads and threatening the entire world with morbidity and mortality. An uncontrollable contagion.
It is the evil that must not be ignored. And the loud noise of Purim’s rashonim is a reminder of the need to erase the corona threat from our world.