The Mitzvot of Purim

Your Purim To-Do List

1) Listen to the Megillah

To relive the miraculous events of Purim,listen to the reading of the megillah (theScroll of Esther) twice: once on Purim eve, Saturday night, March 15, and again on Purim day, March 16.

To properly fulfill the mitzvah, it is crucial to hear every single word of the megillah.

At certain points in the reading where Haman’s name is mentioned, it is customary to twirl graggers (Purim noisemakers) and stamp one’s feet to “eradicate” his evil name. Tell the children that Purim is the only time when it’s a mitzvah to make noise!


2) Give to the Needy (Matanot La’Evyonim)

Concern for the needy is a year-round responsibility; but on Purim it is a special mitzvah to remember the poor.

Give charity to at least two (but preferably more) needy individuals on Purim day, March 16.

The mitzvah is best fulfilled by giving directly to the needy. If, however, you cannot find poor people, place at least two coins into a charity box. As with the othermitzvahs of Purim, even small children should be taught to fulfill this mitzvah.


3) Send Food Portions to Friends (Mishloach Manot)

On Purim we emphasize the importance of Jewish unity and friendship by sending gifts of food to friends.

On Purim day, March 16, send a gift of at least two kinds of ready-to-eat foods (e.g., pastry, fruit, beverage) to at least one friend. Men should send to men, and women to women. It is preferable that the gifts be delivered via a third party. Children, in addition to sending their own gifts of food to their friends, make enthusiastic messengers.


4) Eat, Drink and Be Merry

Purim should be celebrated with a special festive meal on Purim day, at which family and friends gather together to rejoice in the Purim spirit. It is a mitzvah to drink wine or other inebriating drinks at this meal.


Special Prayers (Al HaNissimTorahreading)

On Purim we include the Al HaNissim prayer, which describes the Purim miracle, in the evening, morning and afternoon prayers, as well as in the Grace After Meals. In the morning service there is a special reading from the Torah scroll in the synagogue (Exodus 17:8–16).


Purim Customs: Masquerades and Hamantashen

A time-honored Purim custom is for children todress up and disguise themselves—an allusion to the fact that the miracle of Purim was disguised in natural garments. This is also the significance behind a traditional Purim food, the hamantash—a pastry whose filling is hidden within a three-cornered crust.