Featured Purim Animated Videos
Upcoming Date: From the evening of March 23 to 24, 2024.
Esther: The Queen You Thought You Knew
Rabbi David Fohrman ●Part 1 of 6 ●11 min video
The Story of Haman & Mordecai In The Book Of Esther
Rabbi David Fohrman ●Part 1 of 2 ●1 hour, 2 min video
Matanot L’Evyonim: Purim Gifts To The Poor
Rabbi David Fohrman ●Part 1 of 2 ●46 min video
Who Was Haman?
Rabbi David Fohrman ●Part 1 of 7 ●5 min video
Purim Story Videos
The Fast Before Purim
Immanuel Shalev ●9 min video
Why Is Purim So Important
Immanuel Shalev ●8 min video
Why is It Called Purim & What Does It Refer To?
Rabbi David Fohrman ●Part 1 of 4 ●6 min video
What Connects Sarah And Esther In The Bible?
Rabbi David Fohrman ●11 min video
Premium Purim Holiday Videos
Unmasking the mysteries of Purim
Rabbi David Fohrman ●2 hours, 7 min video
The Mysterious Connection Between the Books of Leviticus & Esther
Rabbi David Fohrman ●1 hour, 54 min video
Purim: How Thin Is The Line Between Esther And Haman?
Rabbi David Fohrman ●Part 1 of 2 ●1 hour, 5 min video
Divine Lottery: Fate, Chance And Themes
Rabbi David Fohrman ●Part 1 of 3 ●55 min video
Purim And Genesis: How The Beginning Of The Bible Connects To The End
Rabbi David Fohrman ●Part 1 of 2 ●1 hour, 5 min video
The Rise of Antisemitism: A Glimpse Into Amalek’s Tortured Soul
Rabbi David Fohrman ●Part 1 of 11 ●1 hour, 23 min video
What Does The Induction Ceremony For The Priests Have To Do With... Purim?
Rabbi David Fohrman ●43 min video
What Does Yom Kippur Have To Do With Megillat Esther?
Rabbi David Fohrman ●22 min video
The Purim festival is the great holiday of make-believe. Our kids dress up as Esther, Mordechai, Haman and Achashverosh, using plastic hats and cellophane scepters. Likewise, the Book of Esther – read on this day, in synagogues worldwide – can easily masquerade as a child’s tale.
There’s a villain who is out to hang Mordechai; a king who enjoys drinking and seems a bit naive; and there’s the beautiful and noble queen, Esther. There are assassins, palace intrigue, and a climactic battle scene. There’s even a happy ending.
What more could you ask for in a good child’s story? But in order to understand the deeper narrative, we need to read the Megillah – and to see Purim itself – as if it were the first time.
Purim is a reminder of how close the Jewish race once came to being completely wiped out. It's one of the most joyous days on the Jewish calendar, where we celebrate the miraculous salvation of the Jews from a Persian decree to annihilate them.
Jews celebrate with a festive meal, public readings of the story from the Megillah, dressing in costumes, giving matanot l’evyonim (charity to the poor), and mishloach manot, sending food to friends.
But it is almost astounding that Purim became a holiday at all. The victory of Purim seems to be entirely political, and not in any way spiritual. Mordechai and Esther managed to save the Jews from a national holocaust, which is incredible, but is there anything spiritually meaningful for us, two millennia later, to apply to our lives?
The conventional answer is that the lesson of Purim is, “God works behind the scene.” And it’s true, Megillat Esther is full of all of these "coincidences" that seem to come together and not really be coincidences at all. But ultimately, that seems philosophical, not practical.
After the Babylonians conquered the Kingdom of Judah in the beginning of the sixth century BCE, the Jews were largely exiled from the land of Israel. The Jews began to form communities in the diaspora, and when the Persian Empire conquered the Babylonians several decades later, these communities came under Persian rule, including a community living in Shushan, the Persian capital.
The chief adviser to the king, Haman, who also lived in Shushan, had instituted a decree that all citizens of the city bow upon seeing him, and one man, a Jew named Mordechai, refused.
In retaliation, Haman convinced the king to let him exterminate all of the Jews in the empire. Haman cast a lot – in Hebrew, “Pur” – to choose the date of the genocide, and it fell on the fifteenth of the month of Adar. The name of this holiday derives from the lot that Haman cast to decide the date of the destruction, a date that changed from disaster to joy.
By seeming coincidence, Mordechai’s cousin, Esther, had recently been chosen as the king’s new queen, after he had executed his previous wife for disobedience. Mordechai and Esther skillfully and subtly leveraged Esther’s station to convince the king that Haman was trying to kill Esther, and the king in turn had Haman and his family executed and the murderous decree replaced.
Through their political savvy, Mordechai and Esther were able to save the Jews. Purim reminds us every year to be thankful for this salvation.
Yet, as joyous as Purim is, many things about the holiday seem strange. Why name the holiday after Haman’s lots, of all things? Where is God in this story? His name is not mentioned in any of the related Biblical verses. And why do we celebrate with charity and food packages? The videos above will kickstart your journey through these questions – and reveal some very surprising answers.
Buy Rabbi Fohrman's Book on Purim
How well do you know Esther? Our overfamiliarity with the characters – and their actions – can distract us from seeing the deeper meaning of the book of Esther. In “The Queen You Thought You Knew,” Rabbi Fohrman invites us to see the Megillah as if for the first time.
Be surprised by a deeper Purim story than you thought possible, one that brings the book alive in a vibrant, unexpected way, and leads us to a deeper, richer narrative. Rediscover the queen you thought you knew. Download the first chapter for free.