Take Very Good
Care of YourselvesDeuteronomy 4:15


The Essence
of Purim 


It’s More Than Firecrackers and Candy Bars

This Wednesday the 20th of March, is the Fast of Esther, followed, by Purim on Thursday and Friday (In Jerusalem [and some other places-check your local calendar for exact times] Purim is celebrated Wednesday night and Thursday.)  


The Jewish festival of Purim celebrates Jewish survival. The Biblical Book of Esther, which tells the story of how Esther saved the Jews of Persia from annihilation at the hands of the wicked Haman, is read. The holiday is also celebrated with costumes, parades, plays, carnivals, the giving of charity, food baskets, special pastries, and a festive meal.


There is no question that Purim is one of the most hectic days on the Jewish calendar. It is often characterized by excitement, merrymaking, and frantic activity, as each person attempts to accomplish the unique mitzvos (commandments) of the day amid the heady, joyous atmosphere. In the midst of all the chaos, we sometimes lose track of what exactly is the essence of this day.


We are taught that Purim contains a tremendous, hidden potential. Its powers are so great, that even the holiest day in the year Yom Kippur is called only Yom Kippurim- a day that is like Purim.


On Purim, every Jewish person, both young and old, has the potential to reach the highest levels of serving HaShem (G-D) -- with joy. Our Torah tells us that the Shechina (Holy Spirit) sits only in a place of joy---this is one of the main reasons that Purim is considered such a Holy day!


In fact, we are told that precisely because of the unbelievable greatness of the day, we are commanded on Purim to drink wine until we can no longer think coherently. Otherwise, if every Jew would be taking optimum advantage of the powers that Purim holds, our prayers would be so effective that the Massiah would surely be here already! {Related from the Chidushei HaRim }

The Purim Meal (Seudat Purim)

It is traditional to have a Purim Seudah (feast) on Purim day. And it is customary to serve food at the Purim meal that has symbolic meaning that links to the Purim story. 

One custom is to serve an especially long, braided challah in memory of the rope used to hang Haman. 

Triangular-shaped food such as kreplach (dough filled with meat and served in the soup or fried) and hamantashen (triangle shaped) pastries are eaten in memory of Haman's three-cornered hat.

It is written that King Ahasuerus reigned from India to Ethiopia. In Hebrew, the word 
hodu means both India and turkey. Thus, some people eat turkey on Purim. Others eat Ethiopian dishes such as Ethiopian lentils.

Since Esther ate as a vegetarian in order to keep kosher in the King's Palace, many people serve a vegetarian Purim meal. 

Similarly, it is customary to eat poppy seeds on Purim, since tradition says that Queen Esther ate only seeds and legumes when she moved into the King's Palace in order to avoid eating non-kosher food.


As you can see if one really wants to it is possible to adhere to a very nice healthy regimen even on Purim!




Ta’anis (the fast of ) Esther

We would like to emphasize:

Although the JDA has presented guidelines concerning fasting on Yom Kippur, they are by no means meant to be used on other fast days!

Our Rabbinical advisors do not recommend that those with medical limitations fast without the permission of a Rabbi and Doctor.


Mishloach Manos (gift packages)

We quote from the book (sefer) "Nishmat Avraham", by Dr. Abraham S. Abraham who writes as follows [page 339]:

“I wonder whether one has fulfilled the mitzvah (commandment) of ‘sending gifts’ of food to a friend, if the friend is medically forbidden to eat that food- for example, a box of chocolates to someone with diabetes (when both the sender and the recipient are aware of the diagnosis). The "Pitchei Teshuvah" writes that the main reason for the mitzvah (commandment) of sending gifts on Purim is to give joy. It would appear that since the person with diabetes will have no joy in receiving the gift and, on the contrary, will possibly even be embittered by it, the sender will not have fulfilled (commandment) the mitzvah.” [Refer to the sefer (book) for a longer discussion on the topic.]



· One of the most forbidden words in the language of diabetes is the word “forbidden”. Almost every food that HaShem (G-D) created can be incorporated in a diabetes meal plan, with proper education and foresight.

· Let's look at "chocolate"—today it is actually not one of the worst foods that one with diabetes can use to incorporate in to one's meal plan, albeit in moderation and with proper planning. It is usually combined with fat, which slows down absorption, and it is low on the Glycemic Index.  It is very high in anti oxidants—we recommended using high quality dark chocolate with at least 72 % cocoa.

· A member of the JDA pointed out that even some really fast-acting sweets, such as candies, which under normal circumstances, are usually best to avoid, are very helpful in the case of hypoglycemia. So, why shouldn’t one fulfill the mitzvah (commandment deed) of Mishloach Manos by giving someone with diabetes a gift that can save his life?

Based on these points, I feel more comfortable with the psak (halachic ruling) of Rav Zilberstien shlita, which affirms that one who gives sweet foods to one with diabetes has fulfilled the mitzvah.


Since Purim is an important day for giving charity many people go around collecting for organizations and other important causes.  This collecting is done in a very joyous way with costumes and music and often some heavy drinking.


JDA recommendations For Those Who Go Around Collecting on Purim:

$ Make sure to wear your medical ID necklace or bracelet.

$ Have enough Winkies in your pocket. Don’t rely on the fact that there will be plenty of candy around.

$ Keep your meter, strips, and lancets in your pocket.

$ DON’T DRINK! If someone offers you a drink, accept the cup graciously, but do not drink. This way, your host will be happy… and you will be safe.

$ Don’t smoke. Once you get used to it, it’s very hard to stop.

$ If you dance, make sure to eat enough carbs to avoid a low.

$ Last, but not least: We hope you make a lot of money… and keep the JDA in mind!


Continue reading some great Purim articles! 


copyright Jewish Diabetes Association 2019 reprints allowed with recognition of JDA