Purim means “lots.” As described in the Book of Esther in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) evil Haman chose lots to decide the day on which the Jews would be massacred. In the end, the day proved to be a great Jewish victory. Purim celebrates this Jewish victory over evil Haman who conspired against the Jews. Jewish communities read The Book of Esther from a scroll (megillah).
The four main mitzvot (obligations) of the day are:
- Listening to the public reading, usually in synagogue, of the Book of Esther in the evening and again in the following morning.
- Sending food gifts to friends.
- Giving charity to the poor.
- Eating a festive meal.