Four mitzvot (commandments) are performed on Purim.
Below are pictures from the collections of the National Library of Israel of four items used while fulfilling the mitzvot .
This source sheet includes images from the NLI collections, texts from the Book of Esther and the Mishneh Torah explaining the mitzvot, questions, and links to the items on the NLI website.
מגילה - Reading the Megillah
- According to the text from the Mishneh Torah, how many times is the Megillah read on Purim?
What part of the Megillah is one obliged to read and when?
- How does this Megillah scroll differ from a Torah scroll?
- Describe the illustrations on the seventeenth-century Megilla from Italy.
Do you think they depict the scene as it actually was?
What do you think the inspiration was for the illustrations?
How do the illustrations enhance the story?
משתה - Festive Meal
- Based on the text from the Megillah, what did the Jews do to celebrate their salvation on Purim?
- Read the text from the Mishneh Torah.
What should be the nature of the Purim feast?
- The Mishneh Torah explains that one should eat meat on this occasion.
Why do you think meat was stipulated?
How can vegetarians nonetheless make a Purim feast?
- The postcard depicts a Purim feast in Germany in the nineteenth century.
Describe the illustration.
What are the people wearing?
What are they doing?
What does the room look like?
- The postcard is from Germany at the end of the nineteenth century.
What was life like for Jews at this time?
- The artist, Hermann Junker, was known for portraying an idealized and nostalgic version of Judaism in his drawings.
Do you think that this is the case here?
What message do you think he is trying to make about Jews and Judaism in his drawing?
- What impression of the family do you get from looking at the drawing?
- Why is it important to be happy on Purim?
משלוח מנות - Food Gifts to Friends
- Besides eating a festive meal, what other ways does the Megillah describe to celebrate Purim?
- Describe the foods in a mishloach manot basket that would fulfill the mitzvah according to the Mishneh Torah.
- Describe the object in the photograph.
What is engraved on the plate?
What do you think it was used for?
- The plate includes a "quote" from the Megillah.
Search for this exact text in the Megillah.
Is it written correctly on the plate?
If not, what is the mistake?
What could this mistake tell us about the people who created the plate?
5. Why do you think we give food presents to friends on Purim?
How does this relate to the Purim story?
מתנות לאביונים - Tzedakah
- Read the text from the Megillah.
What is the reason for giving gifts to the poor on Purim?
- According to the Mishneh Torah, what is the minimum requirement for fulfilling the mitzvah of matanot l'evyonim?
- What do you think this box was used for?
- According to the Mishneh Torah, what should one spend more money on: giving mishloach manot (food gifts), the Purim seudah (feast), or matanot l'evyonim (gifts to the poor)?
Why do you think that is?