Character illustrations from “Art by Dena”:

The Purim Shpiel

Principles Magazine is proud to present The Purim Shpiel: Selected favorite scenes from the story of Purim with practical lessons to which we could all relate.


It was an old custom in Jewish communities that “Purim gelt” would be given to the ba’al koreh (the reader) of the Megilla (the scroll of Esther, read in Jewish communities on the holiday of Purim) as a token of appreciation for his service to the community. After the reading, all the townspeople would pass the ba’al koreh and throw in their few kopeks to his tin bowl lying on the table with some words of thanks. This wasn’t the ba’al koreh’s main income, as the modest sum of all these tips would possibly provide for a challa or two and a bottle of vodka for the Purim feast.

In one such town, there was once a special guest for Purim – it was the renowned Rabbi Dovber, the son and eventual successor, of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the Ba’al Hatanya.

After the reading of the Megilla was concluded and everyone turned to go home and celebrate, not forgetting of course to throw in their meager few copper kopeks to the ba’al koreh’s tin – Rabbi Dovber, too, made his way toward the exit, not before tipping the reader.

The ba’al koreh’s eyes popped open wide as he saw Rabbi Dovber’s gift to him – a whole silver ruble! It was a fortune, a week’s worth of wages!

Rabbi Dovber noticed the man’s astonishment and of those around him, and explained, “I never in my life heard such a fascinating tale; the suspense and the surprising twists and turns captivated my entire imagination. The reader of this tale deserves a worthy tip!”

Could it be that this brilliant and pious scholar had never heard the story of the Megilla before this particular reading?! Certainly this was not the case! Rather, every year, Rabbi Dovber would hear the Megilla being read by his holy father, and when the Ba’al Hatanya read it, although the very same words were being read, his son was hearing a much deeper message; he was hearing a spiritual tale that wasn’t just a one-time event, but a story that takes place in the life of every Jewish person. But now, as he was listening to a regular person reading the Megilla, who wasn’t tuned in to the deeper meaning of the story, Rabbi Dovber heard a totally different tale, a most interesting and intriguing one, but not as meaningful and practical.

Needless to say, the story of the Megilla is an absolutely real historical truth with a real Achashverosh and Vashti, Haman and Mordechai, and the rest of the cast. However, events taking place in this world are a mere reflection of events of much higher importance and value in spiritual terms. And such events, being unbound by the limits of time and space, are taking place in the life of each and every one of us – from Achasverosh’s gala 180-day feast, down to Esther’s second feast in which Haman’s plot is uncovered and the Jews are saved. Even the horse and royal garb have a message for us today.

We hereby present to you in the following lines, dear reader, some favorite scenes from the Megilla’s personnel and events that we could all find in our day-to-day life, events we can all relate to, and methods with which we can transform the joy of the Divine salvation of Purim which took place over 2,000 years ago into to a personal joy of feeling G-d saving us from a personal Haman through our personal Mordechai and Esther.

Sit back and join the most real reality show. Not for Purim only.