The Five Love Languages of Purim

March 24, 2024

The Five Love Languages of Purim

I love giving people gifts. There’s something about picking out the perfect present that’s totally exhilarating. I enjoy it so much my family jokes that I’m the “official” gift-giver of the family (sadly, not a paid position). It’s not that I know the best stores to shop at or that I have an overstuffed wallet (come to think of it, that would be a nice gift for me!). Rather, it’s that giving a gift helps me feel more deeply connected to my friends and family. Knowing exactly what someone wants or needs and, through my present, making them happy? It’s the greatest feeling in the world, and it’s how I express my love.

Gift-giving is just one of five “Love Languages,” an expression coined by psychologist and Pastor Gary Chapman. Love languages are how people express and receive love from their partners, parents, children, and friends. The five love languages are: words of affirmation, physical touch, gift-giving, acts of service, and quality time. There are many ways to apply these languages that creative people have suggested over the years. I’ve even seen “The Five Love Languages of Your Pets”!  

Amazingly, thousands of years before Gary Chapman identified the five love languages, Mordecai and Esther, the heroes of the Book of Esther, used these “languages” to bring unity to the people of Israel.

The holiday of Purim and the story of Esther are sensory events that contain so many “touch and feel” components. From the get-go, the story describes the king’s palace as an explosion of colors: “There were hangings of] white cotton and blue wool, caught up by cords of fine linen and purple wool to silver rods and alabaster columns; and there were couches of gold and silver on a pavement of marble, alabaster, mother-of-pearl, and mosaics”.

 So begins a long litany of descriptions and practices such that every person, young and old, can find a way to envision, feel, and connect with the holiday. From the tactile experience of handling graggers (noise-makers for children), to the visual spectacle of costumes to the communal sharing of food and gifts, everyone can find a personal path to engagement. The story of Esther, with its emphasis on love of family and peoplehood, invites us to explore our own ways of expressing and experiencing love, both human and divine. In doing so, Purim becomes a mirror teaching us that love, in its many forms, is the ultimate force behind our actions and celebrations.

Quality Time

Spending quality time together is a central theme of Purim. Families and friends gather to enjoy a festive meal, the Purim Feast, to celebrate Israel’s survival and unity. This practice is derived from Esther

which describes the days of Purim as ones of “feasting and joy.” While not strictly necessary, we also go all-out on the decorations in our house! But as much as we all love food, it’d be a shame if this was just about eating. Rather, these gatherings are about pure quality time – swapping stories, laughing, and singing. And, of course, sharing some yummy food. 

Physical Touch

Purim is simply bursting with physical sensation. The Book of Esther contains page after page of color, beauty, and opulence. It’s to the point where, when I close my eyes, I can imagine myself in the court of the King. There’s even an audial component! To encourage young and old to engage in the reading of the Purim story, it’s customary to wave groggers – small (but loud!) noise makers – to protest against the evil Haman in the story. Outside of the reading, Jews everywhere customarily celebrate by wearing costumes – with creativity contests not uncommon – to help immerse in the joy and celebration of the holiday. For those who connect using physical touch, Purim’s got you covered and then some..

Words of Affirmation

The traditional public reading of the Scroll of Esther is a powerful form of verbal affirmation, recounting the bravery of Esther and Mordechai and the collective triumph of the Jewish people. As the story is read aloud,

every mention of Haman’s name is met with hoots and boos, affirming the community’s resilience against their enemies. There are few words more affirming than those of Esther 8:16, after the near-destruction of the Jews,

This tradition – to read aloud the story each year – reinforces the power of words to unite and help us celebrate the strengths and survival of the Jewish people.

Acts of Service

Matanot La’Evyonim, giving gifts to the poor, is a direct act of service mandated in the Purim story

and is carefully observed until today. This practice embodies the spirit of generosity and care for others, ensuring that all members of the community can partake in the joy of Purim. It is a tangible expression of love and responsibility towards one another, fulfilling the commandment to uplift and support the less fortunate.

Gift-Giving

We’re saving my (obvious) favorite for last! Mishloach Manot, sending gifts of food to friends and family, is a practice instructed explicitly in the Book of Esther.

It perfectly embodies the love language of giving and receiving gifts. But of course, it’s not just about the gift itself but the thoughtfulness behind choosing something that will bring joy to another, mirroring the joy Esther and Mordechai sought for their people. This practice ensures that everyone, regardless of their circumstances, can partake in the joy and abundance of Purim, fulfilling the commandment to increase love and friendship among our neighbors.

Purim, with its vibrant customs, wonderfully illustrates the rich diversity inherent in how we can connect to Jewish holidays. Stay tuned next month for an exploration into the “five love languages” of Passover! 

Israel365 is actively engaged in projects to uplift the Land of Israel and its people. These initiatives range from planting trees in Judea, providing support to orphans and Holocaust survivors, and ensuring that the needy have access to nutritious meals.

Sara Lamm

Sara Lamm is a content editor for TheIsraelBible.com and Israel365 Publications. Originally from Virginia, she moved to Israel with her husband and children in 2021. Sara has a Masters Degree in Education from Bankstreet college and taught preschool for almost a decade before making Aliyah to Israel. Sara is passionate about connecting Bible study with “real life’ and is currently working on a children’s Bible series.

Sara Lamm

Sara Lamm is a content editor for TheIsraelBible.com and Israel365 Publications. Originally from Virginia, she moved to Israel with her husband and children in 2021. Sara has a Masters Degree in Education from Bankstreet college and taught preschool for almost a decade before making Aliyah to Israel. Sara is passionate about connecting Bible study with “real life’ and is currently working on a children’s Bible series.

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