Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Megillat Esther review on Shushan Purim

What can I say about the Book of Esther?  Plenty!

Haman:  This story needs an anti-Jewish villain, and here he is.  I may be wrong, but I think this is the only place in the Tanach (Bible) where Jews are called Yehudim (Jews), instead of B'nei Yisrael (The Children of Israel) or B'nei Yaakov (The Children of Jacob).

Charvonah:  This story needs an ally, and here he is.  Charvonah plays pretty much the same role in Megillat Esther (see Megillat Esther, 7:9) that Yael plays in Haftarat Beshallah (see Judges 4:17-22).  Never mind that both of them were probably also trying to curry favor with the winning side. 😀

Esther:  This story needs a hero, and here she is.  I may be wrong, but I think that Esther is the only woman in the Tanach (Bible) to lead a group of Jews to victory other than Devorah (see Judges 4-5).

Achashverosh:  This story needs a drunken fool who can be led around by the nose, and here he is.  The only decision that this gullible king makes on his own is to schedule a drinking party.

Unfortunately, Achashverosh is no joke--he's also a serial rapist, and Esther is one of his many victims.  See Esther 2:14.  The concept of consent doesn't even exist in this book.  😡

Mordechai:  Some have said that Mordechai didn't bow to Haman because he was angry that Haman's position hadn't been given to *him.*  That makes more sense to me than any of the midrashim  (Rabbinic explanations) that I've heard about him.  So Mordechai got the king's favorite ticked off enough to scheme to wipe out all of Mordechai's kin in the entire kingdom, and his poor first cousin was left to clean up the mess that he'd created and save all the Jews of the Persian Empire.  Nice job.  Not.  😡

Nevertheless, Mordechai ends up robed in royal purple, while Esther gets stuck with her rapist for the rest of her life.  (See Megillat Esther Is Not A Hollywood Production).  Yet again, a man gets the credit, when it was a woman--Shoshanat Yaakov--who risked her life to save the Jews of Persia.

Some skeptics think that this entire tale is fictitious.  Frankly, I'm not sure that it really matters whether this story is true or not--we can still learn from it, and that's the point.  What we can learn is that Jewish life in Galut/The Diaspora can be hazardous, and we have to live by our wits.  

On a lighter note:


I didn't think to save all the posts about these goodies that I read on Facebook, but here's what I remember.  The original name of these pastries was mohn-taschen, German for poppy-seed pockets.  They got renamed partly because of the similarity to the villain's name.

But that's not the only reason.  "Haman's Hat?"  Good luck finding any mention of a hat in Megillat Esther, much less a three-cornered one!  "Oznei Haman/Haman's Ears," as Israelis call them?  Since when do humans have triangular ears?  Some folks posted that the rabbis simply couldn't deal with the obvious, which is that Esther, a Persian name, is derived from Ishtar, the Persia goddess of fertility.  Come on, folks, we all know what part of the female body a triangle represents!  Why should we name our Purim goodies after the villain?  "Esther's 'Pockets,'" anyone?  Let's have a renaming contest!  The only rule is that the new name has to be "clean" enough for kids!

2:56 PM update

By Georgia, I've got it:  Esther's Eclairs! 


Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Copied from Facebook:

Myron Bassman
Mordecai does not bow down to Haman because Haman is an Agagite, a descendant of Amelek.


Shira Salamone
Myron Bassman , nice try, but I'm not convinced. By that logic, Americans should never bow to King Charles because we fought the British Crown for independence.


Lanie Bergman
Shira Salamone And we don't


Shira Salamone
Lanie Bergman , some don't and some do.

Wed Mar 08, 03:05:00 PM 2023  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Copied from Facebook:

Myron Bassman
Shira Salamone It is not we would do, it is what Mordecai would do. In any event it solves two issues; 1) the reason for mentioning Haman's ancestry and 2) why Mordecai didn't bow down. It satisfies me.


Shira Salamone
Myron Bassman , that makes some sense, but still doesn't explain why Mordechai himself never gives a reason for refusing to bow to Haman.

Wed Mar 08, 03:31:00 PM 2023  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

From Facebook:

Shira Salamone
Myron Bassman , besides, is it wise to antagonize someone known to be a descendant of your people's ancient enemy? Esther is a much better politician--not only does she carefully avoid antagonizing the enemy, she defeats him by turning his own ego against him, flattering him until him falls into her fatal trap.

Wed Mar 08, 04:06:00 PM 2023  

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