We break the typical posts on travel and hiking to wish all who celebrate it, a happy Purim! This joyous and seemingly frivolous holiday where drinking alcohol is not looked down upon has a much deeper nature.
Purim celebrates the story of Esther – an ordinary girl who becomes a hero to save herself and others. She uses the only weapons she possesses: her intelligence, courage and sex appeal to win over an evil decree fueled by hurt ego and uncontrolled drive for power.
Esther was smart and realistic. She created a plan to fit the situation she was in as well as her very good understanding of power she actually had.
Esther is often portrayed as just a pretty princess. There is no doubt that she was beautiful, that’s why she was chosen by the king to be his wife. But what is more interesting she was able to step up to the plate when it was needed. She overcame her fear and came up with a master plan, using well her opponents’ weaknesses.
Illustration by one of my favorite artists: Arthur Szyk. via
There is also Vashti – the first king’s wife. It’s a pity the story doesn’t provide more details on this part of the story. We know she refused to go to the king’s party, where there were only men drinking for a week by then. Some say she was supposed to come naked, some that she was to dance and entertain the guests. But didn’t she know there would be consequences? That the king could not let that be noticed that his own wife does not listen to his orders? Was there no way to defuse the situation? We will never know.
We don’t know if it was her pride-above-life that stopped her from going or if there was something more going on. We know though, the reaction of king’s advisers and it was just precious! Poor delicate men being scared of this one act dismantling the whole system of patriarchy and a man’s ruling in his own house! I will quote it here because it’s just gold:
Vashti the queen had not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the peoples, that are in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus. For this deed of the queen will come abroad unto all women, to make their husbands contemptible in their eyes, when it will be said: The king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not. And this day will the princesses of Persia and Media who have heard of the deed of the queen say the like unto all the king’s princes. So will there arise enough contempt and wrath.
Poor men! Their wives would suddenly realize that it was indeed possible to say “no” to their husbands! But it is true: Sometimes we just don’t realize we can do something differently. We need the brave soul who shows the way. And then it can be a domino effect – more will come to the same realization. The fear of this adviser is real, the whole system of keeping their wives down is based on shaky foundations. One woman’s act can be the catalyst for huge change. So what did they do? What else but change the past!
If it please the king, let there go forth a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered, that Vashti come no more before king Ahasuerus, and that the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she.
Brilliant, isn’t it? Retroactively the king made a law that Vashti was indeed forbidden to come and see the king, and not that she chose to do so… Genius.
That’s my costume for this year’s Purim. I think I nailed it! 😀
We can’t forget about the antagonist – the evil Haman. And he is such a great character – the perfect evil anti-hero. But he’s not unrealistic and doesn’t have any superpowers. He’s power-hungry, extremely ambitious and has huge, but very delicate ego. He lashes out against a whole group of people he knows nothing about because one of them refused to bow down to him. He creates a truly vicious plot creating a made-up image of this ethnic group, fueling fear and creating a problem where there was none. Sounds familiar? Of course, it does, because it’s a story as old as humanity.
So, in this lovely holiday of Purim, may we all find Esther in ourselves – finding courage where we didn’t think we had any, stepping up and using our positions (whatever they may be) and our privilege (we all have some) to fight the good fight against Hamans of this world.