Mazel-tov!Yes - here we are.. another page courtesy of JSoc - the Jewish Society of Christ Church College, Canterbury.
This is where you can find out about Jewish festivals - it's a kind of spring-board to get you places you often wondered about (or wandered..)
So look below if you want to know..
Purim, Girlpower and the Final Solution
PURIM, GIRL-POWER AND THE FINAL SOLUTION
How about this for a plot:
Girl enters 1st recorded beauty contest.
Boy meets girl,
Girl wins beauty contest,
Boy asks Girl to become 1st Jewish princess.
MEANWHILE... BACK AT THE RANCH..
Wicked man plots genocide,
Girl saves entire race,
Wicked man is hung on his own scaffolding
they all live happily ever after
(except for the Wicked man.)
Hmmm.. a bit far fetched, eh? Especially about the beauty contest.
NEARLY 2500 YEARS AGO A SINGLE HEBREW WOMAN
AVERTED THE DESTRUCTION OF THE ENTIRE JEWISH RACE
IN THE PERSIAN EMPIRE AND BEYOND.
NO WONDER SOMEONE DECIDED TO WRITE ABOUT IT.
YOU KNOW.. someone ought to make a movie of this..
There’s sex, scandal, spies and lies,
gifts and presents and baking of pies..
(er.. maybe not the pies, but there’s Hamantashen -
more about that later)
Where do you go to find the facts? Well, first stop, Hebrew scriptures - the Megilla, or Story of Esther.
The book of Esther was written sometime after 465 BCE. Of all the books in the Hebrew bible it's very unusual. For example, it doesn't actually mention the name of G-d.. although as you look through the book you'll see He's there just the same.. guiding, working miracles.. caring for His people..
If this was "Star Wars", Haman would be Darth Vader.. but worse.
And Mordechai could be Obi-Wan, Esther could be Princess Leia and..
oh never mind.. it's just a game I play every now and then..
when I read a book I cast the main characters before I get too far.
, said Gerry acting a bit sheepish..
So there we are in Persia (known today as Iran - not exactly out of the news NOW, are we??)
King Ahasuerus ruled over an Empire stretching from India to Ethiopia.
Nearly 130 provinces. He was not a little tin-pot ruler.
I don't think I've ever heard of anyone actually ruling over a tin pot
but that's neither here nor there and entirely beside the point..
Oh, yes.. Esther's story really begins some years previous..
the Babylonians had taken many of the Jewish people captive,
carrying them away to "the rivers of Babylon"..
(Psalm 137 was a hit for the Israelite Psalmist long before Boney M)
Well, although by now the Hebrew people were allowed to return to their own land,
many had made their homes in foreign places and settled there. A good size community was established in Shushan, the Persian capital, and Mordechai, a leader of the Jewish community in Persia adopted this young girl after the death of her father.
Esther was originally caleed "Hadassah" - translated as "Myrtle".. In Isaiah 55:13 the L-rd promises that in the deserts of Israel: "Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the
L-RD's renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed."
It seems to me that Myrtle is assocated with G-d's mercy or "chesed".
. unwarranted care and favour for His people..
Mordechai calls this beautiful orphan "Esther" which means "Star"
. .and she certainly shines out in a very dark place..
as we shall see in a moment
Now.. let's see.. where are we??
Of course.. in the courts of King Ahasuerus, 465 BCE..
or there-abouts.. the King's wife, Queen Vashti has been a bit of a bad lass,
deciding not to go to the King when he wanted her to.
Basically she gets the push.. the big E
the not so golden handshake.. shown the door.. whatever..
she's out of here.. and the Big A wants a new Queen.
But how to go about choosing a Queen??
Well of course! Advertise.
So he writes letters to go throughout the length and breadth of the land..
and they hold a beauty contest. So there we are. Jewish princess, BUT Mordechai knows that the Jews aren't looked on with great kindness in the area, so he tells her not to reveal that she's Jewish. For a whole year she's in the King's palace, completting 12 months beauty preparation.. six months with oil of myrhh and six months with perfumes.. Imgine waiting for her to get ready if you're going out on a date..
Esther wins. Simple as that. Hands down.. in the old fashioned language of the scriptures it says in Chaper 2 verse 9 that "the maiden pleased him and won his favour"
I like that. Call me an old romantic if you like,
"You're an old romantic"
Thank you.. but I really do love this story.
In fact verse 17 says this:
"The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she found grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti".
And so.. Esther becomes Queen and they hold a feast in her honour, calling it "The Feast of Esther". (okay it's not exactly original, but would you complain if they held a feast in your honour and called it after you? (well they couldn't call it before you could they?)
Now, like Chicken Soup with extra Matzo meal, the plot thickens..
BUT WE'RE NOT GOING TO TELL YOU ABOUT THAT RIGHT AWAY.. YOU'LL HAVE TO COME BACK TO THE PAGE IN A FEW DAYS TIME IN ORDER TO FIND OUT ABOUT A SNEAKY SECRET CONNIVING CONSPIRACY..
for now though..
th' th' th' th' that's all folks!
The C4-JEWISH SOCIETY Homepage: News, views, and thoughts about or by Jews on campus
Okay, okay.. I know she's not a Princess.. but it's the closest we could get at such short notice..
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