Purim just might be our favorite Jewish holiday (Halloween in March? Why not!), and the story of its origins is a classic tale of Jewish triumph. For those who slept through their Sunday school classes, it starts with the Persian king Ahasuerus, who wasn't pleased with his wife Vashti for refusing to appear before his friends wearing her crown (and, we assume, nothing else).
So the king dumps (kills?) Vashti and, after a line-up of young women is paraded in front of him, picks Esther to marry. What he doesn't know is that Esther is Jewish.
Unfortunately for the new queen, Ahasuerus' prime minister, Haman, is an enormous antisemite. Haman hatches a plan to kill all the Jews in Persia, to which the obtuse king agrees to! But Esther gets news of the plot, and reveals to her husband that she is in fact a Jew. Ahasuerus quickly has a change of heart, Jews are spared, and Haman is the one executed. All of this is celebrated for centuries on as Purim. Hooray!
Hooray for Jews of Persia, definitely. Hooray for us, who get a pretty cool holiday to celebrate. Hooray for Esther?
We can't help but feel sorry for Esther. Oh sure, she is a Jewish heroine that few can match. But to spend the rest of her life with that flaky, meshuggenah husband?
March 7, 2012