Posts Tagged: Esther Results 5
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Esther saved the Jewish people because, so they say, she was smart and brave. When she learned of the genocidal plot of Haman, the vizier to her husband, King Ahasueres of Persia, she revealed that she was a Jew and pleaded for her people to be spared.
Purim is a holiday that is about women’s power, in its different forms.
Thinking about the roles of Queen Vashti and her successor Queen Esther in the Purim story highlights some of the dilemmas that women have faced throughout history. I therefore think it’s particularly apt that Ta’anit Esther is International Agunah Day, the day the marks the harrowing struggle of “chained women,” or women denied divorce.
This kittel explores leadership. Specifically, the responsiblity of leading, and the leaders’ complex relationships to followers and to themselves. On Rosh Hashana our prayer leaders stand before God and together we crown God as King.
There are three different leadership archetypes in the Tanach: kings, prophets and priests. It is interesting to note that clothing plays an important symbolic role in each of their narratives, and thus clothing seems to be inherently connected with the concept of leadership.
I couldn’t read all the Esther and Vashti talk around the Web, without chiming in myself. Like Elissa Strauss, I dressed up as one of the two queens every year at my Jewish day school’s Purim carnival — at least until 3rd or 4th grade when we started getting more creative with our costumes. Whether I was Esther or Vashti depended on the statement I wanted to make any given year. I remember feeling quite torn between being the perfect princess and being the bad-ass one (not that I knew what such a term meant, but I knew they were different).
The way I was told the story of Esther and Vashti makes me realize how early we’re indoctrinated with certain conceptions of gender — the good, obedient, selfless girl vs. the rebel. These two are our very own Jewish version of the Madonna-Eve, or Virgin-Whore dichotomy. Many feminists this week have talked about the way Esther and Vashti represent two ways of dealing with the patriarchy — either using beauty and patience to get your way, or standing up outright and facing the consequences. It’s the kind of debate we have in feminist circles all the time: Do we concede rhetoric to get change accomplished (the Esther way) or do we stand up for our principles at any cost (the Vashti way)?