“So Many Hamans and Only One Purim!”

So says an old Yiddish proverb. The persistence of antisemitism, as evidenced not only by ongoing bias crimes but by occasional words in our own neighborhoods, ever reminds us that we live in an imperfect world, a world sorely in need of great amounts of healing.

Each 14th of Adar we gather to retell the events of Megillat Esther, the Scroll of Esther. In it, we learn (each year, for we love to recall the happy ending missing from too many other chapters in our people’s history) of Queen Vashti’s banishment, Queen Esther’s annointing, Mordekhai’s rescuing King Ahashuerus, Haman’s plotting to kill Shushan’s Jews, and Esther’s saving the day.

Did it really happen?

What Lies Within

Hebrew lesson. "Esther." Know why she got that name? From the Hebrew root, "samekh-tav-resh" ... seh-tayr. Meaning "hidden."

Esther enters the court of King Ahashuerus concealing her Jewish identity. And when Mordekhai informs Esther of Haman's plan to annihilate the Jews, Esther contemplates continuing this same course. She thinks she can avoid a painful fate if she just hides.

It is her cousin Mordekhai, however, who teaches her that none of us can run from our true selves forever. And Esther, seeing the wisdom in his words, steps boldly into her destiny — to become a hero.

Sh’lakh Ma-what?

Each year, our religious school sponsors a Purim Goody Bags sale in which you and I send friends and neighbors sh’lakh manot, something tasty and fun for Purim. Delivering sh’lakh manot is an ancient Jewish tradition that traces its origins to the Book of Esther. After Mordekhai and Esther rescued the Jews of Shushan from the evil clutches of cruel Haman (boo!), a day of celebration was declared (Purim!) which was to include feasting (hamentashen!), merry-making (purimspiel!), and sending gifts (yep, sh’lakh manot) to friends and family and to those in need (source: Esther 9:22).

Vashti: Shrew or Shplendid?

She doesn't even make it past chapter one. Vashti's banished from the kingdom before you can say, "Beauty contest, anyone?"

What's up with that lady, anyway? Well, before consigning Queen Vashti to the dungheap of historical castaways, you may want to take a closer look at Esther's scroll (that is, the original Megillah).

Traditionally Tishah B'Av is the darkest of all days, a time set aside for mourning the destruction of both ancient Temples in Jerusalem.