Within the world of fiction (and sometimes non-fiction), there are two main female stereotypes: the good girl and the bad girl. With little to no room to move beyond these basic character descriptions, some women have been forced to play the hand they are dealt.
The Jewish holiday of Purim is started this evening and lasts until tomorrow. Within the world that is the genesis of this holiday, there are only two women, Queen Esther and her predecessor, Queen Vashti. Esther fits neatly in the good girl category while Vashti does the same in the bad girl category. Though Esther is revered as a female icon within the Jewish faith, Vashti has been given a bad rap.
As children, we are taught that Vashti was wicked for disobeying her husband. The reason she was either banished or executed (depending on who tells the story), comes down to the simple fact that the men who were supposed to see her “beauty” were afraid that other women would follow in her footsteps. The only way to quell the potential of any feminist rebellion was to get rid of Vashti and replace her with a woman who knew her place.
In real life, we know that we are much more than the good girl vs. the bad girl. No human being is entirely good or bad. We are a spectrum of personality traits and choices. The problem is that while men have been given unabashed permission to live within this spectrum, women are only starting to move beyond very specific character types.
I think its time to give Vashti her due. In standing up for herself, she is standing up for every women who has been put down and/or limited because of her sex. It’s time to give her her due as a role model instead of reducing her to a one note character.
I’m not particularly religious, but as I get older, I realize that the stories in the Bible can still speak to us many generations after they were written.
Today is the Jewish holiday of Purim. It is the story of Esther. To make a long story short, Esther hides her Jewish identity while entered in a beauty contest to see who will become the next Queen of Shushan (modern-day Iran). When she is chosen to be the next Queen, she is faced with an impossible task: save her people from Haman’s wrath while risking her own life in the process.
Looking at the story of Purim through the lens of 2019, I feel like it still speaks to us. It speaks to us because of the growing intolerance that has become acceptable once more in our world.
It also speaks to us because Esther and her predecessor, Vashti, are also two of the strongest women in the Bible. When the King calls for Vashti to appear for all of his guests wearing only her crown (aka walking into a room full of strange, drunk men in her birthday suit), she says no and is sent away. This opens the door for Esther to become Queen and using what little power she has to stop Haman. Esther knows that her husband could easily send her away, or worse, send her to the executioner. But she is brave and knows that the only way to save herself and her people is to reveal who she really is.
The message I get from Purim is that it is possible to be ourselves and stand up to intolerance and hatred. We only need the guts to do so.
Today is International Women’s Day.Today we honor women, past and present who have paved the way for the success of this generation and future generations.
This weekend is the Jewish holiday of Purim. Jews around the world celebrate Queen Esther’s victory over the murderous Haman.
Esther is one of the strongest women in the bible. An orphan raised by her cousin Mordechai, she expects to live an ordinary life: marry an appropriate young man, raise a family and generally life the life that women have lived for centuries. But fate intervenes. King Ahasuerus is hosting a dinner party for his closest friends. Getting rip-roaring drunk, he commands that his wife, Queen Vashti appear in all of her beauty in her birthday suit to his guests. Vashti refuses and is banished from court.
But now the King is lonely and in need of female companionship. Many women are brought before the King, but it is Esther who catches his eye and is crowned Queen. But before she steps into the palace gates, she renames herself. Instead of the given name of Hadassah, she is now Esther. Her Jewish identity is now hidden.
One of the King’s minister’s Haman has a thirst for power and is more than willing spill a little blood if necessary to get that power. Offended when Mordechai does not bow to him, Haman sets his sights on the Jews of Shushan. Fearing for the safety of her cousin and her people and despite knowing the danger she could be in, Esther steps forward and reveals her true identity. Mordechai and the Jews of Shushan are safe, thanks to the bravery and courage of their Queen.
Unlike most women in the Bible, Esther is a fully formed character who is not simply designated as the wife of ___________ or the daughter of ________. Her intelligence, courage and strength have been a reminder to women across the centuries that we are far more capable than we think we are. And in today’s society when women are fighting for the same rights that our great-grandmothers were fighting for a century ago, Esther’s story encourages us to keep going. When we are willing to step up to the plate, it is possible to change the world.
We just have to have to courage and be willing to make that difficult step.
The Jewish holiday of Purim is the story of Queen Esther. Using her intelligence in a situation that might have brought most women to their knees in fear, Esther is able to rescue herself and her people from the hatred of her husband’s main confidant.
Hadassah is a Jewish orphan, raised by her cousins Mordechai and Miriam. At the age of 13, she lives a relatively care free life, but she knows that will soon change. Following tradition, she knows that she will soon marry Binyamin, the young man chosen for her by her guardians. Then Queen Vashti decides to go against King Xerxes (Ahasuerus in the Bible). For her insubordination, she is punished by being removed from the throne. Searching for a new Queen, Hadassah (renamed Esther to protect herself) is among the young women brought before the king. She is soon crowned Queen. But a man comes to power who threatens the lives of the Jews and Esther must save herself and her people from destruction.
The story alternatives between two narratives: Hadassah and Harbonah, a eunuch whose sole responsibility is the king’s personal welfare. Mingling the history of the period and the Biblical narrative, Ms. Hunt has written an engaging novel that will early on grip the reader and not let go until the final page.