Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Shushan Purim Thought

Well over here in the Holy Land it is officially Shushan Purim and I wanted to share an idea that I had earlier while listening to the Megillah this morning. We all know that one of the main points of Purim is to party. We go to a party - the Purim Seudah. Some of us drink on Purim - also an integral part of a good party. But most importantly the party is a key part of Megillat Esther.

The Megillah starts with the 180 day long uber-party of Achashverosh. This party also coincides with Vashti’s party which leads to her demise. (BTW - does anyone know if she actually dies?) Ultimately, Esther manipulates Haman’s downfall with not one, but two parties. Coincidence? I think not.

I would propose that Esther’s party is a tikkun for Vashti’s party. In other words, Esther plans to make a party to honor Achashverosh. She contrasts with Vashti’s party, which was intended for the queen’s personal interests and excluded the king’s party. Esther’s plan to save the Jewish people requires Achashverosh to make a choice between Haman and her. It would be reasonable for her to assume that a party for the king would tip the scales in her direction. Esther’s party is designed to have the opposite effect of Vashti’s party. And what do you know, her plan works!

If you have time, feel free to take a look at Megillah 15b (starting from line 36) for a variety of opinions of exactly what Esther is planning to achieve with this party. Also, I was inspired by Rashi on Esther 6:1, where he comments that Achashverosh is concerned that Esther invited Haman because she is attracted to him. 

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