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Purim is a simcha? Isn't that selfish?
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Roots




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Feb 22 2021, 9:17 am
Interesting point of view.
I think you are putting esthers suffering on a pedestal- I mean she was a queen after all, with all the benfits that get. I think her life was pretty ok for women in her time.
and vashti was a big resha'it and deserves what she got- I DO think you need to learn the midrashim in order to understand the text
I wikipedia it says :
בתלמוד במסכת מגילה[8] מובא שושתי נהגה להפשיט בנות ישראל ולהורות להן לעשות מלאכה בשבת, ועל כן נגזר עליה שתבוא ערומה. המדרש מנמק את סירובה לבוא בסיבות שונות: נדרשה להופיע בעירום, נצטרעה או שבא המלאך גבריאל ועשה לה זנב
that the source is from masechet megilla, which is pretty legit in my opinion. and the translation is that vashti would undress the jewish girls and order them to do melachot on shabbat, and thats why she she got the gezeira to come naked. the midrash says few reasons why she didnt want to come either bec she had to come naked, or she got tzaraas or malach gavriel came and made her a tail...
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miami85




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Feb 22 2021, 9:28 am
amother [ Gray ] wrote:
Yes, Esther always seems such a tragic figure to me. Pretty much raped by the king, forced to live her life in solitude, among a culture not her own. A hostage all her life.

And I know people like to view her as evil, but I always thought Vashti is tragic too. Poor woman, denied even the most basic rights, punished for daring to have a say.

It was not a good time or place to be a woman.


Whoa, Esther and Vashti were in NO way comparable in this regard. Vashti was a wicked woman, granddaughter of our mortal enemy Nevuchadnezzar and tormented her Jewish servants. She was treated midda k'negged midda

As for Esther, while yes, her plight is tragic, I read in Let My Nation Live that she and Mordechai kind of "knew" that this was her destiny so she kind of let herself go willingly. Sometimes when your suffering is "for a purpose" it's easier to bear--I like to think of it like pregnancy.

and even it she did not submit in a true willing fashion--I'm sure she didn't want to go, but it was more like "aveira l'shma"--that is a higher category of mitzva than mitzvah l'shma, so imagine the tremendous s'char she got and it was her son that enabled the galus to end and rebuild the beis hamikdash.
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cbsp




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Feb 22 2021, 9:37 am
amother [ Firebrick ] wrote:
I get you OP. I always saw Esther and Vashti both as tragic figures at the mercy of powerful men, based on the pshat.


You can't decide to cherry pick pshat unless you actually have a source.

Based on the historical context and the pshat, Vashti was the power behind Achashveirosh since she was of royal lineage via Nevuchadnetzar. I have not seen any pshat to indicate she was any less evil than her grandfather. I also don't see pshat indicate she was at the mercy of a powerful man.

(make the argument for those in the king's harem if you wish.)

Further, it was her actions that led to the codification of the law that men would rule in their homes - so that clearly couldn't have been the case prior...
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miami85




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Feb 22 2021, 10:23 am
Also, let us not forget what our other holidays represent,

Remember Pesach, Moshe, as much as The Prince of Egypt completely misses the point, one thing it made me realize is that Moshe was in essence "fighting his family"--he was raised "by his mother" but he really was an outsider looking in to the Plight of the Jews.

Moshe our "Commander in Chief" for 40years in the dessert, never got to deliver us to the Promised Land. Neither Aharon or Miriam got to go into Eretz Yisroel either.

Shavuous--the biggest highlight of our history, bringing the Torah to earth--something that had been in the works for over 2400 years! The most apparent manifestation of G-d Himself and what happened 40 days later? The biggest embarrassment that nearly cost our nation's actual existence, and it is Yom Kippur itself that is our atonement that allowed us to keep existing

Sukkos--remembering the divine protection we had for 40 years--and how did we show our gratitude? We complained and kvetched to go back to Mitzrayim and for meat.

Chanuka--we had an AMAZING miracle, and yet the descendants of the chashmonaim were not such great tzaddikim and only about 100 years before the final destruction.

Our history has had AMAZING manifestations of greatness, coupled with tremendous imperfection. Our leaders in history HAVE sacrificed tremendously for us, and we keep messing it up.

Our holidays are not about the "what" or the "who"--we have no "yom hacnosas eretz yisroel", we have no "yom chanukas beis hamikdash". Even Shavuous is "zman matan toraseinu"--the season of getting the Torah--not "THE day", we don't "commemorate" events, our holidays are about the eternal spiritual connection of our people to Hashem and the Torah.

Purim was the "kiyimu v'kiblu hayehudim"--the day we RE-accepted the Torah. Nothing else matters. The rest is all the backdrop to allow us to "re-find ourselves" and prove ourselves worthy of surviving. Purim is only the 2nd-to-last stop in our historical journey prior to the endless galus we are in now. We were "so close" to being destroyed forever, and yet we endured, and we still endure until today and Purim we are told will never go away. It will never "pale in comaprison" to the nissim of Moshiach which we should experience soon.
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amother




Dodgerblue
 

Post Mon, Feb 22 2021, 10:38 am
miami85 wrote:
Also, let us not forget what our other holidays represent,

Remember Pesach, Moshe, as much as The Prince of Egypt completely misses the point, one thing it made me realize is that Moshe was in essence "fighting his family"--he was raised "by his mother" but he really was an outsider looking in to the Plight of the Jews.

Moshe our "Commander in Chief" for 40years in the dessert, never got to deliver us to the Promised Land. Neither Aharon or Miriam got to go into Eretz Yisroel either.

Shavuous--the biggest highlight of our history, bringing the Torah to earth--something that had been in the works for over 2400 years! The most apparent manifestation of G-d Himself and what happened 40 days later? The biggest embarrassment that nearly cost our nation's actual existence, and it is Yom Kippur itself that is our atonement that allowed us to keep existing

Sukkos--remembering the divine protection we had for 40 years--and how did we show our gratitude? We complained and kvetched to go back to Mitzrayim and for meat.

Chanuka--we had an AMAZING miracle, and yet the descendants of the chashmonaim were not such great tzaddikim and only about 100 years before the final destruction.

Our history has had AMAZING manifestations of greatness, coupled with tremendous imperfection. Our leaders in history HAVE sacrificed tremendously for us, and we keep messing it up.

Our holidays are not about the "what" or the "who"--we have no "yom hacnosas eretz yisroel", we have no "yom chanukas beis hamikdash". Even Shavuous is "zman matan toraseinu"--the season of getting the Torah--not "THE day", we don't "commemorate" events, our holidays are about the eternal spiritual connection of our people to Hashem and the Torah.

Purim was the "kiyimu v'kiblu hayehudim"--the day we RE-accepted the Torah. Nothing else matters. The rest is all the backdrop to allow us to "re-find ourselves" and prove ourselves worthy of surviving. Purim is only the 2nd-to-last stop in our historical journey prior to the endless galus we are in now. We were "so close" to being destroyed forever, and yet we endured, and we still endure until today and Purim we are told will never go away. It will never "pale in comaprison" to the nissim of Moshiach which we should experience soon.

Beautiful, thank you!
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JD03




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Feb 22 2021, 11:21 am
What struck me first was the title of this post-'selfish'. No, it's not selfish. The traditions exist for a reason. They were instituted by those who were much smarter and holier than any of us. Who are we to question or improve on that?

Purim has been a yom tov for centuries, celebrated by all generations--including greatest gadolim. I would say that those gadolim had a much greater understanding and sensitivity to Esther Hamalka and her life's story. While some of them did say to dedicate the day to learning torah and performing mitzvos (less frivolity), it is because of the kadusha of the yom tov--not out of despair or sadness.

Also, it was Esther Hamalkah herself who dedicated the day for celebration--a celebration to last throughout all generations. It's in the magillah.

It seems to me that your own interpretation of what Esther Hamalkah experienced, and how we should react to that, is counter to what she herself asked for in rememberence. As well as how our greatest sages have viewed this yom tov.
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miami85




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Feb 22 2021, 11:32 am
JD03 wrote:
What struck me first was the title of this post-'selfish'. No, it's not selfish. The traditions exist for a reason. They were instituted by those who were much smarter and holier than any of us. Who are we to question or improve on that?

Purim has been a yom tov for centuries, celebrated by all generations--including greatest gadolim. I would say that those gadolim had a much greater understanding and sensitivity to Esther Hamalka and her life's story. While some of them did say to dedicate the day to learning torah and performing mitzvos (less frivolity), it is because of the kadusha of the yom tov--not out of despair or sadness.

Also, it was Esther Hamalkah herself who dedicated the day for celebration--a celebration to last throughout all generations. It's in the magillah.

It seems to me that your own interpretation of what Esther Hamalkah experienced, and how we should react to that, is counter to what she herself asked for in rememberence. As well as how our greatest sages have viewed this yom tov.


This is true, but also keep in mind, most of our female heroines didn't have such rosy lives, our imahos? They were akaros. Rachel died because of a curse, Leah was "destined to marry Eisav" until her father tricked Yaakov. Miriam--was put in exile due to her insensitive talk. We embrace them because of their struggles and how they handled themselves and overcame their situation.

In fact someone I know was considering the name "malka" for her daughter but then thought twice about it because Esther being the "malka" was not such a good thing (though she did also acknowledge that we use the term to describe Shabbos and it is considered a positive attribute). I've been reading some historical novels about various Queens in history and being a Queen was like the MOST insecure position in royalty at times.
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SuperWify




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Feb 22 2021, 11:38 am
cbsp wrote:
You can't decide to cherry pick pshat unless you actually have a source.

Based on the historical context and the pshat, Vashti was the power behind Achashveirosh since she was of royal lineage via Nevuchadnetzar. I have not seen any pshat to indicate she was any less evil than her grandfather. I also don't see pshat indicate she was at the mercy of a powerful man.

(make the argument for those in the king's harem if you wish.)

Further, it was her actions that led to the codification of the law that men would rule in their homes - so that clearly couldn't have been the case prior...


Exactly. Stuck in the harem for the rest of their lives. All because they once met the king. What a horrible existence.
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JD03




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Feb 22 2021, 11:51 am
miami85 wrote:
This is true, but also keep in mind, most of our female heroines didn't have such rosy lives, our imahos? They were akaros. Rachel died because of a curse, Leah was "destined to marry Eisav" until her father tricked Yaakov. Miriam--was put in exile due to her insensitive talk. We embrace them because of their struggles and how they handled themselves and overcame their situation.

In fact someone I know was considering the name "malka" for her daughter but then thought twice about it because Esther being the "malka" was not such a good thing (though she did also acknowledge that we use the term to describe Shabbos and it is considered a positive attribute). I've been reading some historical novels about various Queens in history and being a Queen was like the MOST insecure position in royalty at times.


I'm not chas vasholom undermining her sacrifices or her suffering. She literally risked her life. Gave up her life and home and identity for years. But the question here is-- do we mourn that painful period? Or celebrate the outcome?

I remember learning about a time period in Russia where young jewish boys were taken from their homes and conscripted into the czar's army. At the time, hundreds and hundreds of jewish souls and lives were lost r''l--many of whom chose to die rather than living as g0yim. The jewish leaders of the time considered it the greatest of ongoing tragedies.
Many years later in pre-ww2 Europe, one the great chassidish rabbis said that all these boys had been gilgulim of neshamas who had lived during the first beis hamikdash. They had passed on and had been begging since that time for Hashem to give them another chance at life which they could sacrifice in his name.
My point in this is that we do not understand the greater workings of this world. If I see a jew suffering today, I will suffer along with them. daven and help them as I can.
But to take the suffering of the ages, in particular this yom tov that is so steeped in tradition, and apply our own limited understanding, paint it with our own current worldview, is imo a dangerous path to travail. We simply don't know or understand. The yom tov of purim has always been a celebration of joy--some are davka makpid to revel in gashmiyas joy. There is deep mystery here. I would be afraid to find meanings in this yom tov that were not originally given to it.
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octopus




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Feb 22 2021, 11:53 am
Thank you for bringing up this important discussion. Yes, esther sacrificed herself physically and even spiritually for the Jewish people. That is why the megillah is named after her. It is not called megillas mordechai nor is it called megillas mordechai v'esther. Megillas esther is Esther's spiritual legacy to the Jewish people, as her own children probably intermarried. While her son was sympathetic to the Jewish people and allowed them to construct the second beis hamikdash, he did not consider himself Jewish. It is a sad story for esther on a personal level, but the simcha of the day is on a communal level. And we engage in communal behavior highlighted by the 4 mitzvahs of the day. I am always reminded of Esther's sacrifice. The whole time period was tragic. You think esther was the only Jewish girl taken to the palace when pig achashveirosh grabbed whatever girls were available for his beauty pageant?? Once they were taken they were never sent back and lived as a concubine in the royal harems. People were probably hiding their daughters! It was a very bad time.
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behappy2




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Feb 22 2021, 11:57 am
I think you are missing the essence of why we care celebrating. Also how about how many yidden died during the story of Purim, and Pesach and Chanukah.
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Hashem_n_Farfel




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Feb 22 2021, 12:04 pm
Where do you all learn these stuff? I never knew Esther had a son till today.
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amother




Blonde
 

Post Mon, Feb 22 2021, 12:20 pm
Most, if not all, of this is taught in BY schools.
But don't despair! You can self-teach!!

start by reading the Arstcroll Megillas Esther with English meforshim on the bottom of the page.
It was actually the first artscroll book!!!

Also, torahanytime.com is an excellent resource. There are tons of different speakers, each with their style. Find what you like.

You can also read the book by yosef deutsch, Let My Nation Live, but it's a little fictionalized, based on midrashim.I

There were other books mentioned upthread that I've never read.

Rav brevda ztl had a pamphlet about megillah too
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amother




Blonde
 

Post Mon, Feb 22 2021, 12:23 pm
Also, books on jewish history can fill in life of gaps. Artscroll has a history series, there is 2000 years of Jewish hsitory, books by rabbi berel wein...

Found a jewish library near you and take advantage! Smile
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gamanit




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Feb 22 2021, 12:23 pm
Is there a source that Esther had no children prior to being taken? She was no youngster. We don't know her exact age but she was somewhere between 40-80 years old at the time.
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amother




Beige
 

Post Mon, Feb 22 2021, 12:24 pm
Hashem_n_Farfel wrote:
Where do you all learn these stuff? I never knew Esther had a son till today.


For me it was something mentioned by a teacher in school. I don't think I ever knew a source--it was just a little nugget of knowledge given to me in class.

On this note, I would very much like to learn the meforshim/madrushim of the magillah. Can anyone recommend an english or yiddish book/sefer?
I learned makruos gedollos magillah in high school and it was wonderful. Sadly, though, I've forgotten the bulk of it with time--along with my lashon kodesh comprehension skills.
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amother




OP
 

Post Mon, Feb 22 2021, 1:18 pm
JD03 wrote:
What struck me first was the title of this post-'selfish'. No, it's not selfish. The traditions exist for a reason. They were instituted by those who were much smarter and holier than any of us. Who are we to question or improve on that?

Purim has been a yom tov for centuries, celebrated by all generations--including greatest gadolim. I would say that those gadolim had a much greater understanding and sensitivity to Esther Hamalka and her life's story. While some of them did say to dedicate the day to learning torah and performing mitzvos (less frivolity), it is because of the kadusha of the yom tov--not out of despair or sadness.

Also, it was Esther Hamalkah herself who dedicated the day for celebration--a celebration to last throughout all generations. It's in the magillah.

It seems to me that your own interpretation of what Esther Hamalkah experienced, and how we should react to that, is counter to what she herself asked for in rememberence. As well as how our greatest sages have viewed this yom tov.


Of course traditions exist for a reason, and, Purim aside, it does feel a bit selfish to have a big fun party and festivities when someone else suffered immensely for the rest of their life to make it happen. I'm sure the gedolim wouldn't have the questions, but I'm not a gadol. That's ok. It think it's ok to ask questions about Torah when something doesn't make sense so we can figure out what's really going on by better understanding it all.

I don't think anyone should think Esther did not experience great suffering b'gashmiyus (and maybe even bruchniyus) that did not abate with the saving of the Jewish people. She did.

Obviously, Purim, and a lot of other things, are about what we do with the dichotomies...and I think we can only come to appreciate them by asking questions and learning. There are a lot of discussions regarding dichotomies of all the holidays and how to personally experience the holidays specifically on the day as well as what they teach us all year round.
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JD03




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Feb 22 2021, 1:28 pm
amother [ OP ] wrote:
Of course traditions exist for a reason, and, Purim aside, it does feel a bit selfish to have a big fun party and festivities when someone else suffered immensely for the rest of their life to make it happen. I'm sure the gedolim wouldn't have the questions, but I'm not a gadol. That's ok. It think it's ok to ask questions about Torah when something doesn't make sense so we can figure out what's really going on by better understanding it all.

I don't think anyone should think Esther did not experience great suffering b'gashmiyus (and maybe even bruchniyus) that did not abate with the saving of the Jewish people. She did.

Obviously, Purim, and a lot of other things, are about what we do with the dichotomies...and I think we can only come to appreciate them by asking questions and learning. There are a lot of discussions regarding dichotomies of all the holidays and how to personally experience the holidays specifically on the day as well as what they teach us all year round.


Of course we question. We should aim to understand the Torah and Yiddishkeit as best we can.
But questioning why purim is not a more somber time, or why we do not devote as much time to grieve Esther's sacrifice versus the happy outcome of it, is a purely theoretical discussion.
The way I understood your post was in practical terms--why do we do this and how/should we change or improve? That could be just me though--tone does not exist in text Smile
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amother




Blush
 

Post Mon, Feb 22 2021, 3:21 pm
causemommysaid wrote:
Whaaaat???? My mind is blown.


Not even a few pimples?


There are a lot of ways to understand the idea of a "tail" . Rabbi Daniel Glatstien has a whole shiur on this topic on Torah Anytime. I don't remember all the ideas he brought, as it was at least a year since I heard it, but iirc, one opinion is that she grew an extra piece of skin, buy not necessarily in the place one would grow a tail. I think I will try to listen to the shiur again to refresh my memory.
Also, she did not have pimples, but she had tzaraas. (I didn't read the whole thread so I don't know if this was said. )
Also, in regards to midrashim, there are definitely scholars who read them literally, or at least believe that there is a literal element to many of the midrashim that seem supernatural.
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Teomima




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Feb 22 2021, 3:29 pm
The megillah took place in a day and age when women were often treated like chattel, fathers marrying off their daughters to men they didn't know or love and women being expected to pop out babies and run the home, which was relentless and backbreaking work in those days. At least Esther was given a royal life of ease. Yes she suffered greatly I'm sure and her life was at risk, but there's no guarantee she'd have been fated for any happier of an existence had she not become queen.
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