Today’s the start of the Jewish holiday of Purim, and my friend Kiki passed along this insightful thread written by Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg. Go ahead and click on it, and read it the whole thing. It doesn’t matter if you have a Twitter account because you can read it without being logged in. Go.
I hope you really read the whole thread. But anyway, let’s focus on a few tweets in particular:
Oh, the things you miss when you’re a little girl sitting in Sunday School. Or a fully grown woman sitting in Sunday Service. To be clear, I always had questions about this story. Like, what did become of the king’ first wife, Vashti (I always liked her name)? I had been told Vashti was conceited, vain, and wouldn’t take time for her husband. So of course she needed to be seen the door (I like the Rabbi’s tweets on her).
I had also been told that Esther was entered into an ancient beauty pageant of sorts, and won the grand prize- Queen! Yet, it bothered me that she could be loved by the King so AND could still be killed if she showed up unbidden. I remembered asking my parents, grandma, and teachers about it, and no matter the answer, I was left feeling so unsettled. I wondered if Ahasuerus was an OT, OG Henry VIII, just chucking wives left and right.
Thing is, although I’ve read Esther repeatedly and heard many sermons, homilies and Bible studies on it, no one has ever broke the story down like Rabbi Ruttenberg does in that series of Tweets. It has really made me think over how many other Biblical stories, especially from the Old Testament, I need to contemplate anew.
- When’s the last time you read the book of Esther? If it’s been more than a year, start re-reading it. If you’ve read it recently, choose another Old Testament book (not Psalms, Proverbs, or Ecclesiastes) to re-read.
- Try looking up Jewish perspectives on some of the “Sunday School Classics” like Job, Jonah, and Noah.