On Purim, observant Jewish men, to varying degrees, imbibe strong drink. And Jewish women do their best to keep the men safe and anchored in civilization. The holiday thus may not seem very female-centered. But, in truth, it is.
Not just because its hero is a heroine and the holy book about the historical event it commemorates is named after her, but because the Book of Esther, or “Megillas Esther” (generally called “the Megillah”), verily revolves around femininity.
Achashverosh, the pliable, preposterous monarch we meet at the start of the narrative, is a poster child (or, perhaps better, poster adolescent) for male chauvinism. His 180-day drinking party, as the Talmud describes it, was a bacchanal of arrested-development “good ol’ boys” acting like louts. And it entailed the debasement, and eventual dispatching, of his queen, Vashti.
And the next action of the foolhardy king was to organize the antithesis of true respect for women: a beauty contest — a compelled one, yet.
Achashverosh, moreover, ends up being manipulated by a woman, our reticent, modest heroine Esther, and he is led by her to dispatch the Jews’ mortal enemy, Haman, saving her people from his evil plans.
But there’s even more here, too, and more subtle. Mordechai, Esther’s cousin, the ancient rabbis teach us, was miraculously able to physically nurse the baby Esther when she was orphaned. Thus the male hero of the Purim story is rendered, at least in a way, something of a heroine himself.
Surprising and sublime thoughts like those are lost, however, on many people, certainly those who imagine they are somehow taking a stand for womanhood by celebrating, of all people, Vashti.
Source : ReligionNews