Purim has always been one of my favorite Jewish holidays. As a kid, I was so proud to dress up as Queen Esther and be savior of the Jewish people. Even at the young age of 8, I knew that it was rare in Jewish lore to have a woman be the true hero.
But as I got older, I started to really think about the holiday, and wonder whether Esther really was the kind of hero that woman should look up to. Now that I’m a mom, and constantly thinking about the message I’m sending my daughter in our society, I’m questioning how I should feel about Esther even more.
I don’t think it was until I was in college that I actually read through the whole megillah and discovered that it wasn’t just that Vashti didn’t feel like going to the king’s party that night–he wanted her to come to the party naked (well, she was allowed to wear her crown) and she said no. She’s kind of a badass. I loved how she didn’t let the king boss her around–because really, who wants to go stand naked in front of their husband’s friends? Of course the king didn’t like that. He banishes her, and holds a beauty contest to find the next queen. Read the rest of this entry →