This year, we are all Esther in America’s own Purim storyHow can I finish Pinker’s book when I realize that Nurture the Wow is out there unread?
By Danya Ruttenberg February 26 at 6:00 AM
Danya Ruttenberg is rabbi-in-residence at Avodah and author of “Nurture the Wow: Finding Spirituality in the Frustration, Boredom, Tears, Poop, Desperation, Wonder, and Radical Amazement of Parenting.”
The deadline President Trump has set for the passage of legislation to adjust the status of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children by their parents is March 5, just days after Jews worldwide celebrate the festival of Purim. During Purim, which begins Wednesday night, we read the Book of Esther, which tells the story of a vain, corrupt leader willing to sell out a vulnerable people for his own convenience — and invites us to consider the obligations of those not targeted to those who are.Haman, the bad guy, was prime minister of Persia, so some things never change. Also, Haman was an Amalekite, so other things never change either.
In the story, we meet Ahasuerus, king of Persia — who may or may not be modeled after Xerxes I. He was quick to anger, easily bribed, and fond of displaying the “vast riches of his kingdom and the splendid glory of his majesty.”
His top adviser is a vicious despot named Haman.
When Mordechai, a Jew, refuses to bow down to Haman, the aide decides to “do away with all the Jews” in the kingdom as revenge. …The rabbi lady, however, left out of the Purim story the details of the happy ending. From the King James Bible:
For this to happen so close to Purim is evocative for anyone who knows the story of the holiday; the book of Esther, at least, has a happy ending. Ahasuerus’s second wife, Esther, was a closeted Jew. As Haman’s plot came to light, Mordechai visited her to persuade her to lobby on behalf of her people. …
We, all of us documented American citizens, are Esther right now. … And yes, many other Americans came without paperwork — tired, poor, yearning to breathe free. For those of us who are secure in our citizenship status now, this is our time to speak out. Who knows but that we have not come to our position for such a time as this? …
Esther was willing to step up and even act “contrary to the law” on behalf of her people. And at the end of the Purim story, the Jews were saved. As part of this happy resolution, Esther sent a dispatch throughout the land with words of truth and peace.
And what about us? How will we intercede to change the lots that have been cast?
5 Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would unto those that hated them.So, what we are we up to by now in the Purim story, about 75,810 dead bodies?
6 And in Shushan the palace the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men. …
12 And the king said unto Esther the queen, The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the palace, and the ten sons of Haman; what have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? now what is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: or what is thy request further? and it shall be done.
13 Then said Esther, If it please the king, let it be granted to the Jews which are in Shushan to do to morrow also according unto this day’s decree, and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged upon the gallows.
14 And the king commanded it so to be done: and the decree was given at Shushan; and they hanged Haman’s ten sons.
15 For the Jews that were in Shushan gathered themselves together on the fourteenth day also of the month Adar, and slew three hundred men at Shushan; but on the prey they laid not their hand.
16 But the other Jews that were in the king’s provinces gathered themselves together, and stood for their lives, and had rest from their enemies, and slew of their foes seventy and five thousand …
And that’s why Senator Booker (D-NJ) and Rabbi Boteach (R-Clown Suit) celebrate Purim: