March 18, 2002

the Purim story

I was just thinking about Purim, which started last night at sundown. (Largely
because I find thinking about an averted genocide in distant long-ago Persia far
more pleasant than thinking about contemporary wars in the general

The basic story is that the King Ahashuerus' minister, Haman,
was plotting to convince the King to kill all the Jews in his kingdom --
apparently he was ticked off when they refused to bow to him. Mordechai, a leader
of the Jewish community, had an ace in the hole: his nice, Esther, happened to be
Queen of the country. When the king beheaded his former wife, Vashti, for being
uppity, Mordechai had sent Esther to the beauty pageant Ahashuerus was holding to
choose a new Queen, instructing her not to mention that she was Jewish. (I have no
idea why anyone would want a beloved niece to marry a man who demanded that kind
of instant obsequious obedience, but it turned out well, in the end.) When the
Jews found out about the plot against them, Mordechai got Esther to plead for her
people and Haman was hanged on the gallows he'd built for Mordechai. A more
detailed version of the story is href="">here.

I was thinking about what that time must have been like -- Esther
and Mordechai running around trying to communicate with each other, trying to
figure out how to change people's opinions, avoiding Haman, trying to talk to the
right influential people, plotting ways to get management to do the right thing
instead of the wrong one. I would bet it was quite a bit of fun, some of the time.
I would also bet a lot of it was like my life, only without e-mail and with much
higher stakes. On the other hand, now I get credit for my own planning, without
anyone assuming I had to have a man telling me what to do. Maybe we've made a
little progress over a couple thousand years. On the other hand, Haman is often
identified with Hitler, and mass killings in the Middle East loom. Maybe we

Posted by dichroic at March 18, 2002 04:59 PM
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