The Book of Esther goes Western

by Avi Abelow

“The Good, The Bad & the Ugly” video is a special for Purim animated video based on the book of Esther, in memory of Udi Fogel. The commentary is based on traditional Jewish sources and an essay written by Rabbi Jonathan Blass titled “Pluralism, Antisemitism, and man’s strive to divinity.”

Purim is one of the most fun, yet confusing holidays in the Jewish calendar. This is a day when we dress up in costumes, drink alcohol and party. Yet our partying is not in order to get drunk and do silly things we hope we forget. Rather, the point is to have fun in a spiritual way, to sense G-d’s presence in our lives, and give thanks for all that he does for us.

All this might sound very confusing.

This is a fabulous video to enjoy, that can help one better understand the depth of our Purim holiday.

Purim is one of our many Jewish holidays. This holiday took place in ancient Persia, today known as Iran.  The story occurred between the years that the first Temple was destroyed and the second Temple was rebuilt. This means that Jews all over the world are still celebrating an ancient holiday.  We’re still commemorating a miracle of survival that took place in around the year 400 BCE, over 2,500 years ago!

Where is God?

The book of Esther makes a cool Western movie, but how did it make it into the Bible? This is the only book of the Bible that doesn’t even mention the name of God once!

One might think since G-d is not mentioned in the book of Esther that it has little to do with G-d, but the opposite is true. The story of Esther has many dimensions regarding mankind’s relationship with G-d.

Haman represents mankind in a world with absolutely no divine presence. Just like the snake in the Garden of Eden, Haman claims that man should be like G-d.  This is actually a humanist approach. Hence his name Haman = Human, or humanism.  But Haman’s humanism is radical since it rejects all external truth or authority except for his own. That is why he is time and again a destabilizing force in the kingdom.  Ultimately, Haman turns into a tyrant, forcing upon others his definition of a superior man.

In contrast, the Jewish hero, Mordechai, sees mankind as the center of creation because he is created in the image of G-d. The notion that mankind is ‘detached from morals or spirituality as the highest thing to aspire to’ was rejected by Judaism as a whole.

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