This is the year of debates and feminism. Between Hillary Clinton running for President and debating first the democrats and Anat Hoffman, the head of the feminist organization, the IRAC – Israel Religious Action Center; we are inundated with the feminist debate concept.
I think it is time to finally have the debate of all times. The debate we have always pondered; between the most beautiful queens in the world; Queen Vashti and Queen Esther.
- Who were they really?
- Was Vashti modest? Why did she choose not to appear nude; forfeiting her life?
- Why did Esther use her womanly charms to weave a net around Haman.
- First Esther appeared as the most beautiful contestant.
- At a drinking party designed by her, she made her husband, the King, jealous so he would kill the evil Haman. Wasn’t she just a woman using feminine strategy, or was she the virtuous woman?
- Who was really the modest queen?
We have chosen to moderate the debates today; Promoting Women of the Past
PWP representative: Welcome Your Majesties; Queen Vashti and Queen Esther. We are very privileged to be honored with both of your presences. The rules for today’s debate will each be asked a question be given 2 minutes to answer. Everyone agrees? (The queens nod in affirmation.)
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself Queen Vashti?
Vashti: I was the granddaughter of the great Nebuchadnezzar. The greatest king of the Babylonian Empire, conquered Judah and the Temple, chose Daniel as his prophet, and the one who constructed the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. I am a Queen. Achashverosh (may his name be spitted on) only became King because of my royal blood. He was nothing but a stable boy, which I had to remind him time and again.
PWP: Thank you your highness. Now Queen Esther can you tell us who you are?
Esther: Actually, no. I have been forbidden by Mordechai, my uncle, to tell anyone who I am. That is actually why I have been called Esther – the hidden one. Hadassah was really my name.
PWP: Oh very well, if you don’t want to tell us, we will have to move on.
Queen Vashti, can you tell us what happened that day that you were called on by the King to appear?
Vashti: The men had already been partying for 180 days. The king was a very merry type. He loved his wine and parties. This particular party was my own idea – to celebrate the success of my grandfather’s undoing of the Jews; to celebrate the destruction of the Temple. I have to give credit it was Achashverosh’s idea to invite all the Jews and make it kosher enough for them to come so he could humiliate them as well. This we shared; our hatred of the Jewish people.
I was having my own party for the many women who I called my constituents right next to the men. They could see how beautiful I was compared to anyone else. That is probably why the stupid oaf thought of calling me. I heard them arguing who had the most beautiful women the Medians or the Persians to which my evil husband countered that I was the most beautiful from the Chaldean’s. He thought he could show me off. To prove it wasn’t just my clothes that made me beautiful; he wanted me to appear only with my crown.
PWP: And why didn’t you appear? Was it from modesty? Did you know the death sentence would be administrated for not showing?
Vashti: He sent a messenger in demanding me as if I was his servant. I told that messenger just what I thought of the king and his drunkard ways. “The stable keeper of my father is drunk over wine! My father, real royalty, could drink like a thousand men and never become intoxicated. I will not appear before such a fool.” I knew he wouldn’t tell anyone what I said, and it wasn’t standard procedure to behead a person for not showing up without his clothes. I don’t mind the nudity, I mean; I made my Jewish slave servants walk around naked to humiliate them. But I forgot how impulsive he was. Besides he had that stupid imbecile on his counsel, Memuchan or later to be known as Haman. My successor; Esther, was wise enough to recognize him for the danger he was. Haman deserved to be hung! Good for you sister!
PWP: My queen, Vashti, we are still wondering; what was the real reason you didn’t show yourself that fateful evening. Was it because you were modest?
Vashti: Modest? I’m not modest. Why should I be modest? I’m the most beautiful royal blooded queen ever. I loved to parade in front of the men to show what real beauty was. But after all these years I’m not going to tell you about the horror I experienced that evening. It went from bad to the worst.
PWP: Thank you for your time and relating your harrowing experience.
Your majesty, Esther, didn’t you use your beauty to entice the King into marrying you so you could become powerful.
Esther: There are some who say I’m beautiful, but most I think would agree with me that I’m very far from beauty. I have sallow green skin. In any case I don’t know why the King liked me. He took me from my uncle who was also my husband, he forced me in a harem, and he forced his self on me. I wanted nothing to do with it. I told the chamberlain, who taught all the women beauty skills and secrets of the past; not to give me any anointments or makeup. I was truly not interested.
The only true grace was once I was chosen; I was able to have 7 servants through which I could secretly keep kosher and Shabbos.
PWP: But isn’t true you used your womanly charms to entice the King first to invite him to the party (another drinking party). Then at the party itself you set up the King to be jealous by having Haman throw himself on you. It sounds like seduction. No?
Esther: First I don’t know if you have ever fasted for a full three days, but if you haven’t, you should know, very few people look their best with no food or water over that length of time. Besides I was terrified, I don’t think my beauty had anything to do with the king sparing me. I was approved only because the King of Kings accepted my prayers. King Achashverosh could have easily had me killed.
I suppose you are right, I did use my feminity to trap Haman. I needed the King drunk, because he always acted impetuously, but I needed him to be even swifter to have that evil man killed and all his anti-Semitic plans to be thwarted.
It took two parties to have Haman let down his guard. (Haman startled the King in that very morning of the second party, with his rashness to build a gallow. By the 2nd evening, the King’s wariness about Haman was already in the works.) If G-d chose me to ensnare him, than I suppose I was meant to use my feminine ways. Like Yael before me and Yehudit after me. But truly it was the hidden power of G-d that caused all of their evil plans to fall.
PWP representative: I think that is all the time we have. I want to thank you two beautiful Queens. We have certainly gained a new insight into the story of Purim.