|An Illustrated Megillah|
Today at the Shabbat Women's class I've been going to pretty much every Shabbat for over thirty-four years, we had a "Pre-Purim" talk. It was actually by one of the younger women who has lived in Shiloh all her life and was a toddler when these classes began. I'm happy to say that there are lots of amazing people who were raised in Shiloh, and some of them have decided that Shiloh is great enough to raise their own kids here.
Well, we had this discussion about women in general and Queen Esther in particular. My reflections on it are mine and probably a distortion of the talk, but that's me.
The name Esther אסתר mean "hidden." And that in many ways is her role. Like many women, she plays second fiddle to the men. Mordechai, her relative, was the public Jew. He sat at King Achashverosh's gate and was well-known. He sent Esther to the "competition" to choose a new queen and told her to keep her Jewish identity a secret. She did, and she was chosen to be the next queen. Mordechai basically planted her as a "sleeper" agent.
But don't think that being a queen was such a great deal. Basically she was just to be kept beautiful for formal occasions. She was to be seen and not heard. She lived with the other women, kept beautiful just in case King Achashverosh needed a woman.
King Achashverosh was under the influence of Haman who hated Mordechai. So when Haman decided to not only kill Mordechai but to include all his Jewish brethren, King Achashverosh gave him full authority. That's when Mordechai's plan for Esther had to be activated. And that's when the puppet became the puppeteer. It was Esther, the hidden sleeper, who gave the orders and did the daring acts that saved the Jewish People.
And then, instead of being a real powerful queen, she went back into the the women's quarters and Mordechai retook his role as leader.