09/16/2007

Book of Esther: Chapter 1 (Updated study)

(Note: To read the first chapter of this book, please click on the following link: http://www.breslov.com/bible/Esther1.htm#1 . This way I hope that you will be able to follow, and understand the study much easier. And I will with every new study post the link to the correspondent chapter over there)

Sometimes we tend to look at something with the eyes of the world we live in ourselves at present instead of with those of the times we read about. Of course, this isn’t entirely wrong within the case of the Book of Esther, but it would nevertheless be wrong to study about it, to look at it entirely in this particular sensitivity. It wouldn’t only harm the beauty of the women in question, even the king's splendor, then also the point behind the story. We would forget to look beyond the veil of men and women in a figurative sense seen. Yes, for after all, Vashti, the queen merely respected the laws of the king, the laws he lived by spiritually/religiously and otherwise. And she also honored every single woman within his majesty's kingdom with that gesture, even its standing not only all over the empire, but as well beyond its borders because it was a custom within the region of Persia, even till today, that women would show themselves to visiting people/strangers in a veiled manner. It was theirs and the empire's dignity. Yeah, such a behavior was thus already a common practice within a multi-godly believing society, as the then world was, with the exception of the Hebrew/Jewish nation where to Hadassah (Esther) belonged who only believed in one, namely G-d only. Now king Ahasuerus would ask his queen and wife to do away with this ancient old practice/custom. But it became immediately clear to queen Vashti that respecting this wish, and even freedom, would do harm to her, and eventually all women of the empire, as well as to the royal honor, her husband's, the king's prestige outside the walls of the palace, even beyond those of Shushan and the empire. The men were merry with wine, and it was even in those times already a common knowledge that nothing wise would emerge out of such a behavior. However, what the king ruled, he had done, and it couldn’t become revoked, not even by the king himself. So the law was to be upheld, even by the king, or revoked through another law that would bypass a previous one made, making it worthless unless valued only through the freedom of every person's desire, or wish to live by a defunct rule. But the new law would, miraculously enough, and when we are prepared to look at it within a different kind of perception, just strengthen the old one instead, even when it meant the downfall of queen Vashti.



A strange event of occurrences began already to manifest themselves thus without that the participants were aware of that what would become revealed. The king was asking something that when obeyed would have turned the kingdom for certain into an abomination not only thanks to the drunken status wherein the men were enjoying each one's company, but could have changed the course of human history into a completely different world when it would have occurred. Or that kind of world would have given way to another major disaster in the likeness of the flood during the time of Noah. So it was in a certain way a luck for the king that a Hebrew/Jewish nation was a presence within his empire, a nation that at the same time was about to experience its salvation, its freedom/liberation. And even our Talmud states that the occurrences during king Ahasuerus reign were unfolding themselves around the very moment that it was prophesied that our forefathers would become liberated from the Persian (present day Iran) hegemony. Thus it, if we could look at it from this perspective, seems as if something, or rather someone else controlled the entire play of the time. In a hidden fashion, G-d was slowly revealing Himself by staying veiled as a woman would do towards visiting strangers to the family house, or in this case palace. Not only queen Vashti, in an act of bravery unknown to the women of the kingdom, acted according to this veiled concept of G-d, but even the men in their intoxicated state did so. They all, without realizing it themselves, did strengthen the law that was already in place. And the red carpet was being prepared for Esther to arrive within the walls of the palace. It's therefore not that strange to look at it in this particular way. We only have to put the inner depth of the matter within the depth of our own heart, and let the hidden become revealed because only when it reveals itself, only then can we learn about its beauty. G-d can only teach us when we’re prepared, or are ready to let us become intimately involved with Him, to become his bride/groom so that we can both be without veils in each other’s presence, and show our utmost respect unto one another. Now, not only Esther could keep her veil on in the way that Mordecai would ask her, but it will become clear through this veil that the Hebrew/Jewish nation was about to be liberated from the Persian hegemony on the very day that the festivities did took place, even at the time when the new law that would cause Esther to enter king's Ahasuerus heart would start to take its effect on the participants in question. Remember the prophecy made decades before it occurred! 



However, such veiled expressions of events aren’t only a case of that time. No, whenever the Hebrew/Jewish nation was in exile, or is in exile (spiritually and naturally), these things do occur in that we find all kinds of people, Jews and gentiles alike, being at the right place, and in the right time to salvage the Hebrew/Jewish body, mind and soul from the oppression caused by others. They are offering them the hand of freedom, and the opportunity of once again being entitled to become truly whom one is in the likeness of G-d's name, namely when he said to Moshe: I am who I am, or I will be who I will be. This in turn reveals that He always will somehow try to salvage those who want to be enlightened, to be a light unto the nations/world, the same as He is light, not darkness. Yes, even gentiles departed, together with the Hebrew/Jewish nation, out of the Egyptian predicament. Let us thus in that sense also take into consideration that a person can only truly be whom s/he is when living by the pure character/personality of his/her heart, a heart connected to its Creator, the same as we are pure of heart at the very moment of our birth into this world we’re supposed to enlighten with our presence, and thus not the other way around that is. What we, when returning to the story told, therefore witness within this Megillah is what we could describe as the liberation of every individual, not only the Hebrew/Jewish nation. As the law couldn’t become revoked directly, it stays in effect, even with the creation of a new law that would seem to make the previous one defunct. It's not truly the case. Both laws can be applied whenever a person would want to do so. And we, in a way, are revealing the very foundation/essence of Judaism. Yes, Adom was given the freedom to choose names for all kinds of things when residing within the Garden of Eden. But man became in the ability to freely decide between good and evil, or good and wrong, justice and injustice when having eaten from the forbidden tree. Anyhow, when having taken a wrong turn, then he will have to accept the consequences which do come with such a choice, like we’re taught with what happened to Cayin. It's a bit the same situation here as well. Vashti acted as she did because she wanted to protect the kingdom’s good standing, but in such a way wherewith she had come to put herself into a conflict with another law. So what happens is the emerging of two laws that do give us the impression of being opposite poles vis-à-vis each other, namely the law of the moral ethics (religion/spiritual), and the law of the body (world/natural). We have thus encountered a situation wherein a person desires to eat the apple (nature/king Ahasuerus), and one who wants to preserve G-d's law/human moral ethics (spiritual/queen Vashti). At the end, both will stay in existence when we take the Hebrew/Jewish element into consideration.



Basically, what we are becoming immersed into isn’t exactly what you would call a battle of the sexes, but rather the survival of man's morality, of man's good name because a human being who shows his/her disrespect for it will without doubt react likewise unto G-d and every other man, woman and child. Queen Vashti withstood therefore this attack with brilliance. Yes, a person doesn't have to be Jewish to know this, and to live by it, as it's the most common basic rule of human morality that resides within all of us. We are born with it. And we refer to it as our soul, an element of enlightenment not known within the world of man before Adom. However, G-d did reveal it, did let it become known openly, not hidden anymore. So man had chosen to become G-d's bride/groom from that moment on. It became unnecessary to wear a veil in front of the King, as Adom was created in His likeness. Neither G-d, nor Adom did have to wear their veils when they were together as one. They were naked when in each one's presence. Even Adom (=human) and Chava/Eve (=soul) were without veils when being one entity. They were without clothing in a manner of speaking. Chava knew everything about Adom. But it was for Adom still not appropriate to let of the veil (outside the Garden of Eden) in front of strangers/visitors who were also in a state of being drunk, of being zizi in this Megillah. It was therefore certainly out of the question as a woman to do so before men because she, as a bride/wife, was learning all about the king's (Ahasuerus')/King's (G-d's)world. Adom (male and female) was being tutored by G-d. The nature of the men within the king's presence was alien, was a stranger to their soul, even to G-d. As such, the ethics became veiled to them. The natural solution (not logic or wisdom) to this problem was thus, within their state of the mind, to create a new law that would bypass the other one they didn’t comprehend anymore, or it became extremely blurred, even ridiculed as a result. Still, it (the new law) won’t annul it, as annulling it would cause again a conflict with another law of the king. Remember that his laws cannot become revoked, or thus annulled. But out of a natural created chaos by humans, a spiritual ray of hope emerged that would try to merge both together, and put man free instead of that he would have to keep on living with his chains of chaos around his ankles and wrists, tying both legs and arms together very firmly. True, a woman had by nature to obey her husband, but was given, thanks to queen Vashti, her full free right in deciding to disobey him if the demand to fulfill her husband's wishes was morally, and thus ethically not right to be upheld. It became possible to act in such a manner no matter the depth of the new law because those same wise men, as is told us, within the king's presence were the same ones, or the descendants of them who had followed in their father's footsteps, and who lived up to this religious law, its ethical and moral value, one the entire empire lived by, even the women and the children, also the Hebrews/Jews. After all, it was, as said, a basic human ethical law. And it couldn’t become annulled, which didn't happen. All women could therefore now based on a free will decide to follow Vashti or the king, to follow their nature, or a more spiritual decisive handling of the situation. Even a wife's husband could disobey his wife's natural desires in fact for the same reasons as how she would act towards him if he did act immoral.



Yeah, everyone was obliged to obey as it was ordered to do so before that moment, a bit totalitarian thus. But people could choose now which way they wanted to go, even when it could cause them to lose their status based on another law, or a misuse of that law. They were also free to do like Esther will do, namely combining both laws, meaning obeying the king's law (nature), and keeping her veil on (spiritual), and no one being in the ability of doing something against it because what the king asked for, he did beget, as the law didn’t forbade a woman to lay down her veil. Thanks to Vashti's, I would not say rebellion than rather standing up against the bastion of men of that time, a vague law became now less vague. It had become refined, became more concrete in what was permitted, and what wasn’t, or what had to be obeyed, and what could be refused. A woman could now stand-up against the immoral wishes of her husband without him being able to do anything about it, neither in a court of law, as religious ethics/laws were also very deep imbedded within the society of that region. A woman could therefore disobey without disobeying anything really, as a result of the new situation. Even a husband could follow Vashti's example for instance. Thus yes, a strange turn of events occurred which at the same time opened the door for Esther to enter the scene, the palace of the king. The men who wrongly interpreted queen Vashti's protest as a rebellion to the king's authority, even to the authority of all men of the empire, and wanted to curtail it immediately before it became a widespread practice, didn’t notice that their new law caused all women to become uplifted within their marital status, and with more powers than before, as even every husband would have now. It didn't matter anymore if you were a wife or a husband. Maybe that some would look at it quite differently, but let us not confine ourselves to what may have happened if queen Vashti would have obeyed. Let us not enchain ourselves unto a man's desire out of his nature, or even a woman's one. Let us neither become constrained unto the aspect of freedom within this ruling that would emerge out of it all, nor thus starting to create a totalitarian human philosophy versus a more liberal interpretation of human aspirations. No, let us instead keep on looking at it from a spiritual point of view that won't put people constantly with pulled knives pointed towards one’s heart, mind, and soul, something that a narrow view will always push to the forefront in whatever time man will live his life.



After all, what we will be taught into isn’t only about the liberation, the salvation of the Hebrew/Jewish nation of the king's empire, but of every personality, male and female within his kingdom through a veiled, and a hidden guidance whereof none of the participants within the story were truly aware of. Indeed, we witness within this first chapter that the conflict is largely constructed around the male versus woman point of view without conciliatory expressions vis-à-vis either one's side. Queen Vashti did stick to her spiritual point of view (soul/light/clarity), a view which she was fully entitled to defend, as it was a just, and a perfectly correct choice to be made at that particular moment. If she wouldn’t have done so, then all women would have run the risk of becoming regarded as harlots, even Esther thus, and all Hebrew/Jewish women. Let us therefore not forget that most important detail that runs through the entire story. At the end, it all comes down in showing our deepest respect for a person's life, whether male or female, even both, within the dignity that we all have been born with. But sadly enough, due to him (the king) and his male guests being drunk, they all, all the men in the king's presence, did stick to their natural desires (ego/darkness/fog) as well. They became angry because of a blurred vision, were even jealous, and started to envy the queen's moral and ethical behavior, her goodness, and thus inner beauty. They didn't want to get a lecture in it. No, they even wanted to beget more drunk than they already were, albeit within a different perspective now. And remember above all the deafening silence of the women in all of this, as they truly did control the entire situation without their men realizing it, and without saying one word. So we, in reality, do have here within this chapter the typical male and female games, which are even today in our world a well-known practice, and sometimes even do bring a change for the better to the forefront of society within a veiled manner. Here, it luckily went all for the good, as we will come to learn in how Esther will succeed in circumventing the new ruling by combining the masculinity and femininity of a person together into a radiance of light, enlightening the entire place. She will diffuse the state of conflict, and turn it into a matter of light, a ray of hope at first while becoming a brilliance as bright as the sun at the end, even brighter. The Hebrew/Jewish people of her time won’t only become re-instated as a full and free nation, but every community of the king's empire will acquire the right of upholding their very own culture and beliefs. They would thus become free, achieve a kind of autonomy, and become at the end even completely free from the Persian, as well as other later hegemonies too that overran them, even for centuries, as happened in the time of queen Esther’s ancestors. For that we will have to keep in mind the conversion to Judaism of many residents of the king's kingdom in relation to the time of exile of the ten northern tribes of the Hebrew/Jewish nation!


Note: After king Shlomo's (Solomon's) reign, the kingdom of Yisrael gradually fell apart into a northern one and a southern one, namely the Kingdom of Yisrael in the north, and the Kingdom of Judeah in the south. Both kingdoms encompassed the entire land that we know of as Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) during the reign of king David. It is also referred to as being the Holy Land. The land, and the people of the nation became named after its father Yaacov (Jacob) who begot from G-d his new name Yisrael. To this very day, the Jewish people have kept it within their heart, and never relinquished their deep rooted desire, and hope to return home one day, to worship G-d in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) on Mount Moriah (Temple Mount), as once was done before they became exiled by the Roman ruler after the Bar Kochba revolution. However, not every Jew became exiled. Since the Roman exile, many Jews have stayed living there to this very day on the very soil their ancestors once lived, and thrived, and were given by their Roman occupiers a new identity, namely the Palestinian one, referring to the Philistines instead, not to Yisrael anymore. However, it became not a nation ever, rather a Palestinian geographical area like we refer these days to Asia for instance, or the Middle-East, even Europe (Western - and Eastern Europe). It's the same as how we would call someone living in the American State of Texas not an American, but rather a Texan. Thus we say not a Palestinian, but a Yisraeli, not a Palestinian, but a Jordanian, even not a Palestinian, but a Lebanese.
The Romans after the revolution did try to erase the Judaic faith completely from out of the Jewish mind with all kinds of oppressive rulings that when disobeyed would mean that a Jew became sentenced to his/her dead. Luckily, as in Esther's time, they didn't succeed neither, even when some of the Jewish nation's greatest sages were not that lucky. In any case, their wisdom lived on till today within the heart of those who survived the ordeal. Nevertheless, they became and kept being the Jewish Palestinians till the end of World War II, the end of a war that gave them too the opportunity of freeing themselves at last from the bondage of centuries of Roman oppression, even when it ultimately was only within their identity given by the rulers a 2000 years ago, an identity given by the former Roman ruler/occupier, which other occupiers who invaded the Jewish land kept using. The Arabs did so when those amongst them who did abide by the Islamic faith in its infancy wanted to conquer the entire world. The Egyptians did so too, and the Turks, even the British in the time of Word War I, and afterwards till the establishment of Eretz Yisrael once again, albeit partially by an UN majority vote. However, none of them, the Jews who have stayed living there for over centuries, even in Hevron (Hebron), have ever become an Arab, a Muslim. They all kept their faith in Judaism, as did their brothers and sisters in the Diaspora against all odds.)




But one question I would like to pose after this study of the first chapter, namely: Could we regard the book of Esther as a kind of mini Torah, meaning a summary of the Torah itself due to what was veiled (a veiled Torah) not only to the eyes of the participants in the story at the time of its unfolding, then as well for the reader to a certain degree? 



Hence, it even in a veiled manner discloses the fact that the salvation of every person, male and female, Jew and gentile in our world, and in every time is connected to the salvation of the Hebrew/Jewish nation. Yes, it’s unconditionally connected to G-d's chosen one’s ability of having the right to live their lives as Hebrews/Jews within His light, under His wings, and being entitled to be a light unto the nations/world from out of Eretz Yisrael His home on earth, even Eretz Tziyyon, and Yerushalayim, radiating His light of Torah throughout the entire human world as an everlasting presence with respect to everyone's freedom, as well as the respect from the salvaged gentiles towards G-d's people's freedom as a Jewish nation immersed in the Torah, the way it has always been, is and will be, even within the world entire. In every other instance, things will stay veiled, the same as how it happened to the people of king Ahasuerus empire, as well as to himself and his guests within his palace in Shushan. It only became more revealed, more openly exposed after Haman’s death, an opportunity that could be taken, or rejected within a free mind. It was taken as we will come to learn. And the act in itself salvaged many people, Hebrew/Jew and gentile alike. True, often a conflict doesn't situate itself on the outside, then rather on the inside of a person, a community, a people, a nation, and even the Hebrew/Jewish victim in this case, the same as it is as such till this very day for Jew and gentile alike. Yes, once in a while there are those amongst man, especially, and above all, in the gentile world, who want to behave in a likewise manner as others have behaved before them, sometimes so desperately that their wickedness à la Haman cannot be stopped than only when the world is prepared in taking/accepting upon itself the lessons which the book of Esther will teach us, and ones that does give us no room for appeasement, as king Saul once did, Esther being a relative of him.

16:32 Posted by Bernadette Schaepdryver in Chapter 1 | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |