Purim’s Beauty Myth

February 24, 2013

What did you think of the question posed at the bottom of the article?

(Forward By Johnna Kaplan)Esther saved the Jewish people because, so they say, she was smart and brave. When she learned of the genocidal plot of Haman, the vizier to her husband, King Ahasueres of Persia, she revealed that she was a Jew and pleaded for her people to be spared.
Esther’s daring act of approaching the king, confessing her nationality, and requesting the Jews be saved from certain death underpins the story of Purim. But as relatable as the holiday’s heroine is meant to be, few of us would get the opportunity to act as she did. Ahasuerus had chosen Esther above all of the other girls in his harem; to put it plainly, she was able to save the Jewish people because she was the hottest woman in the room.
But the story of Purim isn’t the only reason I’ve been thinking about Jewish women, beauty and the pressure to look a certain way.
First, I read this Jewcy piece by Emily Shire (who also writes for the Sisterhood) about how Jewish girls and women have a particular preoccupation with thinness. I had never thought of the issue that way, possibly because, unlike Shire, I grew up in a town where Jews, though hardly invisible, were not the majority. In my experience, (natural) beauty and (effortless) skinniness were expected of all girls equally, as were good grades, athleticism and flawless hair.
My mom was similarly unsure about the premise, though when I read her a sentence about Jewish women being especially devoted to the diet beverage Tab, she said excitedly, “Ooh! I remember Tab!” I tried to recall whether, in my youth, Jewish girls I knew cared more about being thin than the others. I wasn’t sure.
But now, as an adult, I think perhaps we do. The other day a friend mentioned that an acquaintance, a Jewish-Hispanic woman, had “married a white dude; her kids look totally white.” I cynically said, essentially, “good for her, because Jewish guys don’t want us anyway unless we’re size zero.” My friend replied, “Exactly,” and added that the Jewish men she knew preferred “Asian girls with big boobs — another white elephant.” It’s important to clarify that my friend is a) long-married and b) neither Jewish nor Asian. Jewish women are now expected to be thinner (read: prettier) than the competition, to the point where even outside observers notice it.
While pondering this rather depressing state of affairs, I noticed Purim on my calendar, preceded by the minor fast day of Ta’anit Esther. Esther fasted for three days before approaching Ahasuerus. How many pounds, I wondered, could one lose doing that? Because if I was requesting a stay of execution for my entire community based on my attractiveness, I’d want to look as good (read: thin) as possible when doing it.
Esther is not the only Biblical woman who relied on her looks to help defeat enemies of the Jews. Judith got close enough to decapitate Holofernes because he desired her, and though it isn’t explicitly stated, it’s hard for me to believe Yael lured Sisera into her tent simply by promising him a drink. Of course, plenty of other ancient women might have had the guts to wield tent pegs against their foes; we only hear about the ones who got the opportunity.
These days, hopefully, it’s different, but for much of history a Jewish woman could only change the world by being noticed. Even today, you don’t get plucked from obscurity for your personality. The idea that looks can bring salvation runs through the Jewish female experience. If you can catch the eye of the King or even flirt with the Nazi officer, maybe you’ll change his mind. Maybe you’ll live.
I suppose every little tribe under ancient Persian rule had their would-be Esther, who hoped the king would repay her presence in his harem by lending support to her cause. But not all cultures would approve of such things. So I wonder if the celebration of women who do good by means of their beauty is particularly Jewish. I wonder if some relic of it hangs on to this day, and is expressed in the pressure to be prettier, to be thinner, to be the one who might get noticed and save us after all.

I find the “Forward” disturbing more times than not, but what struck me as odd is that the article did realize that a females sexiness is a trait that is encouraged by Judaism in a way that a man’s sexiness is not… this I agree with… but I found it odd that the Forward somehow seems to think this character is unique to Judaism or at the very least is something unusual. I can’t think of any culture that does not share this character. It was almost like the writer reached a conclusion she didn’t like and then concluded that Jews like beautuiful women because we are inferior and then concluded that other cultures are not like this… which is a very odd conclusion. Is this the source of the Forwards progressive readers self hate and Anti-Semitism? Do feminist Jews really believe that gender traits are something that is made by Jewish law and not something that occurs naturally? I find it hard to refute the idea that feminism is in fact self hatred. I am very glad this liberal self hater allowed us a window into her warped soul.


Neturei Karta Condemns Megillat Esther

March 20, 2011

I’m almost 85% sure this is a joke, but these NK guys have written crazier things.

Media_httpglobetribun_sfurj
Rabbi Immanuel Kapowitz, Chief Rabbi of Neturei Karta issued the following statement at the al Iqwa Mosque in Teheran during an ecumenical dinner with Imam Faisal Shelahmazal this morninng, March 20.

On behalf of the entire membership of Neturei Karta, comprising the overwhelming majority of one tenth of a quarter percent of all Jewish people in Monsey, we wish to condemn in the strongest terms the reading of the so called Megillas Esther, a controversial book that was included in many editions of Tanach, and considered a gratuitous provocation to the peace loving people of Iran and their honestly elected President Mahmoud, Ahmadinejad, who has graciously paid for our tickets to Teheran, as well as a number of other expenses in our struggle.
This book, the Book of Esther, deals with a beauty contest winner who married a gentile, and calls for the slaughter of peace loving Iranians rather than relying upon proper Iranian government authorities. The book condones Jewish militancy and armed aggression when we are guests in a land not our own. Throughout the ages, this book has offended the leadership of nations within whose borders we have lived. Indeed Germany, a country in which Jews lived in peace for hundreds of years, banned the reading of this provoicative book during a troubled 12 year period in our history in that country.
We call upon all Jews not to provoke our gentile neighbours and rulers such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by hoooting derisively at his esteemed ancestor Haman Haagagi, who was as great a man in Iran as Henry Kissinger was in our time.
It is well known that Mordechai HaYehudi, the uncle of Esther, did not wear a shtreimel or even speak Yiddish, making his pronouncements in the “Book of Esther” extremely suspect. Additionally, the laws and customs of modern day Iran bar the consumption of alcohol, making the drunkenness associated with this so called holiday unthinkable.
We hope that all Jews will follow our psak, endorsed by no less an authority than the Cheeseburger Rebbe, Rabbi Shaya Gatz. The proper way to observe this day is to stay home, drink a glass of tea and donate money to pay for the Israeli flags that we burn regularly at our mass demonstrations.
Sincerely,
Immanuel Kapowitz
Shaya Gatz
Degel Brenner
Supreme High Rabbinical Allied Council of Khareidim (S.H.R.E.C.K.)

via globetribune.info

is this a joke?  I really don’t know 


What Mondoweiss has to say about Purim

March 20, 2011
Media_httpwwwartinthe_ggospThis is from a post, not a comment:

In short, the Jews faced real danger, but they managed to survive, and then they lashed out in an orgy of vengeful violence at people they considered enemies, even though, on the evidence, the victims had nothing to do with the original threat. Sound familiar?

Not in the way you think, darling.

Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

 – Samuel Chapter 15

the head of Hadasah in 1948 is Julian Schnabel’s MOM!?!? that has got to be a sign of something? feminist Purim is a lie, not the real Purim that says to kill your enemies.


Happy Purim! Most Politically Incorrect Holiday Ever!

March 20, 2011

Purim marks the victory of the Jews against the evil Persian advisor Haman and his decree to destroy the Jews. But more than that, it’s one of the most anti-feminist, politically incorrect holidays ever, even though a woman–Queen Esther–is the heroine. One of the villains, Zeresh–the wife of villain Haman, and one of the most annoying, whiny, henpecking wives in history–is also a woman. The Scroll of Esther, which we read tonight and, again, tomorrow, is full of her whining about her ambitions for her hubby, most of which are never realized. And then she’s hung on a tree along with her husband and her their ten sons. All of that is after drunken parties for men and a worldwide beauty contest. Here’s the story:

hamantashen.jpgqueenesther.jpgtombofesthermordechai.jpg
read the rest at debbieschlussel.com


The Purim Prequel

March 20, 2011

1 Samuel 15:1-3

There is another side of Purim that is rarely talked about… and that is that Haman is a descendent of Agag, King of Amalek who could of been destroyed if King Saul weren’t such a woosie liberal. Also it is of interest that Haman’s descendants became pious righteous Rabbis in Persia.


http://www.njop.org/html/PurimHanging.html

Amalek versus the Kingdom of Israel:
Samuel I, Chapter 15
Not long after the unified Kingdom of Israel was formed under the reign of King Saul, the king, at the direction of the prophet Samuel, gathered his troops to fulfill the Biblical commandment to wipe out Amalek. King Saul was a mighty warrior and was victorious over Amalek, virtually destroying the nation. But, “he took Agag, the king of Amalek alive…and Saul and the people had pity on Agag the king of Amalek,” and on the Amalekite flocks and cattle (Samuel I 15:8-9).By having mercy on Agag, Saul went against the specific directive of G-d, who was, needless to say, less than pleased.The prophet Samuel rose early the very next morning, came to Saul and informed him that G-d was angered by his taking Amalekite sheep and cattle for spoils and for not fulfilling the commandment to utterly destroy Amalek. After a brief and futile denial by Saul, the king admitted his transgression and Samuel ordered Agag brought to him. The prophet proceeded to kill the king of Amalek and concluded the matter. The damage, however, was already done. In that one night, our sages teach us, Agag had relations with a maidservant (or his wife) who later, gave birth to a son. Thus, over a thousand years later the Jews were faced with mortal danger from Haman the Agagite.It is interesting to note that just as Haman is a direct descendant of Agag, both Mordechai and Esther are descendants of Saul.

Note:

interesting… some say all of Haman’s children were hanged…. ….but: descendants of Haman learnt the Torah in Benai Berak; descendants of Sisera taught children in Jerusalem; descendants of Sennacherib gave public expositions of the Torah. http://www.comeandhear.com/gittin/gittin_57.html