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Midrash Esther Chapter Three X: Vashti’s View of Women Print E-mail

Book of Esther“Made a feast for the women.” She gave them all kinds of delicacies. Rabbi Yitzchak said: she gave the women treats that are especially loved by women.

 

“In the royal house,” she put them in large rooms because she believed a woman is quick to misbehave, and so she wanted them in a large room without privacy.

Another explanation of, “In the royal house,” she placed them in decorated rooms, since Rabbi Abun said; a woman would rather have well decorated rooms and beautiful clothes than eat the finest meat.

Another explanation of, “In the royal house,” she put them in her own reception room so that if the husband of one of them thought of rebelling against Achashveirosh, his wife would be a hostage, and he would not rebel.

“Which belonged to King Achashveirosh,” Rabbi Yudan and Rabbi Levi said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan: whenever we find the expression, “to the King Achashveirosh,” the text is speaking of the actual King Achashveirosh. Where ever we find just, “to the King,” it may be either sacred, referring to God, or, profane, referring to Achashveirosh.

The midrash begins with Vashti relating to women as shallow and empty. The most they could accomplish was as hostages to the King. The Book of Esther begins with women portrayed as focused on silly things, and yet concludes with the achievements of esther, a great woman. This is a story of the difference between a world that treats women as objects and one that honors their potential.

Rabbi Yochanan takes this one step further: We can read a story as the tale of human beings, or one of God’s guidance and providence. Those who see women as did Vashti, see only the profane. Those who look to Esther will find the holy.

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