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Purim

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Photo: GPO
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Photo: GPO
 
 

Purim lesson

Our own politicians could learn something from king Ahasuerus' conduct

Meir Shalev
Published: 03.03.07, 14:07 / Israel Opinion

Was king Ahasuerus as stupid as we like to describe him? Not for sure. But he was certainly a king with an agenda: Feasts interested him more than wars, and women more than state affairs. He took the decision to kill all of Persia's Jewish citizens during a brief meeting with Haman that ended with a decent drinking session. Yet a special government session was devoted to his wife's conduct during a feast, not to mention that this feast lasted six months!

 

As we recall, Queen Vashti refused to appear before the guests and display her beauty. The king was overcome by anger. He turned to

his seven senior ministers and sought their advice. The government convened, debated the issue, and decided to kick out the cheeky queen and deprive her of her royal status. Moreover, a sweeping law was immediate legislated granting every man the right to control his family and obligating every woman to give her man what he wants, not only when it comes to Queen Vashti and King Ahasuerus, but rather, across the entire kingdom.

 

Yet life goes on. The feast ended, the king's anger subsided, and with sorrow and longing he remembered his Vashti and the punishment meted out to her. But because the king's decision could not be overturned, he again needed advice. Yet this time he did not turn to government ministers, but rather, to his servants. They proposed that he gather beautiful candidates and choose a new queen.

 

This is how the world's first reality show started. It was bolder and more interesting than any of today's shows, and the king dedicated most of his energy and time to it. One candidate after another arrived and was tested, until the happy ending came: Our Esther did it! Persia has a Jewish queen!

 

Sometimes simple advice is better

We shall discuss this strange celebration over the marriage of a Jewish woman to a gentile on another occasion. For now, we shall bother the reader with a minor question that we alluded to a moment ago: Why did King Ahasuerus seek the ministers' advice when Vashti refused his request, but made do with the servants' advice when his anger subsided? After all, the appointment of a new queen, particularly in a kingdom comprising 127 states, is an important political question.

 

Well, one possibility is that the king was angry at his ministers, whose advice led him to bid his lovely wife farewell. But it appears there was another consideration there, which even Ahasuerus managed to understand: When you turn to someone big and important, you are sure to take a big and important decision. When you seek the advice of someone simple, you get simple advice.

 

And so, when Ahasuerus turned to his ministers, his wife became a government matter and the issue was handled by the government and was blown up to the point of legislation. Later, he turned to the servants and got a simple, personal, and substantive advice. They told him that he had the right to choose a wife based on his own considerations and taste and did not turn his problem into a national affair.

 

In short, our own politicians may wish to learn that in some cases it is better to just consult a friend instead of hiring a top-notch lawyer, and in other cases it is better to just hire a lawyer instead of turning to the attorney general.

 

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