Regarding Purim...

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Bravo

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not sure if this should be in TIO or here, but i have a question:

the book of esther essentially describes how jews were saved from a genocide, but ended up killing some 75K of their enemies - children and women included.

so i have always been meaning to ask: what exactly are jews celebrating on purim?
 
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StephanieFox

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Well...

I am going to answer this very carefully, because I detect the strong smell of anti-Semitism in your question.

It it obvious that you don't understand this holiday in the least.
This story is apocryphal, of course. There probably was no Esther or Mrodechai. It is the metaphorical story of Jews standing up to their oppressors and winning.

Do you cry for Hitler and his henchmen? Do you wonder why people celebrate the end of the Nazis? Of course not.

If you knew anything about Purim, you'd realize that it is basically a holiday for parody, costumes and fun. No one 'celebrates' dead Persians, but we are glad for any story where Jews stand up to anti-Semites and survive. Am I wrong that you would be happier if the bad Persians had gone ahead with their plan and killed all the Jews in this fairytale?

For those who have posted in the past, wondering if Jews would be offended by a certain story line where 'evil Jews' have some sort of plot against Christians, please consider that it's this poster's question that makes us very sensitive to these things. I've also had people tell me that Passover was the holiday where the Jews worshiped Satan. Takes all kinds.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purim
 

Sarita

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Just a friendly reminder that we need to play nice. Don't give mommy a reason to spank you. :)


Let's be sure to maintain a level of respect for one another. Feel free to ask poignant questions. And answer them, please! Just respect your fellow writers.
 

Bravo

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I am going to answer this very carefully, because I detect the strong smell of anti-Semitism in your question.

cute.

It it obvious that you don't understand this holiday in the least.

which is why i asked for clarification.

but thank you.

This story is apocryphal, of course. There probably was no Esther or Mrodechai. It is the metaphorical story of Jews standing up to their oppressors and winning.

that's great if it's a metaphor, but it's really irrelevant to the question itself.


If you knew anything about Purim, you'd realize that it is basically a holiday for parody, costumes and fun. No one 'celebrates' dead Persians, but we are glad for any story where Jews stand up to anti-Semites and survive. Am I wrong that you would be happier if the bad Persians had gone ahead with their plan and killed all the Jews in this fairytale?

yes you'd be wrong, and your hysteria and hyper-defensiveness over this is very amusing to watch.

For those who have posted in the past, wondering if Jews would be offended by a certain story line where 'evil Jews' have some sort of plot against Christians, please consider that it's this poster's question that makes us very sensitive to these things. I've also had people tell me that Passover was the holiday where the Jews worshiped Satan. Takes all kinds.

you started with an ad homiem attack, and now you're ending with one, so at least you're consistent. i never brought up anything other than the original story and what is being celebrated there.

but thanks for trying to explain the holiday.

you did your best, i'm sure.
 
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Bravo

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I've posted this link concerning Purim before, but it's always a good reminder for those interested in Jewish holidays and how they are perceived by some.

Don't forget to bring the cookies!

okay...so what does this have to do with the actual holiday?
 

Bravo

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i purposefully did not post this in your purim OP thread, stephanie, but i was hoping for some clarification among jews.

since i cant get that without being denigrated as an anti-semite with genocidal tendencies i would appreciate it if the mods deleted this thread.

i'll ask somewhere else.

thank you
 
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Sarita

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Bravo. Get back here.

Your original question was fine. Laced with a bit of cynicism, but I wouldn't have called it anti-semitic. Just play nice. Everyone. We have a lot to learn from one another.
 

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The basic text is in the Biblical Book of Esther. Here's a decent but colloquial modern translation, and here's the King James version.

I'm going to quote from the colloquial version:

Esther 3:8-9 said:
8 Haman said to King Achashvairosh, "There is a nation scattered and separated among the nations throughout your empire. Their laws are different than everyone else's, they do not obey the king's laws, and it does not pay for the king to tolerate their existence.

9 "If it pleases the king, let a law be written that they be destroyed, and I will pay to the executors ten thousand silver Kikar-coins for the king's treasury."

Esther persuades King Achashvairosh to reverse his decision, and the Jews are spared. The next two bits are the texts featured at the Purim service.

Esther 8:5 said:
She said, "If it pleases the king, and if the king likes me, and if he thinks this is a good idea, and if he approves of me, let a decree be written to repeal the decree of the plot of Haman, son of Hamdoso the Agagite, which was to kill the Jews throughout the empire.

Esther 5:16 said:
The Jews were now able to enjoy the light of Torah, the delight of the Jewish Holidays, the joy of performing the Commandment of Circumcision, and the precious honor of the Commandment of tefillin.

Now here's the part about the Jews turning on their enemies. Notice that the Jews are defending, from within the city; they are not going to their enemies:

the book of esther essentially describes how jews were saved from a genocide, but ended up killing some 75K of their enemies - children and women included.

so i have always been meaning to ask: what exactly are jews celebrating on purim?

I'd like to point out that the text of the Book of Esther (the only source we have) doesn't mention women or children being killed; just men.

So that's sort of sticks out in your post--you're presenting it in a negative light to begin with. The tone is one of accusation, not a genuine question from a neutral point of view.

Then the subsequent post:

i purposefully did not post this in your purim OP thread, stephanie, but i was hoping for some clarification among jews.

since i cant get that without being denigrated as an anti-semite with genocidal tendencies i would appreciate it if the mods deleted this thread.

Is at best sulky.

Moreover--you don't have to actually know the Hebrew text or history--you could have Googled the primary source text in a minute, maybe two.

So yeah, you look pretty anti-Semitic.
 
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Bravo

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I'd like to point out that the text of the Book of Esther (the only source we have) doesn't mention women or children being killed; just men.

So that's sort of sticks out in your post--you're presenting it in a negative light to begin with. The tone is one of accusation, not a genuine question from a neutral point of view.

where have you gotten this?

this is what i have always read:

11 The decree stated that the king permits the Jews of each city to gather and defend themselves, to destroy, kill, and eradicate all the armies menacing them, children and women, and to pillage their property,

http://www.beingjewish.com/yomtov/purim/esther8.html

8:11 Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey,

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Bible/Esther.html


Is at best sulky.

Moreover--you don't have to actually know the Hebrew text or history--you could have Googled the primary source text in a minute, maybe two.

So yeah, you look pretty anti-Semitic.

that's incredibly unfair. after i was accused of being anti-semitic by stephanie, and dismissed by rugcat, i felt that nothing can be gained from having this thread here.

and it's very presumptuous of you to assume that i didnt google this. hopefully these two jewish sources that i just showed can clarify things.
 
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Medievalist

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Bravo vBulletin ate half my post

[medievalist said:
I'd like to point out that the text of the Book of Esther (the only source we have) doesn't mention women or children being killed; just men.

where have you gotten this?

Look at your kinda bad translation:

11 The decree stated that the king permits the Jews of each city to gather and defend themselves, to destroy, kill, and eradicate all the armies menacing them, children and women, and to pillage their property,
http://www.beingjewish.com/yomtov/purim/esther8.html

The "them" before children and women refers the children and women of the Jews, not their enemies. Here's the King James version:

[quote="Esther 8:11]8:11
Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey, [/quote]
 
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Medievalist

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that's incredibly unfair. after i was accused of being anti-semitic by stephanie, and dismissed by rugcat, i felt that that nothing can be gleaned from having this thread here.

and it's very presumptuous of you to assume that i didnt google this. hopefully these two jewish sources that i just showed can clarify things.

Dude, the reason you were accused of antisemitism is because your initial tone, and your interpretation of the text, are both pretty much the ones used by anti-semites.

And yeah, you're still sulky sounding.
 

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Bravo, you are the Haman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
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Bravo

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okay that's exactly what i was looking for. the story seemed to be a celebration of vengeance, the oppressed finally getting back at the oppressors, and it seemed to be very much unlike other jewish holidays.

75K is a really high number of people killed, especially for that time, but i'm glad that this wasnt about having women and children killed, it was about destroying the other army.
 
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Bravo

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Dude, the reason you were accused of antisemitism is because your initial tone, and your interpretation of the text, are both pretty much the ones used by anti-semites.

And yeah, you're still sulky sounding.

it's an unusual holiday and one that is misunderstood by many people, including many jews who i have talked to and do not really know the basics of the story. they just say that it's fun, which is fine and good but it still leaves questions.

so you're right, i am sulking. i think rather than label people as anti-semitic for questioning the purpose of this holiday, it would be far more productive to simply explain the basis for the holiday and what it means for jews.

Bravo, you are the Haman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

funny.
 
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Medievalist

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okay that's exactly what i was looking for. the story seemed to be a celebration of vengeance, the oppressed finally getting back at the oppressors, and it seemed to be very much unlike other jewish holidays.

75K is a really high number of people killed, especially for that time, but i'm glad that this wasnt about having women and children killed, it was about destroying the other army.

75K is historically way way off; most of that is associated with one city -- a city you used to be able to go see, but now? I don't even know if the ruins exist.

But it could never have held that many people, nor could the water supply have sufficed.
 

Gray Rose

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Let's look at the Heb. for a moment (all translations mine):
8.11
אשר נתן המלך ליהודים אשר בכל-עיר-ועיר, להיקהל ולעמוד על-נפשם--להשמיד ולהרוג ולאבד את-כל-חיל עם ומדינה
הצרים אותם, טף ונשים; ושללם, לבוז
..that the king gave to the Jews that are in each in every city, to congregate and to defend themselves - to destroy , kill and make perish all the armies of a people and province that are assaulting them, women and children; and their property, to pillage.
I take women and children to mean [including women and children], i.e. the Jews have a dispensation to kill not only "hayil" (soldiers) but their women and children. The syntax is ambiguous here, but I am pretty sure the "taf vanashim" refers to women and children of the enemies of the Jews; the pronominal reference would be different if women and children of the Jews were meant. Then again, the syntax of Esther tends to be weird due to Babylonian influences.

However, please remember that this phrasing is the dispensation from the king of what the Jews were permitted to do. What the Jews actually do is different:
9.15-16
וייקהלו היהודים אשר-בשושן, גם ביום ארבעה עשר לחודש אדר, ויהרגו בשושן, שלוש מאות איש; ובביזה--לא שלחו, את-ידם. ושאר היהודים אשר במדינות המלך נקהלו ועמוד על-נפשם, ונוח מאויביהם, והרוג בשונאיהם, חמישה ושבעים אלף; ובביזה--לא שלחו, את-ידם.
And the Jews in Susan the capital gathered also on the fourteenth of Hadar and killed in Susan 300 men ("ish") and did not lend their hands to pillage.
And the rest of the Jews that were in the provinces of the king congregated to defend themselves and to get respite from their enemies and to kill those who hated them, 75 thousand; and did not lend their hands to pillage.

Anashim, nashim va-taf is an expression that means "men women, and children", showing that men (anashim; singular ish and counting form also ish) were counted separately from women and children. This shows us that in Susan the capital only 300 men were killed by the Jews.

As for whether women and children were killed by Jews in the provinces, the text does not give us an indication since only the numbers are mentioned. As far as I remember the commentators extrapolate from the happenings in Susan to claim that only men were killed in the provinces. I can open the relevant books if you have a real interest.

Beyond this purely academic discussion: no, we are certainly not celebrating the fact that so many people were killed, whether or not they were men, women and/or children. In most synagogues I have been to on Purim, these parts are read very quickly, though not erased (we should not be glossing over our history even when it becomes unpleasant).

As for what we are celebrating: we are celebrating the fact that despite the exile and the shameful and horrible situation for the Jewish people, in which a woman could be taken away from her guardian and basically raped (glamorously - by the king - but it does not change the fact that she was not asked and could be discarded at any moment like the other women before her) and despite the almost-genocide, Jews - through their faith, and smarts, and humility, and other good qualities - managed to avoid this fate.

Both Passover and Purim are essentially stories of almost-genocide and delivery. The difference between Purim and Passover lies, among other things, in the ways Jews remember their enemies. During the events of Passover, it is G-d who punishes the Egyptians by sending them the ten plagues. During Passover Seder(s) we grieve for the Egyptians by spilling drops of wine from our cups for every single plague.
During Purim, it is Jews themselves who punish their enemies, and the celebrations do not include any kind of commiseration for the enemies killed. This is why Passover is a major holiday and Purim a minor holiday.

Hope this helps.

P.S. Bravo, I also read your initial post as antisemitic. The kind of question they used to ask me before they would punch me on the nose for being Jewish.
I would advise you, if you did not intend to come across as antisemitic, to tamper your phrasing somewhat to avoid such misunderstandings in the future.

Rose
 
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rugcat

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that's incredibly unfair. after i was accused of being anti-semitic by stephanie, and dismissed by rugcat, i felt that that nothing can be gained from having this thread here.
Bravo, I apologize. Looking at the thread, I can see how it would be totally logical for you to assume I was aiming the link at you and accusing you of antisemitism in a backhanded fashion.

In truth, I only posted that link so that people stopping by could gain a small insight as to how Jews are portrayed by antisemites. It had nothing at all to do with you and really didn't even belong in the thread.

Although I did view the tone of your original post as somewhat confrontational. Maybe that's why that link jumped to mind.
 
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Bravo

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thanks for clarifying rose (and rugcat).


As for whether women and children were killed by Jews in the provinces, the text does not give us an indication since only the numbers are mentioned. As far as I remember the commentators extrapolate from the happenings in Susan to claim that only men were killed in the provinces. I can open the relevant books if you have a real interest.

to me if the law was that a king's edict can't be changed or altered, then doesnt that mean that 75K men, women, and children would've been killed?

i dunno, like i said it's a bizarre story. steph mentioned celebrating the end of the holocaust earlier, but as far as i know, no one really "celebrates" the end of the holocaust, people solemnly reflect and mourn the loss of life. and in this ester story, the genocide against jews was prevented, so it doesn't make sense to even compare the two.

but let's forget about the story. thank you for explaining the purpose of the celebration. it makes more sense to me now.

P.S. Bravo, I also read your initial post as antisemitic. The kind of question they used to ask me before they would punch me on the nose for being Jewish.
I would advise you, if you did not intend to come across as antisemitic, to tamper your phrasing somewhat to avoid such misunderstandings in the future.

is criticizing judaism and/or jewish holidays anti-semitic? that's seems like a clumsy use of the word and ultimately intellectually unfair and dishonest.

hopefully that's not what you're saying.
 

Gray Rose

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thanks for clarifying rose (and rugcat).

to me if the law was that a king's edict can't be changed or altered, then doesnt that mean that 75K men, women, and children would've been killed?

No. The king's edict was clearly altered on three occasions: first, when the Jews of Susan killed only men, even though women and children were specified in the king's edict; second, when the Jews of Susan did not pillage when pillaging was specified; third, when the Jews of the provinces did not pillage when pillaging was specified. This shows us that the king's edict can indeed be, if not changed or altered, but acted upon selectively. In addition, it suggests (though does not prove) that the Jews of the provinces did not kill women and children.

Re: antisemitism. It is not the content of your utterance, but the exact wording and tone of your original utterance (which, I believe, you subsequently edited) which provoked adverse reaction from the majority your respondents, including Medievalist and myself. The most harsh of criticisms, respectfully phrased, would not provoke such a reaction.
I advise you to lend this some thought.

Rose
 

Bravo

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No. The king's edict was clearly altered on three occasions: first, when the Jews of Susan killed only men, even though women and children were specified in the king's edict; second, when the Jews of Susan did not pillage when pillaging was specified; third, when the Jews of the provinces did not pillage when pillaging was specified. This shows us that the king's edict can indeed be, if not changed or altered, but acted upon selectively. In addition, it suggests (though does not prove) that the Jews of the provinces did not kill women and children.

okay this is where it got confusing:

A peculiarity of Persian law that also occurs in the Book of Daniel is that royal edicts of this sort could not be reversed, even by the king--by siding with the Jews instead of their persecutors the King presumably dissuaded any pogroms. The King also issued a second edict allowing the Jews to arm themselves, and this precipitated a series of reprisals by the Jews against their enemies. This fight began on the 13th of Adar, the date the Jews were originally slated to be exterminated. The Jews killed three hundred in Susa alone, killing seventy-five thousand (fifteen thousand in the Greek biblical account) in the rest of the empire.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esther

Re: antisemitism. It is not the content of your utterance, but the exact wording and tone of your original utterance (which, I believe, you subsequently edited)

actually i altered it pretty quickly, i didnt know how many persians were killed, and i had to go look that up.

which provoked adverse reaction from the majority your respondents, including Medievalist and myself. The most harsh of criticisms, respectfully phrased, would not provoke such a reaction.
I advise you to lend this some thought.

okay.
 
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Gray Rose

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Bravo : I forgot to respond to you regarding the celebration of Holocaust. We do not celebrate Holocaust because there was no delivery for the Jews at that time, either through G-d or through human beings. Thus there is nothing to celebrate. Indeed, the lack of deliverance during Holocaust is a major problem in modern Jewish religious thought.

It would make more sense to compare Purim not to Holocaust, but to, say, Victory Day celebrations in the former Soviet Union and modern-day Russia. Russians (and Russian Jews) celebrate the victory over Nazi Germany despite the fact that millions of Germans were killed. Celebrating victories in a bloody conflict is a human trait, and those victories are especially important if they are considered defensive rather than offensive.
 

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