How the Books of Exodus and Esther Use Humor to Underscore a Message of Hope

April 17 2019

Since the holiday of Purim occurs exactly one month and one day before Passover, these two celebrations of redemption are linked in the Jewish imagination. Joel Kaminsky notes many parallels between the biblical stories associated with the two holidays: each revolves around a genocidal plot against the Jews by a powerful empire (Persia and Egypt), each begins with a woman or women disobeying royal decrees (Vashti, who refuses to appear before her drunken husband Ahasuerus, and the midwives who refuse to throw Jewish babies into the Nile), each has as a protagonist a Jew who lives in the royal palace (Esther and Moses), and each ends in a reversal of fortunes between the Jews and their enemies. While many interpreters have pointed to the use of humor and irony in Esther, Kaminsky argues that there is similar comic use of ironic reversals in Exodus as well. He writes:

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Read more at Marginalia

More about: Esther, Exodus, Hebrew Bible, Jewish humor, Passover

Israeli Sovereignty Would Free Residents of the West Bank from Ottoman Law

To its opponents, the change in the legal status of certain areas of Judea and Samaria is “annexation;” to its proponents, it is the “extension of sovereignty” or the “application of Israeli law.” Naomi Khan argues that the last term best captures the practical implications of the measures in question. Since the Six-Day War, the Jewish state has continued to uphold the Ottoman legal system in areas of the West Bank under its jurisdiction—despite the fact that the Ottoman empire ceased to exist in 1922; “annexation” would end this situation. Setting aside the usual questions of foreign policy, security, and the possibility of Palestinian statehood, Khan argues that this change would be the one most felt by those who live there:

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Read more at JNS

More about: Annexation, Israeli law, Ottoman Empire, Palestinian Authority, West Bank