Purim and justice

I’ve been reading JT Waldman’s graphic novel of the Megillat Esther, the book of the bible that we read at Purim (discovered via the Velveteen Rabbi).  It’s reminded me of what a very strange story it is.  There’s an old joke that all Jewish holidays can be summed up as "They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat."  That’s certainly the heart of the Purim story, with the added vengeful twist that Haman falls into his own trap, and is killed on the gallows he had prepared for Mordechai and that the Jews fall upon their oppressors, killing tens of thousands.

The Purim story has been racing around my head the past few days, bouncing up against the news of Slobodan Milosevic’s death, and the possibility of the judge calling off the Moussaoui trial.   While we like to think of "law’ and "justice" as synonyms, they’re really not.  And sometimes following the rule of law means that evil people will get off.   It stinks, but it’s better than the alternatives.

God is never mentioned in the Megillat Esther. There’s no promise here of infaliable judgment in a world to come.  All we’ve got is this world, full of drunken kings, conniving queens, and scheming counselors.

One Response to “Purim and justice”

  1. amy Says:

    heh. I describe Purim as “one of the ones where they don’t kill us.”
    This holiday, and the megillah, piss me off every year. First you’ve got the woman who gets killed because she won’t get naked for her husband’s friends; then you’ve got the attempt to justify her execution by making her into an evil wench who forced her Jewish slaves to work on Shabbos; then you’ve got the heroine who wins by (what else) being pretty. Clever, yes, but pretty is what got her to the top.
    If A. wants to dress up as Esther, OK. Didn’t kill me either. But apart from the cookies, I don’t want no part of it. (Oh. Nutella hamentaschen. Why didn’t someone think of this before?)

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