“Esther: Power, Fate and Fragility in Exile” by Erica Brown— Moments of Destiny

Brown, Erica. “Esther: Power, Fate and Fragility in Exile”, (Maggid Studies in Tanakh) Maggid, 2020.

Moments of Destiny

Amos Lassen

I have always found the Book of Esther to be a puzzle in which destiny rules. We read of Esther, a beautiful but highly unlikely queen who becomes a leader of the Jewish people. Her uncle, Mordechai, is able to use his influence to become a trusted confidant and the Jewish minority that faced extermination became a powerful people in a foreign kingdom. Erica Brown looks at these issues and others in “Esther: Power, Fate and Fragility in Exile” and gives us a textual and thematic reading of the story against the background of “hate and political ineptitude”. She shows how this ancient story has something to say about problems today such as antisemitism, sexual tyranny and the lack of leadership.

I believe it is the mystical quality of the Book of Esther that makes it so fascinating and compelling. The fact that there are so many unanswered questions adds to it. What we see here from Erica Brown is a high level of insights that help clarify what it says while at the same time keeping  the mystery. After all, it is about destiny and that we cannot predict or foretell. The most amazing insights we get here are the ways the book is related to contemporary life and how it looks at the mysterious personage of a queen who rose to her position by luck. In learning about Esther, we also learn about ourselves and the role of destiny in our lives.

We see how the story of Esther has stood the test of time and how it has been received in different generations. It indeed has something to say about Jewish life in the diaspora and it adds to our understanding of Jewish life in general.

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