Two years ago, a group of friends and I got together with our kids, to bake hamentashen. We had a superfun time, and I read my own version of the Megillah, specifically created for the three year old (child of non-observant parents) listener. Today, my friend Elizabeth reminded me of it, and suggested I post the whole thing online.
So here it is, unrevised! But please, don’t read it if you’re a purist. This is NOT a translation, by any means. If you start to poke holes in my limited rabbinical understanding of Jewish texts, you will find I am actually a sieve.
And if you like this, you can link to it from your own site, or facebook it, or whatever, then pay me in cookies. Prune, please, or apricot or raspberry. No poppy!
One fine day, King Ahasuerus threw a gigantic party. He invited all his best friends, made lots of guacamole, set up a chocolate fountain, and ordered many cases of wine.
But perhaps he ordered a leetle too much wine, because before the party was over, the King was DRUNK! Drunk as a skunk. Drunk as a drunk skunk. The king was so drunk that he did something odd.
He ordered his wife, Queen Vashti, to appear at the fancy banquet wearing ONLY her fanciest crown.
Now, of course, Vashti refused the King his request. NOT because she didn’t like to run around naked (naturally she did like to run around naked. Who doesn’t?) But because Vashti did NOT like to be bossed around by anyone. Not even the king.
The king was very very angry, and he banished Vashti from the palace. Forever!
This was just fine as far as the queen was concerned. She left in a huff, and moved to a far away place, where nobody told her what to do, and where she was allowed to wear as much (or as little) clothing as she damn well pleased. Things worked out for Vashti.
But her banishment left the king queenless. And that was a problem, because the king liked to tell very long boring stories at dinner, and without a queen to boss around, there was nobody to listen.
So Ahasuerus called for a beauty pageant, which was how fancy kings used to pick their brides, back in old Persia. You’ve heard of Cinderella, haven’t you? It was a little like that, but with halvah and hummus, and a twelve month purification period, and a sustained pregnancy watch. Good times.
Of course, all the loveliest lovelies in Persia came to the pageant, dressed in shimmery gowns and heavy necklaces. But of all the loveliest lovelies was a lovely Jewish damsel called Esther. She knew she had the pageant in the bag. But just to be on the safe side, she didn’t inform the king that she was Jewish. It was a don’t ask/don’t tell kind of marriage.
After that, the king was happy. He married Ester, which was nice, and would have been the end of the story.
Except that there was a plot! A terrible plot. A plot to disappear the king. Two very nasty henchmen—Bigthan and Teresh—wanted the king gone, and they hatched a plan to get him gone.
But Esther’s uncle, the wise old Mordechai, who looked a little big like your grandpa, but with a great big beard, caught wind of the plot. And he ran all the way to Esther’s house, so fast he forgot his sandals. And told her what the nasty (and unfortunately named) Bigthan and Teresh) were up to, the sneaks!
Naturally, Esther reported this horrifying news to the king, and he king ordered the two henchmen to be disappeared themselves. And that was nice for the king, and would have been the end of the story.
Since he was now without nasty henchmen, the King hired a new nasty henchman, a fellow named Haman, who was perfect for the job. This was a dumb move. If the King had been smarter he’d have thought to restructure his staff, eliminating the position of nasty henchman altogether. But kings can be dumb, or at least they are wedded to the idea of tradition.
And what a nasty henchman he found in Haman!
Haman screamed when the soup was cold. He refused to let anyone else hold the remote control. Mostly he insisted that everyone bow down to him, just because it made him feel tall. And mostly, people did what he said. Because people are a lot like sheep sometimes.
But when Haman bumped into Mordecai in the street, the old Jew refused, explaining very politely that “Jews don’t roll like that.”
This enraged Haman. It got him so hot that he decreed the destruction not only of Mordecai, but of ALL THE JEWS OF THE KINGDOM. This was madness, clearly, but he was prone to overreaction, Haman was.
To determine the day for carrying out the TERRIBLE decree, Haman cast lots (translation: PURIM), which is a kind of gambling game everyone used to do back before poker was invented. The lot fell on the 13th of Adar. Of course, that was SOON, and so all the Jewish folks flipped out. There were gigantic “oncoming destruction” sales at the mall. Housing prices fell. Many people fled in their underwear, ran over the hills and far away.
But the Jews had an ace in the hole. Or at least they had a Queen in the Castle. Mordecai urged Esther to plead with the king to save the lives of her people, and Esther didn’t have much choice. Plus, she was very pretty.
She was VERY pretty. She was so pretty that she was able to trick the King into granting her one wish. Anything she wanted. Her hearts desire. Pretty girls are sneaky!
And even though she could have had buckets of money or piles of slaves or an enormous banana split, Esther asked the King to save her people, the Jews, us. And he did.
And everyone was happy, and they baked cookies and stuff, and things were fine.
And as for what happened to Haman—we’ll just say that karma’s a bitch. And if you want to know any more than that, you’ll have to come back next year, when you’re four, and all growed up.