The holiday of Purim began way back in the past.
The land of Persia is where our story is cast.
King Ahasuerus gathered men to celebrate his might,
With drunken banquets he held well into the night.
The King summoned Queen Vashti to show off to his friends.
Vashti sent back a message saying, "Well, it depends.
If you think I'll take off my clothes and dance in the nude,
My answer is no, I'm not in the mood.
I'm a modern woman; I've got self-respect.
Your behavior demeans me--and to this I object."
The King thought, "If I don't act tough they'll mock me in the land
Equal rights from their husbands, the women will soon demand.
So I'll get rid of Vashti, a new queen I will find.
She'll be timid and beautiful, and ever so kind."
The King held a beauty pageant and all the young ladies tried out.
He finally chose Esther--she was beautiful, no doubt.
Her cousin Mordecai told her, "Your identity you must conceal.
The fact that you're a Jew, you must not reveal."
So Esther found herself near to the seat of power.
A complicated place, where she often did cower.
Soon after Mordecai learned that the king was to be killed.
It was reported and Mordecai's name recorded, his duty fulfilled.
The perpetrators, Bigthan and Teresh, were impaled on a stake.
A deadly game they were playing, a big mistake they did make.
It's now time to talk about Haman, a man terribly sinister,
Whom King Ahasuerus promoted to a high-ranking minister.
Haman declared, "Before me all people must bow!"
When Mordecai refused, Haman replied, "This I won't allow."
Mordecai said, "To mere human beings the Jews won't bow down."
The explanation did not appease Haman; it was met with a frown.
"These Jews are stubborn! What kind of gall!
To consolidate my power, I'll do away with them all!"
So Haman convinced the King to kill all the Jews,
A royal edict was written--this was big news.
When Mordecai and the Jews learned of the edict,
They began to mourn--their fate they could predict.
Mordecai told Esther, "You must intervene,
To save your people--after all, you're the Queen!"
"But if I speak up the King will kill me!
One can't just approach him--that's against royal decree."
Mordecai replied, "Oh, my dear Esther,
There is so much hatred that has been allowed to fester.
Do not think that you will escape with your life,
If you don't speak up, there will be endless strife."
Esther considered what Mordecai had to say,
And realized it was time to act--and without delay.
"I will fast and approach him, though this act is not legal,
Civil disobedience is required, even in a case so regal.
The future of my people is what's at stake.
I am scared, but this is a step I must take."
Esther stood before the king in his great palace,
I have a matter to discuss--please don't treat me with malice.
Esther won the King's favor and he asked, "What do you need?"
"To invite you and Haman to a feast--that is all that I plead."
So they went to her feast and Esther said, "Just come to one more."
They said, "That sounds lovely--feasts we adore."
Then Haman passed by Mordecai, who was sitting at the gate,
"He shows me no respect--he is sure sealing his fate."
Haman's wife and friends suggested, "Just kill Mordecai,
We'll impale him on a stake fifty cubits high."
It was night and the king could not sleep one wink.
He ordered his records to be brought so he could think.
Not till then did he learn that Mordecai had foiled the plot--
His servants had tried to kill him--he resented that a lot.
He asked, "What honor was bestowed upon this fellow?"
"Nothing," the servants replied, in a tone rather mellow.
Then Haman approached and he said, "We really must speak."
Mordecai had to be killed, he was hoping early this week.
But the King said, "I want to honor a man--what should I do?"
Haman thought, "It's me he wants to exalt--I'm sure it's true!"
He replied, "The parade must be majestic and grand."
The King said, "We'll celebrate Mordecai; take him through the land!"
Haman did as told but in mourning covered his head,
He went home to his wife with a terrible sense of dread.
The King and Haman feasted with Esther all dressed in their best.
Then the King finally said, "Come on Esther, what is your request?!"
"That you save my life, and my people's lives too,
We will be massacred--don't you see, I am a Jew!"
"Who is responsible? I want to know!"
"You stupid King--it's Haman who has stooped this low!"
Haman cringed in terror, knowing the end was near.
He groveled before Esther, his face full of fear.
The stake for Mordecai was standing erect.
The King said, "Impale Haman on it!"--and none did object.
Chapters 8, 9, 10
Esther again pleaded, "My people you must save!"
"Do as you see fit," was the response the King gave.
So Mordecai issued a law that the Jews may fight.
They killed tens of thousands and danced with delight.
The Jews took revenge and committed brutal violence.
Afterwards the land was filled with a chilling silence.
We must grapple with these texts that are part of our tradition.
So our Judaism can fulfill a very different mission.
But let us not forget the joy as we celebrate Purim each year.
Full of laughter and remembrance and lots of good cheer!
Rhyming Introductions for Megillat Esther Chapters