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The Purim Story: Let’s  Suppose You Were In It 

Class Study Guide

The Book of Esther that is read on Purim seems a lot like a child’s tale. However, a closer reading of the text reveals a much deeper story. Looking behind the scenes, we can gain a greater understanding of why the major figures involved did what they did. We can identify the forces of history and personality that shaped the events portrayed in the Megillah.

In this class we will share the teachings of Rabbi David Fohrman from his book, “The Queen You Thought You Knew: Unmasking Esther’s Hidden Story.” Under his guidance, we will look with open eyes at Mordechai, Esther, Haman, and Achashveirosh, and ask ourselves, “What would we do if we were in their shoes?”

These legendary characters will come alive for us, and help make our upcoming Purim observance more meaningful and important in our lives.

The class will take place over three consecutive Sundays. Note our new time:

Sunday, February 23, 7pm-8:30pm

Sunday, March 2, 7pm-8:30pm

Sunday, March 9, 7pm-8:30pm

Class facilitator: Steve Kobrin (skobrin@stevenkobrin.com)

Who should come?

Men, women and adult children are all invited.

Feel free to bring your family and friends.

No fee is charged, but reservations are needed – seats are limited.

It is highly recommended that you have a familiarity with the Book of Esther. Here is a link with the Hebrew and English http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16474

A spiritual benefit.

This class is a continuation of our group learning on the theme,“God and Money: Studies in Being Holy and Having Wealth.” We are taking a break from our main topic to meet the popular demand for fresh studies on the holiday.

This program can be considered a “spiritual fund-raiser”. As we learn together to improve our lives spiritually and materially, we can keep in mind all the people who need to heal. Our dedication to them can benefit all.

Class One

Part I

Chapter 1: Some Opening Questions

1. Why does the Megillah last so long? P 8

2. Why are there three chapters of text left, after the Jews have already been saved and Haman has been killed? P 9

3. Why call it Purim? Pp 9,10

4. Why name the holiday after the very thing you don’t believe in – coincidence and chance? Pp 11,12

5. Why is there a focus on Mordechai, and his clothing and stature, considering that Purim is a celebration of when the Jews were miraculously saved from genocide? Pp 13,14

6. Why start the book with a banal, extended digression about Achashveirosh? P 14

Chapter 2: Why Did They Do That?


7. Why did Esther wait to talk to the king when he had agreed to see her? Pp 17-19

8. Why did Esther cry at the time Haman was defeated? Pp 19,20


9. Why did Mordechai give Esther an out when he was trying to convince her to come to the rescue? Pp 20,21

10. If Esther’s involvement is not crucial, then why does Mordechai say her recalcitrance would doom her to destruction? Pp 21-23

11. Why does Mordechai authorize the Jews to take the spoils when he knew they could not do that? Pp 23-25


12. In his complaint against the Jews to the king, why did Haman mention that the Jews are scattered throughout the empire, and that they observe their own laws, making them different from other nations? Pp 25-27

The King

13. Why did the king put his wife on display? Pp 27,28

Chapter 3: Mother Persia

14. Why didn’t Esther use the moral argument when appealing to the King? Pp 29-31

15. How did the king’s treatment of Vashti influence Esther’s approach to him? Pp 31-34

16. Why is the king putting his wife on display? Pp 34-37

17. How did it affect the king when Esther refused to disclose her birthplace? Pp 37-39

18. What was Esther’s predicament when Mordechai made his request of her? Pp 40-41

Chapter 4: Obsession

19. Who, specifically, is Esther inviting to the banquets, and why? Pp 43-45

20. Why is Esther choosing such a risky strategy with regards to the king and Haman? Pp 45-46

21. Why does Haman concoct a plan to destroy the Jews, as opposed to simply killing Mordechai? Pp 46-49

22. Why does Haman want a hasty audience with the king? Pp 49-50

23. Why does the king become suspicious of Haman? Pp 50-52

24. Why does the king humiliate Haman by making him honor Mordechai? Pp 53-55

Class Two

Chapter 5: Martial Arts

25. How does Esther employ a martial arts diversion technique to deal with the king? Pp 57-60

26. How does Esther play the race card with regards to Haman? Pp 61-63

27. How does Esther play the murder card with regards to Haman? Pp 63-64

28. What does Esther feel when the king walks out of the banquet? Pp 64-65

Chapter 6: The Backyard Gallows

29. How does Haman play the refugee card? Pp 67-73

30. Why does the king say what he says when he returns from the garden? Pp 73-75

31. How did Charvonah seal the fate of Haman? Pp 75-77

Chapter 7: The King and I

32. Why did Esther finally plea with the king for the fate of her people after Haman’s death? Pp 79-82

33. Why did the king refuse this request? Pp 83-86

Chapter 8: War Games

34. Why did Mordechai write his counter-decree to the officials, governors, and princes of the provinces? Pp 87-90

35. Why was Mordechai’s decree so violent and bloodthirsty? Pp 90-92

36. Why does Mordechai schedule a celebratory parade before the battle? Pp 92-95

37. Why did Esther ask the king to hang the dead sons of Haman upon the gallows? Pp 95-99

Class Three

Part II

Purim: Lots and Vows

Chapter 9 : But Why Call It Purim?

38. Does the word Purim have two meanings? Pp 103-105

39. How is the appeal of Mordechai to Esther similar to a portion of the book of Numbers? Pp 105-108

Chapter 10: The Sound of Silence

40. Will Esther pay a price if she keeps silent? Pp 109-117

41. How is the word pur used in the book of Numbers? Pp 117-119

42. How can someone both affirm and annul at the same time? Pp 120-123

Part III

Preface: The Mordechai Verses

43. Why do the verses about Mordechai emphasize his lineage, his position, and that he was pleasing to his breathren? Pp 127-128

Chapter 11: A Telltale Phrase

44. Was Esther inspired by earlier Biblical events? Pp 129-135

Chapter 12: The Hardest Words to Say

45. How do the words of Esther echo words about Jacob, Judah, and Benjamin? Pp 137-144

Chapter 13: Private Benjamin

46. Who were the Yehudim? Pp 145-147

47. How can Mordechai be both a Yehudi and also an ish Yemini? Pp 147-150

48. How does Esther demonstrate selfless kindness? Pp 150-155

49. How did the actions of Esther and Mordechai heal a divided family? Pp 155-158