Illustration by Denis Shifrin

New evidence has been unearthed at Tel All by a team of Israeli anthropologists. Reports of an authentic scroll entitled, THE BIG MIGILLAH, was written by an advice columnist during the time of Esther and Mordechai. From this parchment, ASK AVIGAIL, Talmudic scholars, historians and archeologists can get a glimpse into the past (without getting whiplash).

Dear Avigail,

I have a terrible problem. My daughter is dating a non-Hebrew, and I fear it is getting way too serious. Maybe it is our fault because we adopted a Nomadic lifestyle - we made camp, and then, as soon as the last stanza of Kumbaya ended, we were up and about.  There was no time to make friends, realize one's dreams or take out the garbage. Of course, it didn’t help that one warring tribe or another was right behind us...Do you have any sagacious advice to help me in my dilemma, and could you recommend a good pest control company; my neighbor’s kid is practicing his lute at 3 a.m.

Suffering in Samaria

Dear Suffering,

A friend of mine had a similar problem. Her daughter met a young fellow from far, far away; a tribe that named their offspring after symbolic traits of animals and inanimate objects. These symbols were given, so each child would grow up and favor that one dominant trait. For example, one that bore the name, “sittinglikeabumponalog” was not the ideal candidate to hire as a go-getter scalp hatchet salesman…something more laid back would be an appropriate position. "Sittingpretty" might be a model for sunrepellent sand storm rash or mirageitis. The young man in question was a brave one named sittingonatackthatskillingmytookis." Needless to say, he did not do well in a comfy desk job. Although he seemed like a nice enough fellow, when his family extended the peacepipe and asked my friend’s name, she responded “sittingshiva,” and repeatedly struck her head in a cactus patch.

Anyway, sometimes intermarriages work out and thrive. I have a relative in Persia who has a niece, Esther. She lived with her Uncle Mordechai (Morty) because she couldn’t get along with her father, Mortify. He constantly embarrassed her, put her down and did not want to hear any of her teenage tantrums. He had no experience with puberty; he was born with a beard and looked like a chia pet. He was neither fun nor frivolous, and considered buying wholesale as much of a sin as idol worship. He tried to find a worthy husband for her. His standards were high; he inquired about the young man's lineage; did any of his ancestors belong to the Masons; did he inherit the secret handshake? He also checked on his family to inquire how many parking tickets he had accrued, and if they were paid (he didn't want to inherit debt).

Esther loved her Uncle Morty, to whom she poured her heart out. She did not like her father’s choices of marriage partners, especially when he started off with, “he’s got a great personality.” Uncle Morty heard of a rumor that the King was looking for a new Queen. The King threw a Persian poker party, and promised his friends a great party with food, wine and cheap entertainment. The former Queen Vashti was supposed to get on the stage for the Hawaiian number, but declined at the last minute; she suffered from unexplained fears of going out of her chambers, not going to the market, or engaging herself in a henna party... it's just that she couldn't overcome her phobia about obeying the King and coming to his gala dinner in less dressing than the turkey. She met with an untimely death when her head accidentally made contact with the blade of a swinging sword. Every young maiden was eager for the title “Queen of Persia,” but Miss Congeniality was a title not to sneeze at either.
Esther worried about the fact that the King wasn’t Jewish. Where would they go for the High Holidays? Reform? She voiced her fears to her Uncle.
Mordechai then shared a frightening incident with her. One day, the King’s #1 Viceroy, Hay an, was strutting down the royal driveway on his prize stallion. All bowed in his presence, except Mordechai. He couldn’t move because he had a herniated disc. Hay man saw this and lost his temper. “Impudent Hebrew, why aren’t you bowing to me?” Mordechai cursed the fact that he had left his MRI at home, as well as the note from his doctor. From that day, Hay man chewed on his own liver and plotted his vengeance against Mordechai and his whole race for that matter. Just on a whim…

With that royalization, Esther realized that this union with the King was far greater than a marriage option; it meant the survival of her own people.  She was known to be righteous; not only did she leave leftover cholent for the local cats, but she did cat outreach to the surrounding neighborhoods. These and other acts of kindness garnered love and admiration from her people.  She made a vow: she would win the beauty contest in order to sway the King's judgment against the Jews.

First, she went for a full body-wax job. Nobody was saying that Esther had an excess of body hair, but wax wasn't enough to handle the cowlicks and split ends normally found on the face. The residents of Persia heard the machete make a path to navigate its way from chin to toe. Thank G-d, the threading lady had called in sick.
For the talent competition, she got out her old accordion. It was stuffed in the bottom of her closet. How she h

d hated to practice her scales. And if that weren't bad enough, she developed a hernia dragging it to band practice. For the Queen's ball she chose the song, Flight of the Bumble Locust, which she knew by heart. She won the title of Queen of Persia! It was a good choice to have picked a musical number she was quite familiar with, rather than learn something new, daring and with four part harmony.

She had a lot of time to herself in the Palace.  There were 300 wives, concubines, mistresses and arbitration lawyers in the women's quarters.  Someone was always up for a game of rumikub. She often snuck out of her luxurious chambers dressed in peasant clothes. But, she was often recognized and brought back against her will. Who told her to keep her crown on?

So, sometimes intermarriage might not be so great for the couple, but it may ward off an entire annihilation of staggering proportions...then again, it may not.


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Shashi Ishai

Shashi Ishai started out as a stand-up comedienne in her one-woman performance piece - CONFESSIONS OF AN EX-PURIM QUEEN. Humorist/cartoonist from Teaneck, N.J., USA. She is currently working on a coll...

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