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The Queen You Thought You Knew Hardcover – March 1, 2011
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IN looking at a Biblical text, David Fohrman asks questions that no one else ever asked, and because of that he gives fresh and arresting answers.
Fohrman has already distinguished himself with his first book, The Beast That Crouches at the Door, an original look at the narratives of Adam and Eve, and Cain and Abel. Now he turns his attention to the Scroll of Esther, the Megillah, just in time for Purim oh, and one of the first questions he asks is, why call it Purim?
Purim stems from the Hebrew word pur, which means lot, and refers to the lots cast by Haman to determine the date he would kill all the Jews of Persia. Why remember a book of biblical salvation by the genocidal terminology of the Hitler of the day?
Imagine it was 1948 and Israel had just proclaimed its statehood and managed to ward off several invading Arab armies. The question comes up: People will want to celebrate this moment year after year; what should we name the day? Someone in the back of the room raises his hand and says:
Let s call it: Tokarev Day.
Why Tokarev Day, everyone asks.
Well, he continues, when the Arabs tried to kill us all, their weapon of choice was Russian made self-loading Tokarev rifles. Thank G-d we were saved. So let s call it Tokarev Day!
And then everyone applauds and decides that this is a wonderful name for the new holiday.
That s roughly what seems to have taken place concerning Purim. Why name the day after the instrument of choice used by our enemy? It s not his holiday, it s ours!
IN The Queen You Thought You Knew (HFBS and OU Press), Fohrman is skilled at linking the micro to the macro. He takes a very close look at the biblical text, picking up on unnoticed sequences, scrutinizing hitherto unseen grammatical and syntactical oddities.
But he does not produce a book of picky points and scholarly obscurities. He builds on small, careful questions to produce a book of large panoramas. From small puzzles he extracts links to large stretches of biblical history. The Queen You Thought You Knew is a book of uncommon range and insight.
It is also a very fun book. Fohrman s style is direct and engaging (per Tokarev Day). Indeed, his style conveys the feeling of inevitability. The reader finds himself saying, I just knew he was going to say that. I knew where he was going with this. To read Fohrman is akin to listening to a powerful symphony with that driving sense of inevitability.
Of course, Fohrman s reader doesn t really have a clue where Fohrman is going, he just thinks he does. That s part of author Fohrman s genius; he convinces you, the reader, that the two of you are co-authors. Fohrman s subtext is a conspirational link between author and reader. For that reason the book is hard to put down how can you put down your own book?
Who said Bible study couldn t be fun?
HERE'S just a small sampling of 3 questions (besides the curious name of the holiday) that Fohrman raises:
1. After Haman is hung and his sons are killed after the enemy is defeated and dispatched why does the Megillah drag on another three chapters? Aren t they anti-climactic?
2. After Haman decreed his genocidal plan, Esther seems to hesitate before approaching her husband, Ahasuerus, to change his mind. Esther s Uncle Mordechai tells niece Esther that if she will not seek relief from the King, salvation will come from another source.
Well, if the Jews can be rescued from some other source, why does Mordechai urge Esther to see the King? If she s not really needed because salvation is available elsewhere why the pressure on Esther?
(to read the rest of the review, visit the Intermountain Jewish News website and search for "The Queen You Thought You Knew") --Rabbi Hillel Goldberg, Editor in Chief, Intermountain Jewish News
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Top Customer Reviews
Be prepared to have your comfortable lullaby shattered. Rabbi Fohrman book analyzes the story with fresh eyes and with truly magnificent writing that carries you effortlessly from chapter to chapter, drops bombshell after bombshell.
I know when I was first introduced to these questions, it made my entire reading and listening to the Megilah take an entire new life. How was I missing all these (now obvious) questions? They are right there on the page in original Hebrew - no manipulations - and begging for the questions to be asked.
And the answers? One word for them. Satisfying.
Answers that are connected down to the core, using the original words, drawing meaning carefully through reasoned analysis and connected to tradition.
Purim will never be the same.
Rabbi Fohrman brings out many important thoughts that are applicable to our culture. A few are: * A wicked person is a prisoner of his own emotions. * Silence equals assent. * It is always a good time to repay an old debt. * The reconciliation of a family does not depend on how much time has passed. *
This book is a treasure for anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of the Holy Scriptures and the principles contained therein. I will be eagerly awaiting Rabbi Fohrman's next book!
As always, Rabbi Fohrman leaves us asking many questions. Clearly, many of them are the right ones. He seems to be less than comfortable wrapping things up into tight little packages however. He offers more questions than answers. Perhaps this is the right approach. The wrapping up into tight little packages may have been the cause of our misunderstanding and underestimating the value of the text in the past. The book of Esther deserves far more credit than we have given it.
Rabbi Fohrman's book on Esther is far from exhaustive. He ends specifically stating that we must continue asking questions and that a subsequent book on Esther should follow. Rabbi Fohrman clearly gets to the heart of the book, describing the challenges and requirements of oaths and annulments and the need for unity within God's people as we move forward. What he fails to do in this book is grapple with the purpose of the book. Though it is never stated it is clear the book is a treatise on God's requirements to his people and in contrast, the requirements of the people to God. Why does the book of Esther exist in the first place? It isn't a history. It's a theological book. Also, he misses some other themes that build support for his theory. There is no discussion of the genealogies of Haman and Mordecai.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Still reading. Some parts gave me a shock, made me cry. Things i never gave a second thought were hiding layers of meaning underneath. Read morePublished 3 months ago by DeboraReyes
This is one of those books that I would never have gone looking for – not because the topic, Queen Esther, doesn’t interest me, but because I thought I knew all there was to know... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Max Blackston
excellent commentary. Thee things I thought I knew and the things I never even considered......Published 11 months ago by Jeanne K. Cason
Great Read! Strongly recommend for anyone who wants to understand the book of Esther.Published 13 months ago by Bob
Tremendously insightful with information and facts never taught in YeshivaPublished 16 months ago by Barry Mandel