Artemisia Gentileschi, Esther Before Ahasuerus, c. 1630, at the Met Museum
It's Purim again! That one day of the year you are commanded "to drink until you cannot tell the difference between Haman and Mordechai," i.e. evil and good.
Perhaps that's not an unusual experience these days. It may feel as though life has become an endless Purimspiel - a farce, a parody, a confusion of facts, and a series of masks of one kind or another on almost everyone. What to do? Or more to the point on Purim: "What would Queen Esther do?"
The Book of Esther and the paintings which illustrate this portion of the Bible tug at our conscious. Would we have the courage to stand up for our rights and the rights of others? Would we risk death or misfortune speaking out against injustice?
Today is Purim, but everyday brings opportunities to behave like Esther. These magnificent paintings were created to inspire selfless commitment for a cause:
Aert de Gelder, Esther as a Bride, c. 1684
Alte Pinakothek, Munich
Rembrandt van Rijn, Esther, Haman and Ahasuerus at Esther's Feast, 1660
Aert de Gelder, Esther and Mordechai, c. 1685, National Museum of Fine Arts
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Aert de Gelder, Esther and Mordechai Writing the Letters for Purim," c. 1684
Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, Providence, RI
Happy Spring! Happy Persian New Year (Nowruz)! Happy Purim!
Beth New York
aka Beth S. Gersh-Nesic, Ph.D.
Director and owner
New York Arts Exchange