Cite: Schwartzmann, The Book of Esther— A Case Study of Ideological Interpretation

Schwartzmann, Julia. “The Book of Esther— A Case Study of Ideological Interpretation.” Shofar 29.4 (2011): 124-147.

URL: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/shofar/v029/29.4.schwartzmann.html

Abstract

Each generation of commentators has imprinted the Book of Esther with its own values and world views. The present article deals with the commentary of Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, one of the leading figures of religious Zionism, on Esther as a case study of the religious Zionist interpretation of this book. Committed both to Zionist ideology and to the Biblical canon, Aviner is determined to find a way to reject the exilic ambiance of the Book of Esther without tarnishing its two principal protagonists. He invests this story of courtly intrigue with modern insights and validates its religious and moral value for his vibrant, well informed readers. In Aviner’s interpretation the story of Esther and Mordecai is no longer that of two successful Diaspora Jews who find themselves involuntarily caught up in the antisemitic plot of a lone evildoer; rather, it becomes the story of the daring struggle of two indefatigable warriors standing shoulder to shoulder in total combat against the forces of evil.

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