Thank God for Jealousy

A Purim Lesson

The past few decades have seen a huge push to promote the presence of women in the workplace. California even mandated that all companies in the state must have women sitting on their boards of directors. It is a fact of modern life that men and women interact all the time in business settings. The question each of us needs to ask ourselves is how both singles and married couples ought best to manage these interactions. Today is Purim, the holiday of the Feast of Esther. Let us take a look at one example of how those interactions can complicate business life. There are several companies such as Mattel Toys, for instance, which might still be the behemoths they once were had they kept this lesson in mind.

In chapter four of the scroll of Esther, the Jews of Persia seem doomed. Mordechai implores his niece, Queen Esther, to risk her life by approaching the king. He concludes his entreaty by saying “Who knows whether it was for just this purpose that you rose to majesty?”

Esther agrees and invites her husband, the king, along with the evil Haman to a private party, to be held, oddly enough, not in an official banquet room but in her private boudoir. The three of them enjoy a pleasant dinner at which the king expresses his affection for Esther by asking if there is anything else she’d like. She invites him to come to yet another private dinner party, once again with Haman as the only other guest, again to be held in her private bedroom. It is at this second gathering that she denounces Haman.

Everything hinged on that moment. If the king’s friendship and loyalty to his chief of staff, Haman, stood firm, Esther and all the Jews were finished. If she succeeded in driving a wedge between her husband and Haman, all would be well. While Esther knew the outcome was in the hands of God, she also knew that God expects us to do all in our power to help ourselves. What was the importance of these intimate parties?

In fact, Esther was setting the stage to favor her odds. Let me explain—

Imagine some guy challenging a much stronger friend to a competition where they will each move a fifty-gallon drum filled with water a distance of ten feet. Only, he stipulates that he must move his drum from the roof of a house to the ground, while his friend will be required to move the same weight, the same route, but from the ground to the roof. I’d recommend you bet on the man who proposed the competition. It is really unwise to gamble against the physical law of gravity. It is equally unwise to bet against spiritual laws.

Queen Esther knew that God built certain reactions into men concerning women. We were created so that a social unit of two men and one woman is intrinsically unstable. This is precisely why history reveals many instances of societies managing with polygamous marriages. Though not ideal, one man and two women can function. However, history cannot offer even one example of a successful polyandrous society—where one woman and two men marry. It never has worked and never will.

Esther understood the tension and instability that is almost always found automatically in any social unit of one woman and two men. By inviting only her husband and one more man to an intimate dinner in a room in which the dominant piece of furniture was her bed, there was a very good chance that she could introduce just enough subconscious jealousy to rouse an emotional, angry reaction in her husband.

Marriage and business are both challenging undertakings and they are also activities in which we are supposed to engage. The Bible is full of insights into the relationship between men and women, and like Esther, the more you know of the reactions that God instilled in us, the more successful you can be.

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The Art of Making Challah

Purim, the Feast of Esther, is approaching. It is a time of joy, celebration, and sharing a meal with friends and family. What a great time of year to up your baking skills and learn how to bake the traditional Sabbath and holiday bread known as Challah! Join Susan Lapin and have some fun as she walks you through each step of the process in this video tutorial (including her favorite recipe).

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Mmm. Can you already smell the freshly baked loaf?

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