Group Work on Esther and Exodus

Note: If you were not in class for this group exercise, please complete it as a written exercise and turn it in as soon as you can.

After dividing into small groups, let each group discuss the following and prepare a summary of their discussion:

1.  Compare and contrast some of the ways in women protect others and assert themselves in the two books.  What does your group think of this?

2. In the books of Exodus and Esther, not everyone is who they pretend to be or are recognized to be. Please give an example of this from each book. Explain why the pretense is encouraged or allowed, and what purpose it serves.

3. Apparently, Esther passes as a non-Jew. What are some of the risks, advantages and disadvantages of passing?

4. What is the difference between passing and assimilation? How could either lead to self-deception and/or problems with identity?

5. What is the relationship between political rulers and their advisors in the books of Esther and Exodus? How are they similar? How are they different? Who were the best advisors? Did the political leaders heed their advice? What do you think of this?

6. Who or what is the proximate cause of rescue from powers unleashed by political rulers in the books of Exodus and Esther? Who are what is presented as the ultimate cause? How is the ultimate cause described in each story?  What does your group think of any differences between these in the two stories? 

Michael Kagan,
Le Moyne College
Philosophies of Judaism
February 10, 2008

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