Annual Tel Shemesh Purim Play

This year (2008), Purim falls on March 20 and 21. The spring equinox falls on March 20. Purim, the story of Esther's ascent to triumph, is a spring festival, celebrating the rise of the seed out of the earth.

At this time of year, it’s a Jewish custom to write Purim Torah: silly commentary on Purim and other Jewish traditions, for comic effect and to poke fun at our sacred cows. This play is our annual attempt to welcome spring with a little bit of laughter… Now, imagine a TV screen….


Now that the Purim story has been over for several thousand years, the Purim characters have all found jobs in major heavenly departments. Mordechai now works for the Department of Home Planet Security, sniffing out spies from the Sitra Achra, the Forces of Destruction. Haman has found a job as a Divine Special Prosecutor. His job is to make specious allegations against governmental officials, thus limiting the damage they can do to our planet. Achashverosh has become a leader in the Luxury Clouds industry, catering to the dead rich and famous. And I, Hegai the eunuch, have become an angelic announcer for the Heavenly Channel 13. I now bring you our Purim Planet Report.

As our viewers may know, Vashti, Esther, and Zeresh (Haman’s former wife) have begun a foundation called Biblical Women Against Ruining Earth, or B-WARE. They are on location in Iraq, supervising the cleanup of air and soil pollution from the current conflict.

Camera zooms in on Vashti, Esther and Zeresh, who are standing in an empty smoke-filled field.

Vashti: When shall we three meet again, in thunder, lightning, or in rain?

Esther: When the hurlyburly’s done, when the battle’s lost and won.

Zeresh: That will be ere the set of sun.

Esther: Okay, we did our duty to Shakespeare’s three witches. And this battle sure isn’t going to be over by the set of sun. So let’s get down to business. As earth-based spiritual beings, it is our responsibility to save the earth from the forces that are destroying it. Our current efforts against pollution, while noble, are not widespread enough. We haven’t yet faced the true enemy. Haman is not the real enemy. King Achashverosh is not the real enemy. Plastic is the real enemy! I think we should endorse candidates in all democratic elections currently taking place on this planet who are willing to abolish plastic.

Vashti: That will never work.

Esther: Why?

Vashti: No one will elect a political leader who won’t let them have plastic. Human beings love plastic. They use it to make cars, computers, clothes, kitchen appliances, GPS devices, I-Pods. And they wrap everything that isn’t plastic in plastic. They’re even having trouble giving up plastic bags, and everyone knows that each individual plastic bag is inhabited by a demon from the Sitra Achra just waiting to spread its gunk in landfills and rivers. They would eat plastic if they could. In fact, some of their pre-packaged macaroni and cheese meals actually are plastic. They’ll never go for it.

Esther: But I could go personally before the head of the UN and plead for him to spare the creatures of the earth by halting plastic packaging.

Vashti: That strategy may have worked before, but the head of the UN isn’t an absolute ruler.

Esther: Oh.

Vashti: Also, he’s not in love with you. And he probably doesn’t have time for one of your fabulous dinners. Also, he uses plastic trash can liners.

Esther: Oh. Could I try pleading before Barack Obama?

Vashti: (Shaking her head) Cute, but no.

Esther: Well, what do you suggest?

Vashti: I suggest we train a fleet of lawyers.

Esther: Environmental protection lawyers?

Vashti: No, divorce lawyers. If we can get human families to break up early and often, they’ll have fewer children, and there will be less need for plastic. Fewer diapers, fewer Gameboys, fewer IPods, fewer plastic placemats.

Esther: Vashti, I thought you loved children.

Vashti: I do. If they stay out of my section of the harem and don’t leave plastic straws or chewing gum lying around.

Esther: Just because you’re divorced doesn’t mean everyone has to be.

Vashti: I bet you wish you were divorced. My ex-husband isn’t exactly a rose garden. And he doesn’t drive a Prius.

Zeresh (smiling wickedly): How ingenious, Vashti. You’ve turned your personal misfortune into an environmental strategy. That’s almost diabolical enough to work. But I have a better idea.

Vashti: Really? What might that be?

Zeresh: The problem with all these solutions is that they involve people. Personally, I hate people. I would rather spend time with a tarantula than a person. I propose we elevate another species to full intelligence and demote this one to the level of tree slugs.

Vashti: Interesting. Which species should we elevate?

Zeresh: Polar bears are nice, and they’re having a terrible time right now. They might appreciate being masters of the world. They were so brave in that movie…. What was it called?

Vashti: The Golden Compass.

Zeresh: Right. Where all the people had animal friends.

Vashti: What about whales? They’re great musicians and they don’t have so many teeth.

Esther: I’m sorry, but this plan is not right. People are what we’ve got, and we’ll just have to work with them the way they are.

Zeresh: But people can’t get along without little clear plastic containers of sushi and disposable packets of soy sauce, can they?

Esther: Yes, they can! I’ll start a cooking show and show them how to roll their own sushi!

Vashti: What do you think the seaweed wrappers are going to be shipped to them in? Clam shells?

Zeresh: Yeah, and what about all those little perfume bottles and cosmetics jars you used during the eighteen months you were in the king’s harem? Did you recycle all of those, Miss Environmental Purist?

Esther (blushing): No, I didn’t, but I’ve changed since then! Now I only use organic herbal shampoos and body washes, and recycle them in the blue bins!

Zeresh: Aha! But are they made with local ingredients?

Esther: We’re stationed in Iraq! There are no local ingredients.

Vashti: You’re just not looking hard enough. Meanwhile, what are all those organic shampoos and body washes shipped here in? Plastic bottles!

Esther: At least I don’t throw away plastic utensils after using them once the way Achashverosh did at his wine feast! He even threw away those little plastic cups you use for Manischewitz.

Vashti: It’s hopeless, Esther. Even you can’t save the world from plastic.

Esther: No! Nothing is ever hopeless. I have a solution. From now on, all food and appliances will be packed inside freshly-baked hamantaschen. I’ve already bought the flour and sugar, so let’s start baking!

Announcer: Tune in next week to the Purim Planet report to learn about more solutions for the salvation of Planet Earth. We’ll be hearing from Mordechai about his plan to use carrier pigeons to spy on corporate pharmaceutical companies. Until then, happy Purim, happy spring, and good night.

Rabbi Jill Hammer is the founder of Tel Shemesh and the author of The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for All Seasons.

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