March 8, 2017

Purim: The Seductive Religious Tale we Never Talk About.


It’s almost Purim, a holiday of masquerade revolving around a story of seduction, political intrigue and debauchery, commanding celebrants to get so drunk that they don’t know the good guys from the bad.

It’s otherwise known as the “Jewish Halloween.”

Thanks to Trump’s war with the media, we don’t need to get drunk to confuse good guys with bad—or truth with “fake news.” But sacred “spirits” infuse this holiday, so drink up and enjoy my erotic midrash (“interpretation” in Hebrew) of the Purim Story of Esther.

Esther is the trophy wife who saves her people from genocide with nothing but her “weapons of mass seduction.” In a time when power was almost always gained through brute force and gold—a time much like our own—this was a kind of human miracle.

Our story begins at the climax of a 180-day celebration (I told you there’d be partying), when Ahasuerus, King of Shushan (the land we now call Iran), calls for his wife, Queen Vashti, “with her royal crown.” I learned in advanced Bible class this means “wearing nothing but her royal crown.”

Vashti says, “No way! Go hire a Russian hooker.” Outraged and humiliated, the King kicks her out of the palace. Some interpretations say she’s executed.

Whatever poor Vashti’s fate, the King now needs a new Queen.

So, he holds a ”Miss Shushan” beauty contest. One contestant is brought by her cousin, Mordecai, or as I like to call him, “Pimping Cousin Mordecai,” because he’s the original righteous pimp. Grooming his “comely” cousin Hadassah for greatness, he renames her Esther, meaning “hidden.”

In seduction, we often hide our true selves—our weaknesses and controversial traits—behind an enticing mask. Moreover, that which conceals also reveals. Concealing Esther’s Jewish identity (her “illegal alien” status) allows her engaging sexuality to be revealed.

Mordecai’s plan works.

Esther is invited to “go in unto” the King (Bible-speak for “they have sex”), after which Ahasuerus falls madly in lust with her, crowning her “Queen of the Trophy Wives” at another big bacchanalian bash.

The Bible is pretty coy about what Esther does at the bash. Maybe she strips down to her crown. After all, that’s the King’s fetish. Whatever she does, she seduces his heart.

But Esther’s not the only one courting the King. So is our story’s villain, Ahaseurus’ chief strategist, Haman. Haman is so vain that he makes the people of Shushan bow down to him. The only exception is Esther’s cousin Mordecai, who won’t bow down to anyone except “God”…and maybe “His” accountant.

Enraged, Haman vows to kill not just Mordecai, but all the Jews and all of their accountants. He seduces the King into issuing an edict of total Judaic annihilation. Mordecai tells Esther she must change Ahasuerus’ mind—or else.

Boldly, Esther enters the King’s court without an invitation, an offense punishable by death. However, Ahasuerus greets her by holding out his “golden scepter” and saves her life.

What an erotic, phallic image: The King saving Esther by holding out his long, hard scepter. Not that Esther deep-throats the thing, but the Bible does say, rather suggestively, that she “touches the tip of his scepter.” Wow.

Helplessly aroused, Ahasuerus proclaims he’ll give Esther whatever she wants, including half his kingdom—which, at 127 provinces, is a lot of prime real estate.

But Esther is a cool seductress. She doesn’t say what she wants. She maintains the masquerade. She knows this spoiled-man-baby can’t be given all the goodies at once, or her spell of seduction will break. So, she invites Ahasuerus to dinner…at her place.

Here is an important aspect of seduction: Take your “target” into your sphere of power, offering something he desires.

So, Esther invites her party-animal-King to a party. To make things interesting, she also invites Haman. This excites Ahasuerus who enjoys sharing pleasures with pals. The kinky hint of a threesome lurks between the lines of this high stakes banquet of erotic politics.

Esther entertains like a great geisha. When Ahasuerus again asks what she wants, she still won’t say. She plays her potentate like an instrument, teasing him into a frenzy, and then asking him to come back the next night for more.

Then, she throws the dinner party of her life, getting her King down on his royal knees, like a submissive CEO with his femdom mistress, begging her to tell him what she wants. Knowing she’s got Ahasuerus by his royal blue balls, our Esther/Hadassah finally removes the mask.

“I ask for my life,” she says, “and the lives of my people.”

Esther’s revelation triggers an almost orgasmic release in the King. He agrees to all her demands, only asking: Who is Esther’s would-be destroyer?

Slowly, Esther fingers Haman—and not in a good way. Within moments, Haman is hung on the very gallows he built to hang Pimpin’ Cousin Mordecai… who winds up making out on the whole “deal” better than God’s accountant. Indeed, Esther’s “weapons of mass seduction” save the day.

There’s much more to the Book of Esther, but for me, a sex therapist often asked about the art of seduction, this is the best part.

Like Cleopatra, Esther makes sexual seduction into an art form—teasing her royal target, stimulating his fantasies, making him fear he might lose her, so he’s desperate to please her. It’s the ultimate expression of power through sexuality, and a vital aspect of my book, The Bonobo Way: The Evolution of Peace Through Pleasure.

Parallels to current events abound. Without taking it literally, perhaps those of us who want to keep our gold-loving-man-baby, King Trump, from signing Haman-ësque chief strategist Bannon’s ominous edicts (a.k.a. executive orders) can learn something from Esther’s approach.

All of us can learn the value of seduction in achieving our goals. Without firing a shot or even breaking a nose, seduction can ignite tremendous passion, put a leash on a tyrant and even, as in Esther’s case, stop a holocaust.


Author: Susan M. Block

Image: Marko Milošević/ Flickr 

Editor: Deb Jarrett


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