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    Frightened of the Jews – Purim

    The Feast of Esther by Jan Lievens, 1625

    As they do in the Chanukah story, the assimilationists play an important role in the Purim events. They tried to look and behave like gentiles and hoped no-one would notice they were Jews.

    In the Purim story there is another group who did the opposite. Called Mityahadim, they tried to make out that they were not gentiles but Jews. In Esther 8:17 they acted like Jews; Rashi says they became converts, though Maimonides – Issurei Bi’ah 13:15 – says they remained gentiles but gave the impression of Jewishness.

    Their motivation was self-preservation; the Jews had assumed a leading role in the kingdom and it was expedient to be on the Jewish side and to have the Jewish God.

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