The Queen You Thought You Knew

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The Queen You Thought You Knew

The Book of Esther can easily masquerade as a child’s tale. There’s a villain out to hang Mordechai and murder his countrymen; a king who enjoys drinking; and a beautiful and noble queen. There are assassins, palace intrigue and a climactic battle scene — and a happy ending, to boot. What more could you ask for in a good child’s story?

The holiday associated with the book can seem child-like, too. Purim is celebrated with costumes, carnivals, and abundant merriment. Kids dress up as Esther, Mordechai, Haman and Achashveirosh, wearing plastic hats and cellophane scepters. Purim is the great holiday of make-believe.

All this make believe, though, can have unintended consequences. Chief among them is the fact that many of us are likely to remain with childlike views of Purim and the Megillah long after we’ve turned adults. Our perspective upon Mordechai and Esther and their struggle can easily remain as one-dimensional as the face paint we use to impersonate these people in costume.

In this book, now available for purchase at the OU Press Online Bookstore, Rabbi Fohrman invites the reader to look at the Book of Esther with fresh eyes; to join him, as it were, on a guided adventure — a close reading of the ancient biblical text. In so doing, he reveals another Purim story; a richer, deeper narrative — more suited perhaps, to the eyes of an adult than to a child. As layers of meaning are gradually revealed, Esther’s hidden story comes alive in a vibrant, unexpected way — offering the reader a fascinating and stirring encounter with the queen whose costume they wore as children — the queen they thought they knew.



In his lectures and in his writings, Rabbi David Fohrman accomplishes something unique. He combines elements of surprise and ingenuity with the authentic ring of truth. He did this with his first book, The Beast that Crouches at the Door — and he has done it once more here, with the The Queen You Thought You Knew. Rabbi Fohrman’s latest offering provides a stirring and creative new look at the story of Queen Esther; it is sure to enrich, enliven and refresh the reader’s experience of Purim.

–Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, Executive Vice President, Emeritus, Orthodox Union


Rabbi David Fohrman lectures internationally on Biblical themes. He heads the Curriculum Initiative of the Areivim Philanthropic Group, and directs the Hoffberger Institute for Text Study. He currently resides in Woodmere, NY with his wife and children, where he also serves as resident scholar at the Young Israel of Woodmere. Rabbi Fohrman’s first book, The Beast that Crouches at the Door, was a finalist for the 2007 National Jewish Book Award. In earlier years, Rabbi Fohrman served as a senior editor and writer for Artscroll’s Schottenstein Edition of the Talmud, and taught Biblical themes at the Johns Hopkins University. His recorded lectures are available at

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.