throwback to when a jewish girl who didn’t do anything fancy or wear any makeup won a beauty contest against thousands of goyische women who were all decked out in the best they could find… smash that mf rb for esther and all jewish women’s natural flawlessness 💦
Some small refs for Esther! Before death, as a ghost, and what the Abyssal did with her body after it claimed it for itself. Also Abyssal’s true form.
The Abyssal hasn’t walked the mortal plane for millennia, and is thoroughly enjoying all the silly things humans do. It’s especially fond of fashion and basically every other “unnecessary-for-survival” thing humans do for fun and pleasure. High heels make it feel powerful.
Esther is horrified by what it’s done to her body.
My final interior and exterior for my Environments and Props class. Since they’re meant to be interior and exterior of the same place, I decided to go with a little canon snippet of Esther’s story.
Hopefully the colors display correctly! I was somewhat dismayed to learn that my PC monitor displays much more subtle differences in reds than my mac monitor, so the first one looked nearly monochrome before I tweaked it a little.
I’ll be posting processes for both of these in my patreon this evening!
When engaging in study of Megillat Esther, a strange and particular fact jumps out at me. Why didn’t Mordechai bow to Haman? It seems almost a no-brainer that he would– after all, all Haman wanted was a public show of loyalty. Once he got that, he’d be satisfied, and if Mordechai had bowed to him like everyone else, the entire Purim story would not have occurred. The Jews would never have been under threat, Haman would never have built his gallows, etc., etc. Mordechai, being a smart guy, was probably aware by that time of Haman’s short temper and thin skin, and/or his natural prejudice against the Jews– being descended from Amalek as he was.
It’s a question that’s bothered me for a while. Why on Earth didn’t Mordechai swallow his pride, bite his tongue, and bow? It would have been in service of the greater good, after all.
Well, here’s my answer. In Esther 3 פָּסוּק ב, it is mentioned that וְכָל-עַבְדֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲשֶׁר-בְּשַׁעַר הַמֶּלֶךְ, כֹּרְעִים וּמִשְׁתַּחֲוִים לְהָמָן. In other words, all the servants of the king in the king’s gate bowed to Haman. But wait. Do you recognize one of the phrases? How about כֹּרְעִים וּמִשְׁתַּחֲוִים, korim umishtachavim. Where else in Jewish liturgy do we see that phrase?
All right– I’ll tell you. It’s from the Aleynu. This oldest of Jewish prayers, dating back to the time of the Beyt HaMikdash, contains the same phrase (albeit with the words reversed). Let’s take a look at the context in which that phrase appears. וַאֲנַֽחְנוּ כּוֹרְעִים וּמִשְׁתַּחֲוִים וּמוֹדִים לִפְנֵי מֶֽלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים. That translates, roughly, to “we bow and prostrate ourselves [כּוֹרְעִים וּמִשְׁתַּחֲוִים] before the Supreme King of Kings [ie, Hashem]”.
That’s pretty powerful, and it situates the phrase כּוֹרְעִים וּמִשְׁתַּחֲוִים in a very specific context. Who do Jews כּוֹרְעִים וּמִשְׁתַּחֲוִים before? Not kings, princes, emperors, presidents, prime ministers, or grand viziers. There is only one King to whom we owe our supreme and utmost allegiance– the King of Kings, Hashem.
By demanding that the citizens of Persia כּוֹרְעִים וּמִשְׁתַּחֲוִים before him, Haman was essentially trying to say “I am a god, I am equivalent to a god, and you owe me all the loyalty, obedience and praise due to a god”. This kind of hubris is unacceptable in any person, let alone the second-in-command of a king! By consciously and continually refusing to bow (the Midrash says Mordechai actually memorized Haman’s schedule and would stand near him every time he exited the palace, so that Haman would always see that Mordechai refused to bow) Mordechai was reminding Haman that none of us are equivalent to Hashem. We are all of us under him, and once we acknowledge that, we are better people for it– humbler, more moral, and able to appraise our own strengths and weaknesses without the scales of hubris on our eyes. Surely all of these are essential qualities for a leader! A leader who believes himself all-powerful and all-perfect will (as Shmot teaches us) lead his people only into ruin and destruction.
So perhaps, instead of saying “Mordechai should have bowed” we should say “Haman should have realized his error, done away with his hubris, and become more humble– a proper leader”. Yet Haman was so convinced of his own importance that he would rather plan to kill every single Jew in the kingdom than acknowledge that he was just a human! And we all know how that ended– with Haman hanging high on the gallows he built for Mordechai, and the Jews successful in battle against all of his followers.
This is one of the roles Jews are commanded to play. We must stand up to tyranny and oppression, hatred, bigotry and false pride, in all their forms. At the end of the day, it must be the Jews who stand when others bow, who rebuke unjust leaders and their practices. Such actions are not only a kiddush Hashem, but a moral duty. As we roll forward into this uncertain future, let us never, ever forget that.
Twitter doodle of Pi (Esther) because I started thinking about mad scientists and missed this girl
Pi was always a tragic character. She was created to be a villainous alt-dimension version of Frances, do some terrible things, and then be killed off, but naturally I fell in love with her along the way and never quite got over her. She’s sort of turned into Esther, but Esther isn’t quite the same.