Neviim Tovim/TheHaftarah Circle Gillian Gould Lazarus

Archive for the ‘poetry’ Category

Performed by the rabbinic team of Sha’arei Tsedek North London Reform Synagogue

and written by Gillian Lazarus

Chapter one

In the days of King Ahasuerus

They drank without unit awareness

The satraps and princes

Ate shashlik and blintzes

And talked about Queen Vashti’s fairness.

They feasted in Shushan the Palace

Each man had a solid gold chalice

And spent night and day

Knocking back Chardonnay

And a very fine bourbon from Dallas.

After filling his goblet with whisky

The king was predictably frisky

He said ‘No one’s seen

Such a wife as my queen

So I’m going to try something risky.’

Queen Vashti was called to the party

While the king grew increasingly hearty

Saying ‘Let her come wearing

An outfit that’s daring,

I want her to look downright tarty.’

Resplendent with eye kohl and rouge,

Vashti answered ‘I’m nobody’s stooge,

The king is a boozer

A nerd and a loser

And only his chutzpah is huge.’

The king was both angry and grieved

And his hotshot advisors were peeved,

They called Vashti seditious,

Rebellious and vicious,

And this is the plan they conceived:

‘Get rid of the queen and don’t tarry,

And Sir, you should quickly remarry,’

The king’s main enforcer

Insisted ‘Divorce her,

You’ll soon feel as happy as Larry.’

They mailed every Mede and each Persian

Saying ‘Guard against wifely subversion,

If the women protest,

Robust tactics are best

And don’t draw the line at coercion.’

Chapter two

Mordechai, who lived in the city,

Was a man full of kindness and pity

He loved Torah and peace

And he brought up his niece

Who was lively, good-natured and pretty.

He called for his niece and he blessed her

He said ‘I’ve a plan, dearest Esther,

I’ve thought up a ruse

And it’s good for the Jews

All it takes is a bullish investor.

Now you are my pearl and my treasure

An asset, in truth, beyond measure

I don’t wish to scare you

But I mean to share you,

Our aim is His Majesty’s pleasure.’

Esther moved to the king’s royal quarters

Where Persia’s most glamorous daughters

Used oils and cosmetics

And tantric athletics,

Enjoying the natural hot waters.

The king said ‘This Esther’s appealing,

Let her put on a dress that’s revealing

When she’s on my divan

She’ll think, “Oh what a man!”

There’s a looking glass, too, on the ceiling.’

To Mordechai, Esther was loyal

She submitted to being a royal

It was hardly devotion

But clearly promotion

So Esther tried not to recoil.

Two chamberlains meanwhile conspired;

The death of the king they desired,

But Mordecai heard

And their plan was deterred

And he told them ‘Go home, you’re both fired.’

Chapter three

There rose shortly after to power

A certain man, haughty and sour,

He was Haman by name

And was greatly to blame

Making poor people grovel and cower.

Now Mordechai wouldn’t kowtow;

Before God alone would he bow,

No man could assuage

Haman’s terrible rage

‘I’ll see Mordechai hanged,’ was his vow.

He sought out the king to suggest

That all Jews be placed under arrest,

And sentenced to die,

Though he didn’t say why,

And the king did not choose to protest.

For this crime, they selected a date

Haman said ‘We had better not wait,

But just to be sure

We’ll cast lots, known as ”pur”,

Then the Jews will be sent to their fate.’

Chapter four

When the dreadful news reached Mordechai,

He said, with a loud, bitter cry,

‘This decree must be seen

Take it straight to the queen

And I hope for a speedy reply.’

Esther realized with dread that her mission

Meant breaching the king’s prohibition;

To intrude on his court

When an audience was sought,

Could be viewed as an act of sedition.

Said Mordechai, ‘Do not falter

Or we shall be sent to the slaughter

For our lives you must plead,

For the Jews, intercede,

Help will come from a heavenly quarter.’

‘This prospect,’ she said ‘I don’t relish,

Unless the king’s minded to cherish,

But I’ll make the approach

And this subject I’ll broach

And then if I perish, I perish.’

Chapter five

Esther fasted three days and three nights,

Shunning all culinary delights

Then she dressed to the nines

In enticing designs:

A basque and some black fishnet tights.

The king rested on his throne, drowsing,

Sleeping off a long night of carousing,

When Esther drew near,

He said ‘Sweetie, come here,

I find your attire arousing.’

She sidled up at his behest;

He said ‘Tell me babe, what’s your request,’

Esther, no longer scared,

Said ‘I’ve dinner prepared,

You bring Haman and I’ll do the rest.’

‘If this is your wish,’ said the king

‘It seems like a very small thing,

I always assume

Women want more perfume,

Expensive Swiss handbags and bling.’

Haman said to his wife ‘I’m excited

To be in this manner invited,

For in Queen Esther’s eyes

My stock’s on the rise

So I’ll tell her that I’d be delighted.

Yet Mordechai’s conduct still galls me

His refusal to bow just appalls me;

I’ll see the man swing,

Then I’ll go to the king

The esteem of whose wife quite enthralls me.’

Chapter six

At quarter past three in the morning

The king was still tossing and yawning

Then he’d fidget and cough

But he couldn’t drop off

And he longed for the day to start dawning.

A chamberlain wearing a monocle

Read aloud from the court’s Daily Chronicle

It consisted of lists

But no longer exists,

Which is why it was never canonical.

The chamberlain said ‘Here’s a nugget

And nobody’s bothered to plug it

But the Jew Mordechai

Foiled an evil plot by

Installing a wire, to bug it.’

‘So the plot,’ said the king, ‘was recorded,

It was traitorous, wicked and sordid,

But the plotters were sacked

And their telephones hacked

By a man we have not yet rewarded.’

‘Send for Haman, the man I rely on,

He may have some thoughts I can try on;

He can be rather grim

But I get on with him

Just so long as I don’t mention Zion.’

Although he found Haman unnerving,

He said ‘There’s a man most deserving,

So help me devise

Some acceptable prize

As his loyalty’s truly unswerving.’

So Haman considered and, duly,

He thought ‘This refers to Yours Truly.

I’ll soon be raised high

Then I’ll show Mordechai

How I punish the proud and unruly.’

He said ‘Gladly, sir, I’ll be your mentor;

Clothe the man in Chanel and La Renta

Select a fine horse,

Your own stable, of course,

Then he’ll ride through the town’s Arndale Centre.

‘Your idea is too good to waste,’

Said the king ‘And it’s much to my taste

To Mordecai, go

And fix it just so,

Now off with you Haman, make haste.’

Haman went, but his language was blue,

He hatred, if anything, grew,

He cursed his bad luck,

Cried aloud ‘Wtf?

I’ll soon be revenged on that Jew!’

When Mordecai mounted the steed,

He said ‘Here’s a turn up, indeed,

I’m not an equestrian,

Just a Red Sea pedestrian,

Shanks’s pony is all that I need.’

Chapter seven

At the banquet of Esther the Queen

There was sushi and nouvelle cuisine,

Chopped liver and borscht

And Bloom’s garlic wurscht

And a jelly, without gelatine.

The king, amidst drinking and laughter

Said ‘Esther just what are you after?

Is it diamonds or land

Or a colliery band

Or some other gift even dafter?’

Then Esther got down on her knees,

Saying ‘Husband, be serious please,

You accepted a bribe

To extinguish my tribe,

Alas! What dark hours are these!’

The king pleaded incomprehension

And asked ‘What’s this bribe that you mention?

My dear, you’re my wife

Any risk to your life,

Would bring on my old hypertension.’

Said Esther ‘This Amalekite

Is the man I would have you indict,’

The king said ‘No kidding?

Well I’ll do your bidding

Now Haman get out of my sight.’

The king then stormed into the garden

He could feel all his arteries harden;

Haman sat next to Esther,

Which greatly distressed her,

And asked her to plead for a pardon.

When the king very shortly returned

His anger now kindled and burned

Barely catching his breath

His said ‘Put him to death

And consider this banquet adjourned.’

Chapters eight, nine and ten

The prospect for Jews now looked healthy,

And Mordechai grew very wealthy

For the king now despised

The plot Haman devised,

Saying ‘Damn but that bastard was stealthy.’

Royal letters were sent near and far

Regarding the month of Adar,

The plot was depraved

But the Jews would be saved

While for Haman it was au revoir.

There followed a great deal of fighting

Which was triggered by Haman’s inciting,

But to Esther’s relief

Haman’s men came to grief

And she put the whole thing down in writing.

Esther wrote in a detailed report

How Mordecai managed to thwart

Those evil intentions

By bold interventions,

And rose to distinction at court.

At Purim we drink like the Persians

With nobody casting aspersions

The villain gets hissed,

We all get Brahms and Liszt

And engage in light-hearted diversions.

So this is the end of our thriller

With Haman condemned as a killer

Mordecai and his niece

Both had gladness and peace,

And that is the gantzer megillah.

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