So often we read about how Queen Esther saved her people. Perhaps her strategic planning and execution of that plan had more far-reaching consequences. In this Midrashic Monologue, we meet Sarosh, one of the many silent servants in the palace, who went about their work with a cloak of invisibility, yet who heard and saw everything. Sarosh explains how Esther saved both her people and the entire kingdom.
My name is Sarosh (meaning “obedience”), but I cannot remember the last time I heard it spoken. I was born in the palace and have lived every day of my twelve years within its walls. I am a servant, silent, invisible. I slide in and out of rooms. I rarely speak, but I always listen.
At best, we servants were meant to be invisible. We slid in and out of rooms, serving food, straightening rooms, cleaning chamber pots. Our masters forget that while we were silent, we were not deaf. In the quiet of our servants’ quarters, we hoard secrets as they hoard jewels.
In those dangerous days in the palace of King Ahasuerus, I listened closely and watched with amazement as yet another queen acted so bravely and disruptively. Queen Esther proved herself to be a fitting successor to Queen Vashti. Along with the other servants, I cheered silently as I observed the smooth, strategic way the Queen deposed the evil Haman, saving her people and probably the entire Kingdom.
When Esther returned from speaking with the one we now realize was her uncle (a Jew!), she seemed anxious yet filled with purpose. I watched in shock as she broke the foremost rule of the palace: she went to the King without being summoned. Where did she get that courage? As she walked into his throne room, she reminded me of Queen Vashti, the memory of whose last moments still saddens yet greatly inspires me.
I waited for news of her banishment, her exile, her death. Would this be the end of her? Would the King depose her just as he had cast away Vashti?
The next thing I knew, I was commanded to create a banquet. I expected that they wanted something romantic- just for the two of them. I was surprised to learn that it would be a dinner for three. When I was told that Haman would be the third guest, I was still worried for her, but I was also intrigued.
At the banquet, the lovestruck king offered the queen anything, up to half the kingdom. Never had he so embraced the love and partnership of another woman. Yet Esther sat pensively, only requesting another banquet. What was going on?
Days later, I was commanded to prepare a second banquet, again for Esther, the king, and Haman.
Oh how I hated Haman! He terrorized the palace staff, pawing at the women and perversely punishing the men who did not bow down to him as if he too were king. We invisible ones had been watching as Haman slowly positioned himself in critical roles, grabbed up every available scrap of authority, and manipulated the levers of power until they would bend only to his will. I had watched, distraught, as the King’s other advisors shrank in Haman’s presence.
When the second banquet began, wine flowed, and I worried. But this time, Haman was outmatched. He was quieted by the queen’s presence and he was completely caught by surprise when, smoothly, strategically, Queen Esther asked the King what he would do if someone were to threaten her life and the lives of her family. Incensed, he pledged to destroy that person and their house.
When Esther revealed that Haman had done such a thing, the King- both confused but enraged- stormed off. Once they were alone, Haman, threw himself at her. From the place I silently stood, it first appeared that he was threatening her personhood but I soon realized he was begging for mercy. When the King returned, he saw Queen Esther glowing with strength. Esther gestured to Haman and said, "You do not need to search far to find the one who threatens my family. The danger is here."
Stunned, infuriated, the King bellowed for his eunuch Harbonah and the guards. Haman was taken away, never to be heard from again.
In accounts had yet to be written, they will recount how Esther, the queen, courageously saved her people from annihilation.
But in the annals of the silenced servants, we will tell an even more far reaching story. We will speak of the Story of the Twin Banquets, during which Queen Esther’s tireless, strategic planning deposed the evil Haman.
In the days ahead, the kingdom, now freed from the clutches of Haman, will return to its rightful path.
And I continued standing silently, invisible to all who were nearby, praying that an Esther would arise who could change my station in life. Now that would be a miracle! .