The Woke versus Seichel Debate

The Woke Seichel Debate

It was Friday morning, and I was listening to the megillah reading on zoom when I thought I was being zoom bombed. As the Baal Koreah chanted Megillat Esther in the background I started to hear a debate. I quickly realized it was not coming from my screen but rather from my head. There were two parties having a fierce debate. One I identified as Woke and the other as Seichel.[1]

Woke was first out of the box to speak.

Woke: How can we possibly be reading this in 2021? This book is horribly misogynous and should be cancelled immediately. I do not want my daughter being subjected to this blatant sexism.

In the first chapter Queen Vashti is summoned by the king to appear at his all-male party made up of the shakers and movers of the empire. Clearly women were being excluded from the ranks of leadership and power, and the highest-ranking woman in the 127-country empire was being summoned for the entertainment of the men! My god I am choking just saying this.

Seichel then counters with a historical and literary argument.

Seichel: Take a breath. This is a piece of historical literature.

The story is being told in an historical context. You may not like that era or the practices and mores of that time and place, but you cannot cancel our history just because you have a different sense of values.

As literature there is a story to be told. In the course of telling that story there are many things that might be objectionable to you. Wait a while and see where it is going. There may be satire, humor, and characterization that are used to tell a story you may like, and moreover we cannot just obliterate something that you do not like just because you find it objectionable. You will turn art into a kind of soviet style conformism that will suck the creative juices out of all forms of art.

Woke: But it is not just Vashti, it is the way all women are portrayed. Can you believe that the response to Vashti’s refusal to attend (you go girl) is either banishment or execution, and the reason for the punishment is that if all the women in the empire hear of her independence, no man’s domestic dominance will be secure?

Seichel: And do you not hear the tone of how this is reported? The men are all drunken idiots and are reduced to such a farcical response.
Woke: No, I only hear unacceptable male dominance as usual from the power elite who want to keep women in their place, and look what comes next? They need a new queen and since as a woman she is a commodity they can shop around for a new one using the most demeaning vehicle they could find; a beauty contest. They look for the most beautiful virgin in the empire to be the next queen. Women are reduced to external beauty and virginal status because no male regardless of how many sexual encounters he may have had, wants to buy a “used car”, and buy is the operative term.

Seichel: No one is arguing the point that this historical period as is most antiquity was male dominated, but that is not the story being told. While these are the mores of the time that the story is being told in, the story is the antithesis of everything you are complaining about. Read on and see that the heroine of the story is a young woman who is called upon to risk everything including her life to save her people. At first, she demurs from the challenge but then Mordechai points out that perhaps for this very moment she was chosen to be in this circumstance. She aggressively solicits the king’s attendance at what becomes a big reveal party. There she outs Haman as her and her people’s arch enemy and gets him caught in a honey pot trap that seals his doom. How is that for some sexist irony? You need to see the whole picture and the context before you start cancelling everything.

Woke: But there are three women in the story and the third is Zeresh, Haman’s wife and she is depicted as an evil shrew. An evil queen if you will along the lines of Disney’s Maleficent. An anti-woman misogynistic stereotype of the first order. It was she who suggested building the 50-cubit gallows on her front yard to hang Mordechai. Another female demonization by the Megillah.

Seichel: And yet when Hamman is depressed by Achashverosh’s reward to Mordechai it is Zeresh who says to him, “If Mordechai, before whom you have begun to fall, be of the seed of the Jews, you shall not prevail against him, but shall surely fall before him”. An evil shrew or the very realistic and competent observer of the reality?

Woke: Sorry, but I have not changed my mind. The book is misogynistic and depicts a very sexist view of women that I do not want my daughter to be exposed to. If you do not immediately stop teaching it in your Hebrew school and reading it in the synagogue, I am pulling my daughter from the school, cancelling my membership and organizing all my friends who are still members to get the Rabbi fired from her position.

Seichel: “And when Mordechai knew all that was done, Mordechai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry”.

Save us from Wokeism!

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I am happy to announce that I will be conducting live and streaming services for the 4 morning Yom Tov services of Passover. To view, before yom tov go online at

[1] Yiddish for common sense



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