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Esther Unmasked


Mitchell First is a very talented Jewish scholar. He is able to challenge traditional assumptions and reach new, often groundbreaking, conclusions. His articles are meticulously researched, relying both on rabbinic sources and historians of antiquity. A main article explains how both Achashverosh and Esther can be identified in ancient sources.The entire volume consists of eleven articles that address mysterious aspects of the yearly cycle of Jewish holidays and liturgy: what is the meaning of the cryptic phrase in the Sukkot liturgy Ani ve-Ho? what motivated Antiochus to persecute the Jews? what is the origin of Taanit Esther? how many questions were there in the original Mah Nishtannah? why does pe precede ayin in the acrostics of the book of Eikhah?, and more.

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Mitchell First presents eleven outstanding essays on common topics of contemporary relevance – Rabbi Ari Enkin, Torah Book Reviews. Read full review

his new collection of his most influential essays—all relating to the chaggim—enhances the religious experience by rooting the liturgy and holidays in historical sources. It allows the reader to connect in a way that is sensitive to the academic positions while always remaining authentic to traditional Judaism. – Jewish Press (July 3, 2015). Read full review

“Was Purim heroine Esther a real person or a figment of the Jewish imagination?” – Jewish Standard (February 13, 2015). Read full review

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