These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

[Alumni Guest Post] Sara Brandes – A Purim D’var Torah (a spoken word piece)

Posted on February 11, 2013 by The Director of Digital Media

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Rosh Chodesh Adar is almost over, but Purim is coming soon!

A Provocative Purim Poem by
Sara Brandes (Year ’01, Fellows ’02, Elul ’05) 


sbRabbi Sara Brandes lives in Los Angeles, CA, with her husband Hyim, and two children, Michal (5) and Gavi (2). She is West Coast Regional Director at Moving Traditions, and is working to build the Neshama Center, a spiritual mikvah and spa. She is a member of the inaugural cohort of PresenTense LA, a certified yoga instructor and the spiritual leader of the independent cooperative, Minyan Kol Chai. She blogs on Embodied Jewish spirituality at

A Purim D’var Torah

A Spoken Word Piece

Can she be my hero?
I’ve always wanted to be a princess.
But, can she be my hero?
The winner of a beauty contest.
            Turn it and turn it and turn it.
Could it be that I could be she.
But, he could be me.
Who is he?
Evil he.
            Turn it and turn it and turn it.

Evil he,
And who is he? 
And where is He?
He, or shall I say She, about Thee who is neither
He nor She.
He or She or whatever, is not there!
No where in that land of no rules and no lines
All are invited to the party,
Except for He/She.
She is invited.
Oh yes, she and her crown.
Her crown, but not her gown,
is invited to the party.
The party of no rules,
No rules, just booze
Lavish lace and liquor and wine.
For the king who shows all
Whose wife should show all,
But will not.
            Turn it and turn it and turn it.
A crown, without a gown.
A woman who does not know her place.
A king who has all and shows all.
In a palace, as lavish, as the Temple.
            Turn it and turn it and turn it.
Is this story for real?
A king, who is no king.
A place not in THE place.
Governed by rules that are no rules.
Is this story for real?
This does not sound like a Jewish story.
            Turn it and turn it and turn it.
Can she be my hero?
Who is she, called from the countryside
Beauty astride, a mask to hide – behind.
Soaked for a year, pickled my dear!
To prepare to meet the king.
For but one night, when she can
Touch his scepter,
And change her life forever.
            Turn it and turn it and turn it.
Is this what it is to be a woman in power?
Fingertips - mastery of a scepter?
Are men so easily tantalized,
That they would devise all of this?
A contest, to hand all away to she
Whose mask is most persuasive?
Do not tell that you are a Jew.
It is you he wants, yes you
No you, not you, you Jew
You who are same, yes you, not you.
You who will do what he wants you to do
Yes you, not you, you Jew.
            Turn it and turn it and turn it.
Her mask, her beauty.
His mask like pins.
Pins which are points which are knives.
Knives to slash away all those who are different.
“יֶשְׁנוֹ עַם־אֶחָד מְפֻזָּר וּמְפֹרָד בֵּין הָֽעַמִּים בְּכֹל מְדִינוֹת מַלְכוּתֶךָ וְדָתֵיהֶם שֹׁנוֹת מִכָּל־עָם וְאֶת־דָּתֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ אֵינָם עֹשִׂים…”
"It is not befitting for the king to tolerate them." 
(Esther 3:8)
Who is he? And where is he,
In me, who may be she, but is likely also he.
And where was he?
Was he abused as a child?
Boo, hoo, hoo, hoo.
Yes BOO we shall say
As we wipe him away.
Destroy him because he destroyed us!
But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
My heroine is queen.
The evil one is plotting.
He who is far more likely me,
Dwells outside the palace of no rules.
In a sack.
Over the decree
Of he who is certainly inside of me.
If I turn it and turn it and turn it.
And then she, who I wish I could be
Begins to find herself.
“וּמִי יוֹדֵעַ אִם־לְעֵת כָּזֹאת הִגַּעַתְּ לַמַּלְכֽוּת?”
"And who knows whether you have not come
to royal estate for such a time as this?"
(Esther 4:14)
And she is awoken.
Is this what it means to be a women in power?
To reach inside, where we generally hide
As the tide of our lives wash over?
To reach beyond the rights and the wrongs
Beneath – to what is within.


She turns herself
And finds
A hero.
What makes a beauty queen
turn inside out?
Or, you or me for that matter?
Must it be arriving at that “הַהִיא עֵת”
When we turn it and turn it and turn it?
No God, left alone, yes out on our own
When we turn it and turn it and turn it.
Is this what we need to come into our own?
To remove our masks of pain?
Layer upon layer, could we peel them away
Without threat or abuse or shame?
What does it take for people to learn
That we wear masks but we need not.
And that God hides 
So that we will seek God inside
            If we turn it and turn it and turn it.