Purim is a few days away, but I have a late entry for Purim reading. I recommend Rabbi David Fohrman’s The Queen You Thought You Knew. If you order it today, you can get it before Shabbos and read the book before Purim. It is an easy read and the book is not too long.
The Queen You Thought You Knew is worthwhile addition to your library. Rabbi Fohrman discusses a novel approach to the Purim story. His work is mostly speculative but presented reasonably and in my opinion, responsibly.
The premise of the book is that there are many many questions that remain unanswered in the Megilla which can be answered with the novel approach of Rabbi Forhman. Many of the questions in the book have been asked and answered by Chazal or more recent rabbis. But I am not aware of any holistic solution to some of the more well known and lesser known challenges within the Megilla narrative.
Rabbi Forhman takes us on a journey of question, thought and theory to find answers and ultimately his novel approach.
I won’t ruin the book in this post but I will say that it is nothing like anything you have heard before. The book is clearly well researched and well thought out.
Although I wholeheartedly recommend this book. But there is one small caveat. It is important to note that Rabbi Fohrman’s theory is almost completely unsubstantiated in Chazal or other classical sources. It is almost entirely novel and based purely on the text of the Megilla. Rabbi Fohrman himself seems to forewarn of this throughout the book by hedging the theory of the book as speculative and a possibility not to the exclusion of any other idea. To some, this may be a great accomplishment. To others it may be controversial. I think it is a worthwhile read if only for the questions presented and the very novel solution as tenuous as it may be.
While using an academic style of study, the book fails to use any external corroborative materials to support its flimsy premise. In fact, I think the historical record would indicate that the premise is wrong. In my mind, if you’re going to use academic methodology, you should provide some scholarly support for your premise. This is the biggest and most glaring flaw of the book. Outside of this critique the book’s premise is elegant and useful.
It is also worthwhile to discuss the merits and demerits of the style of study the book represents. It is a departure from typical yeshiva style study in that it is more similar to academic text-based study. This is different than almost every other Torah book that is studied in the yeshiva milieu. It remains to be seen if this will become a more popular form of study or if it will be shunned by the yeshiva fraternity.
This last issue is being discussed in my post on DovBear: Is Rabbi Fohrman’s Purim Book Controversial?
Order on Amazon by clicking any of the links or simply clicking here: The Queen You Thought You Knew