Power in Megillat Esther


How is power gained, used, and justified? The philosopher Michel Foucault argued that  power relations are variable, and that the person who at first appears to have the upper hand might later find themselves in a weaker position. (See background for teacher) Megillat Esther is an excellent illustration of Foucault’s theory. In this resource learners will take a close look at the plot of the megillah and track the “power lows” and “power highs” the main characters experience as the story unfolds. (see further study section for a short video to open the lesson.) To broaden the scope of the discussion, students can talk about contemporary examples of powerful people who use this power for good or for evil, and the impact this has on society. What can be learned from this about using our power responsibly? How can we learn to use our power for good?

The learners will:

  1. understand that “with great power comes great responsibility” (Voltaire)

  2. know how the  principle of variable power relations is portrayed in the story of the megillah

  3. be able to formulate guidelines to help people in positions of power to use their power wisely and benevolently.

When you click on the Jewish Education by Design resource link featured above, you will find the following educational building blocks for the creation of a lesson plan:

  1. Essential questions that get to the “heart” of the learning

  1. A hook/s to open the lesson in an engaging fashion and spark the learners’ curiosity

  1. In depth discussion questions that are designed to elicit conceptual thinking and personal reflections about the featured source/s

  2. Suggested activities that enable the students to both process and apply what was learned in a thought provoking and creative fashion

  3. A further study option/s to related materials on the JEBD site or to external links

Computer, Student handout

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