Pitch Like You Mean It (PresenTense Crosspost)

This post was originally written as part of my PresenTense NYC Fellowship. It also appears here.
I’m glad Purim happened during this year’s Fellowship. This year, I realized Megillat Esther contains the blueprint for the perfect pitch.

The stage for Esther’s pitch is set in Chapter 4 of the Megilla named for her. That’s when she learns, through Mordechai, of Haman’s plan of genocide for all the Jews in Achasuerus’ (or Xerxes’, if you’re nasty) domain. She’d like to petition the king to change his mind but, as she tells Mordechai, “any man or woman who goes to the king’s inner court without permission–there’s just one rule–they die.” It’s pretty clear her pitch is a risky one.

Esther goes anyway. After 3 days of fasting and market research (we can only assume), she enters the king’s inner court. Without permission. Achasuerus points his golden scepter at Esther, signifying he won’t kill her. Esther invites her husband and Haman to a string of parties, the second of which is her pitch meeting. When she finally pitches, in chapter 7, Esther demonstrates an intimate knowledge of her audience and the market context.

“I’m asking for my life,” she says, “and for my people’s.”

That’s a pretty strong opening. Telling Achasuerus that the life of his queen and her people is at stake is a hook that’s hard to ignore. Esther has gripped her audience.

“My people and I,” she continues “have been sold to be destroyed. Killed. Lost.”

Achasuerus bit immediately. He demanded the identify of Esther’s molester and, when he learned it was Haman, sentenced him immediately. Esther’s brilliance was not only the content of her pitch, but the context. By including Haman, she gave Achasuerus immediate action steps to fulfill her request.

Esther was pitching for her life. If she failed, she and the Jews of Persia would’ve been lost. On Pitch Night, things won’t be quite as serious for me, but I share at least one quality with Esther. When she pitched, she meant it.

OMGWTFBIBLE means a lot to me. I started it as a podcast almost 2 years ago. Each month, a guest and I read and make fun of my own, personal, translation of the Tanakh (some of which you’ve just gotten a preview of) in front of a live audience. It’s all online at www.omgwtfbible.com.

Through the show, I’ve met a large group of very passionate Jews of various degrees of belief who are inspired by my approach to the Tanakh. OMGWTFBIBLE puts the Hebrew Bible in a new context, letting listeners relate to Judaism’s most sacred texts on their own terms. My current audience is only a small sample of an emerging group of seekers, of which I’m a part. Many of them are formerly Orthodox and observant and looking for a way to express their Jewish identity. OMGWTFBIBLE can serve these young Jews by letting their voices be heard through a participatory, irreverent approach to Torah study.

How exactly do I plan on doing that? You’ll have to come to Pitch Night to find out. Look for me. I’ll be the one doing his best Esther impression.

Just don’t expect me to wear a dress.

Also, you should really come to the next live OMGWTFBIBLE this Thursday at the Stanton Street Shul at 8 PM starring Rabbi Josh Yuter.

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