(Note: You can download this kol koreh as a Word document, together with its kol koreh letterhead, here. Further note: Updated URL.)
Recently, a matter of great importance has been brought to our attention. In a few days, Jews across the world will be reading megillas Mordechai in shul, and may chas veshalom stumble in a very serious matter of prohibition.
As we know, we have made great strides this year in preventing any sort of improper hirhur on the part of frum Jewish men, whether by removing sheitel displays, canceling concerts which men and women would have attended separated merely by a mechitza, ensuring that no picture of a female appears in our papers, and more recently, calling attention to the crisis of the Jewish Press carrying sheitel ads.
And yet, on the holy day of Purim, many will gather in shuls and hear the names of two great beauties pronounced, multiple times. This is clearly a problem, for kol beIsha erva, everything about a woman is erva. And not just a picture conveys the woman's beauty but even her name! As we see in Nedarim 66b, Rabbi Yishmael beRabbi Yossi said, שמא שמה נאה, perhaps her name is beautiful? And he concludes that יפה קורין לה לכלוכית שהיא מלוכלכת במומין, that her name, L-chluch-s, was indeed beautiful because it was fitting for her specific traits. And Koheles 7:1 states טוֹב שֵׁם ,מִשֶּׁמֶן טוֹב and Shir Hashirim 1:3 states לְרֵיחַ שְׁמָנֶיךָ טוֹבִים שֶׁמֶן תּוּרַק שְׁמֶךָ עַל-כֵּן, עֲלָמוֹת אֲהֵבוּךָ, that "Thine ointments have a goodly fragrance; thy name is as ointment poured forth; therefore do the maidens love thee."
If a name is attractive, then we should not be simply calling it out for all men to hear, and be attracted by it. Indeed, we see in Megillah 15a that there is a dispute about the hirhur caused by repeating the name of Rach-v, the wife of Yehoshua, because she was so beautiful. And the same gemara states תנו רבנן ארבע נשים יפיפיות היו בעולם שרה [רחב ואביגיל] ואסתר ולמאן דאמר אסתר ירקרוקת היתה מפיק אסתר ומעייל ושתי, linking Rach-v with Esth-r or V-shti in terms of beauty.
The solution should be to ban the names Esth-r and V-shti from our reading of megillas Mordechai. We have groggers, which we already use to obliterate the name Haman. Let us do the same for Esth-r and V-shti (and also Z-resh), in order to make our megillah-reading all the more holy and desired by Hashem.