Friday, March 25, 2005

We Love Esther!

I apologize for the schizoness...maybe when it's not ten minutes to Shabbos, I'll come back and edit it.

We had this really great but horribly weird teacher for history in high school. One day, I can't remember how it came up, he told us that when he was first offered the job to teach at our Jewish school, he was apprehensive. When he taught in public school, he told us, the Jewish mothers never left him alone. Come PTA and the Irish mothers would come in asking how their little Ians were doing, the Italian mothers would bring him canolis and ask how their little Johnnys were doing, and the Jewish mothers would come in and start talking before even sitting down. They'd want explanations for everything--why their son or daughter isn't getting straight A's, the importance of the lessons being taught for their future lawyer's future occupation, blah, blah, blah. And they would also call him at home, all the time, he said, wanting to know this and that as it came up. He feared that teaching in a school where everyone was Jewish would make him go out of his mind, but no one’s ever called him from our school--not even once!
We were quiet while he said all this, because while it was hysterical, we didn't want to laugh in his face. As soon as he left, we exploded into laughter because what he didn't know was that there was a sign-up sheet on the principal's door and anytime a girl had a complaint, all she had to do was write her name down and when she'd get an appointment, express her complaint directly to the principal (on her own). [The teacher also didn't know that he was the fifth teacher hired when we were in ninth grade to teach us history because we got his four predecessors fired.]
I'm saying all this because the one thing that stuck out the most to me when hearing megillah both last night and this morning (mad early--I went at 6:45am) was that Esther was amazing. After hearing that Mordechai is walking around the king's courtyard (he was a court official, I believe) in torn clothes, which is a sign of mourning, she becomes distressed and sends nice clothes to him hoping that he change so that he could enter the palace in order for her to ask him what he's in mourning over. (By the way, Rav Yirmiya says that the word distressed which is literally "full of hollows" in the Hebrew means that her stomach loosened and she had a miscarriage--just to get a sense of how worked up this made her.) He ends up rejecting the clothing, but the two of them have a dialogue through messengers. He tells her of the decree that the people of the land should arm and ready themselves against the Jews and that she, as queen, has to do something about it. She responds that if she were to enter the king's chambers without being called she could be killed and since the edict wasn't even happening soon--there was about a year left--she shouldn't risk her life and the king's anger by rushing.
Mordechai's response (Artscroll translation): "Do not imagine that you will be able to escape in the King’s palace any more than the rest of the Jews. For if you persist in keeping silent at a time like this, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from some other place, while you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether it was just for such a time as this that you attained the royal position!" Esther requests that the Jews hold three days of fasting along with her and that on the third she will approach the king.
Long story short, the Jews are saved, Haman is killed, Esther is celebrated, and Mordechai is given honor.
At the AJC meeting the other day, one of the moderators said, "there’s nothing wrong with winning when it's your people you’re defending." This is what Jewish leaders are about, I believe. Look in Bereishet...before HaShem destroys Sedom (Sodom and Gemorrah), the language in the Torah suggests that God went down and "thought out loud about it" in Avraham's presence. Avraham, as we all know, put up an argument until it became apparent that there really wasn't anyone worthy of being saved but Lot and his family. It seems strange that God would make that decision purposely around Avraham, but maybe HaShem wanted to hear Avraham argue for the people. The Torah doesn't speak much about Avraham's past, but it does emphasize his actions because as the leader of the Jewish people, it is his actions and traits that our nation embodies. Avraham, our father, stood up for the people to God (and please don't ask me about akadot Yitzchak because even after studying it in-depth I can't grasp it)! Esther, too, pushed her own fears aside and hastened to influence the king so as to save our nation. What we know about both is more about their actions than their backgrounds because how you act (or react) and what you choose to act on shows who you are.
We are Jews; it is our obligation to speak out.

Chag Sameach.

1 Shpeils

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Anonymous Esther said...

You love Esther? Aww. Esther loves you too.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005 2:29:00 PM  

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