20March

Purim: It takes two… at least!

Purim:  It takes two… at least!

This week, we celebrate the holiday of Purim. The festivities are grounded in the book of Esther, in which we read the tale of how the Jews of Persia overcame the villain, Haman, who sought to annihilate them.

We know the characters well: Vashti said ‘no’ to the king’s unseemly request; Mordechai refused to bow down to Haman; King Ahasuerus blindly followed whatever Haman told him; and Esther is lauded for her daring action – she went to the king, under threat of death to plead for her people.

One important aspect of this story is the relationship between Mordechai and Esther. Mordechai kept in touch with Esther while she was in palace… they used messengers to communicate back and forth. When first presented with the idea that she should go to the King and plead on behalf of the people, Esther hesitated, concerned about the risk she could face. And yet, Mordechai’s words convinced her to act: “Do not imagine that you, of all the Jews, will escape with your life by being in the king’s palace. On the contrary, if you keep silent in this crisis, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another quarter, while you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows, perhaps you have attained to royal position for just such a crisis,” (Esther 4:13).

Mordechai reminded Esther that she was at a certain place at a certain time for a reason, and he urged her to fulfill her duty. Together, Mordechai and Esther saved the Jewish people.

We could use a number of adjectives to describe Mordechai with regard to his influence with Esther: muse, conscience, truth-teller etc. Irrespective of which word we choose, it is clear that Esther didn’t act alone, she needed and had the right partner who, at just the right moment, had precisely the right words.

Who serves that function in your life? It could be a family member, a friend, a co-worker. Who is that someone who you can rely on not only to tell you the truth, but someone whose words you will heed?

We’re told in the story of creation: ‘lo tov lihiyot adam levado: it is not good for man to be alone’. (Gen 2:18). And we know, ‘two heads are better than one’. The story of Esther reminds each of us that we can each be our best, strongest, and bravest selves, in partnership with another.

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Written by Rabbi Judith Beiner

About the Author

Rabbi Judith Beiner

Rabbi Judith Beiner

Rabbi Judith R. Beiner is the Community Chaplain at JF&CS. Rabbi Beiner’s core duties are visitations at area hospitals, hospices, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.  She supports local  Rabbis when their members are hospitalized, works with the team of Bikkur Cholim volunteers,and conducts indigent burials. Rabbi Beiner is on the board of the Atlanta Rabbinical Association.