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Perhaps we are here for this very moment?

03/21/2024 11:24:03 AM


Rabbi Micah Peltz

The past couple of weeks I’ve been listening to Yael and Ari practice the parts they will each read from Megillat Esther for Purim this Saturday night (proud Abba kvelling moment!).  There is one verse, from Yael’s reading of Chapter 4, that has jumped out at me this year.  It is in this chapter that Haman’s evil plan to destroy the Jews is announced.  Mordekhai rushes a message to Esther.  He encourages her to go to King Ahashverosh and speak up for her people, even though this comes at great personal risk for her.  “And who knows?” Mordekhai says, “Perhaps you became queen for this very moment?”  What does Mordekhai mean by this?  Some commentaries see God hidden in these words.  Though God is never mentioned in Megillat Esther, God is working behind the scenes.  Others, like the 19th-century commentator Malbim, say that Mordekhai is trying to convey a sense of urgency to Esther. She shouldn’t think that she can wait until things calm down, or even until the king calls her. Rather, she must seize the moment and advocate for her people.  A modern commentary by my friend Rabbi Rachel Ain notes that there are moments when women’s voices aren’t heard, and this can cause some women to choose to stay silent.  This verse teaches that no one, not women or men, should shy away from speaking up.  This verse, and these interpretations, capture for me this moment in which we are celebrating Purim this year.  Hamas and others have picked up Haman’s mantle in seeking to destroy us.  What’s happening in Israel, on social media, on college campuses, in our own community, and elsewhere can be overwhelming.  And yet, to paraphrase Mordekhai, perhaps there is a reason that we are alive at this very moment in history.  Perhaps God put us here, with our considerable resources, to do what we can to help our people and our world. We too must confront the challenges we face with a sense of urgency, and speak up for the 134 hostages, 19 women and 115 men and children, who are spending their 166th day held captive in Gaza and cannot speak up for themselves.  It would have been easy for Esther to go back to the comforts of the palace, and to wait for a more comfortable moment for her to say something.  But she doesn’t.  She goes to the king and makes her case, and we know the rest of the story.  Though one person speaking up will not immediately affect change, many people speaking up, persistently, can make a difference.  That is our challenge today.  It can be uncomfortable, and we can come up with a lot of excuses not to do it, but if don’t, who will?  And who knows, perhaps we are here for this very moment?”

Sun, July 14 2024 8 Tammuz 5784