I dedicate this Purim Torah though as a zechus for a blessed and speedy refuah sheleimah for Malka bas Sarah and David Tzvi Hersch ben Rochel.


Don’t we all face times in our lives where we say, “My life is the biggest mystery”?  Usually our sentiments at these moments gravitate towards dejected.  “Life is a mystery.  I don’t know what to do.  I’m at a dead end; I don’t know how I got here and I am clueless as to how I’m going to get out.”  But don’t rush so fast!  Before you turn away – deeper into a maze of unforseen tricks twisting your path into greater chaos – contemplate that this very spot, where you seem so trapped, just might be your key to freedom.

Why does Hashem cause suffering?  It is a wake-up call that presses us to find the Emes (truth).  It cleanses us and elevates us, if only we choose to reframe it as an opportunity to do so.  Your pain isn’t worthless.  In fact, your struggle, and all the effort you invest into picking up the pieces, reaching higher and growing, is so precious to Hashem.  When a baby is learning how to walk, first he stands up with his father’s support, proceeds a few steps, and… falls down.  The father didn’t prevent his child from falling; in fact, he’s standing back a few feet away!  Was this cruel?  No, for this is the only way he can really strengthen his little one, and motivate him to walk on his own. You might call it call it “tough love.”  Sometimes we need a little, as it’s integral to our growth.  Hashem withheld children from many of our ancestors, in order that they reach the peak of sterling prayer, and rise higher in their holiness.  The Midrash enlightens us that the purpose of anti-semitism, is an indicator to us that we must strengthen our devotion to Torah, and to unite in greater solidarity in our unique identity and faith.  Although it sometimes defies our human understanding, G-d has a reason for everything He causes to pass, and every situation you find yourself in, be it light or dark, bitter or sweet, easy or rough, good or ‘bad.’

By chapter ten of Megillat Esther (the Scroll of Esther), King Achashverosh had passed Haman’s decree to annihilate every single Jew.  It was then that Mordechai, sage and leader of Persian Jewry at the time, urged Esther, captive queen of the Persian crown, to take action:  She needed to go to the king, reveal her Jewish identity which had been concealed up till now, and plead for mercy on behalf of her nation.  When she resisted such an idea – for various reasons, including that entering before the king unsummoned could cost her life – Mordechai pressed:

“כִּ֣י אִם־הַֽחֲרֵ֣שׁ תַּֽחֲרִ֘ישִׁי֘ בָּעֵ֣ת הַזֹּאת֒ רֶ֣וַח וְהַצָּלָ֞ה יַֽעֲמ֤וֹד לַיְּהוּדִים֙ מִמָּק֣וֹם אַחֵ֔ר וְאַ֥תְּ וּבֵֽית־אָבִ֖יךְ תֹּאבֵ֑דוּ וּמִ֣י יוֹדֵ֔עַ אִם־לְעֵ֣ת כָּזֹ֔את הִגַּ֖עַתְּ לַמַּלְכֽוּת:”

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and rescue will arise for the Jews from elsewhere, and you and your father’s household will perish*; and who knows if for an hour like this you attained royalty?” {Verse 14}

Mordechai’s cry resounds throughout the millennia and generations, and is significant for every individual today.

Esther haMalka (Queen Esther), as she is famously known today, was born to a very different name: Hadassah, rooted in the Hebrew “hadas – myrtle.”  Hadassim are valued for their fragrance (on a side note: scent is the holiest of the five senses, Kabbalistically entwined with high spiritual planes) which is only tangible if the herbage is crushed.  She acquired the name Esther later on, when she “masteret – concealed” the facts of her Israelite identity and faith while subjected to palace life.  This is not just coincidence, for a name reflects a person’s essence and life-mission, and our historic Queen’s is a powerful example.  Hadassah would only fulfill the potential she was created to achieve when she was ‘crushed’ by her challenge – being forced to conceal herself.  Only then would her true self and deepest essence irradiate.

We all have our natural inclinations and struggles, large and small, to overcome in life.  The events of the Purim story appear to be very natural; an epic saga of human-directed intrigue, schemes and palatial affairs.  Interestingly, Hashem’s Name, is not mentioned even once in the Megillah, lending to its coincidental presentation.  Within ourselves, there is a raging battle between light and dark, the holy and unholy inclinations.  We strive for the G-dly element of our souls to take the reigns, so to speak, over our animal self… our “nature.”  The G-dly soul and animal soul were embodied by Esther, granddaughter of Jacob (also known as “Israel”) and Haman, grandson of Amalek.  The tribe of Amalek, who the Torah commands us to eliminate, no longer exists physically, but its voice, influence and essence lingers within us.  With the power of Torah and holiness, Esther triumphed over Amalek in the past, and it is within our power to succeed again.

Although it is a veritable toil, we needn’t ever become heavy-hearted because of it, for it isn’t beyond our reach; Dovid haMelech (King David) exhorts us in his Sefer Tehillim (Psalms), “Ivdu es-Hashem biSimcha – Serve G-d with joy!”  ‘Tis the season, especially since “Mishenichnas Adar Marbim biSimcha – When Adar enters, we increase in joy.”  This is most surely the predominant theme of Purim.  How is it possible, though, to transform from sadness to joy, when they are polar opposites?  The Tanya teaches that you must first choose to redirect your atzvus (depression) as merirut (bitterness).  Bitterness, unlike stifling, unproductive depression, is stirringly emotional, a yearning for closeness with something higher, and to improve.  The hadas, myrtle, is well known for its bitter taste.  The Hadassa of our story – Esther – certainly cried bitter tears throughout her arduous circumstance, yet came through with flying colors, lifesaving results, eternal reward, and profound self-discovery.  When we break our personal “laws of nature” and redefine our limitations, the “real me” is revealed.  There is really no greater joy as when you shatter your prison and embrace the truth and light.

Nisyonos (challenges) are obscuring.  Miracles are often hidden, as is the one that’s your inner self.  It’s in your hands to transform the test into a revelation.  Indeed… “Mi yodeya – Who knows” if for just this challenge was the purpose of your creation?  Who knows if you were brought to this difficult spot for the miracle of transformation and positive growth, of yourself and beyond?  Every step of the way, always remember that when you’re crushed, your essence is bared in all its pristine, overwhelming power.  We, the daughters of Hashem Malkeinu (G-d our King), Jewish princesses, are the Esthers of today.


May you all be blessed with only revealed miracles and good, strength and success, and a very Freilehen Purim/Purim Sameach/Happy Purim!  May we all be reunited once and forever in pure joy with the coming of Moshiach, may it be speedily in our days!

The Messenger Bird


*(NOTE: Were you perhaps perplexed or caught off-guard by this rather harsh-sounding clause?  I certainly was.  I thank my dear teacher Mrs. Nechama Laber for inspiringly elucidating the solution for me just the following morning after my question was sparked.  In Jewish tradition, we believe in gilgul (reincarnation) of the soul.  If a person – or rather, a particular soul, did not fulfill its mission in this world during its lifetime, Hashem returns the soul to this world in a new life in another body, the vehicle through which it can make Tikkun (rectification) for its past shortcoming and be perfected.  The Benjaminite Queen Esther’s overthrow of Haman, seed of the wicked Amalek who we are commanded to eliminate (please see here and here for Torah sources and clarification), was Tikkun for her grandfather’s Shaul’s error in allowing Agag (an Amalekite king) to live, against the explicit word of Hashem.  After Shaul’s failure, responsibility for completion of the deed (to a certain degree) was entrusted to, for she was as his gilgul.  When we face struggles in life, and inquire “Why me?” it is empowering yet humbling to realize – on the flip side of the coin – it is not entirely about us.  It may also be the completion of a journey, and healing of the past.)