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Megillat Esther for today

זלנסקי מול פוטין

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

I’ve just been reading the newly published book, “Megillat Esther of the Soul,” (in Hebrew only) by Chagai Londin. The author maintains that Megillat Esther, which we will soon be reading on Purim, is not only about an existential struggle between Haman and Mordechai/Esther, but about a struggle within the soul of everyone of us. Londin holds that there is in each of us an Achashveirosh, a Mordechai, an Esther, and a Haman.

The Megillah deals with a conflict between good and evil in which good triumphs thanks to God, who crafts every detail of the unfolding story even though His name is not mentioned anywhere. In the Purim story, a surprising, radical turn of events leads to a happy ending. This is meant to instruct that a similarly radical shift in our souls would make it possible for us to overcome all difficulties.

While reading Londin’s book, I began to look at the events in the news differently: What can be learned from Putin? Does our uncompromising stubbornness also bring about destruction? And what can we learn from Zelinsky, the Ukrainian president, who was thought of as “the stand-up president” (due to his former career as a comic), yet now is revealed as a bold and impressive leader?

And what can be learned about the unique solidarity of our own people? A spokesperson for the foreign office told me that other foreign embassies in Ukraine have long been empty, even while those in the Israeli embassy are looking for Israelis in every corner of the country in an attempt to help them get across the border. And of course Chabad and what we can learn from the self-sacrifice of its emissaries in Ukraine. Not everyone would stay behind to run an orphanage under Russian fire, an act that makes us stop and think about the extent of our personal concern for others.

And here, too, there is a director behind the scenes of a complicated and vexing story. If only now everything will once again flip in a radical “nahafoch hu” moment, bringing “ora v’simcha,” light and joy.

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