Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
This week we will read Megillat Esther and its messages have never been more relevant. The Purim story speaks to us as never before:
- The story begins with a lavish yet meaningless feast. It’s a celebration that’s all show, an ostentatious display of riches, an event where a woman (Vashti) is degraded and objectified by a powerful king. Today we mark International Women’s Day. Yet the degradation of women – thanks to an industry whose goal is to do precisely that – continues as women are still treated like Ahashverosh treated Vashti 2,000 years ago. The Megillah calls upon us to adopt a different culture.
- Haman describes the Jews of his time in these words: “There is one nation that is scattered and separated.” When we are scattered into many different factions and separated among ourselves, the decree “to destroy, to slay, and to exterminate all the Jews” is given. Queen Esther knows the secret to nullifying the decree: “Go and gather together all the Jews.” Unity is the key to success, not only when facing an enemy, but in every aspect of our life as a nation.
- As the Purim story unfolds, the events recorded in the Megillah are perplexing, seemingly without rhyme or reason. Only at the end is the purpose of every little twist and turn of the plot revealed and how G-d weaves His plans behind the scenes for our benefit. And we, too, today hope that in the midst of a perplexing reality as challenging as that faced by our ancestors in ancient Persia, we will soon “have light and gladness and joy and honor”, just as they did.