A timeless verse from the Book of Esther continually challenges us to step up when we are called upon to take action.
I purposely only quoted half the verse above from the book of Esther. Often when I speak with groups about the Book of Esther I quote the above half-verse and ask them to guess what the rest of the verse is. Of course you need to know the background first. The wicked Haman has plotted to exterminate the Jewish people and Mordechai, the leader of the Jews, gets wind of this.
Prior to these events Mordechai’s relative Esther became queen of Persia when she was selected by King Achashverosh to be the next queen. So Mordechai sends a message to Esther telling her that she must go and speak to the king and ask him to help. Esther replies that she cannot because as everyone knows, if you go to see the king without being invited you are most likely forfeiting your life. Esther had not been called to the king for 30 days. Now here is where it gets interesting. Mordechai tells Esther, “If you are quiet at this time…a great saving will come (to the Jewish people) from another source and who will ever know that you were queen?”
What? Did I quote that correctly?
Most people assume that the verse should say “If you are quiet at this time, we are doomed! You are our only hope! Now go and talk to the king!” But it doesn’t. Mordechai knows that the G-d of Israel will not let the Jewish people be exterminated. The only question he had was what was going to be the means and method of G-d’s deliverance. Esther was thrust onto the stage of history with the spotlight shining brightly upon her. Would she sing her lines or would she run off the stage? Would she play the role of G-d’s messenger or merely consider herself the queen of Persia?
This is the choice she had to make. She made the right one and that is why we all know who Queen Esther is. Had she chosen to remain silent someone else would have been the conduit to save the Jewish people and none of us would have ever heard of her. She would have been a historical blip.
In our generation at this very moment Israel is facing another Haman also from Persia, which is the modern-day Iran. Everyone is reporting the existential threat to Israel posed by the possibility of a nuclear Iran. Iran’s leaders threaten to wipe Israel off the map. To me the question today is the same one that Mordechai asked Esther. Will you choose to be silent today? Will you sit quietly when the people of Israel, the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are in danger? Or will you step onto the stage of history and grab the lead role and serve as G-d’s messenger? What will you tell your grandchildren?
At the end of the day we know the saving will come. It is only a question of what role you will play. Will you be a footnote in history or will you be a chapter heading? We ask you to stand with us as we stare down the face of evil in this world once again. As Jews around the world will say on Passover just a month after we celebrate Purim (the holiday on which we read the Book of Esther and celebrate G-d’s salvation) “In every generation there are those that rise to destroy us and the Holy One Blessed Be He saves us from their hands.” It’s up to you to determine how.
Happy Purim from the Land of Miracles!
By: Rabbi Moshe Rothchild