Can You Make Sense of Your Life? How Mordechai Transformed Esther
At the End of the Story, Is Esther a Tragic Figure?
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Class Summary:
Thic class was presented on Sunday, Rosh Chodesh Adar 5777, Feb. 26, 2017, at Ohr Chaim, Monsey, NY. How did Mordechai persuade Esther to sacrifice her life? At first blush, the rationale he offers seems to digress from strong to weak. Mordechai’s argument consists of three points. We would expect the third point to offer the greatest motivation for her to go into the king. Yet his third point seems weak relative to the former two points. At this incredibly dramatic, fateful point in the Purim story, Mordechai seems to waver. “Who knows?” he says. Mi Yodea? Maybe this is the reason you became queen, but maybe not. These aren’t really the words you’d want to hear before marching off into the jaws of death. It isn’t quite Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death.” Couldn’t Mordechai have come up with anything a little more rousing? Do you see a pattern in your life? Do you recognize a rhythm? Can you perceive a plan, a plot, a story line? Can you answer what is the ultimate mission of your life? Why did your soul descend on earth? What are you meant to accomplish? Should you even try to answer the question? If you had a chance to ask G-d this question, what do you think He would answer you? Was Esther a tragic figure? At the end of the story, the Jews are saved, but she remains stuck in the palace, married to a drunk, spineless tyrant. How did Esther see her live? How should we see ours? This class is based on an address (a Sicha) by the Lubavitcher Rebbe presented on Purim 5722-1962. It explores a medieval dispute over the rationale behind Mitzvos, and understanding G-d’s motives for creating the world. With these ideas, we unlock the meaning of a key exchange between Mordechai and Esther, and thereby discover a new approach to understanding and making peace with the story of our lives. We gain insight into the reason this holiday is called Purim, representing the casting of lots, where there is a mitzvah to drink till “you do not know,” why we cast lots on Yom Kippur on two twin goats ending up in opposite places, and why the Prophet Elijah cast lots on two bulls to send one to the idols and one to G-d.