Queen Esther, the heroine of the Purim story in ancient Persia in the 4th century BCE, is widely regarded as one of the greatest Jewish women in history.
In her amazing life story, we find lessons that apply to all of us. Here are 9 practical life lessons we can learn from Queen Esther:
Believe in your hidden powers.
Esther’s name means “hidden” in Hebrew. First, she kept her identity hidden. Then, she didn’t lose hope when G-d’s protection of the Jewish people was hidden. Finally, she showed how even if you are sequestered in darkness, you can tap into your own powers that are hidden and utterly transform events.
Embrace your destiny.
At first, Esther tried hiding from King Ahasuerus’ guards to avoid marrying him but, ultimately, she couldn’t avoid the inevitable. Mordechai, the leader of the Jews, understood that, “such a thing would not have happened to such a righteous woman unless she was destined to rescue her people [through it].” G-d places us where we need to be to fulfill our mission in life.
Let your inner beauty shine.
When contestants to be the new queen were brought to the palace, they were given a lengthy treatment of pampering and cosmetics, but Esther declined those amenities. Instead, it was her natural beauty that immediately captured the king’s attention above all the others. You are the best version of yourself.
Even in the palace, Esther only ate kosher food. Also, when the king went out of his way to persuade her to tell him her national origin (he threw a party in her honor, gave tax breaks to citizens and considered marrying another), she held her ground. Let principles guide you.
We’re stronger together.
One of Haman’s complaints against the Jews was that they were, in his words, “a dispersed and disunited people.” In response, Esther told Mordechai to “Go gather all the Jews.” The best answer to hatred is unity.
When in trouble, turn to G-d.
Esther understood that the salvation of Israel hinged upon restoring their special relationship with G-d. Pleading at the feet of a mortal king was merely a facade behind which to disguise the Divine miracle. The true vehicle of the salvation would be repentance and prayer. First get in line with the Creator, then his creations.
Then act and take the lead.
Esther set forth a plan for action and Mordechai dutifully obeys. For all the talk and prayer, the act is the main thing, the Talmud says. Her heroism pays off. She saves her people and the Megillah is named after her.
Prepare to make sacrifices.
Although as queen, Esther would have personally been spared from the decree, she stood with her people. To make her case, she needed to approach the king without being summoned — a capital offense — and did so anyway, saying, “If I perish, I perish.”
Never lose hope.
After the ordeal was over, Esther requested that her story be documented. What was Esther trying to accomplish with this and what is her message to us? According to one commentary, the basic message of Esther’s story is this: No matter how hopeless your situation may seem, never lose hope.