If I met Queen Esther
the day before Purim
Walking along a dusty cobblestone path
in the bright light of the crescent moon,
All the stars mirrored in her jet-black hair,
I would show her the legacy she left behind
And the lesson and values she instilled in our people.
I would take her hand and bring her straight to Jerusalem,
For what better place to start than at the heart?
We would walk under arches of twisted olive branches
And though the night would be deep,
the sounds of Shema would be carried in the
sweet dark air,
Echoing through the narrow alleyways and singing like wind chimes in the warm night breeze.
We would walk down to the Kotel where the new olim from Ethiopia would be singing and dancing, crying out,
“V’shavu banim ligvulam,”
And we would hold the leathered hands of a 90-year-old grandmother who had walked the scorching sands of Addis Ababa to finally come home
As she called out in Amharic,
“igizī’ābiḥēri lezīhi te’āmiri āmeseginalehu,”
“Thank You, God, for this miracle.”
And I would whisper in Esther’s ear,
“That is from you;
You have taught us the power of resilience and hope.”
We would pass the yeshivot and day schools, their windows stretched open in hopes of catching a cool breeze,
And we would hear the drumming heartbeat of Torah learning
Of the story of a land in Persia where a people’s existence was in danger of extinction,
And of a brave young woman who saved their fate.
We would hear the sacred words of Masechet Megillah read from the ancient text,
Strung like pearls on a silver chain.
And we would pass street vendors whose delicacies were on display like prized jewels:
Fresh green zaatar, bright red pomegranate juice and soft beige pitot,
And she would look at me
And I would shake my head and say,
“Today is the fast of Esther,
For you have taught us the importance of prayer and tradition.”
And in the new morning light when the dew covers the earth like salted kisses
I would take Esther up north
Where the grass is the brightest of greens and the sea is the bluest of blues.
We would walk in Caesarea on the broken ruins of the Crusaders and dive in the crystal waters looking for the indigo ink from the rare tchelet snail.
We would smell the fresh herbs in the garden for the blind at Ramat Hanadiv,
And Esther would then learn what used to be
Before the grass was the greenest of greens
Before the sea was the bluest of blues.
When it was brown and rough and uneasy
When shovel hit dirt
When sweat and tears planted a whole new earth.
“That is from you Esther,” I would say beaming,
“You have taught us determination and hard work.”
And once up north we would visit the shiny silver laboratories of the Technion;
We would meet scientists both budding and old and hear about the latest innovations that shape the future of mankind.
We would witness beautiful minds bursting with wonder and creativity,
And I would see her eyes widen with incredulous amazement.
“That is from you, Esther,
You have taught us problem solving and ingenuity.”
And as we would catch a train to travel back home
She would notice a frail older woman sitting in the corner peeling an apple
With the cotton sleeve of her house dress rolled up,
And her eyes would travel to the ashen numbers tattooed on the old woman’s arm
And she would trace them with her fingers, eyes pleading, questioning;
And so I would take her to Yad Vashem
And she would learn of a time when Esthers went by different names,
Like Irena and Sofka and Caecilia
And she would learn about another Haman
And another evil.
And the fear would feel all too familiar
And she would cry six million tears and more
And I would hug her and tell her
“Esther, we are still here,
Because from you we have learned perseverance and survival.”
But she could not be consoled
Because six million tears take a lot to heal.
So I would take her down to Beersheva
Where we would be greeted by a new sea,
This time olive green,
Where she would salute and be saluted
Where she would see power and strength and motivation and endurance
Under a crisp white flag with a Jewish star,
Not yellow but bright blue,
And she would laugh as she’d brush away a falling tear.
And as evening would start to fall Purim evening
We would hear the name Haman being read from the megilla
And 127 rounds being fired by our men and women in olive green
Drowning out this evil name.
And these young men and woman would turn to her and salute one last time as if saying,
“This is from you, Esther,
You have taught us self-sacrifice and bravery.”
And as we’d make our way back to Jerusalem,
coming full circle
The streets would be filled with little Esthers and Mordechais walking to shul with their graggers and candies
Coins jingling in their pockets
Ready to give to the needy for
Packages of goodies to be delivered to friends,
And she would turn around before returning to go back from wherever she had come.
“What is your name?”
She would ask me
before she disappeared into the night sky.
I would answer proudly,
“My name is Esther.”
And she would smile so brightly
That 15 million lights would come down to earth to carry her
To her rightful starry throne
Up in the velvety heaven sky.