Megillat Esther: It’s About Time

Picture the scene.  Royal runners rage through the city. Trumpets blare.  Posters are hastily plastered to every telephone pole and bus stop shelter, Shushan and beyond.  A new edict has been proclaimed throughout the land. Every Jew; man, woman, and child, shall be exterminated.  A hush descends upon this nation scattered among, nations, chosen as before — for annihilation.  A collective moan rises up among the crowd.  It’s terrible!  Ad mosai!?

And then… well, there are things to be done. Preparations must be made.  Pesach is coming.  Wash the curtains!  Clean cracks and corners!  Haircut and manicure.  Shiurim of wine and matzah! Chol hamoed trip plans…  Yet every so often, the news casts a shadow of reality. Deep siiiigh.  It’s mammish terrible!!  What can we do? Can’t think about it. So many tzarot. So busy. We need a yeshuah!

And there, treading through the city… the “gadol hador.”  No short to do list upon his shoulders.  Sell the chomeitz. Pasken shailes. Give shiurim.  Shiftu yasom.  Rivu almanah.  Tell us, what is the hashkafah? How do we view this?

And yet, this Ish Yehudi, what does he do?

“Mordechai, tore his clothes, put on sack cloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried, a long and bitter cry.  And he came up to before the king’s gate, (as far as one was permitted.)

And by gee, the multitudes finally got it.  “They joined together in great mourning, fasting, weeping, and wailing, many donning sack and ashes.”

It was precisely at this point, that the tides shifted, and the reversal began.

Kohelet tells us, (ב: א’,ח’)

“לַכֹּל זְמָן וְעֵת לְכָל חֵפֶץ תַּחַת הַשָּׁמָיִם”

“עֵת לֶאֱהֹב וְעֵת לִשְׂנֹא עֵת מִלְחָמָה וְעֵת שָׁלוֹם”

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under the heavens…. A time to plant, and a time to uproot… A time to weep, and a time to laugh…  A time to be silent, and a time to speak…A time to love, and a time to hate, A time for war, and a time for peace.”

This brings us to a (not so) subtle point in Megilat Esther.

Try this.  At one of the readings this year, take notice of how many references to time there are in the Megillah.  Days, weeks, months, and years are meticulously chronicled in each chapter.  And notice how the various characters act upon this stage of z’man va’etime.  Are they running frantically as Achashveirosh, and Haman do in each of their proceedings?  Are they partying and relaxing for outrageous periods of time, and then making rash ‘wifelife’ decisions with little contemplation?  Are they anointing themselves with oils and perfumes for months on end?  Are they impulsive, or are they mindful?

Or, do they perhaps seem to be sitting around doing nothing?  In the Megillah, as the events of the bad guys impulsively wiz by us, time slows, as we pause to detail Mordechai Ha’Yehudi’s extensive lineage.  And what do we find our hero doing? He is seemingly sauntering around, “מָרְדֳּכַי מִתְהַלֵּךְ,” and sitting “יֹשֵׁב בְּשַׁעַר-הַמֶּלֶךְ.” Yet we, who are privy to the tale’s end, know that it was precisely this sitting around, which made Mordechai available to discover the plot to assassinate the king, to save his life, and ultimately to secure the future of the entire Jewish people.

So…  Let’s stop, as he did.

What are we meant to be doing, as the palpable auspiciousness of our times vibrates through our veins?  I don’t know.  Who can know?  But, one thing is certain, “It’s about time.”

What does Mordechai tell Esther when appealing to her to go to the king?  He doesn’t say, “This is your duty, your calling, your purpose.”  He tells her, “this is your time,” the time. (אסתר ד:י”ד)

כִּי אִם-הַחֲרֵשׁ תַּחֲרִישִׁי, בָּעֵת הַזֹּאת–רֶוַח וְהַצָּלָה יַעֲמוֹד לַיְּהוּדִים מִמָּקוֹם אַחֵר,

וְאַתְּ וּבֵית-אָבִיךְ תֹּאבֵדוּ;

וּמִי יוֹדֵעַ–אִם-לְעֵת כָּזֹאת, הִגַּעַתְּ לַמַּלְכוּת

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under the heavens…. A time to be silent, and a time to speakA time to love, and a time to hate, A time for war, and a time for peace.”

G’d willing we shall soon be heralded into a time of peace, a time when (‘ישעיהו: ב)

“לֹא-יִשָּׂא גוֹי אֶל-גּוֹי חֶרֶב, וְלֹא-יִלְמְדוּ עוֹד מִלְחָמָה”

A time of eternal “אוֹרָה וְשִׂמְחָה, וְשָׂשֹׂן, וִיקָר.”

But to reach the clime, we must do the time.  To achieve peace, we must be prepared to war.  To have time to laugh, we must allow ourselves to experience the tears. To be able to sit silently, we must be prepared to speak.

Alas, we too have in our day, an “אִישׁ צַר וְאוֹיֵב,” a sycophant with his minions who conspire to obliterate us.  And b’zman hazeh, this very day, we have an ish Yehudi, ish Yemini, a man of the right, a man Binyamin, seeking to right the wrongs.  A  “דֹּרֵשׁ טוֹב לְעַמּוֹ” who with astounding bravery is treading a turbulent town, in order,  to seek good for his people.

Over the past week, we’ve all probably gotten emails outlining the similarities between the events of old, and those in which we find ourselves today and repeated in each generation, “הַיָּמִים הָאֵלֶּה נִזְכָּרִים וְנַעֲשִׂים בְּכָל-דּוֹר וָדוֹר”

But one thing, to my knowledge, wasn’t pointed out in that analogy.  Before Esther Ha’malkah, agreed to stand before Achashverosh, she directed Mordechai to gather together all the Jews, and to fast for her, and with her, for three days and nights.

Thus, when Esther approached the king, she was not alone.  Every one of the Jewish people was present at her side, supporting her. They did not debate the wisdom of her decision, its military effectiveness, or political implications. The Megillah in fact, points out that they ‘gathered together’ to fast, to stand up for their lives, and ultimately and as a result, they gathered again to celebrate together.

Whether we liked it or not, deemed it effective or not, Esther spoke for every one of us in the king’s court.  Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, leader of Israel, our blessed miraculous Jewish State, speaks for us all.

And here we are.  B’zman ha’zeh, are we not all, living in the palace of the king? Are we not indulged in luxuries, and abilities, unprecedented in human history? Do we not have freedoms, among them speech, press, and religion, at our disposal?  And isn’t it in part for that democracy that we and the world must unite to utilize, and fight to uphold?

And so, Mordechai calls to us all… (אסתר ד’:י”ג-י”ד)

“אַל-תְּדַמִּי בְנַפְשֵׁךְ, לְהִמָּלֵט בֵּית-הַמֶּלֶךְ מִכָּל-הַיְּהוּדִים,

כִּי אִם-הַחֲרֵשׁ תַּחֲרִישִׁי, בָּעֵת הַזֹּאת…

וּמִי יוֹדֵעַ–אִם-לְעֵת כָּזֹאת, הִגַּעַתְּ לַמַּלְכוּת

Do not think of your own life, to escape in the house of the king.  For if you are silent at a time like this…

And who knows whether it was for a time like this that you have reached royalty.

So let’s heed the words reaching out to us through the generations, imploring each and every one of us.  Let us not get lost in the rush and upheaval, the worry, and the whelm, the distractions and desires.  Let’s stop for a moment to sit, as Mordechai did, before the gates of the palace. And let’s let it come to us, whatever it is that we can do to make us the one gathered Jewish people.

Please, let’stop to…Say a prayer.  Think a thought.  Make a phone call.  Post a comment.  Write a letter.  Give a penny. Do a doing. Feel a feeling. Fast a fast. Slow a slow.

And may it be that finally, really, and truly, for a time as this we have finally come.

Netanyahu.   – ‘נתניהו – הוא אשר נתן ה’  He is the one whom Hashem has given us.

May he be blessed, and supported, confident, and successful, safe and protected, in this time of times, our collective time.

“כִּי מַלְאָכָיו יְצַוֶּה לָּךְ לִשְׁמָרְךָ בְּכָל דְּרָכֶיךָ.”

Bibi, we are all with you, and as you speak for us,

“יְבָרֶכְךָ ה’ וְיִשְׁמֶרְךָ
יָאֵר ה’ פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וִיחֻנֵּךָּ.
“יִשָּׂא ה’ פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וְיַשֵּׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם”

Thus, through feeling and doing what the times demand of us, may we be zoche yet again to וְנַהֲפוֹךְ הוּא, to a complete reversal,and to the time when Hashem will arise and… (תהילים ק”ב: י”ד)

“have compassion on Zion; …for the appointed time has come.”

“אַתָּה תָקוּם תְּרַחֵם צִיּוֹן כִּי עֵת לְחֶנְנָהּ כִּי בָא מוֹעֵד.”

About the Author
Rechie is a Morah Olah from NY who thinkares about stuff.
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