Purim and the Little Acts of Connection

Sometimes it is the little acts of decency that save us and that bring salvation to our world.

Two examples from our megillah:

1) (From the Sefat Emet): Mordecai goes to the palace every single day (bekhol yom vayom) for years on end to check on Esther’s well-being (2:11).   It is partly in the merit of this daily habit of simple concern that the miracle unfolds; if Mordecai had not been in the palace courtyard daily as an insider, he would not have heard about Bigtan and Teresh, . . .   Simple acts of caring and devotion, especially as they are repeated daily, weekly, and yearly are the stuff of salvation.

2) Esther tells the king about Bigtan and Teresh’s plot “in the name of Mordecai” (2:22).   Later, it is the king’s midnight remembering of this act of Mordecai’s that begins the miraculous reversal of events that is the salvation of the Jews.    Esther tells the king in the name of Mordecai and in so doing, she saves the Jews.    Pirkei Avot 6:6 learns from here that kol ha’omer davar beshem omro mevi geulah la’olam.  Whoever says something in the name of its speaker brings redemption to the world.     To cite your source, to be honest about where you got this idea from, this brings divine redemption into the world.

What do these two acts have in common?   Connection beyond the self.     Mordecai is concerned about Esther, tied to her well-being. Esther does not take credit for herself but cites her source, thus revealing that she knows she does not act alone, cannot take sole credit, but acts as part of a team.   In both cases, they show that they do not think of themselves as single, solitary creatures, but are embedded in a network of connection.

The Sefat Emet notes that Haman originally declared that the Jews were am mefuzar umefurad, “a spread out and separated nation.”  As a spread out and separated nation, we are indeed vulnerable.   When Esther fasts in preparation for entreating the king, she says, lekh kenos et kol hayehudim, “go and gather all the Jews.”   Esther knows that the key to turning this problem around is to get out of our natural sense of deep isolation and separation and come to a place of connection, to come to an understanding of ourselves as part of a larger integrated whole.    On Purim we feel this connectedness and we remember that such connections are redemption in the making.

Happy Purim to all!

About the Author
Rachel Anisfeld holds a PhD in Jewish Studies and studies and teaches Torah in a variety of Atlanta adult education settings.
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