Volume 4 Number 8 – February 27th, 2021 – 15 Adar 5781
NHBZ Sisterhood Invites you to Join Us
Try our Book Club or Movie Nights … or help us continue to fund the JFed’s ‘Passport to Israel Program’ for the children of our eligible members… and many other Synagogue activities. We are counting on you to send in your annual dues for 2021. Send your check for $25 – payable to NHBZ (write ‘Sisterhood Dues’ in the memo line) or call the office to pay by phone, 314-991-2100, ext. 3.
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Who Was Queen Esther, Heroine of the Purim Story?
Queen Esther is the reluctant heroine of the Purim story. Taken to the palace of King Ahasuerus of Persia, she exposed the plot of the evil Haman, who had convinced the king to allow the annihilation of all the Jews in his extensive empire.
Esther is clearly identified as “Esther, who is Hadassah.” Hadassah is Hebrew for myrtle, and the rabbis teach that this name is an indication that her actions were as pleasing as the fragrance of myrtle. Esther, on the other hand, is a Persian name, related to the “morning star.” In Hebrew, it is related to the root word for “hidden,” as G‑d’s intervention was hidden throughout the entire turn of events. On the surface, all one sees is a dramatic tale of palace intrigue, but “behind the scenes” every development is intimately guided by His hand.
Doubly orphaned as a young girl, Esther was raised by her cousin Mordechai, a wise and saintly Torah scholar and the leader of the Jewish people.
After king Ahasuerus dismissed his wife Vashti for insubordination agents were sent out to find a replacement and Esther was discovered and taken to the palace against her will. The king was taken by her natural allure and chose her to be his queen consort.
Upon learning of a plot to kill the King, Mordechai told Esther who warned the king, and the coup was thwarted. Later, after Mordechai refused to bow to the new prime minister, Haman asked the King to decree to have all Jews killed on a single day. Mordechai then asked Esther to intercede on behalf of her people. “Who knows?” he urged her. “Perhaps for this very moment, you have been brought to royalty.”
Esther agreed to speak to the king, but only if Mordechai and the Jews would fast and pray for three consecutive days. Esther then bravely approached Ahasuerus without prior appointment—an act punishable by death.
When the time was right, Esther revealed her true identity to the king and the threat of annihilation that her people were facing. The king enraged and ordered Haman to be strung up on the very gallows he had prepared for Mordechai.
The king gifted Esther with Haman’s mansion, but her mission was not complete. The royal edict regarding the Jews’ annihilation remained in effect because the king said it could not be repealed. She wept before the king, and he allowed her and Mordechai to craft whatever legislation necessary to save the Jews. They sent royal decrees to all provinces declaring that the Jews had the right to defend themselves and kill any enemies who rose against them. In Shushan, the capital, there were so many evildoers that Esther requested an extra day for the Jews to ensure that all threats were eliminated, and so it was.
Since then, Jews have celebrated the day they rested from battle (Adar 14 in most places; Adar 15 in Shushan) as Purim, a day of feasting, gift-giving, and celebration.
Esther had the entire turn of events recorded in a scroll (known as Megillat Esther or the Book of Esther), which is read every Purim eve and again on Purim day.
One deeply telling facet of her brilliance is how she prepared to meet the king and beg for the life of her people. She knew that she was entirely at his mercy, yet instead of preening or otherwise working to amplify her charm, she fasted and prayed. Esther knew that as important as it is for us to act, G‑d’s help is what really matters. With G‑d on her side, even an unadorned and weak woman could sway the mind of an all-powerful monarch.
-adapted from Rabbi Menachem Posner, www.chabad.org
For information or to join Sisterhood, call the NHBZ office at 314-991-2100, ext. 3, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org