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Purim 5776

Every year we repeat the wonderful story of Purim and every year we find something else hidden in it, because indeed the main theme in the Megillah is the secret, the hidden. It is a great contradiction that we call this book Megillat Esther, when Megillah comes from the Hebrew root of revealed and Esther from the Hebrew root for hidden. The main character of the story is Hadassa, or by her more familiar Persian name, Esther. We can see that she is a quiet, reserved, humble girl, she doesn’t make a lot of noise. Whatever Mordechai tells her to do, she does. We ask why does she want to go into the Palace and it looks that she doesn’t want anything. The King asks who is she and there is no answer. She is a little more than a decoration. Esther develops, however, as the story of the Megillah advances. We see at the peak of the story how she stands in front of King Ahashverosh and Haman the senior minister and she manipulates them in order to achieve her objective: to save the Jews from extermination. What happened? How did she turn into an assertive woman like that? I believe that if we look deep into the story we will find the turning point: After the edict of Haman in name of the King, Mordechai and the Jews of Shushan are in mourning and are trying to find a way to save themselves. Mordechai speaks to Esther and asks her to do something, to go and speak to the King and ask for help. Esther refuses, as she was not allowed to approach the King without being summoned, under penalty of death. No way! She said. Then Mordechai said to her something that would turn her into the hero of our story, one that even today after thousands of years is remembered. Mordechai said: “Esther my child, if you keep quiet now and you don’t do anything then salvation will come from a different place, because if it’s G-d’s will to save us then it will happen. You and your family will die however, not in the physical sense, but you will disappear from the World. This is your opportunity to stand and perform the action, the task that you were born to do and if you don’t do it, then your existence was devoid of meaning. Who knows? Maybe this is the reason why you became a Queen, in order to be in the right place to leave your mark in history. You didn’t become Queen because you are beautiful or well connected, but you did it just for this moment. It is your destiny, your trial. You are here to save the day, to be the agent of G-d, the same one that we don’t see openly in the Megillah, because He is hidden, working through you Esther”. And it worked. Esther reacted. Good, she said, go and gather the Jews and proclaim a fast for me. I am doing this! And indeed she stood and performed a diplomatic mission, knowing to play when needed, to speak properly, to look innocent. It was her moment to shine and be a star in the History of the Jewish People. How wonderful! Mordechai taught Esther an important idea in Judaism: Everyone has a role in the World, a unique task that no other can do for us. All our life, our families, friends, our virtues and defects, our aspirations and dreams. Everything is at the end part of a set of tools that we received from G-d to perform our mission. When we live with the awareness that our challenges in life might be part of this mission, to provide us with the experience or maturity to succeed, we will be able to find the strength and wisdom to deal with them and continue forward. We are agents of G-d in the World, even if it’s hidden, even if we are not aware. May we be worthy of this wonderful challenge and, like Esther, may we be a tool to improve the World.

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AGENDA for April 2024 Council meeting

If you are interested in observing the Council meeting please email David or Steven before noon on Monday 15 April. SHEMA Council Agenda Monday 15


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