Tonight (Feb 28) and today (March 1) we celebrated the holiday of Purim. Perhaps no holiday offers more “fun” than Purim’s festivities. Based on the Book of Esther, Megilat-Esther, Purim appears to be a holiday that appeals more to our hedonistic side than to our spiritual side. Yet it is the only Biblical holiday declared by man rather than God and reminds us that our fate is in our hands. Reinforcing this notion is that fact that the Book of Esther is the only book in the Bible in which G-d’s name does not appear. A superficial reading of the book might even make one wonder why the book was even included in Hebrew Canon. A closer look at the Book of Esther, however, helps us to understand the profound wisdom of the rabbis for having included the Book of Esther in Hebrew Scripture.
The Book of Esther is about hope. Indeed the concept of hope runs throughout Jewish history. Too many of us do not really understand hope. We often confuse it with the idea of “optimism.” Hope is not about progress, but rather hope, as understood in the Book of Esther is about “justice.” Hope argues that in the end wrongs will be righted. To hope is to trust “life.” The Book of Esther is also about understanding that too many people mask their real intentions. Politicians from both left and right wing parties are famous for hiding their true intentions beneath a cloak of meaningless phrases.
The Book of Esther teaches us that while “optimism” is a perspective on the direction of history, hope is a trait found within the human character and in a world where powerful people often do not say what they mean, a necessary survival tool. To hope does not mean that at times we may not expect the worse. Instead, hope is the notion that for life to be worth living, we must be prepared not merely to trust, but to embrace our lives and the talents that G-d has given to each of us. To embrace life, however, we must recognize that life is filled with disappointments that must be confronted and from which we must learn.
To hope is not to blindly assume that history, be it personal, professional, or national is a march toward progress, but the reality that faced with adversity, we have the depth of character to continue on. To face hope, to live with hope, and to embrace hope is to understand that G-d has given each of us the capacity to steer through life’s troubled waters while seeking the safe shores of righteousness.
Seen in this light, we can confront the many “Hamans” of Jewish history, and better understand why the Jewish people’s national anthem is called “Ha’Tikva” meaning “Hope.”
Good To Know!
Spain declares Ladino one of Spain’s languages:
Youtubes of the week:
Be happy, It’s Purim:
Kermit the Frog sings for Purim: