Esther’s Mussar Humility Lesson:
Have you ever been thrust into a situation where you were called to step outside of your comfort zone? If so, did you have to choose between stepping up to bring some good into the world, or doing nothing and let something bad happen?
This is exactly the choice Queen Esther faced in the Purim story.
To recap, in the Book of Esther, a Jewish woman of color named Esther wins a beauty contest to become Queen. Then, an evil advisor to the King arranges to have the Jewish people annihilated. Esther’s uncle Mordechei asks her to go to the King to prevent this calamity.
At the time, however, to approach the king uninvited was an offense punishable by death. Esther could have been dissuaded by the risk; nevertheless she persisted. Now remember, Esther is Queen by virtue of a beauty contest. She could have fallen prey to the Imposter Syndrome, and decided that she was unworthy of the task at hand. The Megillah (5:1) describes what happens next.
Esther donned royalty.”
What does that mean to don royalty? This is Esther’s Mussar Humility lesson. She went before the King in a regal persona. She occupied her space, and did not get hung up by the selection process that made her Queen. She had a right to be there, and made the most of her opportunity.
Have you ever been faced with a situation where you were called upon to do something outside your comfort zone? Do you ever get worried that you aren’t sure what to do, or that you really don’t belong and let yourself get paralyzed? Take inspiration from Esther, and just do it.
Thankfully few of us will have to step up the way that Esther did, where failure means genocide. At the same time, we live in extraordinary times, with political turmoil at home, and war abroad. Do you feel called on to speak out?
We should not simply read this story an an invitation for civic action. Who among us has not been faced with a trying situation at work, in our marriage, with a friend, or with the challenge of growing into full adulthood? How best can we step up, to do right by the people in our lives?
Can we stand by and do nothing if our Alma Mater is turning a blind eye to rape on campus?
You are heartily invited to stop for a moment and consider how Esther’s Mussar Humility lesson applies to you. Read the following and then close your eyes.
Think of the people in your life. What challenges do they face?
What is one small step you can take to support your friends, family and community in a new way?
How can you occupy your space to take responsibility, and try to be part of the solution?
Or, perhaps you need to occupy less space. If you are a parent, do you let you kids fail and learn from their mistakes?
Please comment below to capture your intention.