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When Things Look Bleak

By Rabbi Label Lam

Then Mordechai said to reply to Esther, “Do not imagine to your soul that you will be able to escape in the king’s palace any more than the rest of the Jews. If you persist in keeping silent at a time like this, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another place, while you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows if it was just for such a time as this that you achieved the royal position!” (Esther 4:13-14)

Mordechai delivers his impassioned appeal to Esther to save the Jews from the imminent threat of Haman’s decree to wipe out every man woman and child of her people. However, when closely examined, Mordechai betrays his absolute confidence that the Jewish People will somehow survive, “relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another place”. How does he know that for sure? In a moment of such crisis would we feel the same?

If the Megilla can refer to the debauchery of Achashverosh’s party then perhaps I can take a license to employ a crass example from American life just to make a point. Let’s exercise the imagination for this one. Your friend accidentally slept through Super Bowl Sunday and missed the “big game”. He has no idea he slept that long and he is oblivious to what the final score was. You know with certainty the final score even though you didn’t watch the game either. So you sit together to watch a fully recorded version of the game. He thinks he’s watching a live contest. Before the kick off you urge your friend to make a wager. You pick the underdog Giants to win and offer a modest some of money to back your “opinion”. He picks the favored Patriots and the game begins. Somewhere near the end the Patriots take a four point lead with only a minutes remaining. It looks very grim for your team. At that very moment you turn to your friend with confidence and propose to triple your bet. He looks at you like you came from anther planet but he’s happy to take your money and so he agrees. Within a few minutes the tide of the game turns back and against all odds the Giants win the championship.

Who would not triple their bet at that time? You know the final score. You know how it’s supposed to end and that’s how it does and that’s how that tape will always end no matter how scary or dramatic it gets. So too Mordechai had no doubt about the value of the Jewish People in the G-d’s universe. This is promised and proven. It’s impossible for the world to exist without the Jewish People, not because I say so but the Torah and Prophets say it’s so:

“And even while they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject or obliterate them, lest I break my covenant with them by destroying them, for I am the Lord their G-d. I will remember them, because of the covenant I made with their ancestors, whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations, so that I might be their G-d” (Vayikra 26:44-45)

Thus says G-d, Who establishes the sun to light the day, the laws of the moon and stars to light the night, Who stirs up the sea into roaring waves, Whose name is The Lord of Hosts: “If these laws of nature would ever give way before Me,” says G-d, “only then shall the offspring of Israel cease to be a nation before me for all time.” (Yirmiyahu 31:34- 35)

Mordechai knew what the result would be. He and all of us have the final score. There’s no reason to panic about “Jewish Survival”. The Jews will make it. That’s guaranteed. The only question is whether or not we and our children will be a part of the joyous conclusion. Purim is a taste of that post-game celebration. Too many have lost hope or cheer for the other- side. Who amongst us, though, is willing to triple the bet even when things look bleak!

DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and



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