הַיְּהוּדִים לִשְׁלוֹט בָּהֶם וְנַהֲפוֹךְ הוּא, אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁלְטוּ הַיְּהוּדִים הֵמָּה בְּשֹׂנְאֵיהֶם
In the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have rule over them, it was turned upside down, and the Jews had success over those that hated them. – Megillah Esther 9:1
In a kingdom not so long ago, in a land not so far away, a ruler playing the part of a fool takes the crown:
He is heavily influenced by advisors who have spoken out casually against our people, and easily wooed by pretty women.
He is accused of sexual misconduct by women in his life, but he keeps his throne.
He runs a beauty pageant to place a tiara on the head of the most beautiful woman in the land.
Convinced by his own biases, and by the biases of those around him, he enacts legislation to limit the rights and liberties of individuals based on their nationalorigin and seemingly their beliefs.
Our people is alerted to danger as thugs begin to intimidate us, and we fear for the safety of our people in this country, under this rule of this king.
Yet one of the women he loves most is Jewish….
This story is that of Megillat Esther. It is a story of a world turned upside down – a world where God is hidden, just under the surface of the text. It is a story when strong leadership, and especially strong female leadership is needed.
Our text shows a world of confusion: “It was turned upside down.” And it provides us with a few suggestions for how to survive other such times:
- Those that were under threat banded together and supported one another.
- The people did not lose hope. Mordechai stayed strong. Esther stayed strong. They sometimes had to pray for courage – but never hope.
- And finally, the people kept their ability to celebrate and to find joy in life.
It is this last point – the ability to find joy in life – which I feel we often forget.
Life is busy – we feel like we are not doing enough, and like we are extending ourselves too far.
But these pressures should not keep us from having moments of joy. Only mourning prevents us from celebrating happy occasions in Judaism – and though we are upset about the news flowing over our southern border, we are not in mourning for the ideals that we treasure. Instead we are gathering, reigniting old friendships and forming new ones. We see the ancient story reflecting in our lives the call for courage, for hope, and for celebration.
Please join us as we unite and celebrate our past and our future as a community in a world which is upside down: