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    In praise of Esther

    Esther & Mordechai, by Aert de Gelder, 1675

    Esther & Mordechai, by Aert de Gelder, 1675

    The more we delve into the events of the Megillah, the more questions we have. Nothing and no-one in the story is as simple and straightforward as they seem.

    In particular, no-one is as interesting as Esther – a humble girl without much yichus who becomes queen of a mighty empire, a pious person who found a way to observe Jewish practices in the palace, an unspoilt woman who is beautiful in herself without the need of cosmetics and touching-up… the stuff of which endless stories can be and are made.

    The rabbis say, “Whoever sees Esther in his dreams is sure to see a miracle in his life-time”. They also say, “Why is Esther like the dawn? Because her arrival ushered in a wondrous age”.

    The deep question is how and why Esther was selected to bring about such deliverance to the Jews of Persia.

    The answer is the tried and tested principle that motivates so many Biblical stories – it was the finger of God moving mysteriously but inexorably to bring about a great result.

    In its own way, this notion explains why there is no explicit mention of the Divine name anywhere in the story.

    Whether the Almighty works overtly or covertly, whether we recognise His activity or not, the finger of God is in charge.

    With some moments in history there are questions as to why it takes so long, but though we may have questions about His timetable, we never lose faith that history is in His hands.

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