Today was cold in NC. The high was 32 degrees and the rain changed to sleet, to hail, to a few, tiny, snow flakes, so…of course…school was canceled by 1:30, and I got to stay home once again. sigh. I still miss teaching. However, I did get to play with the grands for a short time! It was “Make-a-book” day with Grandma. I don’t know who loved it more – stickers…crayons…counting…spelling…pre-made books. How fun is that? I sure hope that they learn to love reading as much as I do. Right now, I’m reading more non-fiction than fiction. But that’s okay, too, since it always cycles.
Studying Jewish history, language and wisdom is the perfect journey for Lent. It gets me thinking about so many things that I never considered before now, and it lends itself to helping me to identify even more with the man that walked this earth so long ago, Rabbi Jesus (funny – I am constantly thinking of Him in those terms during this time). Last week I was reading about Esther and the Jewish festival of Purim.
The Jewish festival of Purim was this past weekend. It is a joyous celebration since Esther saved the Jewish people from another antisemitic leader named Haman, royal vizier to King Ahasuerus of Persia. If you don’t remember Esther’s story in the Bible, she was chosen by the king and had to leave her people when she married him. Of course, he had many wives and she was not always allowed in his presence (not a great marriage to my way of thinking). Not your typical love story. However, her cousin, Mordecai, supported her and continued to encourage her not to lose her faith. He basically told her she was there for a reason, and he would stand beside her. It was in this way that she was able to save her people and find the courage to approach her husband even when he did not call for her.
Purim actually means “lots” (as in lottery) in the Jewish language. The king listening to his adviser, Haman, was going to use a lottery system to destroy the Jews. Might seem strange to name their festival after the system meant to destroy them, but as usual, the Jewish sages have an answer for this. You see, it took a “lot” of courage for Esther to throw her “lot” in with Mordecai and talk to the king. Her choice made all the difference for the people. But the lottery didn’t end then. Esther continued to stay with the king, even after she had accomplished the salvation of her people, and bore a son named Darius, who just happened to play a major role in the re-building of the temple.
The book of Esther in the OT reminds us that we may not always (in my case it seems like NEVER) understand why we are in the situation we are currently facing – especially when it is painful. Yet, we “throw in our lots” every time we make a choice – take a step – chose a direction…even if we stand still, we are making a choice. Esther left her people and stayed where she felt God had placed her. Rabbi Jesus knew this story. He understood, better than we do, why things happen the way they do. Best of all, He “threw in His lot” with us. He chose to walk towards death that we might live.