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Video Message for Purim 2011 (Edited Transcript)

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Welcome.  It’s great to be with you.  Thank you for taking the time to watch this. 

There are some moments that change everything.Picture the scene: every single Jew – man, woman and child – faces mass extermination.  I am not referring to Nazi Germany in 1939, but to the genocide planned 2433 years ago, in ancient Persia.  

The Persian Empire extended across the entire known world and every single Jew was under the control of the emperor, King Achashverosh.  A decree had been issued for the extermination of every Jew.  This was the only time in Jewish history where there was not a single Jew who was not in danger.  Even at the worst times in Nazi Germany there were still Jews in America, Israel, South Africa and Australia, who were not under the threat of the Germans.  But during the time of the events chronicled in the Book of Esther which we read on Purim, every single Jew faced extermination.  There seemed no way out – except for one remarkable thing: there was a Jewish queen, Esther, who was married to King Achashverosh.  She could intervene to save her people.

Mordechai, one of the great Jewish leaders of that time, sends Esther a message to speak with the king and try to reverse the decree.  Esther sends a message back to Mordechai saying she cannot intervene because no one can approach the king without an invitation; anyone who comes to the king of his own volition is under penalty of death.  Mordechai sends back a message with these immortal words: umi yode’a im l’et kazot higat la’malchut, “who knows if it was not for this moment that you have become queen.”  When Esther hears these words she sends a message back to Mordechai saying that she will go to the king.  She tells him to go and gather all the Jews to pray for her, and she will do her part to reverse the decree.

Esther goes to the king and through Divine intervention her life is spared.  Then, through a miraculous sequence of events, the decree is reversed, and we celebrate that great victory and salvation of the Jewish people on Purim every year.

These words, “who knows if for this moment you have become queen,” are what changed Esther’s mind.  In these words is contained the whole message of Purim and one of the central pillars of Jewish philosophy, and that is that nothing happens by accident.  Everything is part of G-d’s plan, everything and everyone has a purpose.  Every soul that enters this world has a G-d-given mission and all of the circumstances that we live with are part of that Divine mission.

Sometimes that Divine mission is dramatic and historic.  Sometimes – more often than not – that Divine mission takes place in the small, every-day things happening every moment of every day of our lives, in the seemingly insignificant things that we do but which in G-d’s eyes are so important.  

To sum it all up in one phrase : we need to live with – clarity of purpose, clarity of the fact that G-d put us here for a reason; we must fulfill our personal destiny.  That is the message of Purim, and an overarching message of Judaism: to live with purpose and a sense of the Divine mission every single moment, every day of our lives.

On that note let me wish our entire community a joyous Purim, filled with the inspiration of living with clarity of purpose.

Thank you for taking the time to watch this and I look forward to being with you again next time.

Posted on 17 March 2011 in Text, Transcript, Your Life

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