Blessings for the Megillat Esther

Download: Blessings for the Megillah Reading

We are quickly coming upon the Jewish holidays, we enter in the season of joy and celebration with the commemoration of the salvation of the Jewish people during the Persian empire at the time of Queen Esther; in the celebration of Purim. Here are the blessings according to the Nusach Arizal (Chabad) for the reading of Megillat Esther, the scroll of Esther.

I find the story of Purim to be an especially moving in the modern era. Let’s think about it for a second.

Here is a story about someone that is anti-semetic, specifically because he hated one person in particular; Haman hated Mordechi, who was a Jew. But his hatred grew until his way of getting his satisfaction encompassed the slaughter of the entire Jewish people. So often in my experience I have seen that  hatred starts with a grudge against just one person, and as the hatred grows so does that blind spot until just about anything is justifiable.

The actions Haman took against the Jewish people was not an overt attack, it was an attack under the auspices of lawfulness and good citizenship. All his acts were wrapped in insincerity that cared for no one’s interest but that of Haman and his ego.

The Megillah at Matan

The Megillah at Matan (Photo credit: RahelSharon)

The reading of the megillah should really ring true for the modern reader and even for the non-religious. Quite notably, there is not a single mention to the Divine Name in the whole of Megillat Esther. It is not a book about waiting for Divine intervention. It’s not about long religious discussions. It’s about someone standing up and saying “your not just talking about some abstract idea, your talking about me because I’m a Jew.” Queen Esther stands up and makes it known that Jews are a part of the society and contribute on every level to the betterment of the world, including in the royal house itself with her presence.

In this way G-d’s salvation does not come through some supernatural act. Nor did it come by the hand of the the highly religious and pious. It does not mean that G-d is not there in our distress, nor that the religious are ineffective. It’s that G-d needed someone with special skills to be willing to  partner with Him and bring reason to the situation. Salvation came though Hashem giving the opportunity and the fortitude of spirit to one person to stand up, come out of the closet and be counted.

We all, no matter what our level of observance is, have a role in being the voice of godliness and humanity in this world. I believe this is the lesson of what it means to be a Jew, and why in this book we see the term yehudi (Jew) used for the first time in the scriptures.

May G-d comfort the mourners of Israel, and may His Nation remember for blessing the souls of the Fogel family; Udi (36) and Ruth (35), children Yoav (11), Elad (4), and baby Hadas (1 month old); and bind the wounds of those surviving children Tamar (12), Roi (8) and Yishai (2).

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