Behind Every Great Hero…

By Sarah Bialkin

Happy Shavuot

Growing up, I always used to call Purim the cookie holiday. Making hamantaschen with my family’s chavurah (Jewish friend group) was always fun and experimental! I’ve continued this tradition in my adult life with my friends– last year was our first attempt at a pizza hamantaschen which was, as Ken from Barbie would say, “sublime!”

The traditional story of Purim takes place in the 5th century B.C.E., about 800 years after receiving the commandments at Mt Sinai. The events were so incredible that the rabbis decided they must be turned into a holiday so that the Jewish people would remember the story for generations and generations. There is so much that can be learned from this topsy-turvy tale.  Responsibility, support, and unity are what I find to be the most applicable in today’s times.

There’s a moment when Mordechai is speaking with Esther about what must be done to try and save the Jewish people.  Esther is fearful that the King will kill her if she tells him that she’s a Jew.  Mordechai asks her, “Who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”  He means that perhaps God has designed this very moment for Esther to rise to her potential and become a hero.  We all have moments when we wish the responsibility could be put in someone else’s hands. But if we can look at challenges like blessings for growth, who knows what miracles can occur and who we can become!

Without Mordechai’s encouragement, Esther wouldn’t be the hero we know today! Sometimes we are put in situations for us to be cheerleaders for others. Some of the best heroes come to be because of their mentors and coaches. While Esther might take center stage as our hero in this story, we must also strive to be like Mordechai when we can – to encourage and support others in their endeavors. Without Alfred, who knows what Bruce Wayne would’ve become.

In the story of Purim we also see the importance of community and solidarity. To assist in Esther’s courageous plan to plead with the King, all the Jews of Shushan fast and pray for three days. It reminds me of our people coming together after the events of October 7th. Israel is the only country in the world where during a war, apartment sales jumped! So many reservists around the globe stopped what they were doing in the face of adversity. It’s remarkable that even thousands of years after the events in Shushan, the Jewish people continue to be united.

I’m confident that the lessons from Purim will be upheld for the next thousand years! 

I hope everyone has a delicious holiday!

Sarah Bialkin is a mentor for Hebrew Helpers in Los Angeles.

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