3 Adar 5766
It’s Not Easy Being Green
by Mrs. Aviva Feiner
She is beautiful, she is stately, she is regal, she is pious, and she is GREEN!
We have grown up with various understandings and renditions of this opinion in the gemara. From cute little dressed up Esthers with their pretty faces painted green to Gadi Pollack’s illustrated Megillah with its heroine peeking out at us in lovely green hues. Who was Esther HaMalka? – The Tanna R’ Yehoshua says that the Jews of her time referred to her as “achos lanu b’beis hamelech,” “Our sister in the house of the king.” To what extent will a sister go for her siblings?
It cannot be coincidence that the first woman we see willing to take such a great sacrifice for a sibling was, in fact, Esther’s direct ancestress, our Mama Rochel. Rochel willingly gave up all of her aspirations and visions of her future with the man with whom she thought she could build the Jewish people, so as not shame her sister. Rochel was also aware that she might potentially end up in the married to Eisav Harasha, but she was willing to take that chance. Generations later stands her granddaughter Esther – she is not merely taking a chance – she KNOWS that she is walking into a life, physically bound to a rasha, and that she is irreversibly altering her destiny. (The commentaries explain that once Esther willing went to Achashveirosh she changed her status of anusah, a forced woman, to that of a willing woman. This would forever prohibit her to Mordechai – and it is Mordechai who orders her to do it!) The Gra explains that this sister to the Jewish people was really physically beautiful, like Rochel –”yifas to’ar v’yifas mar’eh” (Breishis 29:17; Esther, 2:7). Yet, when she stood there about to enter the chambers of the king, she needed a “chut shel chessed”(Megilla 13a), an aura of chessed as an enhancement from G-d, because our Esther was SICK, ill, all broken up from what she was about to do, and Esther, indeed, looked GREEN.
Rav Moshe Eisemann shlita, mashgiach of Ner Yisrael, explains that while the people of Shushan partied – as we do today – let us not forget the bas Melech Malchei HaMelachim who did not go out to rejoice with her people; she was left, instead, locked in a world with a foolish melech basar vadam whom she despised, content with the knowledge that she had taken advantage of an opportunity to save her people. We name the story of Purim for her and she asks, “kisvuni l’doros” (Megilla 7) – remember me forever!
(Chullin 139b) :Esther Min HaTorah Minayin? – “Ve’anochi Haster Astir Panai” – From where does the Torah teach us about Esther? From the words, “And I surely have concealed My face”(Devarim, 31:18). These words do not seem to be an encouraging prediction as to what the future Esther will be about. Yet the Ramban comments on them that while these words are an expression of G-d’s wrath, they also portend an impending redemption yet unrevealed.
Esther is the story of the Jew in exile, the first of many from the time of the destruction of the first Beis HaMikdash until the time for which we are still waiting. Esther is the end of the time of open miracles, and the Jewish people are now faced with an additional challenge: Find Hashem when He hides Himself from you! Search for Him in your moments of darkness, in your moments of pain. Esther has taught us a new talent, says Rav Hutner, the ability to find light even from within the darkness. This is a talent, he continues, because it takes no chochmah to find Hashem when there is a light, kaviyachol, shining on His face. Esther, the ayeles hashachar (Tehillim 22:1), the morning star, gives us hope for a day when the sun will eternally shine and gives us strength to shine in the darkness of night.
May we, the daughters of Melech Malchei Hamlachim, still in galus, learn many lessons from Esther. How sickened we should be from the debased immorality of the society that surrounds us. How proud we should be of our sacrifices for Hashem and the Jewish people. How open our eyes should be to searching for Hashem in our moments of pain. And how ready our hearts should be for the revelation of a time of eternal sunshine!
“LaYehudim Haysah Orah… – Kein T’hiyeh Lanu!”