Purim: The Winning Argument

February 24, 2023

Why did Esther hesitate to petition Achashverosh to save the Jews, and how did Mordechai convince her to do it? An argument with an eternal message.

A. Megillah in a Nutshell

A brief overview of the Purim story.

B. Mordechai’s Arguments

Mordechai instructs Esther to approach Achashverosh and beg him to spare her people, telling her: A. The entire Jewish nation is in danger. B. If you do not help, you and your family will be lost, but the Jewish people will be saved another way. C. Perhaps you were only chosen to be the queen for this very moment, to save the Jewish people (Source 1). Why is this third point stronger than the previous two?

C. A Life With A Purpose

Rabbi Yosef recalled how his father, Rabbah, was very particular with the mitzvah of tzitzit (Source 2). Why specifically tzitzit?

The Rebbe explains that when a soul descends from heaven, G-d gives it a specific mitzvah to be its purpose in life, the reason it came down to this world. We can live a fulfilling life of Torah and mitzvot, but without observing this one mitzvah, we lose everything.

D. Esther’s Life’s Purpose

Ultimately, Esther agrees and tells Mordechai: “I will go to the king in violation of the law.” (Source 3). The Talmud explains that Esther was forced to be with Achashverosh for seven years, thus she did not sin. But should she initiate an encounter with the king of her own accord, that would be a grave sin. In other words, Esther says, if I acquiesce to your request, this will be “in violation of the law” and I will lose my share in the World to Come. (Source 4).

To persuade Esther to do this despite her misgivings—would she even be successful? Will she lose her share in the World to Come?—Mordechai tells her: It’s very possible that saving the Jewish people is the mitzvah for which your soul came down. This is why you are the queen of Persia for seven years. When she heard from the head of the Sanhedrin that this might be her purpose in life, she decided to rise above all logical calculations and act with self-sacrifice.

E. We Are All Esther

The Alter Rebbe told Reb Yosef—a great scholar—to become a wagon driver, all in order for him to one day meet a Jew on his travels whom he would bring back to his roots (Story).

Why was Reb Yosef chosen for this despite the loss of Torah study this would bring? Because this was the purpose of his soul’s descent, and it was the greatest gift for him.

When a person is told that his mission is to bring another Jew closer, they may weigh it up and conclude that they’ll be better off improving themselves and ignoring their fellow. The correct response is: This is the reason your soul came down to this world! You must rise above the challenges and jump at the opportunity. 



Teaching aids

My account

Welcome Guest (Login)