Purim – A Time of Action

Secrets of the Jewish Year
Holiday Messages and Meditations on the Jewish Year

The Jewish Month of Adar

Q:Why is the "Scroll of Esther" called after Esther and not after Mordechai?

A: Mordechai, Esther's uncle — and, according to our sages, her husband – was her mentor. By his own example — he refused to bow down to Haman — he inspired her to self-sacrifice. Following his instructions, she endangered her life by going, uncalled, to King Achashveirosh, to plea for her people.

Although Mordechai was the "teacher" and Esther the "pupil", Mordechai's self-sacrifice was relatively passive (refusing to bow down), while Esther's self-sacrifice was active.

Active and passive in Kabbalah are male and female. Thus, Esther, the woman and pupil, is in fact the man of the story, while Mordechai, the man and teacher, is in fact the woman of the story! For this reason, the scroll is called after Esther, the active heroine of the story.

For this reason, as well, Esther merited to become queen of the Persian Empire (even before her act of self-sacrifice, for G-d knows the future) while Mordechai only merited to become viceroy to the king — appointed to the task by his own niece, Esther.

The teaching for us is: "action is the main thing". With these words, the Lubavitcher Rebbe — possibly more identified with the figure of Mordechai than with any other figure of the Bible — would always conclude his talks.

In order to unify our people and thereby merit true and lasting redemption, each of us, like Esther, must begin to assume a male, active role. She began so by instructing Mordechai, before she went to the king, to congregate the people in fast and prayer. We must take the lead of Mordechai but use our own initiative, as well to act with self-sacrifice. And so do the Rebbe's words ring in our ears: "Do all that is in your power to bring about the true and complete redemption by Mashiach, immediately!"

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