Thursday, March 24, 2016

it's not their problem -- it's our problem

Mordechai insisted that Esther go to plead her case to Achashveirosh, but she responds that she has not been called to the palace for some time.  Mordechai replied that if Esther thinks she can get off the hook with an excuse and not go, she is mistaken.  If that is her strategy, she will be lost, but there will be some other savior for the Jewish people. 

My wife has already written about this exchange on her blog, but I'll add my own two cents.  Mordechai came to Esther in Nisan, a full eleven months before Haman's decree was set to be acted on.  Maharal explains that Esther's argument was simple: why risk my life now?  Everyone knows you can't go to the king without being called for.  There is plenty of time to spare -- maybe he will call next week, next month, or at some point over the next eleven months.  At that point the issue of Haman's decree can be addressed.  What's the big rush?

Sounds reasonable, right?  But Mordechai interpreted it as a refusal to go because Mordechai knew something about psychology.  When it's your life on the line, reason goes out the window.  Let's take a non life-threatening example: two people share a car ride to the city, one to a job interview, one for a trip to a park.  They leave enough time for the trip , but there is always traffic in NY, v'kach hava.  The person with the interview looks at his watch every five minutes, cringes at every red light that holds up traffic, etc.  His neighbor, who is relaxing in the seat next to him, keeps reassuring him that he will make it in time, but the words fall on deaf ears.  What the neighbor is saying is entirely reasonable, and he's not nervous -- but he's not the one with the interview.  He has no pressure, so he can afford to talk reason.  Not so his friend.  What Mordechai was telling Esther is that if you really feel the pain and suffering, then you don't say, "Let's wait and see."  If you really feel your life is on the line, then any delay in resolving and defusing the situation feels like an eternity.  That pressure is unbearable!  You feel like you have to do something now, immediately -- no matter what the rational part of the brain may dictate.  If you don't feel that way, it means you think you have an out.  It means you look at the danger as something that applies to the other guy, but not to you.  If you have time to sit back and asses things "rationally," without any feeling of panic of sense that time is of the essence, it means you just don't get it.

Of course we should all be b'simcha on Purim, but we also need to understand that what happens in Brussels, what happens in France, what happens in Yerushalayim, is our problem, not the problem of the Jews of Brussels, France, or Eretz Yisrael.  If you read the news and your response is to do a derisha v'chakira and talk about weighing the facts and having a meeting or a conference to see how to respond, and kler over whether to hold a protest and where and who else is going, etc., and let's see after next election, etc. all of which are thoughtful, rational, responses, it means you just don't get it.  If it was G-d forbid your family member, your loved one, affected by one of the attacks, that's not how you would respond.  You would shrai chai v'kayam!

That's what our reaction needs to be.  Even if you are not crying out to politicians, to the press, to whoever else will listen (which needs to be done!), why not at least cry out to the Ribono shel Olam?

No comments:

Post a Comment