Parshat Ki Tissa
This week we observe the joyous holiday of Purim. The Story of Esther in our Tanach, the Hebrew Scriptures, reminds us of the human strength to be the voice of justice and truth. Esther prepared for three days of prayer and a day of fasting to summons the courage to approach the King. Tradition teaches that these days of spiritual preparation allowed God’s Divine presence to flow through her to challenge the injustices in her day. She is a model of leadership.
Although God is not mentioned in the Purim tale, the hidden face of God works miracles through the courage of Esther and her Uncle Mordechai. Together they challenge the evil that Haman would have unleashed upon the Jews of ancient Persia and Medea. Esther called upon the faith and traditions of her ancestors to aid her. She used it her Jewish prayer as a foundation for leadership. She could have given into her doubts and fears. Instead she chooses the path of prayer and reflection to gird her with strength.
And so we great this holiday with merriment and joy!
And yet when we celebrate this holiday this week we do so against the background of the weekly Parasha, Ki Tissa. This is the week the Children of Israel stray from their newly born covenant with God. With Moses gone for so many days in a row on Mt. Sinai, the Children of Israel get anxious and fearful. “When people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, the people gathered against Aaron…” and demand that Aaron, who was left in charge, make an idol for them.
Without the leadership of Moses they felt abandoned and scared. They needed a talisman. They needed comforting. Of course we know that Aaron capitulated and this led to a series of events including Moses’ returning and breaking the Tablets of the Commandments and Moses’ pleading on behalf of the Israelites for God’s forgiving grace to rule the day.
What would have happened if Aaron had shown the leadership of Esther and Mordechai? Would the story of the Israelite nation be different? When the people are scared or threatened, those in charge must rise to great heights. Leadership demands faith. Leadership demands preparation. Imagine if Esther caved in to her fears and never confronted Haman before the King, then surely the Jews of the Shushan and the kingdom would have been doomed. Imagine if Aaron had quelled the fears of the Israelites, the tablets may not have been shattered and we might not have had to wait 40 years until we crossed into the Promised Land.
Esther provides a spiritual model of preparation for leadership. It takes prayer, and yes sometimes fasting, but a great leader is always self reflective and seeks the strength and protection of the Shekinah. This isn’t just for political leaders or spiritual leaders. This model of spiritual reflection, prayer and faith can be an aid in any endeavor.
So this week channel the spirit and courage and faith of Mordechai and Esther. It will lead you to great heights!