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Esther's Courage!

Weekly On-line Rabbi's D'var-Torah

March 21, 2024

13 Adar II 5784

Shabbat Zachor

Parashat Vayikra

Today is the day that we commemorate Queen Esther’s courage.  She was afraid to approach the king uninvited.  Her predecessor had been put to death for disobeying the rules.  So, in anticipation of going to the king to plea on behalf of the Jews, she fasted and prayed.  She sent a message to Mordecai asking that all the Jews of Shushan to fast and prayer with her.  We observe the Fast of Esther to this day to acknowledge the bravery she showed in overcoming her fears in order to save the Jewish people of Shushan. 

So, it is the perfect day for all of us to pray together for the release of the hostages.  And the Shema is the perfect prayer to recite.

In the morning service, just before we recite the Shema, we say the following words: “And bring us in peace from the four corners of the Earth, and lead us directly to our Land; as You are God who performs salvations... You have brought us close to Your great name forever in truth, to praise You and unify You with love. Blessed are You, Adonai, who chooses Your people, Israel, with love.”

In some congregations, it’s become the custom to sing these words to the melody of Hatikvah.  It’s a reminder that the Shema unites the Jewish people no matter where we live or how we choose to practice our Judaism.   Similarly, the Land of Israel unites the Jewish people. 

Over the last 5+ months, we’ve seen how the land of Israel brings the Jewish people together.  Sure, we can quibble over strategy or who should take leadership roles in Israel, but the overwhelming majority of Jews are united in support of Israel during this difficult time.  The overwhelming majority of Jews want Israel to do what is necessary to bring the hostages home.

So, it was a brilliant – and meaningful! – decision to bring the Jewish community together today to recite the Shema at the same time all over the world in support of Israel and in solidarity with the hostages.  If you missed it, you can see the Shema recited at the Western Wall earlier today here (it starts at 1:02:10).

May the hostages come home soon.



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