Sleepless in Persia
Originally written the shabbat before Purim 2011/5771 - but please - let's spread this far and wide so it has time to circulate by next purim- something to consider, to incorporate...
Discuss, respond, comment, but mostly, if you want and would, please pass along... been contemplating this for a long time. Finally put it to "paper." Shabbat shalom, chag sameach! --kim.
SLEEPLESS IN PERSIA
by s. kim glassman
fine-tuned with help and support of inspired and inspiring friends
"That night the king couldn't sleep; [in the] chronicles...they found an entry...describing how Mordechai had [interceded in an assassination plot]...The king asked, 'What reward was given to Mordechai for this?'...'Nothing was done at all.'...The king said...'Hurry up, take...do...Do not leave out a single thing...!'" -The Book of Esther, 6:1-10
What makes us restless at night? Is it an empty or full or upset stomach? Or more often, an upset mind? Pressures of the day? Items on our agenda that we meant to tend? Our conscience wrestling with our emotions or actions? The king of our Purim story could not sleep. And he was reminded or told of a debt of gratitude he owed. He did not go back to sleep; he immediately called a helper - no delay, no postponement. He said "מהר" "hurry", "קח" "take", "ועשה" "and do!" Immediately, he called for action, in command form. Gratitude must be paid.
Well, many of us do not have a person wandering in our courtyard while we sleep. The aides who read us our chronicles are our memories, and the person wandering in our courtyard to do our bidding is our reluctant Self.
This act in the Book of Esther set the wheels spinning as much as any other in the story - Haman resented his King's command, his resolve to take vengeance on the Jewish people became stronger, and Esther courageously facilitated the overturn of a horrible decree. Justice prevailed and centuries later we continue to celebrate.
Of course expressing gratitude (hakarat hatov) is a common theme in Judaism; what if, once a year, we put a spotlight on that trait, really focused on it, turning it into a pro-active exercise which may in turn help us waken latent muscles. Annually, before Yom Kippur, there is a certain build-up to the day. Atonement comes not only on the day itself but stays with us, before, during, after - like a dear friend who helps us to reach a higher goal. Here we have a great opportunity to create another swell of emotion, awareness, and unity as a people. As we walk the streets in costumes, turn our graggers, stomp our feet, and festively dine together, let's also do this:
I submit that we add to the traditions of this holiday. On this Purim, and every one that follows, let us recognize that one person who saved our life this year - metaphorically, physically. We each have someone in our lives whom we have not thanked enough. Let us pay them gratitude - privately, publicly - as we wish. But it should be with the highest respect and honor. I further suggest we see to it that this not be the same person in two consecutive years. Perhaps the person is not immediately obvious, since it's our subconscious after all which wakes us from sleep; this should be a time of true soul searching. And if over the course of two years, we find ourselves repeatedly indebted to the same somebody, perhaps we may find a personal lesson and adjust our behavior accordingly so as not to let that generous tab run so high in the coming year. Perhaps we might even keep a list in the back of our megillah - one we can reflect upon each year, to see the people who have immeasurably enriched our lives.
Someone saved you. There's one person who deserves your highest honor. Who will you thank this year?
Joined: March 22, 2011
Kim lives in Jerusalem, Israel. She designs book covers, illustrates children's books, typesets, and at times directs or helps out with community musical theatre.Divrei Torah (1)