How Do We Understand Esther’s Suffering?

21 03 2011

Excerpted from Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller’s Question and Answer series on

Questions and Answers for Today's Jewish Woman, Part 13


Every year when I listen to the Megila, I am haunted by Esther’s tragedy. How can we understand her personal suffering?



Esther’s tragic saga is a living metaphor of the Divine Presence in exile. There was no exile worse than Esther’s. She was a prophetess, righteous beyond anything we can imagine, and yet she was forced to marry the evil Achashveirosh and bear his child. Her fortitude in maintaining her identity in spite of all she had to contend with is similar to the Second Temple condition. While the Divine Presence was apparent during the First Temple, it was hidden during the Second Temple. Finding Hashem in His place of concealment is in many ways greater than finding Him in his place of revelation.

At the end of time, the light of the moon will eclipse the light of the sun. The glow of those who only absorbed reflected light will equal those who gave forth light. The women of the tents, our imahot (foremothers), will recognize that there were women who weren’t of the tent who were as great as they were. This is what Esther teaches us. Her life is an inspiration to all of us to hold on to our heritage despite the darkness and pain of exile.




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