“But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.” — Esther 5:13
The story of Esther is a stirring call to stand against persecution wherever it may exist. Its lessons have reverberated through time and place, particularly today, as acts of anti-Semitism and Christian persecution are on the rise throughout the world. This is one of 12 devotions exploring the many lessons we can learn from this inspirational account. To learn more about the life of Queen Esther, download a copy of our free Bible Study.
Haman had it all. He knew it too. In front of his closest family and friends, he enumerated his many blessings. He had many sons, plenty of wealth, and power second only to the king. And that’s not all. Haman had been invited to an exclusive, private party given by the Queen for just the king and himself.
It doesn’t get much better than that! But – and that’s the key word – it all meant nothing to him when he saw Mordecai the Jew. Mordecai was the only person in the entire kingdom who refused to bow down to Haman, and that drove Haman crazy.
The Talmud asks a question: where is Haman hinted at in the Scriptures? The answer: “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” (Genesis 3:11). The Hebrew word that begins this sentence has exactly the same spelling as “Haman,” and the theme of this phrase has much in common with the kind of person that Haman was.
This question is asked by God to Adam and Eve after they had eaten from the one tree in the Garden of Eden that had been banned to them. God had created a whole orchard of trees for humanity to enjoy. Adam and Eve would never go hungry! But – and there’s that word again – there was just one tree that was off limits. And, of course, as we know, that’s the fruit Adam and Eve went after.
Haman, Adam, and Eve all have one thing in common. They focused on what they didn’t have and missed the beauty of what they did have. Even worse, their sad perspective is what leads to their ultimate downfall.
I recently received an email with the following quote written across a picture of an adorable toddler holding a camera and trying to take a picture of herself: “Life is like a camera. Just focus on what’s important. Capture the GOOD TIMES! Develop from the negatives. And if things don’t work out – just take another shot.”
Too bad Haman didn’t have email. What a different life he might have led had he learned to focus on all of the blessings in his life. Imagine the difference it can make for you!
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President