Something More Important Than Fear
Yael Eckstein | March 16, 2022
“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” — Esther 4:16
Today at sundown, my family and I will join Jews around the world in celebrating Purim, a joyous holiday that commemorates the story of Queen Esther and her courageous stand that saved her people, the Persian Jews, from annihilation.
Growing up in a family of only girls, it was important to my parents to instill within us the idea that we were just as capable as our male counterparts, and that as women, we have our own unique gifts to contribute to society. They emphasized the morning blessing recited daily by Jewish women, a prayer which thanks God for “making me according to His Will.”
They taught us that God created us with every tool and talent we would ever need to accomplish His work. My parents filled us with courage and confidence on a daily basis so that we could meet any challenge and reach every goal we set for ourselves.
As U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the assessment that there is something more important than fear.”
More Important Than Fear
In the story of Purim, Esther is a shining example of courage precisely because she was also the victim of intense fear. For most of the story, Esther was a passive character. She was raised by Mordecai, taken against her will to the palace, forced to marry King Xerxes, and then followed the rules set out by Mordecai regarding her conduct in the palace.
When confronted with the task of saving the Jews, her immediate reaction was to reject it, explaining that “for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives” (Esther 4:11). Esther, rightfully so, feared for her life.
However, once Mordecai made his case, Esther rose to the occasion and proclaimed, “And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). In that moment, Esther realized that there was something more important than fear, something much larger at stake — the very life and continuity of the entire Jewish nation. This was the turning point for both Esther and the Jews.
Because of Esther’s courage, the Jewish people were saved from annihilation, and for this she is remembered for all time.
Are there fears that are holding you back from taking a stand? Take Esther’s example to heart and be strong.