I’m wishing you Chodesh Tov- a good month! We’ve just entered Adar 2, the “leap month” in the Jewish calendar. The sages in the Talmud tell us, "Mishenichnas Adar marbin b'simchah," "When Adar enters, we increase joy" (B. Ta'anit 29a).
This month we celebrate Purim, a joyous holiday in which God is not mentioned directly, but is alluded to throughout, and a woman is the hero. And just a few days ago we celebrated International Women’s Day, in which we acknowledged the myriad achievements of women around the globe, many of whom have advanced the cause of humanity, such as Malala, Gloria Steinem and countless others.
The achievements of women certainly stand out in the Purim story. Esther, a young queen with seemingly little power saves all the Jews in her kingdom from death, with the support of her cousin Mordechai. Esther’s predecessor Vashti paved the way for Esther’s heroism by bravely standing up to the king and refusing to be treated in a demeaning way. Vashti’s way of proclaiming her self-sovereignty was obvious and bold. Esther (whose name is related to the word nistar which means hidden), accomplished her goal in a mostly quiet and understated way. And we need look no further than our everyday lives to find women (including ourselves) who have overcome challenging obstacles and accomplished hard-earned goals, some in a grand and bold way, and some in a quieter, smaller scale fashion that nevertheless has enduring ripple effects.
May we celebrate how far we have come as women, and with this joy and pride fueling us, may we continue to make this world a better place, each in our own unique and important way. May we connect to the strength of the Divine, whether She is obvious in our lives or hidden, and support each other in our movement forward.
I am a Rabbinic Chaplain in the Jewish Renewal tradition who brings a light-filled and joyful Judaism to others who want to experience the beauty of Jewish spirituality.