Today is the joyful holiday of Purim - as jam-packed with mitzvahs as the special three-cornered hamantaschen cookies we eat to remember how the evil Haman, who wanted to destroy the Jewish people, was tricked and defeated.
We hear the great story of courage in the Book of Esther, give gifts to the poor, exchange baskets of goodies, and eat the Purim feast.
Once, I was having a conversation with some 3rd grade girls. Their teacher brought them to the library where I run my creativity program and asked, "We're studying trickster tales. Could you please tell the girls a Jewish trickster tale?"
A Jewish trickster tale? That's an unusual request. I love to encourage children to figure things out so I asked the girls, "What would be a Jewish trickster tale?"
"Purim!" shouted one of the girls, "Because the evil villain Haman was turned into a cookie!" What a cute answer, I thought and then, we proceeded to have such a profound conversation, I really wanted to share it with you.
You see, Haman was a very bitter man. He had everything a man could want in those times. He was rich, had a multitude of sons, and was promoted to the highest position next to the king - but none of this made Haman happy because he lacked one thing. Mordechai the Jew would not bow down to him.
Because Haman only focused on what he lacked, he ignored all of the sweetness in his life and his life came to a bitter end.
But do we eat bitter radishes to remember Haman?
No! Just like the little girl said, we eat sweet cookies to remember to focus on the sweetness of life, not the bitterness and to appreciate what we have, not dwell on what we lack.
Then, I asked the girls, "So, tell me, who is the Trickster in this Jewish trickster tale?" and they all answered, "HASHEM!!!" Yes, out of the mouths of babes - G-d is the cosmic Trickster, hidden in the Book of Esther, and often hidden in our lives, but always bringing out our highest good.
And then another little girl said one of the most astonishingly wise things I've ever heard. One girl raised her hand and said, "I wonder why G-d tests us when He already knows what we're going to do?" And her friend immediately responded, "To prove to US that we can do it!"
And that, my friend, is the reason for all of the tests, challenges and bitterness of life - may you never know from any pain or sorrow! When we are faced with a test, just like Queen Esther, Mordechai, and all of the Jewish people were faced with a life and death test, it is to prove to us that we have the inner strength to meet our challenge.
G-d is always with us and always involved - even when it looks like we're facing our tests alone.
Remember that, my friend!
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"Happy Purim! Family & Adult Coloring Book & Kit
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