It is often said that, “We make plans, and God laughs.”
This simple tidbit of wisdom is an ongoing reality for all of us and is central to the popularity of Purim. Purim is a holiday which glorifies and celebrates role reversals and plot changes in the unfolding story of life. This is based on the fact that the Book of Esther is filled with unplanned twists and turns. Consider how many times the plot shifts in the megillah:
1. Queen Esther, who initially appears to be a demure, closeted Jew, puts her life on the line to save the Jewish people by standing up to the King and challenging his decree.
2. Haman, the Jew hating villain of the story, plots to annihilate the Jewish people and ends up setting the stage for his own demise.
3. And in the end, the Jews of Shushan, who were once powerless subjects, become powerful actors with a sense of control of their own destiny.
Each of these plot twists serve to remind us of the tensions which exist between free will and human destiny. We can make all the plans we want, yet life can change in an instant through unexpected and uncontrollable events. Similarly, we can find ourselves in a seemingly helpless situation, but as a result of the choices we make or circumstances beyond our control we find ourselves headed down a path of recovery, renewal and hope.
The story of Purim helps us remember that while human destiny may not be entirely under our control, our freedom to choose will always impact the world around us. There are moments in life when we can be like Esther, and we must stand up for what we believe is right. There are moments in life when we can be like Haman, and the choices we make lead to our demise. And there are moments in life when we, like the Jews of Shushan, find that we are suddenly in a place where the choices we make can have a major impact on the destinies of others.
As we celebrate Purim this weekend, may we be aware of the fact that every choice we make has a consequence, but in the end, God always has the last laugh.
Happy Purim – Steve