esther and joseph’s stories share commonalities. they both take place in foreign countries, they both involve beautiful people, their stories take place in the seat of government, and their stories are ones in which god is not in the foreground.
esther and joseph bring their morality into foreign settings. with their intermarriages, they mainstream into the outer world. they are placed in situations where they have concerns for their own people but act as a greater part of society.
today, we too find ourselves entering the mainsteam via engagement with government, business, and social organizations which are foreign. we can find ourselves in places which may or may not share our values. we leave our places of comfort, we engage in balancing acts as esther and joseph.
there are many examples of how this happens. for those who keep kosher or halal, they can be confronted with places or events in which their dietary restrictions may not be met. for those who keep the sabbath, they are confronted with events conflicting with their observance of their day of rest. there are those who are young and go to parties that are morally lacking.
as such, we are conflicted. personal decisions must be made as whether to maintain strict principles or weight out principles and actions. to this personal decision, we can look towards how we perceive others who either maintain principles or modify.
when someone is exceptionally observant, do you feel respect for their stance or do you view it as an annoyance or an upstanding individual? when you see someone who strays from their beliefs, do you see them as some as being accommodating or less moral?
often the challenge in this world is choosing to see forests or trees. for even the strictly observant, they are willing to bend rules with health and danger to human life is involved. there are moments for the observant where they forest overrides the trees. there are those who are not observant who have difficulty in appreciating strict observance. they find some observance as petty and have difficulties in accepting and respecting what others have chosen for their life path. respecting others is a forest issue.
this question brings us back to joseph. the torah’s view of joseph may offer some insight. while joseph’s greatness is noted in the torah, he is not a forefront figure in god’s covenant with the jewish people. abraham, isaac and jacob are awarded this honor. further, when god reveals himself to moses, he tells him that he is the god of abraham, isaac and jacob. exodus 3:6. there is no mention of joseph. surely, joseph’s history in egypt would have been know to the hebrew slaves. yet, he is not part of the calling. was it joseph’s immersion into egyptian culture a reason why his name was excluded from reference?
in sum, while the purim holiday which celebrates how esther and her uncle morderchai saved the jewish people from genocide in persia, the story offers a tale of how one is morally impacted by entering society.
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