Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus
-- he was the Ahasuerus who reigned from Hodu to Cush, one hundred
twenty-seven provinces. (Esther 1:1)
The Medrash asks homiletically “what brought Esther to rule
over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces? And the Medrash answers ‘it
is appropriate for Esther who was the granddaughter of [our Matriarch] Sarah
who lived for one hundred and twenty-seven years to rule over one hundred and
twenty-seven provinces” The obvious question is, our mother Sarah had many
granddaughters; what was so special about Esther that she should merit this?!
would seem that indeed Esther was the quintessential granddaughter of Sarah Imeinu. Esther inherited the [same] character traits that
made Sarah so special. She was able to withstand the greatest test that a woman
can experience, the test of exceptional beauty, by which a great king who ruled
over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces desired her as his queen and
she…was not at all pleased; on the contrary she felt that she was the most
unfortunate of women, she considered herself hopeless – ‘and if I
perish, I perish’. (Esther 4:16). And she remained in the palace, loyal
to her people and to her God. She had no satisfaction whatsoever; not from the
king and not from any luxuries that come with royalty. She did not taste of the
king’s bread, she subsisted entirely on beans. This poor orphan that was
raised by her esteemed uncle, Mordechai, and she was loyal only to him! She
preferred the spirituality of Mordechai’s house
over the lavishness of the king’s palace.
from whom did she learn this noble attribute? From Sarah Imeinu
whom was the most beautiful woman ever in creation (next to Chava
(Eve), the mother of all life) and when she came to Egypt with her husband
because of a famine in Canaan and she was seized by the officers of Pharaoh who
praised her beauty before him, she rebuffed the chance to become the Queen of
Egypt, the greatest world power at that time. Instead she stayed up the entire
night in fervent prayer to Hashem to release her from this
“prison”. Hashem heeded her prayers and caused a terrible plague to
descend upon Pharaoh and his household - ‘And Hashem plagued Pharaoh and
his house with great plagues because of Sarai
Abram’s wife.’ Sarah
wanted to return to her humble and modest husband. She favored the life of soul
and spirit with Avraham rather than the opulent life of a queen!
all this in consideration we can see clearly the personality of Sarah in
Esther! And to this end we can certainly identify Esther as the model
granddaughter of the esteemed Sarah, Matriarch of the Jewish people!
had no choice but to remain in the Persian king’s palace in order to
bring about the salvation of her people at this time of [Hashem’s]
concealment. This only serves to magnify her test and her nobility.
Esther’s life in the palace was one of never-ending violation but she
withstood the ordeal for the benefit of her people and her heritage. The Jews
at that time were unworthy of open miracles and when heaven sought a Jewish
daughter who would maintain her devotion to Hashem and to her people to the
point of martyrdom, even as the queen who ruled over one hundred and twenty
provinces, they found Esther, the venerated granddaughter of Sarah Imeinu and elected her for this noble mission; for not
every Jewish girl is deemed worthy of such a tremendous responsibility!