One day, the rabbi stopped him and said, “Why are you always in a hurry?” The man replied, “I’m running to make a living.”
The rabbi paused and answered, “You say you’re running after your living. But how do you know your living is not running after you? Perhaps all you need to do is pause, and let it catch up.”
Are You Running Away From Your Gifts?
Sometimes we lose ourselves in busyness. We let our gifts run right by us. We treat life as a game to be won rather than experience to savor.
This lesson emerges in the Jewish holiday that begins this weekend. Know as Purim, it celebrates the wisdom of Queen Esther and her boldness in saving the Jews of Persia from annihilation.
The story of Queen Esther is an enlightening one. She is born as a peasant and is plucked from obscurity to become Queen.
Why Esther Became Queen
According to the Jewish sages, part of the reason the King selected her was that her character was “soft and gentle, prudent and careful.” These traits stood out in contrast to many of her rivals for the throne, who were zealous and deceitful and self-centered.
The sages then connect Esther’s character with her faith. Her faith taught her right from wrong, what was real and what was fake, what was just and what was unjust. She was careful not to embarrass or deceive others. She knew she served a higher power than the king.
Her rivals, however, saw becoming queen as their right and sole purpose. It became their consuming passion, and they relentlessly pushed to attain even if it meant embarrassing or destroying their rivals. They knew no higher power other than themselves.
How Can We Learn from Her Example?
Esther’s example can speak to us today. How often do we relentlessly pursue what is bigger and greater because we think it will make us happy? How often does our desire for rewards and recognition drive our actions? How often do our possessions start to possess us?
When we let this happen, we confuse what we think will make us feel good with what brings ultimate meaning and purpose in life. We keep chasing after what we think we want, when what we really need is standing right beside us.
By following the gentle and faithful example of Queen Esther, we can attain what makes life truly worthwhile.
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