“I’m sorry, angels,” Moses responded, looking uncomfortable. “I’ve come to collect the tablets and speak with G-d”
Featured Photo via MyJewishLearning.com
Featured Photo via MyJewishLearning.com
On September 11th, 2017 I decided to write a blog post every week.
He is writing as fast as He can.
Blog Post: 26/52
Featured Photo courtesy of a birthday gift from a very thoughtful friend.
Talya tossed and turned, burying herself under the blankets, as if that could make her mind stop churning.
She heard her son whimper from his bed. She lifted him up and tried to calm him as her hands shook and her heart beat twice as fast.
How could she sleep tonight?
Tomorrow, her best friend since childhood would be sacrificing her life for the sake of the Jewish nation.
Talya had not eaten in 3 days, and she was physically weakened, but the mind games and constant thought had played more of a role in causing her diminished state.
She couldn’t fathom what Esther was feeling, thinking.
Was Esther sleeping tonight?
In that enormous palace, empty of joy, empty of soul, beautiful in all the wrong ways.
Esther’s home for so many years, yet Esther hasn’t been home in so many years.
The baby fell back asleep in Talya’s arms, and she moved to a pillow on the ground. She needed the comfort his small body gave to her.
Shushan was quiet in the dead of the night. Talya wondered how many eyes were still open, staring at the night sky.
It had been horribly long since Esther was taken. Eleven years since that painful day.
Talya had been away at her uncle’s house, assisting with his small children for a few months after his wife passed away, all the way in Persepolis. When she left, she hugged her best friend goodbye, naive, unknowing what the coming months would bring.
When she returned, her best friend had been kidnapped and preparations were underway to proclaim her as queen.
Talya cried for two weeks, unable to leave her bed, feeling a depth of guilt she could not even fathom. Then one day she was forced to go to the market, and as she did, the evil King Achashverosh was showing off his new wife on a escorted stroll through the Jewish area of Shushan. Talya locked eyes with Esther, and Esther’s eyes filled with tears.
Talya knew there could be immense danger for Esther if she dared to express displeasure about being the new Queen, so she made a fool out of herself by comically dropping the pears she held. Several people around her gave her angry looks, but when Talya met Esther’s eyes again, she saw a glint of amusement and the hint of a smile on her lips.
Nobody in the palace knew that Esther was Jewish, and therefore Talya could not soirée with Esther in her lavish new home. But they exchanged letters, sent through Mordechai and Hatach, and whenever Esther was let out of the palace for a brief showing, Talya focused all her love into the one glance they could afford.
She couldn’t imagine the depth of loneliness Esther felt in that huge palace, the lack of warmth, love and Torah that once surrounded her now gone, all taken in one fateful night.
Talya lay the baby gently on his bed and tip toed quietly out of the house, careful not to wake her husband and other sleeping children.
She looked up at the starry sky. It was a beautiful night, the kind of night Esther had loved as a kid.
As soon as the thought entered her mind, Talya forced it out.
“No, this will not be Esther’s last night alive.”
Talya felt the lump in her throat returning, the tears coming again.
Mordechai was so brave, so resilient in his faith. He had visited their home earlier that day, and he had not one doubt in his mind that a miracle would occur.
Talya wished for even an ounce of his strength. But it was so hard, oh so hard, to stop the bad thoughts from coming in.
“Don’t you see, Talya?” Mordechai had cried “this is why Esther has been living in that palace for eleven years. For this moment! Can you imagine that G-d would forsake us?”
Talya shook her head as she continued to pray, unable to do anything else but fast and pray, as they had done for the last three days.
The impending doom of the 13th of Adar was looming, less than a year away. They should been celebrating the Pesach Seder that night, but they were fasting.
Talya’s heart dipped in pain as she bit back the thought that perhaps this was their last chance to celebrate Passover at all.
The door across from Talya opened, startling her from her thoughts. She brushed her tears away as her neighbor stepped out of her house.
“Can’t sleep?” Avigail called softly.
Talya shook her head. Avigail crossed the path and embraced Talya. As soon as Avigail’s arms were around her, Talya’s tears came quickly. She could no longer hold them back.
The two women stood, in tears, their stomachs empty, but full of fear, their hearts trying so hard to believe.
But when life unfolds so slowly, when the future can only be known once it has passed, belief is the most difficult to find.
It had been eleven years since Esther had been taken from their small neighborhood, eleven years since she had been a part of their everyday life. She had laughed with them, inspired them and cooked with them.
For eleven years she had been unreachable, growing less familiar each day.
And tomorrow she would risk death in order to save them.
And nobody knew if the plan would work. It was a plan of desperation. A hope, a tiny fire kindled and strengthened by their leader Mordechai.
And on the night that families should be united around tables, singing songs, drinking wine and eating matzah together, celebrating freedom, some sat alone and some sat together, whispering words of prayer, asking their G-d to split the sea once more.
Blog Post: 24/52
Disclaimer: This story may not be historically, biblically, or anything correct. I used my creative license to give life and emotion to a story we read each year. If you’ve never heard the story, read it here: http://www.chabad.org/holidays/purim/article_cdo/aid/645995/jewish/The-Basic-Purim-Story.htm
It was just another day in heaven, and a collection of angels had joined G-d in the human production wing for their day’s work. G-d was carefully putting together the day’s newest soul to join the world and laying down the final touches that the soul would now need during its time on earth.
The angels worked quickly and silently, passing G-d each tool and gift He required.
“Can you pass me the Free Choice from that shelf?”
The angels responded with a deep silence.
None of them made any move towards the shelves.
G-d looked up, His displeasure clear on His expression, “is something wrong?”
The angels all looked uneasily at each other. Finally, one, who had a reputation for bravery in the face of holier beings, cleared her throat and stepped forward.
“My Majesty, forgive me for being so out of line, but we have been watching earth and we can’t help but weep at what we see. Would it be so terrible to remove Free Choice from the human species? They are constantly making the wrong choices. The world is falling apart at the seams,” she looked around at her fellow angels for support “and we remember, we were there when you sewed each stitch so carefully.”
G-d turned His face away, and when He looked back, the angels were shocked to see tears falling from their King, who usually reserved His tears for when He was in His most hidden chambers.
The angels eyed each other, suddenly awkward and uncomfortable.
“I’m so sorry, that was so uncalled for,” stammered the angel who had spoken up, now seriously considering disappearing.
“No,” G-d spoke finally, a voice heavy with emotion “you speak the truth.”
The angels let out the collective breath they had been holding, though still unsure of what to do.
They hovered quietly, waiting to see what G-d’s next instructions would be.
“I know that you find yourself disappointed with the human kind.” He started slowly.
They all nodded, slightly ashamed. They all remembered each tireless fight between the angels and G-d, always born out of this sensitive topic. G-d always took the side of His people.
With a sigh, G-d opened the door to the human production wing, and the angels knew He wanted them to follow. They swept along the halls, following their King to the other side of heaven, where the Earth Observation wing was.
As the door slid open, the angels inside gaped at who stood in the door. G-d rarely stepped foot inside this wing, being that He was all-knowing and all-seeing and did not require the extra assistance that the angels needed.
They immediately moved out of the way, allowing access to all of the controls. G-d waited until all the angels had gathered.
Angels in the middle of other ethereal tasks noticed the commotion as they moved past, and gathered at the edges of the wing as well.
“I will allow a short break in our tasks because I feel that this is of utmost importance to discuss before we can carry on,” G-d announced.
Curious, the angel’s inched closer.
“I have been alerted to the fact that there is some dislike for the continued use of Free Choice for the human species.”
The angels that had just been pushing to get closer cringed and moved back. They looked around accusingly, trying to spot the angel that had sprung the leak.
“Everyone in this universe is my creation. Including all of you. It would do you well to complete each of your tasks and leave earth and it’s people to Me. But, because you have been discussing this amongst yourselves, I find that I cannot go about creating more humans before I clear this up.”
With that, G-d turned to the controls and began moving things around. The angels watched, nervously, as scenes unfolded before them.
Quickly, scene after scene unfolded of members of the human species, men, women, and children, making choices with their Free Choice privilege.
They watched as a father sat in his New York office, making the decision to sacrifice a promotion to be able to spend more time with his family. They watched as a child, three dollars held tightly in her chubby fist, made the choice between a new toy and charity, gifting the three dollars to a homeless man on the street.
They watched a mother gently discipline her child, despite how easy it would be to give in to his whims.
They watched as humans of all kinds across the earth continuously made the right choices, and as each time, that small part of the world was lit up with a joy and light so deep and warm, the angels could feel it all the way back up in heaven.
After a few minutes, G-d turned back to the angels, who stood, all smiling, much more relaxed. A chorus of “we are so sorry, of course, You’re right.” came from the crowd.
One voice stood out.
The angels all stared at the angel who dared to differ.
The angel strode forward, her fellow angels recognizing her as the one who had spoken up in the first place.
They all eyed G-d, unsure of His reaction. He moved back, allowing her access to the controls.
She moved some things around and suddenly the room was filled with horrible images of mass murder, greed, and human cruelty.
The angels gasped, cowering.
“How can this be ignored?” the angel turned to her friends “We were only shown the images of the humans making the right choices – but what about when they make the wrong decisions? How can we allow them to destroy the gift they have been given? They are mindless idiots, making foolish, cruel decisions!”
“Stop!” roared G-d.
The angels stared at G-d, begging for an explanation. An answer. He only responded with deep, broken sobs.
Through His tears, G-d maneuvered the scenes again and the angels watched as two scenes unfolded before them.
They were the same scenes, but it was immediately obvious to the angels that in one scene, the human had Free Choice, and in the other, he did not.
In the scene lacking Free Choice, the human did not spend time wondering what to do. He did not even eye the wrong choice, or give it a moments thought. He efficiently and painlessly did the right thing and quickly moved on. Sparks flew, and the world warmed slightly from the good deed.
The angels sighed in contentment as they watched. What a beautiful, safe world it would be when Free Choice was no longer an option.
The room full of angels moved their attention to the scene with the human gifted with Free Choice. They watched as the human sat, making the decision. He made lists, and wandered far, seeking the counsel of others. Tears were shed, and a deep pain was felt in the midst of the indecision. The struggle seemed to be tearing the human apart.
“See!” cried out the courageous angel “Look at the pain of the human, a pain that would not exist without Free Choice.”
“Quiet!” roared G-d, anger flashing in His eyes.
The angels watched, breath held, as the human contemplated, and thought, and grew as he made the decision.
Finally, the human made the right choice.
The observation room exploded with applause, great big smiles spreading across the angels.
They watched as the world was engulfed in a spiritual fire that reached all four corners of the world, embracing all of mankind and refining the earth as a whole.
The room was silent again, for even the once courageous angel felt foolish now.
The difference between the two scenes was laughable.
G-d looked closely at each angel “Do you see now?”
They all nodded, quite humbled.
“There will be pain. There will be hurt. They will make the wrong choices. I created them – I knew that they would mess up.” Each angel felt as if G-d was speaking to them alone as He looked around the room “But how can we have a world in which no true decisions must be made? I can create a world as holy and pure as I want, but as soon as I wrote humankind into the script, I gave them the power to create a world that is holier and more beautiful than I ever could do alone. Yes, the path is filled with blood and tears. It hurts terribly each time they choose evil over good.”
Some of the more sensitive angels began to cry.
“Remember,” G-d said gently “they are doing the work that none of us could do. And as painful as it is for us, the pain for them is double. They are bringing the world to its ultimate completion.”
The angels wiped their tears, thoroughly chastised and humbled.
“Now, back to work!” G-d instructed, sending angels flying back to their stations.
As they filed back into the human production wing, the angels dared not speak. G-d took His place again at the table.
“Now, let us try this again. Can I have the Free Choice?”
The angels all clamored to be the one to pass it over. After much ado, it finally made its way to G-d.
He smiled kindly and placed it inside the soul.
He then gently wrapped the soul in its protective garments that would keep it intact for its tumultuous journey on earth. He placed it carefully in the arms of the angel handpicked to accompany the soul.
G-d leaned forward, and lay a soft kiss on the soul and whispered:
“My pure, darling soul…make the right choices.”
Blog Post: 5/52
Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash