Presidents are always worried about their legacy. As their terms draw to a close, we see them scrambling to do something grand and significant to ensure that history will remember them favorably -- and in a big way.
Jews are also worried about their legacy. We also want to make sure we leave something of value behind. But it doesn't have to be a library or world peace (although that would definitely be wonderful). It can be something small, something without public recognition but something very important and meaningful nevertheless.
After the events of Purim, Esther merited that a "whole megillah" be written in her honor. Although the ultimate goal was to sanctify the Almighty, Esther got prominent placement for her efforts on behalf of the Jewish people. She was willing to sacrifice her marriage, in fact her very life, if it could save her nation.
Very few of us are placed in positions like that today. We are rarely called upon to make those grand gestures. Yet that doesn't mean that our lives are any less significant, any less worthy of a megillah. In fact I would argue the opposite. In slogging through our daily challenges, in continually putting one foot in front of the other, and especially in doing it with a smile, we are creating our own legacy.
We are meriting (hopefully) that a megillah be written in our names.
Here's a short list of our everyday actions and decisions that are building impressive resumes -- and giving the Almighty nachas. Please add your own.
If we stay home with our children because we know it is good for them even though we may be lonely and bored. If we do it cheerfully. Extra credit if we do it with patience.
If we go to work in order to support our families, perhaps to help send our children to Jewish day schools.
If we accept a less materially rich life in order to lead a more spiritually developed one.
If we encourage our husbands to deepen their involvement in Jewish learning even though we would like their help.
If we involve ourselves in learning and growing in a world that promotes the easy life with retirement as the end game.
If we live with less in order to give tzedakah and help others.
If we open our homes to guests and classes and charity events even while our beds are calling us.
If we dress with dignity despite the lure of fashion.
If we work at embodying a sense of privacy not just in dress but in action -- in a world where there is no shame and reality TV beckons.
If we work on our marriages in a world where the institution has been devalued and they are too easily discarded.
If we try to avoid gossip in a society where it drives the economy -- from People magazine on downward...
If we teach our children to share in a world of self-centeredness (What? They don't have their own bedroom, television, computer?)
If we behave ethically in business and possibly risk failure.
If we work on trust in the Almighty, trying to remind ourselves, our spouses, our children that it is all in His hands -- in a world where the "I" is glorified and religion is mocked...
Then surely a megillah will be written about us. It may not be read aloud in the community every year, nor would we want it to be. But it will be a meaningful and true legacy.