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Purim: Best Director

Purim: Best Director

Scorsese move over. Purim reminds us who is really sitting in the director's chair.


I thought that it was the worst thing that had happened to me in all of my 18 years on the planet. As a Russian and Political Science major, my dream was to spend my junior year of college participating in a groundbreaking year-long study program at a Russian university. Only two students would be chosen to represent each university.

When the acceptance letters were sent out, two of my classmates were chosen instead of me. I was furious. I was humiliated. And I was prepared to fight the decision tooth and nail.

I appealed to the head of my college's Russian department. I appealed to the Dean of Faculty. They both agreed that I had not been treated fairly in the acceptance process, and the professor who had rejected me from the program received an official letter of rebuke for her behavior from the Dean's office.

But it didn't help. My classmates would spend the following year on the program instead of me. I was absolutely devastated.

In the end, instead of traveling to Russia, I decided to make my first trip to Israel in order to volunteer with Russian-speaking immigrants. When I arrived in Jerusalem in February 1992, I fell in love with Israel at first sight, and had my first exposure to traditional Judaism when I spent several months studying at a yeshiva for women. These were among the most transformative and important months of my life.

In retrospect, 15 years after the fact, I realize that my rejection from that study program was, without comparison, the most fortunate turn of events of my entire life.

As a result of that traumatic rejection, I live in Israel. As a result of that rejection, I met my husband two years later when we were both studying in Jerusalem. As a result of that rejection, I today have a vibrant and committed Jewish home.


Looking back, it was as though God had personally reached down into the world, picked me up and turned me around 180 degrees, despite my kicking and screaming.

Life has a way of disappointing us. When you have just been fired from a great job, broken your leg, lost a profitable business deal, or been dumped by the person you thought was your knight in shining armor, your first tendency is probably to look up in frustration and yell, "God, why have You abandoned me?"

Purim comes once a year to remind us that God is the One sitting in the Director's chair even on those frequent occasions when life lets us down.

The holiday of Purim comes once a year to remind us that God is the One sitting in the Director's chair calling out "Quiet on the set -- action!" even on those frequent occasions when life lets us down.

Out of the 24 books of the Bible, the Book of Esther is unique in that God's name is not mentioned even once. This means that the distressing events of the Purim story, like the distressing moments of our lives, appear to take place by coincidence, with God totally out of the picture. Esther is taken from the devout home of Mordechai where she was raised, and forced to marry the loathsome, idol-worshipping King Achashverosh against her will. The evil Haman rises to power, and makes a declaration of genocide against all of the Jewish men, women, and children living throughout the Persian Empire.

But by the end of the Purim story, we understand that God is never out of the picture. Haman has been executed, Mordechai has risen to power in his place, and the Jews celebrate their miraculous redemption from certain death with joy and feasting.

We can easily look back at the earlier chapters and see that what had initially appeared to be a multitude of random and arbitrary twists of fate were actually carefully orchestrated acts of God to save the Jewish people and bring them closer to their Creator.

There may come a time when you wish that you could change the script you've been given. But it's a whole lot easier to embrace your role when you appreciate that you are putting yourself in the hands of the finest Auteur.


February 24, 2007

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Visitor Comments: 6

(6) raye, March 9, 2009 11:05 AM

The importance of being receptive to change

How long does it take to learn not to be crushed by every disappointment, annoyed by every mosquito bite. Mulling over every bad break blinds us to better breaks that may come along.It is amazing how focusing on our blessings can open us to a variety of opportunities even when the future looks bleak.

(5) Char, February 27, 2007 9:08 AM

Thought-provoking article

The title didn't grab me. Aish sent it separate in an email, so I thought, okay, they have something they really want me to read, so I clicked in and I shortly realized this article is a blueprint portion of every person's life on earth with facts and circumstances befitting our lives.

All of us have an Esther story, no matter how less grand the scale.

This lesson of life reveals the tender mercies of The Almighty and His declaration in the Nevi'im: I have loved you with an everlasting love. It is also another reminder in the Holy Scriptures: He who keeps Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.

Let all the Hamans out there beware -- they may get by for awhile, but they will not get away.


(4) Anonymous, February 27, 2007 8:31 AM

I agree is principle, but the premise it too simplistic.

I just read "Best Director", twice, and, although I agree with the basis of Chana Weisberg's article, I felt it left out a very important element, that of human choice. Yes, Hashem presents us with all sorts of unexpected (and sometimes unrecognized) opportunities. The variable is whether or not we make the right choice and take advantage of that opportunity. Was going to Jerusalem the only other option she had in 1992 or had Hashem provided several choices and she made the right one. She had to be personally ready and open enough to accept and believe what she learned in the women's yeshiva in order to continue on the path that lead to her wonderful life. Certainly, I see the hand of Hashem at work here. I just see it from a slightly different persepective. In addition to affording Ms. Weisberg opportunities, I thank Hashem for having given her the wisdom and ability to make the right choices.

(3) Anonymous, February 27, 2007 1:22 AM

I just wanted to say a heart-felt thank you to a lady named Chena Jenny Weisberg for her article entitled, Best Director. I greatly identified with what she had to say. Over the last seven years my life has literally been turned upside down. I haven't been able to figure out the "why" of it, and have occasionally felt like God was either mad at me or had abandoned me. I worked my way through a private graduate school for five long years, going to work during the day and to school at night. Just when I was about to get my degree, we were informed that the school was not properly certified by the body that governs them, and my graduation was delayed for a year. My parents' home burned to the ground the next year, and the year after that my mother and grandmother died within a year of each other, I never did get my license to use my graduate degree, and I found myself tens of thousands of dollars in debt and nothing to show for it. I lost my savings, investments, car and home. My lowest point came when a former "friend" mocked both God and me for the situation I was in. However, looking back on it I can see His providence bringing me safely through all those tough and scary days. Ms. Weisberg's article, The Best Director, put it all into perspective. This is my year for things to go right! I am about to go into a whole new career that will bring me joy and fulfillment that I never would have known as a lawyer. God's Grace is more than sufficient, especially through the hard times.

(2) Laya, February 26, 2007 12:31 PM


Chag Sameach! Happy Purim!

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