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Hero Mom

Mar 7, 2012 at 07:21:06 AM

By now you've probably heard about Stephanie Decker, the Indiana mom who lost her legs protecting her children when a monster tornado sucked her 8,000-square-foot house into its vortex and caused it to completely collapse.

Stephanie describes how she and her two small children went down into their basement to ride out the storm when the violent winds began to break glass and literally move her house. In a split-second decision, Stephanie tied them up in a blanket and threw her own body on top of them in order to protect them from falling debris. Everything from furniture to steel beams landed on her ― puncturing a lung, breaking seven ribs, severing her two legs.

Stephanie prayed to survive and to be able to see her children grow up. Her 8-year-old son crawled out from the rubble and ran for help, while Stephanie made a farewell video on her cellphone. In the end, Stephanie's life was spared and the two children walked away totally unscathed.

This is one of those unique stories that gets to your core ― the kind that brings great sadness and inspiration at the same time. And with Jews around the world celebrating Purim today, I keep coming back to the words of Queen Esther. She knew that approaching the King without an appointment was punished by death, yet she viewed her mission to save the Jewish people thusly: "If I perish, I perish" (Esther 4:16).

When it comes to sacrificing for something that we deeply believe in, we are capable of super-human efforts.

And this has me asking: What am I capable of?

If Stephanie Decker could give up her legs for her children, what can I do for my family? Is there any sacrifice too great? If Esther was ready to give up everything to save the Jewish people, what can I do for my community? What could I do for the world?

Purim is a holiday of great joy. It is also a time of awesome spiritual power. Our Sages say that before embarking on her dangerous mission, Esther recited Psalm 22 ("Ayelet Hashachar"). So too, every individual can recite Psalm 22 and pour his heart out to the Almighty on Purim day.

The world is in desperate need of repair, on so many fronts. We each have a super-human capacity to fix things, to achieve the Jewish mission of tikkun olam. Let's make this Purim a great one.

with thanks to Yonit Rothchild

March 7, 2012

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Visitor Comments: 1

(1) Yaffa, March 8, 2012 5:42 PM

Thank you, this piece was very moving. I think as Jews, we are continually contemplating what we would do in extreme situations. We hear stories that are part of our history and ask ourselves what we would do if we found ourselves in that place. It's just part of our education and the way we are raised.

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