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"Rabbi Akiva haya yosheiv v’doresh v’hatzibur misnamnem. Bikeish l’orerum. Amar lahem, mah ra’asa Esther shetimloch al kuf chaf zayin medina? Elah tavo Esther she’hi bas bitah shel Sarah shechaysa kuf v’chaf v’zayin, v’timloch al kuf v’chaf v’zayin medina." (Medrash, beginning of Parshas Chayei Sarah)

Rabbi Akiva was expounding a Torah lesson, and those assembled were dozing off. Wishing to stimulate them, he posed the following question: In what merit did Esther Hamalka reign over 127 provinces? Let Esther come, the daughter of a Sara who lived a hundred-twenty-seven years, and have her reign over a hundred-twenty-seven years.

Why were the students dozing off, and what is the meaning of this question?

The reason they were dozing off was because they felt that the spiritual level which R’ Akiva was presenting to them was too high for them to ever reach. Why learn a lesson that is impossible to carry out? When R’ Akiva realized this, he sought to "wake them up" with a lesson about Esther.

The virtue of Esther Hamalka was that she chose Sarah Imeinu as her personal role model. One may question - why did Esther choose her, who had, after all, lived so many generations before her, and was so much greater than her, as a role model? What would she gain by working towards a goal that was seemingly impossible for her to reach? However the very fact that she set her goals so high - yes, even impossibly high – caused her to become the Esther Hamalka who merited ruling over 127 countries.

Now we are in the midst of the Parshios which discuss the Avos and Imahos. Every week we glean additional insights into their lofty spiritual stature. One may question, what can I, living in the year 5758 from creation, learn from those great people who lived so many years ago? They reached a lofty spiritual level -- higher than I can ever dream of reaching!

The answer lies in this Medrash which cites the example of Esther Hamalka who chose Sarah Imeinu as her role model and thus merited to reign over 127 provinces. Yes, strive to emulate the hachnosas orchim of Avraham and Sarah, the chessed of Rivka, the selflessness of Rachel. Yes, aim for the stars. For if you are reaching the stars, at least your hands won't get stuck in the mud.

  • Source: Beraishis Rabbah 58:3, Michtav MeEliyahu

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In Loving Memory Of Our Father, Mr. Joseph Black (Yosef Ben Zelig) O"H
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