From Hannukah to Purim – Hakarat HaTov

From Hannukah to Purim – Hakarat HaTov

It has been a few months since the light of Hannukah filled our homes, and the joy of  celebrating the holiday of light with our families is almost a distant memory. As Jews, it is strange to be “holiday-less” as we are always celebrating or commemorating something. It has felt like a few months of “holiday vacation” (with the exception of Tu B’Shvat) where we took a break from the often unhealthy (but delicious) Jewish food and got back to our daily lives. 

It is also an “empty” few months in the sense that we are not filled with the joy that comes with celebrating with family. However, do not fret as a very exciting holiday is approaching – Purim! Like Hannukah, Purim is a holiday where we commemorate that our people almost met a tragic fate, but thanks to the heroism of several characters (Mordechai and Queen Esther) our people stood up for our beliefs and ultimately won! 

Many of us know the Purim story: King Achashverosh doesn’t like his queen, so he holds a contest for a new queen. Esther, a nice Jewish girl, enters the contest after being nudged by her uncle Mordechai. The king’s evil sidekick Haman has a different plan for the Jewish people and convinces the king to rid all of the Jews in Shushan (Persia) on a certain day. Long story made short, the king does not know his new wife Esther is Jewish. When she risks her life by revealing her identity, she saves her people! Talk about gevurah (courage)! A very happy ending to a risky situation.

How is this month’s value, hakarat hatov, connected to the Purim story? The Jewish people have been through many ups and downs, and like the Purim story, have often avoided a tragic fate; however, we always recognize or identify the good in any situation. The Purim story could have been tragic but due to Esther’s gevurah (strength), courage, and pride in being Jewish, she was able to create a positive outcome for the Jewish people.

We, too, can recognize or identify the good; the tov in any situation. In our daily lives we face ups and downs.  In addition, with social media and the internet, we are aware of global acts of anti-semitism or other types of adversity and hate. We can dwell in the sadness of the world, the prejudice and the pain, or we can find the good, the tov, and do our part as Esther did to fix the world and to do tikkun olam. May we all find the strength to pursue the  tov even in the darkest situations or experiences. Wishing you all a Chag Purim Sameach, a very happy and joyous Purim.

Rabbi Danielle Eskow

About Rabbi Danielle Eskow

Rabbi Dani is the Co-Founder and CEO of Online Jewish Learning whose mission is to make Jewish education an accessible and enjoyable experience for every student. Dani has years of experience teaching and developing Jewish curricula, and is the primary developer of educational content at OnlineJewishLearning. Ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, Dani earned her Bachelor of Arts from Brandeis University in Near Eastern & Judaic Studies, Hebrew Language and Literature, and Psychology. She was recently named in Boston as one of the Combined Jewish Philanthropy’s most influential leaders under 45. Dani lives in Brookline MA with her husband and two daughters.