Emulating Mordechai

With ten days to Purim, intensive preparations are taking place in Jewish homes throughout the world.

As adults plan seudah menus and start putting together mishloach manos packages, and children eagerly discuss their costumes, it is an ideal time to contemplate how the great miracle that we celebrate on Purim came to be.

Avichayil, the father of the Purim story’s heroine who was then known as Hadassah, passed away before her birth. Her mother died in childbirth, leaving the tiny orphaned infant without family or home. Mordechai took the child into his home and raised her.

Harav Elisha Galici, who lived in the time of the Arizal, interprets the words of Chazal (Esther Rabbah 6:1) that it was in the zechus of Mordechai Hatzaddik’s decision to raise Esther that he merited, along with Esther, to be the messenger of Hashem to save Klal Yisrael.

Mordechai, as a close cousin, was all but obligated to step in and take care of his defenseless relative who was all alone in the world, Harav Galici adds. Yet Mordechai received an immense reward — to be the conduit to save a nation. How much more so if he had raised an orphan who was not a relative and to whom he had no obligation!

In this week’s Binyan magazine, children are taught about the notion of foster homes. These wonderful families open up their homes and hearts to children they didn’t give birth to, and, in most cases, to whom they are not related by blood. These children have biological parents, but for one or more of a variety of reasons they are unable to live with them.

Unlike adoptees, foster children often only stay with these families for limited amounts of time and are then often reunited with their birth parents.

According to OHEL, which has placed over 2500 Jewish children in foster homes over the past four decades, there is an increased need for foster homes. In order to try to make the best match possible between these children and the families with whom they are placed, it is imperative that the pool of prospective foster parents be as large as possible.

Making a call to OHEL doesn’t mean you are committing to taking in a child. Seeking more information only begins a lengthy, tedious process during which both OHEL and a prospective foster family carefully weigh whether they are indeed suitable for this task. Since every effort is made to place children with families whose hashkafos and background are similar to their own, fully trained couples may never actually become foster parents. But by taking an interest and making the effort to show that they care, they are spiritually enriched by the experience.

As we approach Purim, it is a propitious time to redouble our efforts to come to the assistance of all those in our community who can use a helping hand. This includes opening our homes, our wallets, and most of all our hearts — giving of ourselves to help our fellow man. In the merit of our acts of kindness towards relatives and strangers, may we, too, merit to be saved from the clutches of our contemporary enemies.