Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Little Patience

I've been trying to work on my patience recently, to little avail. Still working. Tonight I noticed that Haman's lack of patience brought about his downfall.
During the Purim story, when Haman, filled with anger at the fact that Mordechai refuses to bow down to him, even after being invited to the queen's private party, receives the following advice from his wife (who is specifically not listed as one of his "friends"):
וַתֹּאמֶר לוֹ זֶרֶשׁ אִשְׁתּוֹ וְכָל-אֹהֲבָיו, יַעֲשׂוּ-עֵץ גָּבֹהַּ חֲמִשִּׁים אַמָּה, וּבַבֹּקֶר אֱמֹר לַמֶּלֶךְ וְיִתְלוּ אֶת-מָרְדֳּכַי עָלָיו, וּבֹא-עִם-הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶל-הַמִּשְׁתֶּה שָׂמֵחַ; וַיִּיטַב הַדָּבָר לִפְנֵי הָמָן, וַיַּעַשׂ הָעֵץ.
Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him: 'Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high, and in the morning speak thou unto the king that Mordechai may be hanged thereon; then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet.' And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made. 

Yet, Haman couldn't wait until the morning. No, he had to speak to the king right away. So, that night, he made his way to the palace to receive the king's blessing to execute Mordechai.
Wouldn't you know it; he just happened to pick the absolute worst night for his request; the very same night that the king was wondering how to reward Mordechai for saving his life. Imagine if he had waited until morning. I can see the king pondering how to reward Mordechai for a while, then tabling the issue as sleep overcame him, and in the morning, forgetting about the matter entirely.
Yet, Haman couldn't wait. And his inability to act with even a modicum of patience contributed to his downfall.
Esther, on the other hand, represents a model of patience. When she finally agrees to pay an unplanned visit to the king, she sensibly instructs the people to fast together with her for three days. But then, instead of bringing her request directly to the king, she...invites him to another party. Even the way she invites him strings him along, making him wait, and wait...just to find out what it is that she wants.
וַתַּעַן אֶסְתֵּר, וַתֹּאמַר:  שְׁאֵלָתִי, וּבַקָּשָׁתִי.  אִם-מָצָאתִי חֵן בְּעֵינֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ, וְאִם-עַל-הַמֶּלֶךְ טוֹב, לָתֵת אֶת-שְׁאֵלָתִי, וְלַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת-בַּקָּשָׁתִי--יָבוֹא הַמֶּלֶךְ וְהָמָן, אֶל-הַמִּשְׁתֶּה אֲשֶׁר אֶעֱשֶׂה לָהֶם, וּמָחָר אֶעֱשֶׂה, כִּדְבַר הַמֶּלֶךְ.
Then answered Esther, and said: 'My petition and my request is-- if I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request--let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do to-morrow as the king hath said

"Sure," she says to the king, "I'll tell you what I want, and what I risked my life to ask you...tomorrow."
It cannot be a coincidence that the king had trouble sleeping that night. Too many questions swirled around in his head to allow him to sleep, all because Esther, instead of rushing head on, took her time, and let him stew over one simple question: What does she want?
A little patience destroyed Haman, and saved the Jewish people.