The Wednesday morning before Purim, when I woke up, I told my wife that I had a most fascinating dream. I should preface by saying that I hardly ever remember my dreams, and when I do, I am always annoyed with them because they are scary and nonsensical. That made this dream all the better.
I dreamed that I had gotten the COVID vaccine. The intriguing part was that I knew I was dreaming. In my dream, I thought to myself that if I got the COVID vaccine in my sleep, what can I tell people? And in my dream, I thought to myself that I could tell people that I can now go to sleep without a mask!
When I woke up, aside from my arm hurting a bit, I was impressed with my subconscious humor. Even in my dream I was in a Purim mindset.
There is a dream many are unfamiliar with that was significant in the unfolding of the Purim story.
The Midrash relates that in the second year of the reign of King Achashveirosh, before the events of the Megillah even began, Mordechai HaTzadik had a dream. In his dream, there was a tremendous upheaval, and screams. Then two massive sea monsters began to skirmish, as the whole world looked on in terror. In between the two sea monsters was a small nation, which all the other nations wanted to swallow up. The nations would act towards that small nation with great cruelty; and the members of that small nation cried out and davened to Hashem with all their heart and soul.
Meanwhile, the two sea monsters continued to fight, and no one could intervene. Suddenly, a small stream appeared, trickling in between the two sea monsters, separating them from each other. Within a short time, the trickle became a raging river that kept widening until it swept away the entire land. The sun then shone in the sky and the small nation became glorified and elevated, as peace reigned upon the land.
Mordechai recounted the dream to Esther, but not to anyone else. When Haman was promoted to prime minister a decade later, and passed his evil decree against the Jews, Mordechai sent a message to Esther that this must be the fulfillment of his dream. It was then that he instructed her to go before Achashveirosh unlawfully, and she instructed the Jewish people to fast for three days.
The commentaries explain that the sea monsters symbolized Mordechai and Haman, and the small, persecuted nation was the Jews. The little stream that became a raging river symbolizes Torah or t’shuvah. It was that spiritual resurgence – which began with a small step in the right direction – that swept Haman away and obliterated all our enemies.
All great accomplishments begin with a dream, which is followed with the first small step in the right direction. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” It takes tremendous effort to initiate, but once one gets the ball rolling, the small trickle can become a raging river.
All great people, projects, organizations, and institutions start with humble beginnings.
This week, I went to pick up our Chasdei Lev order. For those unaware, Chasdei Lev is an organization founded to show appreciation to rebbeim, moros, and those others who are involved in the education of our children. On the organization’s website it explains: “We achieve this goal by partnering with yeshivos, manufacturers, and distributors to provide rebbeim with food and household necessities for Yom Tov in a dignified and respectful manner.
We strive to ensure that the rebbeim of our communities are able to go into Yom Tov with peace of mind. Yom Tov on any budget is expensive; for rebbeim with large families and on a typical rebbe’s salary, it can be daunting. Chasdei Lev’s goal is to help alleviate that strain.”
The most beautiful part of all is the next line, which states: “35K family members assisted, 1K volunteers, 0 paid members.” Zero paid members! Whoever heard of such a thing?
I should add that when I went to pick up my order, it was raining. Yet, the volunteers, which included many local young men, were working diligently and excitedly to load each car up as quickly as possible.
My dear friend Yossi Weimer, who volunteers for Chasdei Lev, informed me that he was up the entire previous night and through the day helping set up. He was not the only one.
At each station, after loading the car, the volunteers thanked us! When the entire order was loaded, before pulling out, each educator received a free gift, another thank you, and wishes for a beautiful Yom Tov.
Having received Chasdei Lev for the last few years, I have to step back and remind myself just how incredible the organization is and what volumes it speaks about our community.
When the pandemic hit, there was much discussion about essential workers. In our communities, one of our primary focuses was to ensure our children’s education would continue as quickly and efficiently as possible. Tremendous effort was expended to train teachers and set up Zoom, Google Classroom, and phone meetings. We made sure to get our yeshivos back open as soon as it was safe to do so. That tells you about what we value and prioritize.
When the larger community rallies to be part of an organization that shows appreciation and hails educators as true heroes, it strengthens our resolve to dedicate ourselves to our children’s chinuch above all else.
In an inane society which prioritizes making Mr. Potato Head gender neutral and is banning classic Dr. Seuss books because they are now deemed offensive, we continue to prioritize building the future.
Our dream is to strengthen the next generation of those who bear our immutable Torah values. We do so by seeking to inoculate our children from the heretical ideas around us.
We celebrate the fruition of the dream of Mordechai each year on Purim – the dream that began as a trickle but is now an unstoppable force.