Purim reminds us what a good hospital means to a community

Rabbi Nadia Siritsky

The festival of Purim begins on the evening of February 28, 2018 (also known as the 14th of Adar), which celebrates the salvation of the Jewish people that was described in the book of Esther. The deeper meaning of the name Esther comes from its root: “S-T-R” which means to be hidden.
The rabbis of the Talmud teach that the story of Purim was prophesied in the book of Deuteronomy, where G-d tells Moses of a time when “ve-anokhi haster astir panay” (Deuteronomy 31:18), which is a reference to Esther, hiding her identity as a Jew, to convince the king to try to stop Haman’s plan to kill the Jewish people. It also refers to the book of Esther, which is the only book of the Hebrew Bible that does not reference G-d explicitly: G-d’s hand was hidden, but still powerfully orchestrating the events behind the scenes.
So the custom began of children dressing up and wearing masks, as well as that of the Jews drinking so much that they can’t tell the difference between wrong and right, in order to challenge our assumptions of what is right and what is wrong.
This holiday’s deeper spiritual lessons are profound: We don’t always know what is wrong or right. Blessings often come hidden beneath the mask of misfortune. Even when we can’t see G-d, we need to trust that G-d is working through each of us. Like Esther, we need to be willing to take risks and go beyond our comfort zone to do G-d’s work and make this world a better place.
These lessons are especially powerful for those of us working at Jewish Hospital as we journey with patients and families who are struggling to find comfort amid harrowing experiences. They are facing illness, trying to make sense of it all, searching for deeper purpose, praying for miracles and hoping that their illnesses will usher forth a new chapter with improved health and well-being.
It is also encouraging, as we face the unknown, hoping for a new owner that will invest in our hospital, our employees and our community, renewing them all and strengthening our historic mission of tikkun olam: research, excellence, innovation and compassion.
An owner that will help us create new miracles and deepen our ability to care for the underserved will help us live out our Jewish values and strengthen them for a new century.
May each of us, in our respective moments of uncertainty, find ways to tolerate the unknown with courage and faith, embracing opportunities to do G-d’s work when possible, and trusting that blessings and miracles are always possible, even if not always immediately visible.

(Rabbi Nadia Siritsky is vice president of mission at Kentucky One Health.)

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