Dr Judith Guedalia

Purim 2011-Cheering On Our Warriorettes And Warriors
I know I'm treading on thin ice here but I can't help but see certain parallels between what's happening all around us (the hair raising events in the Middle East) and the events of Purim so many years ago.  We have just passed through Adar Alef, and comparisons between the many who rose against us, the small Jewish community of old Persia, and our many Jew-hating and Israel-hating Arab neighbors seem obvious.
            I am reminded of stories of the ancient Greek Amazon women who were touted as active warriorettes.  The men and boys in their society must have paid a tremendous physical and psychological price.
Was Esther our Amazon?  She definitely treated and was treated by men differently; she paid a high personal price and was rewarded by Hashem in many ways. There are some sources that connect her with the building of the Second Temple.  Historically, Megillas Esther tells of events which took place just prior to the very first Feast of Purim - which may have taken place on March 7, 473 BC, 43 years after the Temple was completed(Esther 8:12). The Persian King she married, Achashverosh, is said to have been Xerxes I, who reigned from 485 to 465 BC. He was the son of Darius the Mede.
The Persian king who gave Nehemiah permission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city walls in 445 BC was Artaxerxes Longimonus. (Nechemiah 2:1). He reigned from 465 to 424BC and was the son of Xerxes I - some say he was the son of our Esther. 
We women today are also warriorettes, though our menfolk only seem to note it on Friday night when they sing Eishet Chayil, which literally translates as "Warrior Woman" (even though its more commonly known as Woman of Valor).
Thinking of that I am reminded of an "only-in-Israel" experience that took place some thirty or so years ago.  An ultra-religious member of Knesset was bemoaning the fact that finally there was a good television program, one that would be a positive influence on the television watching public -- he of course did not have a television at all, and never watched the show.  So what was he bemoaning - that the program began airing before Shabbat was over.  To what program was he referring you might ask?  Eishet Chayil.  Much to the muffled laughter in the Knesset, what this rabbinically clad member of Knesset did not know, was that this was the modern Hebrew translation of the TV show featuring the scantily, lycra-clad Wonder Woman!
            So, what's the point?  Queen Esther is the Persian version of every yiddishe mamma - fighting for her direct and more global family, following the destiny Hashem has set for her.
But there are other unsung warriorettes among us.  Do you know that this year there will probably be:
·        about 21,880 new cases of ovarian cancer·        about 43,470 new cases of uterine cancer (most of these will be endometrial cancer -- cancers that start in the lining of the uterus)
·        about 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer
These and other cancers which effect women, rachmana l'zlaan will touch so many of our sisters, mothers, grandmothers and daughters - and our families as a whole.  But the woman alone fights most of this battle - and it is the loneliest war a woman will ever face. 
In a regular army of fighters, soldiers have whole battalions fighting in front of and behind them.  They practice maneuvers, wear special uniforms and all sorts of gear to not only protect them from and to attack the enemy, but also to identify them as part of a team to cheer on.  We are proud when we see our soldiers walk around, all the while trying not to think about the fear, anxieties, pain, mud and brambles they must endure.
What about these women warriors fighting the battle of cancer?  They have no outward signs of or uniforms which might identify them.  We don't read about Haman during their "megillah," booing and stamping our feet.  The enemy is faceless and nameless, just another factor among the various challenges faced by these warriors.
            Hashem has given scientists the means today to fight this war again and again.  Whereas in previous years cancer was a disease no one spoke about, and people were seemingly embarrassed to acknowledge the suffering, today things are different.  Baruch Hashem, we live in a generation of ever-newer treatments; research of five or even one year ago, is dated.   Information is shared by cancer centers world over; the Internet connects warriors throughout the four corners of the world, allowing them to share diagnostic and treatment information, anxieties, hopes and dreams.
What can we learn from our Queen Esther?  Don't see the battle as a lonely one; involve those directly around you and your community as a whole.  Share information - not only you but your family, and the greater community as a whole, will benefit.  You never know who might be living in a "walled-city," without access to the information you have. 
May we all find joy and relief from oppression as we listen to the heroism in the face of seemingly impossible odds.  As we hear the words of the megillah, let us not just boo the bad guys, but also cheer our warrior, Queen Esther, her uncle Mordechai and all those who were and are involved in saving the lives of our people.

            Wishing you all a simchat, joyous and freilich Purim. 


             Dr. Judith Guedalia is Director, Neuropsychology Unit; Chief Psychologist, Shaare Zedek Medical Center; Licensed Psychologist; Supervisor and Specialist in Medical, Rehabilitation, and Developmental Psychology; ADOS Diagnostician; EMDR Certified Practitioner and Supervisor- Level 1; Co-Chair Nefesh Israel.   Dr. Guedalia can be reached at her website: www.drjudithguedalia.com