The Fast of Esther

Today we honor the Jewish Fast of Esther, commemorating the three-day fast observed by the Jewish people in the story of Purim. Along our own Fast from Fast Food, we remember the power we wield through this mindful sacrifice. We're honored to share a reflection by Rabbi Renee Bauer, Director of the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice of South Central Wisconsin:

Today is a Jewish Fast Day called the Fast of Esther. It immediately proceeds the festive Jewish holiday of Purim. The Fast of Esther mirrors the fast that the Jews conduct to support the brave actions of Queen Esther in the Book of Esther. In this book of the Hebrew Bible, there is a royal decree that all the Jews of the Kingdom of Shushan be killed. Queen Esther, a Jew married to the King, has access to power but is fearful to speak up for the Jews, lest she loose her life. She knows that if any person enters the king's presence without having first been summoned, that person will be put to death. 

When Esther refuses to take action her cousin Mordechai encourages her saying, "Do not imagine that you, of all the Jews, will escape with your life by being in the king's palace. On the contrary, if you keep silent in this crisis, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another quarter, while you and your father's houses will perish. And who knows, perhaps you have attained the royal position for just such a crisis" (Esther 4:13-14). Queen Esther considers these words carefully and tells Mordecai to have all the Jews in the land of Shushan fast on her behalf. With the courage of knowing her people are fasting in solidarity with her, she approaches the king and saves the Jews.

In our day and in our land fast food, retail and home care workers like Queen Esther are taking the risk to speak out even when they fear losing their livelihood. They are speaking out in order to stop the injustice of low wages that has spread throughout our land. Today let us, just as the Jews of Shushan did, fast in solidarity with those courageous workers, so they know they are not alone as they walk the path towards fairness and justice.

“A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one thought at one time, at all times, who suffers harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair.”
― Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Click here to see other reflections during IWJ's Fast from Fast Food