She stood by the palace window, looking out over the lit-up city. Sounds of celebration and merrymaking reached her from the Jewish quarter.

They had reason to celebrate; for them a life of freedom had just begun. For her it had just ended.

For every tear she wiped away, another two appeared. Her heart was broken down the middle. One half rejoiced in the fate of her people, the other half mourned her own.

She gave up fighting her tears as she recalled the beginning of the end.

The palace had become her prisonLife had been perfect. She was happily married to Mordechai, one of the finest men on earth, and nurtured innocent dreams of having a family.

Dreams from which she was rudely awakened.

It was a day she would never forget. They had come for her, the king’s guards. Somehow they had found out. People talk.

They liked her at the palace; so did their king.

So she became queen, and sad. Her face smiled but her heart cried. She charmed all, but couldn’t be charmed. She was far away from home, and only she knew just how far.

But this was all for a good reason, Mordechai had said. What that good reason was, she knew not, nor when she would.

Her sacrifice was huge. The palace had become her prison. Its wards and lords valued everything she did not. What pleasured them caused her discomfort. Besides, maintaining her faith was challenging, much more so its practice.

Her only ray of sunshine gleamed at night, when on occasion she managed to escape from the king’s luxurious compound to Mordechai’s abode, to be with him.1 Her time spent with Mordechai was the breath of fresh air which enabled her to go back underwater and wait.

Wait she did, until the day on which Haman had a say.

It was decreed then that the Jews would be out of his way.

Suddenly the reason for her becoming queen, the one which Mordechai had left unspoken, became strikingly clear. It was like wearing glasses for the first time.

“And who knows if it is not for just such a time that you reached this royal position.”

There was order in the chaos. The light at the beginning of the tunnel was turned on.

However claustrophobic, it did lead somewhere.

She’d give everything for her people to surviveHer life now had a purpose other than her own. G‑d had pinned His hopes on her, and she would make Him proud. She’d give everything for her people to survive.

“. . . I shall go to the king, though it is unlawful, and if I perish, I perish."

Yes. Everything.

“Though it is unlawful” has a dual meaning according to the Sages.

In addition to being illegal and punishable by death, going to Ahasuerus, of her own accord and willingly, would dissolve her marriage with Mordechai forever.2

As if either of the two was a lesser evil.3

Both paths led to a dead end.

Her dream of bright sun at the end of her tunnel turned cloudy. It was then that the end of her story began.

Her name was Esther.

Queen Esther.

This story explains why the scroll of Purim is called Esther, after its heroine, the one who risked everything and sacrificed everything for her people.

It also explains why Esther requested that her scroll become part of Scripture.4

Not to commemorate herself, but to immortalize her message.5