Megillat Esther, the Scroll of Esther, reads like an action-packed thriller: a complex tale of palace intrigue, complete with assassination plots, royal soirées, a damsel in distress and, most chillingly, mortal danger that imperils an entire nation. It would make for great television. And yet, barely a quarter of the way through the story, all the drama is drained from it. And no one even notices.

When Mordechai approaches Esther in the palace at one of many tense turning points inWhat? The Jews are not really in danger of annihilation? the narrative, he appeals to her to save the Jewish people: “Do not think you can escape by hiding in the palace,” he warns. “If you do not take action, you and your father’s house will perish. Moreover,” he adds enigmatically, “perhaps it was for this very reason that you became queen!”

But, hidden amid the high drama of Mordechai’s words is a statement that is completely unexpected and seems to contradict everything else he has said: “If you remain silent at this time,” Mordechai says, “salvation will come to the Jews from some other place.”

What?! The Jews are not really in danger of annihilation? And Mordechai knows it? Yes, he does. He is most decidedly not saying, “Esther, we desperately need your help. No one but you can save us.” Not at all. Mordechai knows, through Divine inspiration, that salvation is assured.

So why does Mordechai insist that Esther risk her life in approaching the king if he knows that there is no danger to the Jewish nation? And what’s all this business about her and her father’s house perishing? Is it some kind of folk curse, like “A plague on both your houses”?

The Alshich, a sixteenth-century biblical commentator, explains that Esther’s predicament is far more complex than it appears on the surface. Esther was a descendent of King Saul, and Haman descended from King Agag of Amalek. Their ancestors had met before.

When Saul fought the nation of Amalek he was commanded by the prophet Samuel to wipe them out completely, as is instructed in the Torah. But Saul left their king alive. For this action, Saul lost his kingship. Moreover, his misjudgment had repercussions long into the future. In the one night that Saul allowed King Agag to live, Agag sired a child. Generations later, Haman was born—a descendant of that very child.

The Megillah tells us that while Esther was held in the palace harem, Mordechai spent his days pacing in front of it. According to our sages, he was trying to understand for what purpose a completely righteous woman like Esther—a woman who had actually hidden from the king’s search for a new queen, a woman who, according to some opinions, was actually his own wife—would be chosen to be married against her will to a drunken despot. He knew it could not be chance. Some greater destiny must await her.

When Mordechai spoke to Esther, he finally had his answer: Esther was placed there to right this ancient wrong. Yes, the Jews would not, could not, ever be annihilated. But King Saul was still accountable in the heavenly court for his error. How could he ever undo what had been done?

He would have to wait 500 years. He would have to wait until his descendant would meet a descendent of Agag’s, and, this time, do the right thing.

This is why Mordechai beseeched Esther to intervene, and why he warned that “her father’s house” would otherwise perish. If Esther didn’t act, the Jews would still be saved, but Saul’s error—which grew generation by generation until it reached the point where it threatened all of world Jewry—would be left unatoned. It was indeed “for this reason,” the Alshich tells us, that Esther became queen.

This lesson is not limited to the story of Purim. It is said that the Maggid of Mezeritch, the successor to the Baal Shem Tov, could tell everyone at his table how their spiritual mission led them to be there at that moment. Although we do not have such sublime understanding of events, we can be assured of one thing: we are where we need to be.

You may be reading this article because you always read articles on Or You saw it because you were meant to see it perhaps you stumbled upon it while googling something else. Or maybe you saw a printed version discarded on a table somewhere. Whatever the case, know that you saw it because you were meant to see it. Know that whatever you see and whatever happens to you is meant to be.

Sometimes you may come to understand why you are in a certain place at a certain time; sometimes the reason for events will remain elusive. It may even be that you were presented an opportunity to correct something that happened long before you were born.

The answer to the famous question, most eloquently articulated by the renowned Jewish philosopher Tevya the milkman, “And would it spoil some vast eternal plan if I were a wealthy man?” is a resounding Yes! Yes, Tevya, it would. Yes, to all of us. We are where we are supposed to be, facing the challenges we are supposed to face. The question we should be asking ourselves is not “Why? Why is this happening to me?” but “What? What am I meant to do in the circumstances in which I find myself?

The drama was not really drained from the story when Mordechai spoke to Esther. In fact, the true drama—of Esther’s actions and their implications for her ancestor, King Saul—had just been revealed. May we all have the wisdom and the courage of Queen Esther to do what we need to do.