Miri sighed. She looked at me with anguished eyes. “I don’t get it. On the one hand, you are telling me that it’s all in my hands. You tell me that I need to take responsibility, that I am an adult, and only I can pull myself out of this depression, but on the other hand, you are encouraging me to go to a psychiatrist for an evaluation, to take medication if he thinks that it’s needed, and to seek whatever help I can get. I don’t get it! Why should I come to you or go to anyone for help if I’m responsible for getting myself out of this darkness!”

I know that it sounds contradictory. I know that it sounds confusing, but it’s not.

“Miri, you birthed seven children. When a woman gives birth and she has a doula, what does the doula do? She massages, she encourages, she helps the woman change positions. She focuses the woman on the goal of having a baby. She relaxes and distracts. She’s a tremendous help. She offers many tools that the woman can use to ease pain and speed up the birthing process. But, Miri, who has the baby? The mother or the doula? In the end, as much of a help as the doula is, only the mother can birth that baby! Would she have been able to give birth without the doula? With G‑d’s help, of course! Is the doula’s help essential in the process, of course! Is it making sense now?”

Miri liked the analogy. She got it, and she went to her appointment with the psychiatrist. She also made me repeat to her about ten times that, with G‑d’s help, she had the power and the ability to pull herself out of her downward spiral.

In the time when Purim took place, there were rules in the Persian Empire. Nobody, not even the queen, was allowed to approach the king without the king first calling for that person’s presence. Esther found herself in a difficult situation. The king had not called her to come for a month already, and yet her cousin Mordechai insisted that she approach the king as a messenger to save her people from annihilation by the evil Haman. Esther was frightened—rightfully so—of her fate. Mordechai insisted. He told her that she had to do this. This was why she was given the role, why G‑d put her in the role of queen.

Esther consented and said that yes, she would go, but she asked for something in return. She asked for support. "Go and gather all the Jews who are in Shushan and fast for my sake. Do not eat and do not drink for three days, night and day. My maids and I shall also fast in the same way. Then I shall go to the king, though it is unlawful, and if I perish, I perish."1

Was Esther capable of going to the king on her own? Yes, if not, as Mordechai explained, G‑d wouldn’t have chosen her for the role. Did Esther in the end go to the king on her own? Yes, we see that she approached him alone. Did the three days of fasting and praying of all the city’s Jews help her and make her mission that much more successful? Did they arouse more mercy from the Heavens and give her strength and support? Yes, absolutely. But isn’t this a contradiction? Isn’t this confusing? No, I don’t think so.

In the entire Book of Esther, G‑d isn’t mentioned once. He’s the director, the producer, behind the scenes. He orchestrates and coordinates EVERYTHING, and yet He’s hidden, He gives us capability to be the “leading” characters in the scene. He wants us to act, to do something! But we also know that, like Esther, the star performer, we need help! We need supporting roles. It’s not a contradiction. It doesn’t have to be confusing. It’s about finding the balance. It’s about taking responsibility and about asking for help when you need it. It’s about seeking support in all the challenges in our lives and about affirming to ourselves, over and over that, “With G‑d’s help, I can do it.”