This past weekend we celebrated the Jewish Holiday of Purim. Purim celebrates the story from the Book of Esther and one of the major themes discussed around the holiday is the concept of nahafoch hu. This is Hebrew for turning something around or flipping something upside down. The Esther story is full of characters that turn things around and plot twists that seem to turn the story upside down.
Two years ago my wife and I had a nahafoch hu in our lives. We were perfectly happy to be settled in our Lakeview apartment. We knew we wouldn’t live there forever, but had no plans to move away anytime soon.
Then in early February, the Blizzard of 2011 dumped two feet of snow on Chicago and the entire city shut down. We were relaxing at home when the phone rang. It was an early childhood curriculum company calling from Bethesda, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC. They wanted to fly my wife out for an interview. One thing led to another and about 6 weeks later, she accepted a job offer, and we decided to move across the country.
We drove out the first weekend in April, arriving on a Sunday evening. Tuesday night, we signed a lease for an apartment in DC. She started work the next day, and I flew back to Chicago to finish packing our apartment. Our lives had completely turned upside down.
Now that we have lived here almost two years, it’s wonderful to know that things have worked out amazingly well. Her job is great, and I’ve found my way into some exciting opportunities. Both of us feel like we are in roles that allow us to make the world a better place. We volunteer with several of the local organizations here, we have made many friends around the community, we feel engaged and involved in the social, cultural, and religious scene around us. Of course we miss our Chicago friends and family back in the Midwest, but we are happy, healthy and loving our new life here.
In celebration of Purim, the custom is to wear masks and costumes because there is a lot of masked identities in the story. Most notably Esther hides her identity as a Jew from the King when she is crowned Queen of his massive kingdom. When her people are in peril, she finds the courage to go before the King and invite him and Haman to her banquet. Here is the part of the story where Esther sets up the nahafoch hu for Haman, revealing that she is a Jew and Haman’s evil intentions to annihilate her people.
Throughout the Purim story, one finds that the characters set up these nahafoch hu moments by taking off their masks and taking a chance. Those that continue to trick, hide and connive are destined for destruction in this story. Haman is hanged. Those that remain or come to express their truest selves and intentions are rewarded generously. Mordechai replaces Haman as the King’s closest advisor and Esther the Queen saves the Jewish people.
We can relate. We weren’t sure how this moment in our lives where everything was flipped upside down was going to work. We believed that the opportunity for my wife was amazing, unique and one of a kind. We hoped it would allow her to step onto a true and meaningful path for her career. We gathered our courage and took the chance.