Sarah and Esther’s Coin Toss


In the constant struggle to build a successful life, it is all too easy to be pulled down by hardship, dark recollections, terrifying fears, and sad thoughts flitting through one’s mind.  One remains confidently focused on the task by treating each day as its own opportunity to achieve success and happiness.

This Sunday we celebrate Purim on which we read the Book of Esther. It opens:

And it was in the days of Ahasuerosh, he was Ahasuerosh who reigned from Hodu to Kush, one hundred and twenty seven provinces.
(Esther 1:1)

The number 127 occurs only once again in all of Scripture—at the end of Sarah’s life.

And Sarah was a hundred and twenty seven years old…
(Genesis 23:1)

Ancient Jewish wisdom links the two occurrences. In Scripture, numbers have great meaning and if a number only appears twice, we need to examine the similarities between the two occasions.

Imagine seven pennies lined up in a row upon a table. Your assistant spins each penny until they are all laying either heads or tails.

After the first spin, the arrangement of coins on the table might look like this (H=heads; T=tails):

H        H        T        H        T        T        H

After the second spin, the line of coins will probably look different. Some will fall the same way as the first time, while others will fall differently.

How many different ways can the seven coins fall?

Each coin can fall in one of two possibilities, heads or tails. The total number of possible arrangements is:

2 X 2 X 2 X 2 X 2 X 2 X 2 = 128

Now, let’s forget coins and instead think of the seven days of the week.  Each 24-hour day comprises night and day, which represent darkness and light.

You will surely agree that seven coins each of which is made up of two parts, heads and tails, is the same, mathematically speaking, as seven days each made up of two parts, night and day.

So the first possible arrangement of seven days would be:

night   night   night   night   night   night   night

and the 128th arrangement would be:

day     day     day     day     day     day     day

Darkness or night is almost universally recognized as a metaphor for tough times while the bright light of day depicts brightness and optimism.  This means that there are 128 ways for my week to turn out.  Number 1 is seven dark and dismal days in a row, and number 128 is a rapturous sequence of seven wonderful days.

We omit number one because any sequence of seven days must include a Sabbath, which, by definition, is good.  This leaves us with 127 ways for a week to turn out.

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that Sarah and Esther are linked by both having 127 associated with their lives.  Both women ensure the future of the Jews; Sarah by bearing and raising Isaac, and Esther by preventing Haman’s genocide.  Both women’s lives contained disappointment, pain and fear, yet both stayed hopeful and fulfilled their mission.

The secret we learn is that every day offers us a choice to liberate ourselves from negative emotional anchors of yesterday. Like Sarah and Esther, we will have painful and difficult times, yet we must choose not to see those times as the only model for our future. Each week gives us 127 new opportunities for optimism and joy.

The surest way to detach oneself from the gloomy memories of yesterday and the fears of tomorrow is by choosing the language of optimism and hope.  I explain the crucial importance of the language with which we surround ourselves in our audio CD program Perils of Profanity. I explain why our incomes and relationships suffer when we accustom ourselves to obscenity and how it leads to negative results in our lives. New inventory will soon arrive at a higher price, so right now, get an instant download on sale for only $6 or a CD by mail for only $8.

(Until noon PT, you can also still get the entire Genesis Journeys Set for only $65.) All of these resources will help you move to brighter and more successful weeks.


Read the most recent Ask the Rabbi question and answer here

I recently found myself in a very difficult situation dealing with someone I had never met but needed to correspond with over the phone. We clashed like oil and water and I really don’t know why. I felt such hatred but I could not be pleasant with her at all. I am a very easygoing person and it takes a lot to get me angry but for some reason I clashed with her from the moment I said hello. I feel like I have let G-d down.

Can you please let me know why these feelings have taken control of me? I have asked other people if this ever happened to them and I have heard that it has to everyone at least once.

Thank you for your time,

Anita F.

Read Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin’s ANSWER HERE

This week’s Susan’s Musings: Guest Posting: Jew Without a Gun

I have only printed one guest posting before—by my daughter. This time, I am posting a piece by Hollywood screenwriter, Robert Avrech, because I think it may save lives. My husband and I have met Robert, but even if we did not know him, I think his words are well worth reading. I am publishing his piece unedited and trust my readers to have the maturity and grace to excuse passionate language that may not be phrased as I might have chosen, but that I certainly understand after his family’s experience.

If the Los Angeles riots taught us anything, it’s that you’re a fool if you count on the authorities to protect you in times of civil chaos — in fact, at any time. In the end, only I can protect my family.”…READ MORE

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