She was an orphan at birth, never having known the love of a mother – never having been kissed by her. She was an orphan at birth, never having felt the protection of a father – never having been held in his arms.
As a child she was shy and reserved – never asking or expecting – simply accepting. She became a beautiful woman with fineness and a quiet strength that was a result of her lack of need and lack of want. What could be more attractive in an individual than beauty coupled with an unchallengeable yet soft spoken independence?
Men sought her out. The most powerful and accomplished men – the giants of her generation – pined for her attention and her love. She remained hidden and out of view. One man forcefully took her and ultimately loved her. He was smitten by her fineness and her kindness – a kindness which wasn’t defined by giving to others, rather it was defined by standing proud and strong – as an inspiration to others. Even to him she remained hidden and reserved – largely a mystery.
She was so beautiful, so complete, so needing of nothing. Her lack of need made her beauty more pronounced and her charisma more compelling. She simply asked for nothing.
She allowed you to love her but never to own her. Her past was her secret. Her heritage buried inside her heart. She would allow you to hurt her but never change her. Her power was in her contentment, in her hiddenness.
She became queen and then the savior of her nation. She never aspired to be a savior -rather it was demanded of her. When she finally asked something of those around her, all obliged her. They had no choice. She owned their hearts as a result of her quiet strength and her lack of need.
Her name was Esther; the unparalleled Queen Esther.
Two thousand and some years later there was another remarkable woman…
She is the most awarded female vocalist of all time (411 awards). She is the only artist in recording history, male or female, with seven consecutive, multi-platinum albums. Her song: “I Will Always Love You” is the biggest selling commercial single in history, and the album that carries that song is the biggest selling motion picture soundtrack album in history.
She was a woman of remarkable talent and beauty – gifted with the ability to enrich the lives of others with her song. Her talent captured the attention of people of all ages, all over the world. Her life script seemed destined for greatness.
Her needs were laid bare for the world to see. She pined for the love of others. Her needs grew with her success, and ultimately became desperate. She was used and hurt by those around her. Neediness is a very unattractive thing.
She ran away from herself and grew weaker over time. No love could sustain her. No one’s care could console her. They claim she is finally at peace. They don’t understand that peace is secured from a well lived life and can only then be enjoyed after death.
Whitney. The tragic Whitney.
One woman will be celebrated for her triumph, the other mourned for her tragedy.
We all must strive to learn from the death of Whitney and the life of Esther.
Joy and happiness are not achieved through the fulfillment of needs. These feelings should be intrinsic and primal in a person – not a result of something that happened or was secured. Each person should articulate his/her needs and address them as best he can, but he should be happy simply because he is alive.
Each day should be cherished simply because it happened. The satisfaction felt from needs that are fulfilled may be layered on top of the natural joy felt but can never come in place of it.
Queen Esther is one of the greatest female heroines of all time. Her ability to lead a remarkable life, celebrated thousands of years after her death, is a result of her inner strength – a strength based on needing nothing and no one. Power is the antithesis of neediness.
Whitney Houston will be remembered as one of the most accomplished artists of all time – achieving benchmarks of success that may never be replicated. Yet there will also be pain associated with her memory, the pain of a life that fell victim to need.
Esther and Whitney: A Purim tale about life that will resonate with humankind forever.