Receive weekly insights from the Chief Rabbi
Office of the Chief Rabbi

Thought for the Day: Purim 2021

Share this article:

Dare Mighty Things

Yesterday it was reported that NASA had hidden a secret message on the Perseverance parachute.

Few of the enthralled millions watching the epic landing on Mars will have noticed it. But, for engineers with an eye for binary computer codes, the order in which the red and white sections of the parachute canopy were stitched together, was crying out to be deciphered.

And, indeed, it took just six hours until internet space fans solved the riddle. The code read: “Dare Mighty Things”. 

Tonight and tomorrow, Jewish communities will celebrate the festival of Purim, when we will remember a historic call to ‘dare mighty things’ in order to save our people. 

Two and a half millennia ago, a baby was born in the saddest of circumstances. Her father died while her mother was pregnant and her mother died  during childbirth.  Esther, as she was called, was adopted by a cousin, who believed she was capable of greatness. 

And so it proved to be. Taken into the Royal Court without any heritage of Persian nobility, Esther became Queen of Persia. When a genocidal decree was issued against the Jews, Esther’s cousin, Mordechai, sent a message to her, saying: “It may have been for just this moment, that you attained your Royal position.” Appreciating that a timely, daring strategy was called for, an ambitious Esther went on to save her people. On Purim, we celebrate her inspirational heroism to this day. 

The motto, ‘Dare Mighty Things’ was first used by Teddy Roosevelt in 1899. His words were not aimed at celebrities. He sought to encourage ordinary citizens to overcome adversity, just as he had done.

“Far better it is,” said Roosevelt, “to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

Over the last year, we have come to think differently about what ‘winning glorious triumphs’ looks like. Today we venerate scientists, medical staff, public servants, helpers and volunteers as we once venerated film stars and entertainers. We are more inclined to respect those who give service than those who expect it from others. 

You don’t have to become a household name, an Esther or a Captain Sir Tom Moore, to achieve greatness. It is within the grasp of each and every one of us. 

Steve Jobs once said: “Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, usually do.”