The Midrash (Bereishit Rabbah 58:3) relates that one time, Rabbi Akiva was teaching his students and they began to doze off. In response, he proposed to them a peculiar question and answer: “Why is it that Esther merited to rule over 127 provinces? Because Sarah, the Matriarch, lived for 127 years”. What is the meaning of this, and why would it be appropriate for a sleeping audience?
The Chiddushei HaRim explains that Rabbi Akiva was teaching them the value of every moment. If we break down the meaning of the correlation between Sarah and Esther, what we find is that for every year she lived fully, she gained another province of influence for Esther. Every well-lived month was another city; every week another county; every moment she lived to the fullest was another household under Esther’s jurisdiction. Rabbi Akiva was teaching his students: ‘you have the opportunity, right now, to study Torah, and instead you are sleeping it away. You must appreciate the power, and merit of every moment’.
Last year, we mentioned the importance of another character in the Megillah, Charvona, the one who suggested that Haman take Mordechai’s place on the gallows (7:9). He doesn’t do anything else except for that. Nevertheless, after we read the Megillah, we say/sing “And even Charvona is remembered for the good”. Even Charvona, whose influence lasted but a mere sentence, even he is viewed positively. Time is precious, and what we can learn from Esther, and from Charvona, is that each moment can bring lasting and meaningful impact -not just for ourselves, but for generations to come.