Tamar and I are praying that you all match in the best possible program that you will love, where you will earn the respect of all of your colleagues and which will bring out your full potential as a medical care-giver.

  While we were celebrating Purim last week, my thoughts turned to match day and I couldn’t help thinking of a powerful lesson that we saw from Esther’s actions which eloquently express the feelings of today.

  We all know of Esther’s great sacrifice, entering the king’s private quarters unannounced to beg for clemency for her nation. Each year we also fast to commemorate the fast which Esther declared for all – including herself – before that attempt, hoping to win Grace on High. What comes across starkly is the paradox: don’t these two efforts contradict each other? If she is attempting to gain the king’s favor wouldn’t fasting be the farthest possible preparation, and if she is beseeching on High why risk her life in an earthly king’s throne room?

  Although millennia apart and different in so many ways, today, waiting for the match can have the same feel. Four (indeed many more) years of intense work, months of interviews and still there is this element of the unknown, the hope and prayer for divine support.

  As a doctor you will constantly be dealt this question; do we heal by our expertise or is the patient in G‑d’s hands? The answer Esther showed us and match day helps us to relive is that it is an absolute blend of both. We must put in our complete energy, effort and capability and yet we must also have complete trust in G‑d.

  An error to either side can be catastrophic. To be lax for a moment in our efforts, hinging the results on G‑d, can not only harm the patient but also negates the most important gift that G‑d gave us – our potential for accomplishment. And at the same time to completely resort to our capacity would deny the infinite divine potential that exists in each and every creation. We must always do our all, but hope and pray for much more.

  With blessings for Success and a twinge of pain knowing you will soon be off, yours truly,

  Rabbi Zalman