I once heard a rabbi compare life to a game of poker. That certainly captivated my attention, because who would ever imagine a religious figure draw a connection between life and gambling? When we are born, G-d deals us a hand of cards, with each one determining aspects of our being, such as what kind of family we are born into, where we live, what our talents are, and what exactly we are meant to struggle with. We cannot trade our hand for anyone else’s, so we have to play the best game we can with what we are dealt. In a sense, one can say that Adam and Chava had a full deck of cards, as they were perfect beings. They epitomized every trait known to mankind on a balanced spectrum, and thus they are passed down to us. As the generations go by and more neshamos are brought down to Earth, we can’t have everyone with the same hand of cards, and so Hashem mixes things up, and we become dependent on each other to play a good game. In the modern deck of cards, we have suits, which feature the same numbers and face cards, but under different banners. While their values might be the same, they still retain different meanings because of the flag they fly. In much the same way, two people might share the same or similar characteristics, but the way in which they channel them will be individual to that person, and they so each stand as individuals among the masses.
There was much thought put into the naming of the suits of cards. Our modern deck or poker cards originated from the fortune-telling tarot cards, which eventually evolved to the French playing cards we use today. A major difference between the two different versions of the cards lies in the naming of those suits. One such example is that spades are referred to as “swords”, while hearts are referred to as “cups”. In the Minor Arcana of ancient tarot, the queens represented both a figure in the player’s life or an aspect or character trait within themselves, the queens of cups and the queen of swords ultimately representing opposite ends of the personality spectrum: summer and winter, light and dark, merciful and uncompromising. While Orthodox Jews do not believe in such powers of fortune-telling, perhaps we can use these cards as representations of the personalities and differences of two influential women in Jewish history and though: Sarah and Vashti.
One might at first be taken aback as to the comparison of the aforementioned women, for the former is considered the mother of Judaism, while the latter was determined to have her part in wiping them out entirely. However, it often occurs that two people who possess similar traits will take two diverging paths and ultimately end up using their personal hand of cards to affect the world in dramatically different.
Firstly, we must discuss the similarities between Sarah and Vashti before we compare their differences, because it is obvious that they each went in opposite directions in terms of spirituality. These differences will have much more...