Esther 10:3, Question 7. What is the significance of this verse/word/letter being at the end of Megillas Esther?

  • R’ Meir Zlotowitz writes that Megillas Esther closes with an idyllic pictures of peace, stature, and security for the Jewish people.
  • Specifically, the Vilna Gaon notes that the book ends with peace because, as the last Mishna (Uktzin 3:12) concludes, peace is the greatest container of blessing.
  • The Rokeach notes that the first and last letters of Megillas Esther are both vuv, giving the total gematria 12. This alludes to the twelfth year of Achshverosh’s reign, when the Purim miracle occurred (Esther 3:17); the month of Adar, which is the twelfth month of the Jewish year; and the miracle occurring for the 12 tribes though Mordechai who came from Benyamin, the twelfth son of Yaakov.
  • Ginzei HaMelech notes that there are 166 verses in Megillas Esther, which is the same as the number of words in the verses in the Torah (Shemos 17:8-16 and Devorim 25:17-19) that deal with Amalek. In mispar katan, 166 can be broken down to 1+1+6, which is 13. This is the gematria of echad (“one”) (1+8+4=13) symbolizing the hidden presence all along of the holy One, although He remains unmentioned in the entire book. Ginzei HaMelech notes that 13 is also the mispar katan of both Mordechai (40+200+4+20+10=274=2+7+4=13) and Esther (1+60+400+200=661=6+6+1=13).
  • Nachal Eshkol points out that the gematria of the last word in Megillas Esther, zaro (“his seed”) (7+200+70+6=283) added to the first word vayehi (Esther 1:1) (“and it was”) (6+10+5+10=31) is the same as Mordechai HaYehudi (40+200+4+20+10+5+10+5+6+4+10=314), the prophet who authored this holy work.
  • Finally, R’ Eliezer of Garmiza points out that the gematria of these same words is the same as Sh-dai (300+4+10=314), the Name of H-Shem that implies His unlimited power. This demonstrates that we must pray to G-d to put an end to our troubles, and rescue us from this long exile, bimheira biyameinu.

O holy One

King of kings

I am forever grateful that

I approached Your hidden light

drunk with ignorance

ad d’lo yada

and You masked me with grace

parading me through the streets

on Shifrigaz

letting me merit to relate Your decrees

in messages, letters, and books

please replace Your seed’s disgrace

with salvation

zeh l’umas zeh

and judge our enemies

mida kineged mida

and soon return us to Your house

fifty amos wide

Esther 10:3, Question 6. Who are Mordechai’s seed?

  • Seeing as Mordechai did not seem to have any of his own children, Rashi stresses that zaro, which is usually translated as “his seed” actually means “its seed here.” This refers to the descendants of the Jewish people.
  • The Ibn Ezra, however says that this phrase includes grandchildren whom he treated like his children. Taking care of people who would otherwise fall through the cracks demonstrates Mordechai’s great humility.
  • Mahari Algazi explains that Mordechai taught Torah to the Jews. After all, the Talmud (Brachos 64a) teaches that Torah scholars supply peace to the world. Therefore, his students are called his seed because, as the Talmud (Sanhedrin 19b) teaches, a rabbi’s students are considered to be that teacher’s children.

Esther 10:3, Question 5. Why does the verse say Mordechai spoke peace?

  • The Maharal writes that Mordechai behaved differently towards three distinct kinds of people. To the great, he managed to satisfy the majority; to the masses, he sought good; and to the children, he spoke peace.
  • R’ Refael Devorsky writes that the “good” was practical advice Mordechai dispensed, and actions Mordechai undertook. On the other hand, the “peace” represents the spiritual growth Mordechai guided.
  • The Sfas Emes notes that, in stark contrast to Haman, who was full of slander (Esther 3:5-8), Mordechai sought peace, slander’s opposite.
  • In the words of Aggadas Esther, how great is peace, that it is Mordechai’s greatest praise!

Esther 10:3, Question 4. Why does the verse say Mordechai “sought good?”

  • Ibn Ezra explains that the verse says Mordechai “sought good” in that he actively looked for opportunities to help rather than wait to be asked.
  • Dena Pishra stresses that Mordechai was kind to gentiles, as well – after all, together with us, they too are children of one Father.
  • The Midrash (Esther Rabba 6:8) writes that the good he performed was his checking on the welfare of Esther, and therefore one who checks on welfare of Jews merits a blessing.
  • The Chasam Sofer teaches that Mordechai cared so much for Jews, the Mishna (Shekalim 5:1) records that he was given the name Patachya, which translates as “he opened H-Shem,” implying a generosity of spirit.
  • Lekach Tov writes that the “good” he performed was the separating of money from Haman’s assets to rebuild the Beis HaMikdash.
  • The Ben Ish Chai demonstrates that Mordechai’s “good” was directed at Israel because the Talmud (Brachos 48b) explains the Torah’s (Devorim 3:25, see Rashi there) phrase “the good mountain” as a reference to Yerushalayim. It was made great by H-Shem choosing to rest His Shechina in the the holy Temple there. Therefore, despite his success, Mordechai never forgot his people and his homeland.

Esther 10:3, Question 3. Why does the verse say Mordechai is only popular with “most?”

  • Ibn Ezra explains that the verse says Mordechai is only popular with “most” because it is impossible to be popular with everyone.
  • The Nechmad M’Zahav adds that the reason for this is because it is impossible for a person doing everything purely for the sake of H-Shem to not offend somebody at some point.
  • On the other hand, Alshich writes that, usually, leaders have enemies, but Mordechai had none.
  • R’ Yehonason Eibshutz explains that this verse, having been authored by Mordechai, displays his intense humility, not wanting to sound like everybody loved him.
  • On the same note, the Ohel Moshe quotes the Alter from Kelm as saying this verse displays Mordechai’s dedication to truth, wherein he cannot in full conscience say all people liked him. However, the Talmud (Megilla 16b) writes that some members of the Sanhedrin split from Mordechai because they felt his political position caused him to neglect Torah study. In fact, in Ezra (2:2), written only a few years after the Purim story, Mordechai is only mentioned fourth or fifth in the list of scholars. Ohel Moshe applies to Mordechai the Mishna (Avos 3:5) that teaches that anyone who throws off the yoke of Torah, adds the yoke of government. This is based on the opinion listed in Torah Temimah that learning Torah is greater than saving lives.
  • Alshich explains that Mordechai disagreed with the Sanhedrin, arguing that saving lives is more important. R’ Avigdor Boncheck notes that this classic argument demonstrates the tug we all naturally feel between mitzva of learning and the mitzva of pekuach nefesh (“recuing lives”).
  • As R’ Dovid Feinstein notes, devoting oneself “totally to Torah still commands greater respect among the Jewish people.”
  • R’ Mendel Weinbach agrees and points out that “if one Jew must sacrifice his learning in order to save lives while another can continue learning undisturbed, the latter is greater.”
  • Ohel Moshe quotes R’ Moshe Feinstein (Kol Ram) as saying that for a great need, a talmid chacham (“Torah scholar”) can stop learning and will get reward, but not as much had he remained entrenched in study had the situation not taken him away.
  • R’ Mordechai Gifter adds that, in such a situation, a scholar taken from his learning should still be reviewing Mishnayos by heart while engaged in these other, emergency matters.
  • Ohel Moshe quotes a story from R’ Meir Isaac Maalin, that when he was learning in the Mir, he saved two lives from drowning. The mashgiach, R’ Yechezkiel Levenstein, praised him. He told him that in the merit of his actions, he will not ever sin, because the Mishna (Avos 5:18) promises that someone who strives to fulfill the needs of the masses is saved from all sin.
  • R’ Bogomilsky asks, however, if Mordechai’s popularity is not a bit of a negative note on which to end Megillas Esther. He answers that it is in fact not negative; though he was hated by some, Mordechai responded by still loving every Jew.

Esther 10:3, Question 2. Why does the verse call Mordechai a mishneh l’memlech (“second to the king”)?

  • In his commentary on the Torah (Bereishis 41:43), the Ramban writes that mishneh (“second”) is an adjective. Therefore, Mordechai is second to Achashverosh. Seder Olam (29) says that Achashverosh died in 3406, a mere two years after the Purim miracle, so Mordechai’s high office did not last very long.
  • The Vilna Gaon writes that Morechai’s position was specifically in this world.
  • However, R’ Moshe Dovid Valle notes that the first letters of the words mishneh lmelech Achashverosh (“second to the king Achashverosh”) form an acronym for the word, malei (“full”). He continues that Mordechai was filled with all the good of this world, and all the lights of the Heavenly World.

Esther 10:2, Question 2. Why does Achashverosh have this information written down?

  • According to R’ Elisha Galico, Achashverosh had this written down for posterity in order to teach his successors to be good to the Jews. The message was clear: “Achashverosh promoted Mordechai, so he was rewarded by H-Shem.”
  • R’ Yechezkiel Abramsky points out that Megillas Esther is not a history book, so the verse mentions chronicles because students of history can look there to research the actual events. Accordingly, Megillas Esther is meant to teach that H-Shem watches His people, even when He seems hidden.

Esther 10:2, Question 1. Why does the verse mention Achashverosh’s greatness?

  • Ibn Ezra explains that the verse mentions Achashverosh’s greatness because he only achieved this greatness through Mordechai, and this was obvious to all.
  • Furthermore, the Dena Pishra writes that Achashverosh was afraid to increase the above-mentioned taxes for fear of rebellion. However, with Mordechai in charge, he felt confident to do it.

Esther 10:1, Question 2. Why does Achashverosh charge taxes, and why does TaNaCh mention this?

  • The Talmud (Chagiga 8a) writes that mas, the word used here for taxes, indicates a secular/political tax, rather than a religious one.
  • This seemingly irrelevant event may be included in Megillas Esther because, as R’ Avigdor Miller writes in Torah Nation, this verse gives honor to Persians, and could be an additional proof that the sefer was not written later, as fools claim.
  • The Akeidas Yitzchak adds that this is mentioned here to contrast Jewish leaders with gentile leaders. Jewish leaders focus on what is best for their constituents, whereas gentile leaders typically attempt to benefit from their charges. This is especially unjust considering the Ibn Ezra’s opinion that the taxes were even placed on nations not under Achashverosh’s control.
  • The Vilna Gaon notes that the gematria of mas (“tax”) (40+60=100) and the gematria of vi’iyey (“and islands”) (6+1+10+10=27) supports the Midrash that says that of Achashverosh’s 127 states (Esther 1:1), 100 were on land and 27 were islands.
  • The Talmud (Megilla 11a) teaches that Achachverosh felt the need to tax because the economy of Persia began to suffer. Despite the vast wealth Achashverosh displayed earlier (Esther 1:4), he lost much of it.
  • According to the Rokeach, this tragic loss is hinted to in the last letters of the words “es osher kivod” (“the wealth of the glory”) in that verse, which spell teired (“you will go down”).
  • Perhaps this can be explained by the the Targum’s opinion that Achashverosh exempted the Jews from paying taxes, and was compelled to increase the taxes of all other citizens to make up the difference.
  • According to Shelom Esther, Achashverosh was concerned that pro-Haman forces were still plotting rebellion. The taxes were meant to see if any group refused or delayed. That was one way to weed out any potential traitors.
  • Finally, R’ Moshe Dovid Valle notes that, as this verse mentions the word melech (“king”), it references H-Shem, the King of kings. He approved of Achashverosh’s taxes because He wanted the gentiles to feel how the Jews suffered.