Esther 1:2, Question 3. What does the verse mean by the phrase “throne of His kingship?” Whose kingship is it?

The Midrash (Esther Rabba 1:13) asks how Achashverosh can be said to have kingship if “kingship is H-Shem’s” (Tehillim 22:29), and only He is the real king? The Midrash answers that since Israel lost – through its sins – ruler-ship over themselves, H-Shem gave dominion over them to the nations of the world. In Mayan Beis HaShoeivah (pg. 470-1), Rav Shimon Schwab (zt”l)  asks how this answers the question of the Midrash. What does the dominion of the other nations over Israel have to do with H-Shem’s control of the world? He answers that H-Shem rules the world in a unique way; Being the King of kings, He controls the rulers of the world like a chess master moving the pieces. Like the verse in Mishlei (21:1) says, “lev hamelech b’yad H-Shem” (“the heart of a king is in the hand of H-Shem.”) In His direct supervision of the Jewish people, H-Shem influences the decisions of powerful people more-so than other people’s decisions. Rav Schwab uses this idea to explain a puzzling statement of the Sages. The Talmud (Megillah 15b), in interpreting Chapter 22 in Tehillim as a prophetic vision of the Purim story, says that Esther momentarily lost the sense of the Shechinah (the Divine Presence) as a result of calling Achashverosh a dog (cf. Tehillim 22:21). Why would there be such a punishment if Achashverosh was not someone worthy of defending, as we shall see in the coming days? In light of the idea that kingship is given and controlled by H-Shem, it begins to be clear. H-Shem is concerned about the honor due a king – even one as evil as Achashverosh – because kingship is a gift He bestowed upon someone He felt was deserving. (Rav Schwab writes similarly regarding H-Shem’s commanding Moshe to treat Pharoah with respect (Shemos 6:13).) One of the more famous teachings of the Midrash (Esther Rabba 3:10) regarding Megillas Esther is that every mention of “King Achashverosh,” as in our current verse, means just Achashverosh. Any generic mention of just a “king” mean both Achashverosh and H-Shem. Practically speaking, how would this work? If, theoretically, a verse in Esther would say, “The King agreed,” who actually agreed: Achashverosh or H-Shem? Actually, a verse like this would mean that both Achashverosh and H-Shem agreed. In effect, H-Shem’s agreeing is the reason Achashverosh agrees, too – because H-Shem is controlling him.

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