Esther 1:10, Question 2. Why does the verse describe Achashverosh’s heart as “like it was gratified” instead of “it was gratified” with wine?

  • If the intention of the verse is to indicate Achashverosh’s drunkenness, there are simpler ways to say so. According to the Alshich, Achashverosh indeed was not drunk, but simply acting light-headed.
  • On a deeper, more allegorical level, Rav Yitzchak Hutner (Pachad Yitzchak on Purim) quotes the idea that a mention of a “king” in Megillas Esther also indicates the King of Kings, The Holy One (see our previous blogs regarding this). If so, H-Shem’s “heart” was in a positive spirit because of the distinct behavior of His chosen people.
  • The Midrash (Esther Rabba 3:11) states that there is no true gratification amongst the nations of the world. Therefore, Achashverosh’s heart wasn’t really gratified with wine, but only seemingly so. In Ohr Chadash, the Maharal asks how this is possible. Do idolators really never experience gratification and joy? It certainly seems they do! He responds that complete gratification only comes from spiritual pleasure, and that can only be achieved through means available only to the spiritual people. Any other gratification is physical and does not have permanence. He quotes as proof the verse in Tehillim (31:20) that promises endless gratification to those who live their lives righteously. As Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch points out in his commentary on that verse, this is a reward in this world, as opposed to the stereotypical suffering tzaddik. In fact, several recent studies demonstrate that people without religion have higher stress levels (read: ungratified) than those following in the ways of Torah (http://www.healthzone.ca/health/newsfeatures/article/1119541–you-docs-having-faith-is-good-for-bodies-and-souls).
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2 responses to “Esther 1:10, Question 2. Why does the verse describe Achashverosh’s heart as “like it was gratified” instead of “it was gratified” with wine?

  1. In response to Rav Yitzchak Hutner; how is it that Hashem was happy with us? Was it not at this particular time that the Jews were voluntarily joining a party that was rejoicing Achashverosh’s notion that Hashem did not save the Jewish people?

    • Recall that, in the previous question, we said that the Talmud says this “seventh day” was Shabbos, and this day highlights the contrast between the drinking of idolaters to that of Jews. Whereas drunken idolaters discuss immodest topics in their stupor, Jews drinking at the Shabbos table tend to discuss Torah topics and sing praises to their Creator. This is what brings “pleasure” to our Creator.

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