- Perhaps the verse’s use of different language describing two different reports of the same plot alludes to the Midrash Lekach Tov’s assertion that Mordechai communicated his findings to Esther through a messenger, whereas Esther spoke to the king directly.
- Yosef Lekach says that the difference in language demonstrates that both Mordechai and Esther were both trying to give each other credit for the information, so their individual tellings of the event were naturally different.
- The Maharal says that Mordechai just reported the facts of what he witnessed. Esther, on the other hand, reported the conspiracy, and also offered counsel.
- The Chiddushei HaRim writes that Esther reported the plot to Achashverosh because she was afraid that she and the Jews would be blamed for the assassination attempt.
- His son, Rav Simcha Bunim writes that, if the king were killed, Haman (being second-in-command) would be in charge, and he would be even worse.
- The Alshich writes that Mordechai reported the plot to Esther because he wanted her to get the credit for this discovery.
- The Shaar Beis Rabbim notes that this took a tremendous amount of self-sacrifice on Mordechai’s part to getting his wife in the good graces of the king, realizing that he was losing her more with each step she took into Achashverosh’s direction. Her self-sacrifice in reporting it in Mordechai’s name was an equal amount of self-sacrifice, and eventually is what merited their playing a part in the redemption of the Jews.
- Rav Shmuel de Ozeida writes that, if Mordechai learned of this plot through prophecy, of course he had to do something with that knowledge. After all, one does not learn information through prophecy for naught.
- Midrash Panim Acheirim posits that Mordechai reported this plot for three reasons:
- By getting in the good graces of the king, Mordechai hoped to win permission to rebuild the Temple.
- More generally, being liked by the king, Mordechai would be able to have influence for the sake of Jewish causes.
- More practically, he had to do this in order to not be blamed for this plot. Although this would be neither the first nor last time a Jew is scapegoat in political intrigue, this is especially true according to the Ma’amar Mordechai’s opinion mentioned before that the plotters had originally attempted to sway Mordechai into joining their conspiracy.
- The Ben Ish Chai brings from the Midrash (Bireishis Rabbah 39:12) that it is the duty of a Jew to save the world. Jewish advisers to foreign kings throughout our history have rescued them from impending doom whenever possible. Mordechai could not turn his back to this ancient tradition. Furthermore, writes the Ben Ish Chai, anybody would do similarly, at the least in order to avoid suspicion. The Maharal and the Me’am Loez both quote the Mishnah (Avos 3:2) that a Jew should pray for the peace in the government because anarchy and unrestrained progressive change can be dangerous.
כב וַיִּוָּדַע הַדָּבָר לְמָרְדֳּכַי וַיַּגֵּד לְאֶסְתֵּר הַמַּלְכָּה וַתֹּאמֶר אֶסְתֵּר לַמֶּלֶךְ בְּשֵׁם מָרְדֳּכָי
22. And the thing was known to Mordechai, and he related it to Esther the Queen, and Esther told it to the king in Mordechai’s name.
- The Ma’amar Mordechai says that Bigsan and Seresh tried to get Mordechai involved in Haman’s rebellion mentioned in the last post. After all, as a Jew, Mordechai was a member of a down-trodden people, the perfect candidate to desire a change in rule.
- The Talmud (Megillah 13b) teaches that Bigsan and Seresh were from a place called Turis. They were plotting the assassination by getting poison (perhaps a poison snake), but they did not know that Mordechai was on the Sanhedrin, so knew all of the 70 root languages (see Mishnah, Shekalim 5:1). Thus, Mordechai heard and understood their plan.
- The Chiddushei HaRim once had a meeting in Warsaw with the famous philanthropist, Sir Moses Montefoire, where they discussed this verse. Sir Montefoire said our verse is proof that Jewish children should be taught foreign languages, so they can save the Jews from the plots of our enemies. The Chiddushei HaRim retorted that the very opposite is true – if every Jew would have learned foreign languages, Bigsan and Seresh would know this, and would be more secretive around Jews. It is the rarity of Mordechai’s ability that allowed for it to be effective.
- One of the proofs the Talmud (Megillah 7a) uses that Megillas Esther was written prophetically in ruach hakodesh (see Introduction) is that the conspiracy “was known” to Mordechai, implying that he found out prophetically. Rav Pam says this opinion need not necessarily contradict the opinion that he overheard the plot. He writes that Jews respect privacy, and do not listen in on conversations. To illustrate this point, Rav Pam tells a story about a rabbi who was arrested in Poland on trumped up charges of espionage. In court, his two guards were speaking amongst themselves in Polish, assuming he knew nothing of their language. This rabbi backed away from them. Seeing this, the prosecuting attorney yelled at him for showing disrespect. The rabbi responded, “I do not mean disrespect. I am trying not to eavesdrop on your conversation.” The judge, after hearing this exchange, immediately freed the Jewish prisoner saying, “Such a one would not be a spy.” Rav Pam says Mordechai did the same thing. When he heard Bigsan and Seresh speaking in Tursish, he left the area so as not to hear them. Then, he received ruach hakodesh, Divine prophecy regarding their plot.
- In Torah Nation, Rav Avigdor Miller writes that Mordechai was Divinely rewarded with this discovery in reward for his vigilance in daily risking his life to check on Esther (as mentioned in previous posts).
- The Yosef Lekach writes that Bigsan and Seresh’s being upset is described in the singular because they became one complete unit as partners in this Divinely-inspired, unnatural anger.
- The Midrash (Esther Rabbah 6:13) says this anger is in the singular because it refers to H-Shem’s anger. He became angry at Achashverosh for the sake of the righteous Mordechai, whose wife was taken from him.
- The gematria of Bigsan (2+3+400+50=455) is the exact gematria of “heimis” (“to kill”) (5+40+10+400=455), giving us indication that their goal was to assassinate the king, which was not otherwise explicit in the verse. Likewise, the gematria (and letters) of Seresh (400+300+200=900) is the same as reshes (“a net”) (200+300+400=900), which is a tool used to capture something before killing it. Similarly, as spelled in our verse, the word “v’Seresh” (“and Seresh”) (6+400+300+200=906) is equal to “mikshei maves” (“deadly traps”) (40+10+100+300+10+40+6+400=906).
- Together, the gematria of the names Bigsan and Seresh (455+900=1355) equal the gematria of the phrase “Tiferes Mordechai” (“the glory of Mordechai”) (1081+274=1355). As we shall see in the next verse, Mordechai’s glory and abilities thwarted Bigsan and Seresh’s plot. Interestingly, the gematria of Seresh is almost exactly twice that of Bigsan.
- Since the numbers divide almost equally into three parts, perhaps this hints to the Ibn Ezra’s opinion that there were three guards watching the king, but only these two were mentioned because of their plot.
- There are numerous reasons given for Bigsan and Seresh’s anger. The Yalkut Shimoni (1053) says that Bigsan and Seresh previously had important positions, and were upset with Mordechai for seemingly usurping them. The Malbim sees this in the actual words of the verse. After all, the verse relates Mordechai’s “sitting at the king’s gate” to Bigsan and Seresh’s anger to point out that their anger was directly caused by his position.
- The Talmud (Megillah 13b) says they were upset with the king and queen because they were tired at nights having to protect their door as they spent time together, much like Pharoah became upset with the baker and butler for small reasons (Bireishis 40:1).
- Rav Elisha Gallico says they were upset that Mordechai was sitting at the king’s gate, deciding cases based on Jewish law. Bigsan and Seresh therefore saw it as a patriotic duty to kill the king (who was, by the way, not Persian) for his seeming betrayal of Persian law in promoting a Jew to this position.
- The Me’am Loez writes that the two of them were relatives of Vashti, and waited this long period of time to avenge her death. Another opinion he brings is that they were upset that Achashverosh rejected Haman’s daughter during the search for a new queen, and Haman convinced them to join in a rebellion against the king. The Me’am Loez also quotes Yossipon that this was just one part of a much larger rebellion, and that these two wanted to kill Achashverosh to bring the king’s head to the Greeks, enemies of the Persians, and thereby ingratiate themselves to them.
- The Malbim points out that, regardless of the reason, their motivation was petty. This parallels the story of Yosef mentioned in the above Talmud. The Malbim continues that, just as H-Shem can inspire a king (Pharoah) to be angry with his servants for no reason, so, too, can H-Shem inspire a servant (Bigsan and Seresh) to hate a king for no reason. Rav Dovid Feinstein asks why these two stories are being paralleled by the Talmud. He answers that the verse says “shnei” (“both”), equating the feelings of Bigsan and Seresh. In the natural order of things, this is impossible because no two people can have the same exact emotion from the same exact motivation in the same exact degree. This is yet one more indication that these events were led Divinely.
- The Me’am Loez writes that Mordechai’s sitting at the king’s gate meant that he resigned from his position with the Sanhedrin. He became involved with the government instead in order to thwart any possible anti-Jewish decrees. The Rabbis were critical of this decision as we shall see, with H-Shem’s Help, when we get to 10:3 at the end of Megillas Esther.
- According to the Malbim, this again indicates the hand of the Divine in the Purim story, as Mordechai’s being at the king’s gate gave him the ability to uncover the plot.
כא בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם וּמָרְדֳּכַי ישֵׁב בְּשַׁעַר–הַמֶּלֶךְ קָצַף בִּגְתָ֨ן וָתֶ֜רֶשׁ שְׁנֵי–סָרִיסֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ מִשֹּׁמְרֵי הַסַּף וַיְבַקְשׁוּ לִשְׁלֹחַ יָד בַּמֶּלֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרשׁ
21. In those days – and Mordechai was sitting at the king’s gate – Bigsan and Seresh became angry with the king, two eunuchs of the king guarding his doorstep, and they sought/ requested to send out the hand to the king Achashverosh.
Rabbi Dovid Feinstein writes that the phrase “in those days” is meant to emphasize that H-Shem set up the saving of the Jews long before the threat to Jewish existence. As we have said before, H-Shem always prepares the cure before the advent of the ailment (Talmud, Megillah 13b).
- The Vilna Gaon points out that “ma’amar” (“instruction”) is a word connoting a gentle form of speaking. Esther, being queen, still followed Mordechai’s instructions like a daughter following the gentle reproach of a parent even after leaving his authority. Rashi adds that Mordechai sat at the king’s gate (see next verse), gently reminding Esther that she was Jewish and thus had responsibilities to H-Shem.
- The Talmud (Megillah 13b) says that Esther showed her niddah questions to Mordechai, as it may be necessary at times to seek rabbinic advice in this area according to the halachah (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 193:1). In fact, the Yerushalmi states that Esther asked Mordechai other questions in regard to rabbinic law. In other words, she was asking specifically issues of rabbinic law.
- Rabbi Dovid Feinstein says that Esther was following Mordechai’s advice because she knew she was a part of H-Shem’s plan, but did not know how, and did not want to get in the way of this Divine plan.
- Rabbi Tzvi HaCohen Kaplan writes that Esther’s prophecy mentioned earlier (mentioned previously) was a direct result of her fidelity to Mordechai, trusting the Torah of the Rabbis in these difficult times.
- Another opinion in the Talmud there is that Esther had relations with Achashverosh, went to the mikvah, and then had relations with Mordechai. Although she was taken by force, and so allowed to Mordechai, Esther seemingly should have waited the requisite three months (Yevamos 35a) before having relations with her husband, unless it was actually a sheid (as mentioned in previous posts) having relations with the king. Perhaps going to the mikvah was Esther’s way to feel more pure, even if she wasn’t so in actual fact.