Esther 4:4, Question 7. Why does Esther send Mordechai clothing?

  • According to the Malbim, Esther sent Mordechai clothing because he needed to be dressed properly to enter the palace, and she wanted to hear the information directly from him. This would be especially true if, as the Vilna Gaon surmises, Esther thought the information in question was confidential.
  • R’ Dovid Feinstein, however, writes that Esther sent clothes to Mordechai because she felt he was over-reacting; she felt confident that she could overpower Haman within the remaining eleven months before the given date of the Jews’ destruction.
  • Interestingly, Tiferes Shlomo takes this incident as indicative of the classic argument on Judaism – should one fast and practice asceticism, or should one fulfill the words of Tehillim in striving to “ivdu es H-Shem b’simcha” serve H-Shem in joy (100:2)? Even in such dark times, Esther still felt that one should strive to find joy in serving H-Shem, and combat annihilation that way.
  • Similarly, according to Rav Pam, the events in this verse point to a fundamental difference between Esther and Mordechai regarding their approach to defending Judaism in exile.
  • He quotes the Megillas Sesarim who writes that Esther felt we should use teshuva together with political maneuvering to effect change. Mordechai, on the other hand, felt we should fulfill the words of the wisest of men, who wrote, “When a person’s ways are desirable for H-Shem, even his enemies seek peace with him” (Mishlei 16:7). In other words, all we must do is attempt to be the best we can be, and H-Shem will protect us from any potential enemy.

Esther 4:4, Question 5. Why is Esther distressed?

  • M’nos HaLevi writes that Esther was distressed because Mordechai chose not to tell her the reason for his behavior, himself.
  • The Talmud (Megillah 15a) takes the unusual word, “vatis’chal’chal” (“and she was distressed”) literally as “became empty.” In other words, the Talmud says that, upon learning this news, Esther either became a niddah (began menstruating) or had loosened bowels. In other words, as Rabbi Mendel Weinbach puts it, the news for Esther was so intense, that she lost control of her physical functions.
  • The Midrash (Esther Rabbah 8:3) similarly says that Esther miscarried at the news of Mordechai’s mourning. Torah Temimah says the Midrash here is using the root of the word, “chalal” (“empty”) to refer to the last chapter in Yeshaya (66:8) where the prophet says that Tzion will have troubles (“kee chala gam yalda”), and will give birth, indicating a relationship between this word and childbearing.

Esther 4:4, Question 4. Why did Esther’s servants have to tell her anything at all?

  • The reason Esther’s servants had to tell her anything at all instead of Esther merely seeing for herself, the Maharal writes, is that Esther’s high level of tznius, modesty, prevented her from even glancing out of windows.
  • Rav Galico adds that Esther’s extreme privacy allowed her to stay aloof of goings-on outside the palace.
  • Yosef Lekach points out that, despite her modesty and privacy, the entire palace knew about Esther’s and Mordechai’s concern for each other, but they did not know the reason for this.

Esther 4:4, Question 2. Why does the word “came” have a different pronounced (kri) than written (ksiv) form?

The word “vatavona” (“came”) is pronounced differently than it is written. Perhaps the reason for this difference can be gleaned from gematria. Written in full, with a yud, the gematria of the word is equal (6+400+2+6+1+10+50+5) to 480, the same as the name of the demon, Lillis (30+10+30+10+400=480), the act of giving birth, “moledes” (40+6+30+4+400=480), and bread, “pas” (80+400=480). These three words may refer to Esther’s attempts to hide her identity. The demon and the giving birth may reference the sheid Esther sent out in order to get out of having relations with Achashverosh. The bread may be a reference to the seeds Esther ate to avoid eating non-kosher food.