Esther 4:8, Question 3. Why does Mordechai tell Hasach to both show and tell the document to Esther?

The Malbim writes, using the answer from the last post, that Mordechai here is showing the copy of the letter, and relating his interpretation of it. He adds that Mordechai could only get the summary version, not what the governors had. He had no other option than to mention the destruction left out of the actual public letter.

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Esther 4:8, Question 2. Why does the verse repeat the fact that the Jews were to be destroyed?

  • Answering the above question as well as the current one, according to the Alshich, the verse repeats the fact that the Jews were to be destroyed because only the Shushan copies of the letter detailed that the Jews were the nation the king was ordering the extermination.
  • Yosef Lekach argues and writes that Mordechai was interpreting the letters in this way, when their only explicit statement was for people to be ready, without mention of the event for which people should prepare themselves.

Esther 4:8, Question 1. Why does the verse emphasize that the copies of the posters are from Shushan?

ח וְאֶתפַּתְשֶׁגֶן כְּתָבהַדָּת אֲשֶׁרנִתַּן בְּשׁוּשָׁן לְהַשְׁמִידָם נָתַן לוֹ לְהַרְאוֹת אֶתאֶסְתֵּר וּלְהַגִּיד לָהּ וּלְצַוּוֹת עָלֶיהָ לָבוֹא אֶלהַמֶּלֶךְ לְהִתְחַנֶּןלוֹ וּלְבַקֵּשׁ מִלְּפָנָיו עַלעַמָּהּ

8. And a copy of the writing that was given to Shushan to destroy them was given to him to show Esther and to tell her, and to command on her to go to the king to mollify him and to plead before him regarding her nation.

The Ibn Ezra points out that Shushan historically had a large concentration of Jews. Therefore, the verse emphasizes that the copies of the posters are from Shushan in order to show the great impact the Jews would feel if they understood the contents of the letters Haman sent.

Esther 4:7, Question 5. Why does the verse emphasize Mordechai’s telling Esther about the destruction of the Jews?

  • The Vilna Gaon writes that the verse emphasizes Mordechai’s telling Esther about the destruction of the Jews to clarify that the public documents vaguely informing Shushan to be ready actually intended the annihilation of the Jews.
  • R’ Yehonason Eibshutz breaks apart the word “li’avdam” (“to destroy”) into the words “lo badam” (“not with blood”). In explanation, he cites the Midrash (Esther Rabbah 7:14) that relates the following allegorical anecdote:

[After the Satan convinced H-Shem to agree that Yisroel deserved destruction, and various levels of H-Shem’s servants respond,] Eliyahu (of Blessed Memory) ran in terror to the Patriarchs and Moshe son of Amram. And he said to them, “How long will the Patriarchs of old remain asleep? Are you not paying attention to the evils in which your children find themselves? The ministering angels, the sun, the moon, the stars and constellations, Heaven and Earth, and all the Heavenly servants are bitterly crying. And you are standing by, not paying attention?!” They said to him, “Why [were they found worthy of destruction]?” He said to them, “Because Yisroel enjoyed themselves at the feast of Achashverosh. Because of this, H-Shem decreed upon them a decree to annihilate them from the world, and to destroy their memory.” Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov said to him, “If they transgressed the Will of the Holy One, Blessed is He, and this decree is sealed, what are we able to do?” Eliyahu returned, and said to Moshe, “Trustworthy shepherd! How often have you stood in the breach for the sake of Yisroel, and nullified the decree against them to avoid their annihilation? As it is written, ‘Did not Moshe, His chosen, stand in the breach before Him to turn back His anger from destroying’ (Tehillim 106:23). How do you answer this evil?” […] Moshe said to him, “Is there anyone good in this generation?” [Eliyahu] said, “There is, and his name is Mordechai.” [Moshe] said to him, “Go and tell him that when he stands there to pray, and I from here, and he seeks mercy for them before the Holy One, Blessed is He…” [Eliyahu] said to him, “Trustworthy shepherd! It is already written, this letter of destruction of Yisroel!” Moshe said to him, “If it is written in clay, our prayers will be heard. And if it is written in blood, it is already done.” [Eliyahu] said, “It is written in clay.” Moshe our Teacher said to him, “Go and tell Mordechai.”

 R’ Eibshutz asks on this this story: What is the symbolic significance of the document being written in blood or clay? Why would a decree written in blood be irreversible? He explains that Adam was created from earth and soul (Bireishis 2:7). Clay is made from earth and the Torah testifies that blood is the essence of the nefesh, soul (Vayikra 17:14, see Ramban to Vayikra 17:11). Thus, clay represents the physical and blood represents the spiritual. In the Midrash, then, Moshe was asking Eliyahu if the decree against the Jews was written for physical reasons (i.e. their enjoying Achashverosh’s feast) or spiritual reasons (i.e. bowing to an idol of Nevuchadnetzer). Had it been for their spiritual rejection of H-Shem (G-d forbid!), the decree would stand. In our verse, Mordechai was telling Esther that the decree was “lo b’dam,” not written in blood, and thus had a physical root that could be reversed with the power of prayer1.

1It is unclear to the author why the cause should be unclear; the above-cited Midrash explicitly stated that the decree was written and sealed due to the Jews’ enjoying Achashverosh’s feast. Perhaps the question was regarding the Jews’ motivation in attending the feast, and is not related to the seeming worship of Nevuchadnetzer’s statue. Tzarich iyun.

Esther 4:7, Question 4. Why is the word “baYihudim” written with an extra letter “yud?”

  • In answering this question, R’ Dovid Feinstein reminds us that the Talmud (Menachos 29b) says that H-Shem made Olam HaBa (the World to Come) using a yud. Therefore, Mordechai was saying that, in threatening the extermination of the Jews, the people who believed in the World to Come, Haman was actually attempting to subvert the authority of Heaven.
  • The Maharal writes that, by writing the word “baYihudim” with an extra letter “yud,” Mordechai was indicating the kind of Jews affected by Haman’s decree. The first yud represents the Jews in general, and the second yud represents those Jews willing to sacrifice their lives to sanctify G-d if the need arises.
  • The Tzemach Tzedek takes this idea one step further. In the beginning of Creation, H-Shem created within mankind two yetzarim (inclinations) (see Rashi to Bireishis 2:7). Haman, after all, did not discriminate – he wanted to kill all Jews, good or bad. Interestingly, later when the Jews are saved, the verse (Esther 9:15) spells out Yehudim with two yuds again to testify concerning them that the spirit of teshuva that enveloped the Jews at that time made it so the yetzer for evil had no affect on them.