- According to the Malbim, Esther mentioned the servants and nations because everybody – even people in other countries – knew this rule forbidding approaching the king unsummoned, so Esther could not feign ignorance.
- Since it was publicly known, also, it would have been a public affront. This was yet another reason Esther was saying she should not approach Achashverosh at this time.
יא כָּל–עַבְדֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ וְעַם–מְדִינוֹת הַמֶּלֶךְ יֽוֹדְעִים אֲשֶׁר כָּל–אִישׁ וְאִשָּׁה אֲשֶׁר יָבוֹא–אֶל–הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶל–הֶחָצֵר הַפְּנִימִית אֲשֶׁר לֹא–יִקָּרֵא אַחַת דָּתוֹ לְהָמִית לְבַד מֵאֲשֶׁר יוֹשִׁיט–לוֹ הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶת–שַׁרְבִיט הַזָּהָב וְחָיָה וַאֲנִי לֹא נִקְרֵאתִי לָבוֹא אֶל–הַמֶּלֶךְ זֶה שְׁלוֹשִׁים יוֹם
11. “All of the servants of the king and nation of states of the king know that any man and woman who go to the king to the inner courtyard who was not called have one law – to kill, unless that the king would extend to him his gold scepter, and live. And I have not been called to come to the king these thirty days.”
- The Alshich gives three reasons why Esther refuses Mordechai’s order, at least for the time being:
- First, he points out that Esther points out to Mordechai that there were eleven months between the decree (in Nisan) and its fulfillment (Adar). There would therefore not be a need to risk the death penalty for coming to the king without having been summoned.
- Incidentally, the Targum writes that this rule was established by Haman in order to avoid the possibility of Jews petitioning the king unannounced to beg him to change the decree against them. Besides, the king also did not want to be petitioned by Jews for permission to rebuild the Temple.
- The Alshich’s second reason for Esther’s desire to delay approaching the king is that she felt there was a high probability of her appeal failing.
- Finally, with eleven months left until the fulfillment of the decree, Esther saw no need to come before the king since there was a good chance that he would summon her at some point before then, anyway.
- R’ Eliezer Ginzburg writes that Esther’s refusal here is because she felt that she had been suffering all of the humiliations of this forced marriage to Achashverosh to create a “tikun” (“repair”) for the sins of that generation.
- Perhaps, since Esther was a humble person, she felt unworthy of such this monumental mission.
- R’ Ginzburg then quotes the Zichron Shmuel who notes that the initial letters of “me’asher yosheet lo hamelech” (“that the king would extend to him”) spell out “milah” (“circumcision”). This is a hint to the idea mentioned earlier that, in reluctance to have relations with an uncircumcised gentile, Esther would ordinarily send a sheid to take her place. Now, she was afraid that she would have to appear before Achashverosh alone, without the aid of a demon.
י וַתֹּאמֶר אֶסְתֵּר לַהֲתָךְ וַתְּצַוֵּהוּ אֶל–מָרְדֳּכָי
10. And Esther said to Hasach and she commanded him to Mordechai.
- The commentators seem bothered that such a special messenger should be so forcefully commanded. Both the Alshich and R’ Elisha Gallico say that Esther knew that her response to Mordechai (as we shall see, G-d Willing) would be a refusal of his earlier command. Therefore, she felt she needed to command Hasach to perform this task, despite his possible reluctance to do so.
- Using the same reasoning, the Dina Pishra writes that Esther’s command to Hasach was to be diplomatic in his manner when taking her negative response to Mordechai.
- The Malbim writes that Esther ordered Hasach to find suitable messengers because she was concerned that repeatedly sending the same messenger might lead to suspicion in the king’s court. This is one explanation for the reason that the message is delivered to Mordechai by a plural number of messengers (see 4:12).
- According to M’nos HaLevi, Esther was criticizing Mordechai for standing up to Haman, and endangering the Jews. She was saying that this was not like Yaakov, who bowed down to Eisav (Bireishis 33:3).
- The Ginzei HaMelech teaches that Esther had to convince him. This teaches the valuable lesson that servants, even those “not paid to think,” should not be treated like automatons. Even in this precarious situation, Esther is teaching us how we should treat people with respect.
ט וַיָּבוֹא הֲתָךְ וַיַּגֵּד לְאֶסְתֵּר אֵת דִּבְרֵי מָרְדֳּכָי
9. And Hasach came and elaborated to Esther the words of Mordechai.
- M’nos HaLevi writes that Hasach fully elaborated on the serious situation faced by the Jews at this time.
- Maamar Mordechai writes that he told Esther that it was indeed dangerous to speak to Mordechai in the street, as we see later.
- Rav Moshe Dovid Valle writes that Hasach reported the words exactly the way he heard him, like a recording.
- The Alshich says that by Mordechai’s telling Esther to speak on behalf of her people, he was implying that she should reveal her lineage as a game-changing trump-card.
- Quoting our verse, the Midrash (Shemos Rabbah 30:4) writes that those people who sacrifice their lives for the good of the Jewish people are rewarded by having the Jewish people called in their names. The Yad HaMelech writes that this reward makes sense because the Jewish people really are naturally people who sacrifice themselves for their people.
The Kedushas Levi notes that the word “milfanav” (“before him”) seems redundant. He writes that Achashverosh was even worse than Haman in his anti-Semitism. Why would Achashverosh change his mind regarding the Jews? He writes that Mordechai was telling Esther that the Shechinah, H-Shem’s Presence, would enter with her, and this would impress Achashverosh.
M’nos HaLevi writes that Esther was to mollify Achashverosh by beautifying herself and wearing her best robes.
- The Vilna Gaon says that Mordechai knew that Esther, being a righteous woman, never voluntarily submitted to Achashverosh carnally. In addition to the fact that he was a gentile, we learned earlier that Esther was married to Mordechai before she was forcibly removed from his home. Accordingly, Esther would need the force of a command to submit to Achashverosh voluntarily. There is a story told of a community rav who was in a situation in which circumstances were such that he had to build a synagogue where a mikvah once stood. Otherwise, his congregation would have no home. Knowing that Halacha (see Igros Moshe, Choshen Mishpat I, Siman 40) does not allow for a shul to be built in such a place, he asked the Chazon Ish for advice. The Chazon Ish reportedly told the rav that he was right, and that building the shul in such a location would earn him punishment in this world and the next. Nevertheless, he still had to do it. His congregation needed a home, and, as a leader, he had the responsibility to accept punishment for their benefit. Here, too, Esther was required to perform this sin for the benefit of the entire nation. Esther would not have gone to Achashverosh voluntarily.
- R’ Moshe Dovid Valle quotes the verse in Koheles (3:7) that there is “a time to be silent, and a time to speak.” In other words, Mordechai was telling Esther that there was a time when he commanded her to remain silent regarding her ancestry (see 2:10); now, he was rescinding that command and telling her to speak.
- R’ Dovid Feinstein gives another reason why Esther needed to be commanded. Quoting a Rashi in Vayikra 6:2 (in Parshas Tzav), he writes that the word, “tzav” (“command”) is only used when the person performing the action is reluctant to do it because there is something they stand to lose. Here, Mordechai has to command Esther because he realizes her self-sacrifice. Recalling that Mordechai is speaking to Hasach (Daniel) that he has to command Esther because he is a greater Torah scholar. As such, Esther would be more likely to listen to the command.