Esther 4:11, Question 1. Why does Esther refuse Mordechai’s order?

יא כָּלעַבְדֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ וְעַםמְדִינוֹת הַמֶּלֶךְ יֽוֹדְעִים אֲשֶׁר כָּלאִישׁ וְאִשָּׁה אֲשֶׁר יָבוֹאאֶלהַמֶּלֶךְ אֶלהֶחָצֵר הַפְּנִימִית אֲשֶׁר לֹאיִקָּרֵא אַחַת דָּתוֹ לְהָמִית לְבַד מֵאֲשֶׁר יוֹשִׁיטלוֹ הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶתשַׁרְבִיט הַזָּהָב וְחָיָה וַאֲנִי לֹא נִקְרֵאתִי לָבוֹא אֶלהַמֶּלֶךְ 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.
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