Esther 10:3, Question 7. What is the significance of this verse/word/letter being at the end of Megillas Esther?

  • R’ Meir Zlotowitz writes that Megillas Esther closes with an idyllic pictures of peace, stature, and security for the Jewish people.
  • Specifically, the Vilna Gaon notes that the book ends with peace because, as the last Mishna (Uktzin 3:12) concludes, peace is the greatest container of blessing.
  • The Rokeach notes that the first and last letters of Megillas Esther are both vuv, giving the total gematria 12. This alludes to the twelfth year of Achshverosh’s reign, when the Purim miracle occurred (Esther 3:17); the month of Adar, which is the twelfth month of the Jewish year; and the miracle occurring for the 12 tribes though Mordechai who came from Benyamin, the twelfth son of Yaakov.
  • Ginzei HaMelech notes that there are 166 verses in Megillas Esther, which is the same as the number of words in the verses in the Torah (Shemos 17:8-16 and Devorim 25:17-19) that deal with Amalek. In mispar katan, 166 can be broken down to 1+1+6, which is 13. This is the gematria of echad (“one”) (1+8+4=13) symbolizing the hidden presence all along of the holy One, although He remains unmentioned in the entire book. Ginzei HaMelech notes that 13 is also the mispar katan of both Mordechai (40+200+4+20+10=274=2+7+4=13) and Esther (1+60+400+200=661=6+6+1=13).
  • Nachal Eshkol points out that the gematria of the last word in Megillas Esther, zaro (“his seed”) (7+200+70+6=283) added to the first word vayehi (Esther 1:1) (“and it was”) (6+10+5+10=31) is the same as Mordechai HaYehudi (40+200+4+20+10+5+10+5+6+4+10=314), the prophet who authored this holy work.
  • Finally, R’ Eliezer of Garmiza points out that the gematria of these same words is the same as Sh-dai (300+4+10=314), the Name of H-Shem that implies His unlimited power. This demonstrates that we must pray to G-d to put an end to our troubles, and rescue us from this long exile, bimheira biyameinu.

O holy One

King of kings

I am forever grateful that

I approached Your hidden light

drunk with ignorance

ad d’lo yada

and You masked me with grace

parading me through the streets

on Shifrigaz

letting me merit to relate Your decrees

in messages, letters, and books

please replace Your seed’s disgrace

with salvation

zeh l’umas zeh

and judge our enemies

mida kineged mida

and soon return us to Your house

fifty amos wide

Esther 10:3, Question 6. Who are Mordechai’s seed?

  • Seeing as Mordechai did not seem to have any of his own children, Rashi stresses that zaro, which is usually translated as “his seed” actually means “its seed here.” This refers to the descendants of the Jewish people.
  • The Ibn Ezra, however says that this phrase includes grandchildren whom he treated like his children. Taking care of people who would otherwise fall through the cracks demonstrates Mordechai’s great humility.
  • Mahari Algazi explains that Mordechai taught Torah to the Jews. After all, the Talmud (Brachos 64a) teaches that Torah scholars supply peace to the world. Therefore, his students are called his seed because, as the Talmud (Sanhedrin 19b) teaches, a rabbi’s students are considered to be that teacher’s children.

Esther 10:3, Question 5. Why does the verse say Mordechai spoke peace?

  • The Maharal writes that Mordechai behaved differently towards three distinct kinds of people. To the great, he managed to satisfy the majority; to the masses, he sought good; and to the children, he spoke peace.
  • R’ Refael Devorsky writes that the “good” was practical advice Mordechai dispensed, and actions Mordechai undertook. On the other hand, the “peace” represents the spiritual growth Mordechai guided.
  • The Sfas Emes notes that, in stark contrast to Haman, who was full of slander (Esther 3:5-8), Mordechai sought peace, slander’s opposite.
  • In the words of Aggadas Esther, how great is peace, that it is Mordechai’s greatest praise!

Esther 10:3, Question 3. Why does the verse say Mordechai is only popular with “most?”

  • Ibn Ezra explains that the verse says Mordechai is only popular with “most” because it is impossible to be popular with everyone.
  • The Nechmad M’Zahav adds that the reason for this is because it is impossible for a person doing everything purely for the sake of H-Shem to not offend somebody at some point.
  • On the other hand, Alshich writes that, usually, leaders have enemies, but Mordechai had none.
  • R’ Yehonason Eibshutz explains that this verse, having been authored by Mordechai, displays his intense humility, not wanting to sound like everybody loved him.
  • On the same note, the Ohel Moshe quotes the Alter from Kelm as saying this verse displays Mordechai’s dedication to truth, wherein he cannot in full conscience say all people liked him. However, the Talmud (Megilla 16b) writes that some members of the Sanhedrin split from Mordechai because they felt his political position caused him to neglect Torah study. In fact, in Ezra (2:2), written only a few years after the Purim story, Mordechai is only mentioned fourth or fifth in the list of scholars. Ohel Moshe applies to Mordechai the Mishna (Avos 3:5) that teaches that anyone who throws off the yoke of Torah, adds the yoke of government. This is based on the opinion listed in Torah Temimah that learning Torah is greater than saving lives.
  • Alshich explains that Mordechai disagreed with the Sanhedrin, arguing that saving lives is more important. R’ Avigdor Boncheck notes that this classic argument demonstrates the tug we all naturally feel between mitzva of learning and the mitzva of pekuach nefesh (“recuing lives”).
  • As R’ Dovid Feinstein notes, devoting oneself “totally to Torah still commands greater respect among the Jewish people.”
  • R’ Mendel Weinbach agrees and points out that “if one Jew must sacrifice his learning in order to save lives while another can continue learning undisturbed, the latter is greater.”
  • Ohel Moshe quotes R’ Moshe Feinstein (Kol Ram) as saying that for a great need, a talmid chacham (“Torah scholar”) can stop learning and will get reward, but not as much had he remained entrenched in study had the situation not taken him away.
  • R’ Mordechai Gifter adds that, in such a situation, a scholar taken from his learning should still be reviewing Mishnayos by heart while engaged in these other, emergency matters.
  • Ohel Moshe quotes a story from R’ Meir Isaac Maalin, that when he was learning in the Mir, he saved two lives from drowning. The mashgiach, R’ Yechezkiel Levenstein, praised him. He told him that in the merit of his actions, he will not ever sin, because the Mishna (Avos 5:18) promises that someone who strives to fulfill the needs of the masses is saved from all sin.
  • R’ Bogomilsky asks, however, if Mordechai’s popularity is not a bit of a negative note on which to end Megillas Esther. He answers that it is in fact not negative; though he was hated by some, Mordechai responded by still loving every Jew.

Esther 9:32, Question 2. Why is the “statement” attributed to Esther?

  • The Maharal explains that, on a simple level, the “statement” is attributed to Esther to emphasize that her status as queen of Persia aided in Purim’s being accepted.
  • Furthermore, Kedushas Levi points out that Esther actually argued with the Sages who wanted Purim on Nisan 16, since that was the actual day when Achashverosh punished Haman, and put an end to his plot. She argued that if Purim will then remain on the same day as Pesach, it would not be as obvious, and will end up being forgotten.
  • R’ Yehonason Eibshutz notes that her self sacrifice is the reason for Esther’s being credited with the holiday and book in TaNaCh.
  • The Ben Ish Chai finds an allusion to this in “Eishis Chayil,” Shlomo haMelech’s praise of great women. The verse there (Mishlei 31:31), the gematria of yadeha (“her hand”) can be broken up into yad (10+4=14) and eha (10+5=15), alluding to the 14th and 15th of the month of Adar, both established by Esther’s hand.

Esther 9:31, Question 2. To what fasts does the verse refer, and why?

  • On a simple level, the Ibn Ezra, Rambam (Mishneh Torah Hilchos Taanios 5:5), and Me’am Loez write that the fast to which this verse refers is the fast of Esther. However, according to the Talmud (Megilla 16b), these words are meant to be read with the beginning of the next verse. Therefore, it was through both fasting and Esther’s words that the Jews earned the merit to be rescued from total annihilation.
  • The M’nos HaLevi writes that this means that, just as the Jews accepted upon themselves the fasts of the prophets and fasting for the Temple’s destruction, they accepted Purim with all of its rules.
  • As Malbim explains, Esther and Mordechai used the prophet’s (Zecharya 8:19) establishing other fasts as proof that holidays can be established without violating the Torah’s (Devorim 4:2, see Ramban there) prohibition against bal tosif (“adding to the Torah’s existing laws”).
  • The Ginzei HaMelech notes the correspondence between Purim and fast days. He relates it to Yalta’s saying in the Talmud (Chulin 109b) that the Torah permits everything it forbids. In other words, the joy of Purim counterbalances the sadness of the fast days, zeh l’umas zeh.
  • This fits well with the Ksav Sofer noting the Talmud’s (Taanis 29a) parallel between the months of Adar and Av; just as mishenichnas Adar, marbin b’simcha (“when Adar begins, we increase our joy”), so too mishenichnas Av, mimaatin b’simcha (“when Av begins, we decrease our joy”).
  • The Sfas Emes notes a similar parallel between Purim and Yom Kippur by applying the words of the wisest of all men (Mishlei 18:21) that maves v’chaim b’yad halashon (“death and life are controlled by the tongue”). In other words, H-Shem’s judging the Jews occurs on both days, and is manifest in how we utilize our power of speech to maintain peace and unity.
  • Furthermore, the Maharal adds that we would logically assume Purim should be a time for fasting, considering the reasons H-Shem had for annihilating us. Instead we customarily drink ad d’lo yada to sublimate our logic in order need to recognize that our salvation does not come from our effort, but from H-Shem’s help.
  • Either way, fasting led to the Purim miracle, so R’ Moshe Dovid Valle notes that the word hatzomos (“the fasts”) is written in plural because an individual may choose to fast all three days of Purim (Taanis Esther, Purim, and Shushan Purim), but this is not for the masses.

Esther 9:30, Question 2. Why does the verse describe this document using the word “truth?”

  • According to the Talmud (Megilla 16b), the truth to which this verse refers is the requirement for a kosher Megillas Esther scroll to be written with etched lines in the parchment.
  • The Maharal explains the symbolism of etched lines. First, H-Shem is straight in the sense of the letter of the law, but He is nevertheless kind. A line is also with no set beginning or end, like Torah, like Purim, and like H-Shem Himself.
  • Rav Yitzchak Hutner writes that etched lines refer to our hearts (parchment) on which the truth of Torah should be inscribed.

Esther 9:29, Question 5. Why does the verse use the word, tokef (authority”)?

  • In Torah Nation (pg. 40-1), R’ Avigdor Miller explains that the verse uses the word, tokef (authority”), because Esther used her authority as queen to make sure the Jews knew the seriousness of their accepting her words.
  • Rashi seems to translate the word as “power,” and explains that the verse is hinting to the power of the Purim miracle’s effect on the principle players of the story, Achashverosh, Mordechai, Haman, and Esther.
  • The Ben Ish Chai suggests that the events in which the different characters rose to power are the reasons for the different opinions in the Talmud’s (Megilla 19a) theoretical discussion regarding the point in Megillas Esther from which one is required to read during the public reading on Purim.
  • M’nos HaLevi writes that Esther needed to reinforce the establishment of Purim with her authority because it may become difficult in future generations to keep the holiday, but it must nevertheless be celebrated.
  • The Midrash (Rus Rabba 2:4) notes that Jews outside of Shushan reacted negatively to the first document, so this second letter needed to be stamped with authority.
  • Malbim, focusing on the fact that the verse says, “kol tofek,” or “all the authority,” explains that the letter needed two different kinds of authority; the throne’s to be published, and Mordechai’s to make it part of the TaNaCh canon.
  • Rav Schwab adds that Esther is called a queen here to give legitimacy to Daryavesh, her descendant.
  • In response to the rabbis’ question in the Talmud (Megilla 7a) about why Megillas Esther needs to be read like a Torah scroll, Esther convinces them that it is much like the Torah in that both are concerned with the war against Amalek. This furthers her argument that Megillas Esther belongs in TaNaCh, since it is written with ruach hakodesh.
  • R’ Elisha Gallico writes that Esther wanted Megillas Esther in TaNaCh because she was married to a gentile, and wanted future generations to know what led to such an unfortunate situation.
  • In Keemu v’Keeblu, Rav Brevda likewise writes that this was the reason it was in Persian’s royal chronicles. Ancient chronicles were often not objective, so the very presence of this story in the royal chronicle was proof that the king approves. Then, rightfully, if we were to be derided for celebrating this holiday, we could respond that “we Jews celebrate because the king celebrates.”

Esther 9:29, Question 4. Why does the verse repeat Esther’s genealogy?

  • The Me’am Loez writes that the verse repeats Esther’s genealogy because she was finally allowed to reveal her Jewish roots, and she was proud of them.
  • On a Halachic level, R’ Chaim Kanievsky writes that Esther needed to stress her being Jewish in order for far-flung Jews to accept her authority in establishing this new holiday of Purim.

Esther 9:29, Question 3. Why is Megillas Esther attributed to Esther?

  • In the view of the Ohel Moshe, by the verse using the word vatich’tov (“and she wrote”), which is a singular, feminine verb, it intends to emphasize Esther’s role because she risked her life approaching Achashverosh (Esther 4:16) in order to save the Jewish people1.
  • The Ginzei HaMelech wonders why Megillas Esther is attributed to Esther if both she and Mordechai co-authored the work. He suggests that Esther deserves the bulk of the credit because the Talmud (Megilla 7a) records how Esther insisted on Purim’s perpetuity, arguing with the reluctant Sages about writing this book to remember her “for generations.” This is why Megillas Esther is attributed to her.
  • According to the Alshich, another reason why Megillas Esther is attributed to Esther is because it was her idea (Esther 5:4) to have the series of feasts in which she finally accused Haman of his perfidy. to stress that all was ultimately accomplished through the power of prayer.
  • Esther thus added to the text, as the Ginzei HaMelech makes clear, an emphasis of the actions over the events.
  • Furthermore, as R’ Eliyahu Dessler writes, the very fact that Esther began Megillas Esther with the Achashverosh’s feast over a decade before Haman’s decree shows that the threat to our existence started then, as the Jews’ Sages like Mordechai were warning at the time.

1Similarly R’ Chaim Shmulevitz writes in Sichos Mussar (Vayikra) that the name the Torah uses for Moshe out of the ten alternatives listed in the Midrash (Vayikra Rabba 1:3) is meant to emphasize the mesiras nefesh (“self-sacrifice”) of Basya, the daughter of Pharaoh, who gave him that name.