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 2:18, Question 4. Why does Achashverosh give these gifts to all of the states?

  • Rav Elisha Gallico says Achashverosh gave these gifts to the states to reward them for their gifting him with their most beautiful women, and to compensate them for the loss of such talent.
  • The Vilna Gaon says that he gave to everyone because the king did not know which nation to thank for Esther, so covered his bases by rewarding all of the states.
  • Since the Jews were not a distinct state, Rav Eliezer Ashkenazi writes, they were the only people still paying full taxes. Accordingly, this is the reason why Haman will later offer to cover the costs of killing off the Jews (3:9), since their extermination would have a negative impact on the king’s coffers.

Esther 2:8, Question 2. For purposes of the story, why do we need to know that many other girls were taken by Achashverosh’s men?

Let’s recall that Achashverosh was looking for a number of characteristics. He was attempting to replace Vashti, a woman whose beauty was unequaled and irreplaceable (as we’ve said here before), so he therefore needed to find a woman who was superior to her in other ways. The Malbim’s view is that this number of women is one of eight indicators in theses verses that Mordechai broke the law of King Achashverosh.

        1. The verse (2:5) tells us Mordechai was “in Shushan” to tell us that he knew of the law. He could not feign ignorance since he lived in the capital city, and it was well-publicized everywhere.
        2. The verse (ibid.) also says “his name” was Mordechai, indicating that he had a “name,” or level of fame, and should have seen it as an honor to bring his adopted daughter to the king.
        3. The next verse (ibid. 6) informs us that Mordechai was “exiled.” As an immigrant, he should have felt gratitude to his host nation, wanting to give back by giving his daughter.
        4. The next verse (ibid. 7) tells us that Esther was “daughter of his uncle” meaning that he was responsible for her, and thus had the final say of whether or not she should be a part of this contest.
        5. More than that, the verse (ibid.) tells us Esther “did not have a father and mother” to stress that he had ultimate authority over her, having to answer to nobody.
        6. The additional fact that Esther had a “beautiful form” (ibid.) was all the more reason for Mordechai to bring her!
        7. By describing Esther “as daughter” to Mordechai, the verse is saying that Esther would not go without his approval, making him ultimately culpable for her being absent at the king’s casting call.
        8. In our verse, the phrase “word and law” indicates that he knew the law well, and even knew of the consequences for ignoring it.

Additionally, Mordechai saw that “many young women” were taken to the king, and could not say he was ignorant of what was going on. As the Malbim continues, despite all of this, Mordechai nevertheless ignored the law, and placed himself in great peril in order to protect Esther.

Acknowledgments

First and foremost, I would like to thank H-Shem for the ability to learn and teach. Due to a combination of rather serious and seemingly negative events in my life, I have been granted this rare opportunity to devote my time to studying and teaching the precious Torah. On the same token, I would like to thank you for navigating to this blog. After all, your learning from these words makes the tragedies that led up to this moment not to have occurred for naught.

Of course, my wonderful community of Young Israel of San Diego deserves most of the credit for this work. They allowed me to have the classes of which this is but a outcropping in the shul. It goes without saying that the Megillah class (called an “in-depth discussion group” for a reason) would be an empty experiment if not for its seven regular participants and the few stray visitors. In particular, I would like to thank ES, the participant who put the entire class together, financially and otherwise. Some of the rather wise “chiddushim” I present as my own are actually things said in the group that I organically incorporated into my understanding of the holy text.

Our community’s venerable Moreh d’assra, Rabbi Hollander, has given me resources, knowledge, encouragement, inspiration, and love. On that last note, I must thank my ezer kinegdi, my wonderful wife, for her wise counsel, her building me to be my best, and her patience with my failings. She has a share in every word I write. May she and I merit to see our children grow to stand with the righteous amongst the myrtles, and see the sudden shift in events that will herald our redemption.