Esther 6:13, Question 4. Why does the verse call Haman’s advisers wise?

  • Rav Galico writes that the verse calls Haman’s advisers wise because these were those of his friends who were wise.
  • The M’nos HaLevi say they were wise due to the straight talk they provide. Therefore, the verse calls them “wise” instead of “loved ones.”
  • According to the Talmud (Megillah 16a), anyone who says something wise, whether Jew or gentile, is called wise. After all, the Talmud (Megillah 6b) admits that there is wisdom among the gentile nations.
  • R’ Shlomo Kluger says they were wise because they saw that all of these events Haman described did not just happen, but occurred due to the snowball effect that have built up over many years – perhaps since the time of Amalek.
  • R’ Mendel Weinbach says they are wise because all wisdom can come from the Torah. The Vilna Gaon, for instance, could purportedly give entire discourses on calculus without ever having seen a textbook on the subject.
  • Rav Avraham Chadida writes that these advisers knew that when things are out of their expected order are a sign that something good is about to occur. He gives the example of Rivka’s wonder at her unusual pains in pregnancy (Bireishis 25:22), Moshe’s curiosity at the burning bush (Shemos 3:2-3), and even cold weather in the middle of a summer.
  • Shar bas Rabim notes that the Talmud (Tamid 32a) defines a wise person as “haro’eh es hanolad,” or someone who can predict future events by logically observing history. Actually, these advisers were indeed correct!

Esther 2:13, Question 3. Why does the verse seem to contrast the “house of women” and the “house of the king?”

  • The Vilna Gaon writes in his allegorical commentary that the “house of women” represents this world, while the “house of the king” represents the World to Come.
  • Rav Chadidah says that in the gentile world, women are defined by the man’s house in which they dwell. A person’s rank, reputation, and nationality is paternal. In Judaism, however, very much depends on the mother. Earlier in the Torah, all of the matriarchs had their own individual tents, as in Rachel’s tent instead of the women’s tent (cf. Bireishis 31:33). True, one’s tribe and customs are paternal. But one’s very Jewish identity comes from the “women’s house.”

Esther 1:19, Question 4. Why should Vashti not be seen again?

The Me’am Loez suggests that Achashverosh would be likely to change his mind if he were to see Vashti again. As noted last week, this would wreck havoc on Memuchan’s plan to control the king. The Vilna Gaon adds that Memuchan is suggesting the king never even give Vashti a second chance to appear. Rashi points out that this is clear indication that Memuchan is hinting to the killing of Vashti (cf. Midrash, Esther Rabbah 4:9)1. Otherwise, how else could one guarantee that the king will never see her again? Since her explicit punishment is not mentioned in the text, it is a matter of discussion amongst the commentators. Most agree that she was killed. Some say she was banished or imprisoned. Rabbi Avraham Chadida writes that she was merely divorced.

1The phrase that the Midrash ascribes to Memuchan is that he wants to put Vashti’s “head on a diskus.” A “diskus” is either a plate or, according to Torah Temimah, a decapitation device. Incidentally, the phrase “rosha badiskus” is the exact gematria of 748, the same as mash’chis, destruction.

Esther 1:8, Question 1. The drinking at Achashverosh’s party was according to which law?

ח וְהַשְּׁתִיָּה כַדָּת אֵין אֹנֵס כִּיכֵן יִסַּד הַמֶּלֶךְ עַל כָּלרַב בֵּיתוֹ לַֽעֲשׂוֹת כִּרְצוֹן אִישׁוָאִישׁ

8. And the drinking was like the law, no forcing, because so the king declared to all of the many greats of his house to do according to the wants of man and man.

  • It is possible to suggest, as the Midrash (Esther Rabba 2:13) does, that the Persians had detailed customs of behavior in regards to drinking. After all, cultures make ceremonies around those actions they hold dear. Achashverosh carefully kept these rules. Rabbi Avraham Chadida, however, makes the exact opposite comment; according to him, it was generally forbidden to become drunk before the king, and Achashverosh intended to change that custom to become a more popular leader.
  • The Talmud (Megillah 12a) infers that Achashverosh was following the “laws” of the sacrifices – having more food than drink at his party, just as there is more meat than wine in the Beis HaMikdash (Temple) service (as, for example, the ratio of meat to wine described in the Torah for an olah offering in Bamidbar 28:12, 14). Rav Dovid Feinstein points to this as yet one more way in which Achashverosh was attempting to ape the Temple and its service.