Esther 8:11, Question 3. What does the word es add to the command?

  • The Ginzei HaMelech writes that the word es implies that the Jews were allowed to annihilate these enemies, despite the fact that Amalek is the only nation we are allowed to annihilate. This es includes nations not of Amalek involved in the attempted annihilation of the Persian Jews.

  • The Ginzei HaMelech continues by questioning how we can annihilate another nation. He quotes the Rambam (Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Melachim 5:4-5) who points out that the Assyrian king, Sancherev, mixed the nations that he conquered, and we no longer know the actual national pedigree of any people. He answers by quoting his friend, R’ Akiva Stolper that this permission includes any nation that exhibits the characteristics of Amalek. He proves this with a story of R’ Chaim of Volozhin, who once visited St. Petersburg. He saw a little boy there named Nikolai, about whom he confessed to his companion, “he worries me. He is Amalek.” That boy grew up to be the raging Jew hater, Czar Nikolai. Nikolai’s pedigree to the Russian royal throne was unquestionable, so the only way for him to be Amalek is in his personality.

  • Here, too, these people had the characteristics of Amalek. Despite the obvious fact that the Jews were ascending, these people were still planning an attack! Only Amalek would do something like that, as they did when they attacked the victorious Jews leaving Mitzrayim (Shemos 17:8) so many years before. The Midrash (Tanchuma, Ki Teitzei 9) compares Amalek to a person who knowingly scalds oneself by jumping into a boiling hot pool in order to convince others to do it, too.


Esther 6:14, Question 3. Why are Achashverosh’s eunuchs rushing Haman?

  • According to the Talmud (Megillah 16a) Achashverosh’s eunuchs rushed Haman in a state of confusion.
  • The Torah Temimah explains that they rushed Haman against his will to indicate the king’s lack of respect for him.
  • The Maamar Mordechai quotes the Yalkut Shimoni that Esther sent these servants.
  • Alshich writes that, aside from most of the adviser’s dislike of Haman, everyone in the palace knew that Haman was on the outs with the king, effectively blacklisting him.
  • In one comment, the M’nos HaLevi writes that Haman was rushed in order to not have the chance to wash off his daughter’s excrement from his head.
  • In another comment, he writes that if the servants had not rushed, Haman would have hanged himself.
  • Similarly, the Vilna Gaon writes that Haman would have used his added time to take down the gallows. Since the gallows will be needed for him, the eunuchs were rushed.
  • Also, Dena Pishra writes that Haman would have run to his governor sons, and they would begin the rebellion they were planning. On that note, the M’nos HaLevi points out that an opinion in the Talmud (Pesachim 22b, Kiddushin 57a) interprets any appearance of the word es to include something to a given statement. Therefore, he interprets this verse’s containing an es in “es Haman” to include Haman’s sons.
  • The M’nos HaLevi also notes that the word “vayavhilu” (“and they rushed”) is written without a letter yud between the hey and lamed. The missing yud has a gematria of ten, implying Haman’s ten sons.
  • Perhaps the fact that the addition of the ten would make the gematria of vayavhilu (6+10+2+5+10+30+6=69) the same as hadas (“willow”) (5+4+60=69) fits well with the above-cited opinion from Yalkut Shimoni that it was Esther/Hadassah who sent these eunuchs.
  • The Maharal explains another reason for their rushing. The organic process of nature is slow. A seed placed in the ground does not turn into a plant immediately. Anything that comes directly from H-Shem is sudden, and without preparation. The Shelah quotes from the Talmud (Brachos 9b) that kings eat their main meals in the morning. These servants are therefore rushing Haman to get to Achashverosh’s meal on time. This is the reason for his Halachic position (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 695:2, Mishnah Berurah ibid., sub-paragraph 9) that a Purim seudah should ideally be held in the morning hours.
  • R’ Moshe Rephael Luria quotes the Midrash (Bireishis Rabba 2:4) which discusses how the second verse in the Torah (Bireishis 1:2) alludes to all four exiles of the Jewish people. The Midrash parallels that verse’s use of the word vavohu (“emptiness”) with this verse’s use of the word vayavhilu.
  • Another Midrash (Eicha Rabba 2:11) writes that this verse is a fulfillment of the verse from the Song at the Sea (Shemos 15:15) “az nivhalu alufei Edom” (“then the princes of Edom will tremble”). After all, Haman – a descendant of Edom – is trembling and confused from being rushed. The trembling of our enemies will come with our sudden escape from their exile, bimheira biyameinu.

Esther 6:10, Question 5. Why does the verse use the word “es” before the nouns?

  • The Talmud (Pesachim 22b) teaches that the word, es, implies an addition.
  • Accordingly, the M’nos HaLevi explains that the verse uses the word “es” before each noun to imply the need to increase the amount of things Haman suggested, as the Talmud (Megillah 16a) suggested.

Esther 2:17, Question 1. Why does the verse have a seemingly unnecessary (and with no English translation) direct object article “es” before Esther?

יז וַיֶּאֱהַב הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶתאֶסְתֵּר מִכָּלהַנָּשִׁים וַתִּשָּׂאחֵן וָחֶסֶד לְפָנָיו מִכָּלהַבְּתוּלוֹת וַיָּשֶׂם כֶּתֶרמַלְכוּת בְּרֹאשָׁהּ וַיַּמְלִיכֶהָ תַּחַת וַשְׁתִּי

17. And the king loved Esther from all of the women, and she placed favor/grace and kindness before him from all of the virgins and he put the crown of royalty on her head and he coronated her in the place of Vashti.

In the Talmud (Pesachim 22b), Rabbi Akiva famously holds that every “es” is meant to include something else besides what is specifically mentioned in the verse. Rabbi Meir Eisenshtaat says that, in this verse discussing what Achashverosh loved, this “es” is meant to include Esther’s sheid, or demon (as we mentioned before). This is perhaps one more reason that H-Shem inspired Achashverosh to prefer relations at night – in order for him to be unable to see Esther’s demon.

Esther 1:20, Question 3. To whom or what does the phrase “great is she” refer?

  • According to the Alshich, the phrase, “great is she,” refers to Achashverosh’s kingdom.
  • The Midrash (Esther Rabbah 4:10) has an argument regarding this, and says another possibility is that Vashti’s transgression was great. Ibn Ezra states that Vashti’s transgression was multiplied by the fact that she transgressed against such a great kingdom.
  • In citing these opinions, the Maharal in Ohr Chadash that both the kingdom and Vashti required a great amount of spiritual repair (tikkun). The Maharal (and the Malbim) also write that the decree, itself, was great1. Class participant ES suggested that this masculine/ feminine mixing demonstrates the gender confusion Achashverosh so feared.
  • The Vilna Gaon writes that it is the king who is being called great2.
  • Finally, the Maharal writes that what is great is what this decree will bring with it – namely, the miraculous rescue of the Jews of Persia.

1Grammatically, there is a problem in that the Hebrew for “it” here is “hee,” a feminine term. In his translation of the Malbim’s commentary of Megillas Esther, Rabbi Jonathan Taub suggests that the Malbim intends that the kingdom (feminine) is going to be improved by means of the decree.

2He does not seem to deal with the grammatical anomaly mentioned above.