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.

Esther 2:5, Question 5. Why does the verse call Mordechai a “Yimini?”

  • As noted earlier (three posts ago), the Talmud (Megillah 12b) states that Mordechai’s father was from the tribe of Benyamin. Rav Yitzchak Hutner adds that this is an important detail to the story because, when Haman becomes incensed at Mordechai’s refusal to bow to him (Esther 3:5), the Midrash (Esther Rabbah 7:8) has Haman say, “All the tribes bowed to my ancestor, Eisav (Bireishis 33:3)! Why won’t you bow to me?” Mordechai answers, “All the tribes bowed except for Benyamin, for he was not yet born. Therefore, I need not bow to you.”
  • Another reason this is important is that Esther is related to Mordechai by being “daughter of his uncle” (Esther 2:7). Therefore, she too comes from the royal house of King Shaul, and may be prized by Achashverosh for this.
  • “Yimini” could also mean that Mordechai was right-leaning. In Kabbalistic thought, this means he had a focus on “chachmah” – masculine, logical, and linear knowledge – rather than “binah” – feminine, instinctual, global wisdom. With H-Shem’s help, this insight into Mordechai’s character will help us to better understand his argument with Esther (4:11-16) about the best way to combat the coming threat to Jewish survival.