Esther 9:17, Question 1. Why is the celebration on the fourteenth of Adar?

יז בְּיוֹםשְׁלשָׁה עָשָׂר לְחֹדֶשׁ אֲדָר וְנוֹחַ בְּאַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר בּוֹ וְעָשׂה אֹתוֹ יוֹם מִשְׁתֶּה וְשִׂמְחָה

17. On the thirteenth day of Adar, and [they] were relieved on the fourteenth of it, and they made it a day of feasting and joy.

  • Megillas Sesarim writes that the celebration was on the fourteenth of Adar because the conquest required more time in Shushan since it was the center of Haman’s supporters. The Jews needed more time to conquer it, and then they could celebrate.
  • Rav Elisha Gallico explains that the Jews did not realize the depth and extent of the miracle until they had the opportunity to rest.
  • The Sfas Emes, continuing with his perspective of seeing Megillas Esther and Purim as a war against the spiritual forces of Amalek, explains that they rested after their conquest specifically to remind the Jews that we are not celebrating our survival, but rather the destruction of Amalek. We therefore celebrate the day we rested, returned to Torah, and became spiritually renewed rather than the day of success in battle.

Esther 3:8, Question 6. Why does Haman stress that the Jews do not follow the laws of the king?

  • It is clear throughout Haman’s diatribe that he is attempting to malign the Jews for their lack of respect for the gentile king’s laws vis-a-vis their own laws. As Rav Hirsch (Collected Writings, Volume II, 423) writes, “by refusing to submit every aspect of its life to the laws of the king […] this nation, of course, demonstrates that there is indeed one area that cannot be touched by the laws of the state […and] if need be, will openly resist the king’s power […] This nation proclaims the truth that there is one power before which even a king’s majesty fades away.”
  • Although that is certainly one aspect of Haman’s claim, the very opposite can be simultaneously true, as well. In other words, as Rav Asher of Rofshutz explains, Haman was making the claim that the Jews were weak in their performance of the laws of – not the earthly king, but – the King in Heaven. In this, Haman is correct. After all, it was the Jews’ weakened observance that led to the threat on their very survival.
  • In Kol Sason, the author writes that the Jewish people always had two things protecting then – Torah and unity. Haman’s attack emphasizes that we had neither of these two. In a sense, all of the mitzvot of Purim – reading the Megillah, handing out gifts to the poor and our friends, etc. – are all about increasing Torah and unity.