Esther 4:16, Question 9. Why does Esther emphasize that her plan is “not in accordance to the law?”

  • The Talmud (Megillah 15a) writes that Esther emphasizes that her plan is “not in accordance to the law” to refer to the fact that this plan of voluntarily submitting herself to Achashverosh is not in accordance to the laws of the Torah, which forever forbids a Jewish wife to be with her husband after being with another man consensually (Sotah 2a).
  • R’ Dovid Feinstein points out that verse uses the vowel patach under the letter chuf (kadaas) instead of the shva (kidaas), which means the Law instead of a law.
  • The Sfas Emes reminds us of the famous concept that Purim is equated to Yom Kippur. He explains that both holidays share the characteristic that they represent the reversal of what would otherwise be irreversible situations. On Yom Kippur, we are forgiven for sins for which we should be punished, and on Purim the Jews survived when they were supposed to be wiped out. The Sfas Emes continues that Esther here means the “laws” of nature H-Shem established will thus reversed on this day.
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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 2:8, Question 1. Why does the verse use both “davar” (“word”) and “daso” (“law”) to describe the king’s command?

ח וַיְהִי בְּהִשָּׁמַע דְּבַרהַמֶּלֶךְ וְדָתוֹ וּבְהִקָּבֵץ נְעָרוֹת רַבּוֹת אֶלשׁוּשַׁן הַבִּירָה אֶליַד הֵגָי וַתִּלָּקַח אֶסְתֵּר אֶלבֵּית הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶליַד הֵגַי שֹׁמֵר הַנָּשִׁים

8. And it was, when the king’s word and law became known, and many young women were brought to Shushan the capital by the hand of Heigai, and Esther was taken to the king’s house by the hand of Heigai, guard of the women.

Is not the king’s word law? Why would the verse need to have two nouns describing the same thing? The Vilna Gaon says these two words refer to two different things: one is the “davar,” the word requiring young women to be brought to the king, whereas the second term, “daso,” refers to a threat to back up the law once people resisted and began hiding their daughters (see previous blogs). The government realized the need for a penalty for those people who refused to comply with their edict.