Esther 8:8, Question 5. Why is Achashverosh concerned about annulling the decree?

  • According to Megillas Sesarim, Achashverosh is concerned that annulling the decree would lead his people to say that not only is the king fickle, but he is also playing favorites. Historically, nepotism has been a legitimate cause for rebellion. Many wars have begun over the choosing of an undeserving successor.
  • R’ Avigdor Bonchek writes that Achashverosh is afraid to annul the decree because he is overcompensating for his own fickleness.
  • In accordance with the previously mentioned opinion of the Rema (see #458 above), there are things stamped with the seal of the King that cannot be changed. There are sins for which teshuva (“repentance”) can gain atonement, but will still not be taken back, like chillul H-Shem (“debasement of H-Shem’s Name”). The Rambam (Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Teshuva 1:4) writes that such a sin can only be overwritten by a diametrical act of Kiddush H-Shem (“sanctification of H-Shem’s Name”).
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Esther 8:6, Question 1. Why does Esther use a unique form of the word “eicha” (“how”)?

ו כִּי אֵיכָכָה אוּכַל וְרָאִיתִי בָּרָעָה אֲשֶׁריִמְצָא אֶתעַמִּי וְאֵיכָכָה אוּכַל וְרָאִיתִי בְּאָבְדַן מוֹלַדְתִּי

6. “Because how can I [be] and see the evil which my nation will find? And how can I [be] and see the destruction of my kin?”

  • According to the Alshich, by adding an extra letter ches to the word, eicha (“how”) – making it the unique word, eichicha – the Esther puts a stress on her utter misery over her perceived notion that anti-Semites had already begun attacking the Jews because of the first decree. After all, once they see that the Jews are not in the monarchy’s favor, they can presume that any acts of violence or harassment against them will go unpunished.
  • The Megillas Sesarim adds that Esther blamed herself for the origins of Haman’s decree. This is because Haman’s decree was seemingly a consequence for Mordechai’s not bowing down to Haman (Esther 3:5-6). Mordechai behaved this way while at the king’s gate, and he was only there to look out for Esther’s well-being (Esther 2:19). This is why Esther felt somewhat responsible for the resulting decree. This is the way of the righteous: to feel responsible for a situation despite the fact that they were forced into it and the fault clearly lies in others.
  • R’ Dovid Feinstein writes that this is a second eicha; the first is Yirmiya’s prophetic work, Eicha, written during the destruction of first Beis HaMikdash, and second the is Esther’s, said during the threat of annihilation in exile if the king would not save the Jews.

Esther 8:3, Question 2. Why does Esther refer to Haman’s intentions?

  • Megillas Sesarim writes that Esther wanted to use the fact that the decree didn’t specify the nation as a loophole to get the decree rescinded.
  • According to Rashi, Esther refers to Haman’s intentions rather than his actions in order for his evil plans to not be realized. He technically did not do any thing evil; he only intended to.
  • R’ Shlomo Rotenberg teaches that Esther’s phrase included all of Haman’s evil, even his attempt to abort the rebuilding the Beis HaMikdash.
  • Similarly, according to R’ Shlomo Kluger in Ma’amar Mordechai, Esther wanted to remove the thoughts Haman implanted into Achashverosh’s head.

Esther 5:12, Question 2. Why does Haman mention both party invitations?

  • The Malbim says that Haman mentions both invitations because he thought, in his vanity, that Esther wanted him there to help convince Achashverosh to agree to whatever it was Esther intended by having the parties, in the first place.
  • According to Rav Dovid Feinstein, considering Haman’s original need for advice, he is deeply aware of that fact that the advice that is best for him depends on his standing on the social ladder.
  • Megillas Sesarim writes that Haman believed that Esther really wanted him at the party, and only invited Achashverosh to avoid suspicion.

Esther 5:5, Question 1. Why does Achashverosh rush Haman?

ה וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ מַהֲרוּ אֶתהָמָן לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶתדְּבַר אֶסְתֵּר וַיָּבֹא הַמֶּלֶךְ וְהָמָן אֶלהַמִּשְׁתֶּה אֲשֶׁרעָשְׂתָה אֶסְתֵּר

5. And the king said, “Rush Haman to do the word of Esther.” And the king and Haman came to the drinking party that was made by Esther.

  • The M’nos HaLevi writes that Esther’s invitation produced (at least one of) the desired results in that Achashverosh hated that Haman was invited. He rushed him out of frustration. He also quotes a book called Shaarei Bina that the party was already prepared; Achashverosh did not want Haman to keep Esther waiting.
  • The Vilna Gaon and Maharal both write that Achashverosh saw that Esther was in great discomfort, and so rushed Haman so that Esther would not suffer any longer.
  • The Megillas Sesarim says Achashverosh was concerned that Haman would leave or try to get out of going, so he rushed him to come, even against his will.
  • The Ben Ish Chai writes that Esther wanted Haman rushed. In a hurry, Haman would not have the chance to eat before attending the feast, and would be more affected by the drinking. Why would Esther’s intent influence Achashverosh? The Ben Ish Chai continues that this is the reason for the verse to refer to Achashverosh as the King, meaning that H-Shem rushed Haman because Esther wanted Him to.

Esther 5:3, Question 2. Why does Achashverosh offer up to half of the kingdom?

  • The Maharal says that Achashverosh offered Esther only half of his kingdom because any more would make it so that it is no longer his; he would no longer be the majority stock holder in that corporation. He therefore offers her 49% of the kingdom.
  • The Talmud (Megillah 15b) says he was not willing to give her something that would “chotzetz,” divide the kingdom – the Beis HaMikdash.
  • R’ Dovid Feinstein writes that Achashverosh wants to feel in control of the world, and a rebuilt Temple guarantees that a portion of his population – ever so small – would have allegiance to something other than him.
  • Rashi (on the Talmud there) quotes the Mishnah (Yoma 5:2) that the Beis HaMikdash is the center of the kingdom because it contains the even shasiya, the foundation stone from which the earth was made. Based on this, the Ohel Moshe asks, why did Esther not ask for the Temple to be rebuilt? He brings the Megillas Sesarim that Amalek needs to be destroyed before the Temple is rebuilt.
  • The Sfas Emes notes that it is ironic that Achashverosh does not want the Temple rebuilt. After all, it was his decree that inspired the Jews to unite, earning them the privilege to build the second Beis HaMikdash. The Sfas Emes points out that this order is alluded to in our weekday Shemoneh Esrei prayer. First, we pray that H-Shem eliminate the wicked, then we pray that H-Shem elevate the righteous, and only then do we pray that H-Shem rebuild Yerushalayim1.
  • R’ Moshe Meir Weiss mentions that we first mention the righteous and then the rebuilding of Yerushalayim because it is not possible to take ownership of the Land without righteous leaders. Without holiness, there is no protection.
  • As a Kabbalistic allegory, the Rema writes that the body requires half of the malchus (royal spirituality), while the other half has to be material and physical. The holiest people in the world still need to invest in this physical reality.
  • Perhaps another reason Achashverosh considered Yerushalayim so important to his rule can be gleaned from an earlier discussion in the Talmud (11a) that quotes a braisa saying that only three kings – Achav, Achashverosh, and Nebuchadnetzer – ruled the entire known world. The Talmud asks why Sancherev was not included in this list, and responds that he ruled everything except Yerushalayim. In effect, not controlling Yerushalayim means not being king of the entire world. As such, Achashverosh would have been reluctant to part with the city that held the key to his inclusion into such an exclusive group.

1In the Purim story, too, first Haman is defeated, then Mordechai is promoted, and then Israel received permission to return to the Land.