Esther 5:9, Question 2. Why does the verse describe Haman’s joy in two ways?

  • The Alshich notes that, for someone who should be planning the details of his newly-signed decree to annihilate the Jews, Haman’s reaction is inappropriate, and is therefore another example of H-Shem guiding the behavior of people. H-Shem calmed Haman, giving him the opportunity to make mistakes only blasé, overly confident people make. H-Shem does not control our actions, but He can control our attitudes by removing our worries.
  • The Vilna Gaon writes that joy refers to physical joy, and a good heart is an internal pleasure.
  • The M’nos HaLevi writes that the two adjectives refer to two different attitudes simultaneously occurring in Haman’s mind. The first happiness came with his taking pride in the fact that only he was invited to private, royal feast. The other feeling was satisfaction from his meal. This was no mundane emotion, as we know that food has a powerful affect on behavior.
  • The Kedushas Levi notes that Scripture usually reserves this kind of phraseology of being satisfied for the righteous. Its use here for Haman seems unusual. The Tiferes Shlomo answers with a spiritual answer that the Talmud (Gitin 57b) says that Haman’s descendants learn Torah in Bnei Brak. Considering that Amalek cannot convert, and that Haman’s sons all die, this is indeed strange. Firstly, it is possible Haman’s sons had children before they were killed. As evil as he was, some of the holiness from the meal prepared by Esther rubbed off on him. Holiness never goes away. It can be mishandled, as potential can be ignored.
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Esther 2:16, Question 1. Why does the verse emphasize that Esther was taken?

טז וַתִּלָּקַח אֶסְתֵּר אֶלהַמֶּלֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ אֶלבֵּית מַלְכוּתוֹ בַּחֹדֶשׁ הָעֲשִׂירִי הוּאחֹדֶשׁ טֵבֵת בִּשְׁנַתשֶׁבַע לְמַלְכוּתוֹ

16. And Esther was taken to the king Achashverosh to the house of his kingship in the tenth month, which is the month of Teves, in the seventh year of his rule.

  • The Malbim says that Esther had to be taken because she put up a fight, and had to go by force. Despite the fact that all should seem lost for an ordinary person in this position, the Vilna Gaon points out that what makes Esther a righteous woman is that she continued to fight to preserve her purity when it was a foregone conclusion that all was lost.
  • The Midrash (Esther Rabbah 6:10) interprets “vitilakach” as meaning “acquired,” and says the courtiers of the palace auctioned off the privilege to bring Esther to the king. Everybody seemed to see something special in her (as we said in the last post), and assumed she would be the future queen.
  • There is an idea mentioned in the Zohar called “Nitotzei Kedusha” (“sparks of holiness”). When a person errs in behavior, that person’s soul loses some spiritual potential, and these are called sparks of holiness. Being holy, these sparks are immortal, and, according to the AriZal, it becomes the task of all people to collect these sparks with positive actions. The Jews living through the Persian exile seemed to commonly practice intermarriage (Ezra 10:2). Therefore, the Sfas Emes posits that the great Esther’s marrying Achashverosh rectified the sin of intermarriage as a way to gather all of those nitzotzei kedusha.

Esther 2:15, Question 3. Why does the verse repeat that Mordechai adopted Esther?

  • According to the Ginzei HaMelech, the verse repeats that Mordechai adopted Esther because Esther acted like a daughter, obeying him the way a child should without rebellion.
  • According to the Malbim, this verse is emphasizing that Mordechai’s raising Esther meant that he educated her, in the sense of Rav Shlomo Wolbe’s theory of planting and building. A parent or a teacher has the dual role of physically planting ideas, but also building with the child’s potential. Perhaps such an idea can be used to explain why Avichayil is mentioned in this verse. He literally planted Esther, and Mordechai built upon her potential.