Esther 4:8, Question 4. Why does Mordechai stress that Esther had to be commanded?

  • The Vilna Gaon says that Mordechai knew that Esther, being a righteous woman, never voluntarily submitted to Achashverosh carnally. In addition to the fact that he was a gentile, we learned earlier that Esther was married to Mordechai before she was forcibly removed from his home. Accordingly, Esther would need the force of a command to submit to Achashverosh voluntarily. There is a story told of a community rav who was in a situation in which circumstances were such that he had to build a synagogue where a mikvah once stood. Otherwise, his congregation would have no home. Knowing that Halacha (see Igros Moshe, Choshen Mishpat I, Siman 40) does not allow for a shul to be built in such a place, he asked the Chazon Ish for advice. The Chazon Ish reportedly told the rav that he was right, and that building the shul in such a location would earn him punishment in this world and the next. Nevertheless, he still had to do it. His congregation needed a home, and, as a leader, he had the responsibility to accept punishment for their benefit. Here, too, Esther was required to perform this sin for the benefit of the entire nation. Esther would not have gone to Achashverosh voluntarily.
  • R’ Moshe Dovid Valle quotes the verse in Koheles (3:7) that there is “a time to be silent, and a time to speak.” In other words, Mordechai was telling Esther that there was a time when he commanded her to remain silent regarding her ancestry (see 2:10); now, he was rescinding that command and telling her to speak.
  • R’ Dovid Feinstein gives another reason why Esther needed to be commanded. Quoting a Rashi in Vayikra 6:2 (in Parshas Tzav), he writes that the word, “tzav” (“command”) is only used when the person performing the action is reluctant to do it because there is something they stand to lose. Here, Mordechai has to command Esther because he realizes her self-sacrifice. Recalling that Mordechai is speaking to Hasach (Daniel) that he has to command Esther because he is a greater Torah scholar. As such, Esther would be more likely to listen to the command.
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Esther 2:23, Question 4. Why does the verse emphasize that the event was written “before the king?”

  • On the simple level, the Malbim writes that the book was written “before the king” – Achashverosh. His supervision of the writing guaranteed that the incident was preserved in its completeness and accuracy, without any misinterpretation or even negative spin a human scribe is prone to add.
  • On a deeper level, the Alshich, Vilna Gaon, and the Shaar Bas Rabbim all point out that a regular book can be burnt or can disappear. Therefore the “king” before Whom this was written was H-Shem, the King of kings. His direct Supervision of this event was a reward for Mordechai and Esther’s self-sacrifice.

Esther 2:22, Question 3. Why does Mordechai report the plot specifically to Esther?

  • The Alshich writes that Mordechai reported the plot to Esther because he wanted her to get the credit for this discovery.
  • The Shaar Beis Rabbim notes that this took a tremendous amount of self-sacrifice on Mordechai’s part to getting his wife in the good graces of the king, realizing that he was losing her more with each step she took into Achashverosh’s direction. Her self-sacrifice in reporting it in Mordechai’s name was an equal amount of self-sacrifice, and eventually is what merited their playing a part in the redemption of the Jews.