Esther 6:14, Question 1. Why does the verse stress that the king’s servants arrived while Haman’s advisers were still speaking with him?

יד עוֹדָם מְדַבְּרִים עִמּוֹ וְסָרִיסֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ הִגִּיעוּ וַיַּבְהִלוּ לְהָבִיא אֶתהָמָן אֶלהַמִּשְׁתֶּה אֲשֶׁרעָשְׂתָה אֶסְתֵּר

14. They were still speaking with him, and the eunuchs of the king arrived. And they rushed to bring Haman to the drinking party that Esther made.

  • The M’nos HaLevi and Malbim write that the verse stresses that the king’s eunuchs arrived while Haman’s advisers were still speaking with him because this is an example of hashgacha pratis, H-Shem’s supervision of the world on a seemingly minor scale. As such, Haman did not get the sound advice from his advisers.
  • R’ Eliezer Ashkenazi and the Malbim write that this is how Charvonah learned of the gallows (see Esther 7:9 below).
  • The Dubno Maggid asks that, since Haman’s advisers were wise, why did they not consider this an opening for the Satan, based the Talmudic (Kesubos 8b) principle of al tiftach peh l’satan – not saying something that would give the Heavenly accuser an opportunity to do something unfavorable? He explains that they had planned to conclude their remarks with the good side, but the eunuchs’ sudden arrival interrupted them.
  • The Degel Machaneh Efrayim adds that, as soon as the advisers questioned if Mordechai were Jewish, H-Shem sent Achashverosh’s servants as an answer. This is because He answers prayers even before they are uttered, as it says in Yeshaya (65:24) “od heim midabrim vaAni eshma” (“while they were speaking, and I heard”). All of this is possible because, unlimited by the dimension of time, H-Shem knows what we will do before we do it.

Esther 6:10, Question 6. Why does Achashverosh emphasize that Haman should do this, himself?

  • The Malbim writes that Achashverosh emphasizes that Haman should do this, himself because Mordechai deserves these, and Haman does not. Therefore, as either a punishment or an opportunity to take part in honoring the king, he should get these items instead of asking servants as Haman (Esther 6:8-9) suggested.
  • Additionally, Me’am Loez points out that Haman is the trusted adviser of Achashverosh, so the king would prefer Haman handle the king’s precious items, and not servants with their grubby hands.
  • Perhaps Achashverosh, being the evil man he is, wants to lessen the reward given Mordechai by cutting out the honor implied by the presence of many servants.
  • Class Participant YML, however, pointed out that Haman represents the king, the source of this honor, more than do the servants. By Haman serving Mordechai directly, this would exponentially boost the honor Mordechai is receiving.

Esther 4:11, Question 2. Why does Esther mention the servants and nations?

  • According to the Malbim, Esther mentioned the servants and nations because everybody – even people in other countries – knew this rule forbidding approaching the king unsummoned, so Esther could not feign ignorance.
  • Since it was publicly known, also, it would have been a public affront. This was yet another reason Esther was saying she should not approach Achashverosh at this time.

Esther 4:4, Question 4. Why did Esther’s servants have to tell her anything at all?

  • The reason Esther’s servants had to tell her anything at all instead of Esther merely seeing for herself, the Maharal writes, is that Esther’s high level of tznius, modesty, prevented her from even glancing out of windows.
  • Rav Galico adds that Esther’s extreme privacy allowed her to stay aloof of goings-on outside the palace.
  • Yosef Lekach points out that, despite her modesty and privacy, the entire palace knew about Esther’s and Mordechai’s concern for each other, but they did not know the reason for this.

Esther 4:4, Question 1. Why do Esther’s servants need to come to her?

  • According to the Malbim, the most obvious reason for Esther’s servants feeling the need to come to her is because Mordechai went up to the king’s gate, and no further (see above 4:2), so he was outside of Esther’s view.
  • Yosef Lekach, however, points out that the verse first mentions Esther’s young maidens, and only then her chamberlains. Perhaps this indicates Esther’s achievements in the area of keeping her male and female servants separate. The second group did not even know that the first group had just rendered their job redundant.

Esther 3:4, Question 4. Why are the servants reporting to Haman?

  • The Vilna Gaon points out that, had Haman seen Mordechai not bowing to him, the servants would have no need to report this information to him. However, filled with self -love and pride, with his chin in the air, Haman never even bothered to see this phenomenon for himself!
  • Megillas Sefer says that the king’s servants were acting out of a sense of curiosity. In the Book of Daniel (3:19-23), Chananya, Mishael, and Azarya all survived the fiery furnace of Nebuchadnetzer. These servants wanted to see if the same would hold true for Mordechai, as well.
  • Me’am Loez notes that it is interesting that they reported Mordechai’s conduct to Haman rather than to the king who issued the decree Mordechai is ignoring. Had they told the king, Mordechai would have been summarily executed. Informing Haman allowed the possibility that Mordechai would have been tortured until he submitted. Psychologically, these servants could then feel better about themselves and their behavior. This, coupled with preserving the status quo, is a powerful motivator. From their selfish perspective, it would certainly be better than turning Mordechai into a martyr.

Esther 3:4, Question 1. Why is the word “bi’amram” (“in their speaking”), Masoretically written and pronounced differently?

ד וַיְהִי בְּאָמְרָם [כְּאָמְרָם] אֵלָיו יוֹם וָיוֹם וְלֹא שָׁמַע אֲלֵיהֶם וַיַּגִּידוּ לְהָמָן לִרְאוֹת הֲיַעַמְדוּ דִּבְרֵי מָרְדֳּכַי כִּיהִגִּיד לָהֶם אֲשֶׁרהוּא יְהוּדִי

4. And it was, in their speaking with him day and day, and he did not listen to them. And they related to Haman to see if Mordechai’s words would stand because he related to them that he is a Yehudi.

  • The Mishteh Yayin says that “bi’amram” (“in their speaking”) the way the word is written and not pronounced, the “ksiv,” implies that the event of the servants’ interrogating Mordechai actually happened. “Ki’amram” (“like their speaking”), the way the word is pronounced aloud, the “kri,” implies that it was as though they questioned him. Accordingly, they didn’t really speak to him, but it felt as if they did. When people are so set in their convictions, as Mordechai is here, there is no talking to them. Convincing them to change their opinion is no less futile than banging one’s head against the wall.
  • However, Rav Dovid Feinstein points out that the servants doubted Mordechai’s steadfastness. Although he told them he would not change his mind, they thought he was only “talking tough,” but he would likely start bowing once put to the test with threats and punishments. Therefore, the verse is written with “bi’amram” because he sounded convincing in his words, but is read “ki’amram” because they thought his actions would be otherwise.
  • Perhaps the two opinions need not be contradictory if the Mishneh Yayin is viewing the verse from the perspective of Mordechai, and Rav Dovid Feinstein is viewing it from the perspective of the king’s servants. In other words, Mordechai felt like they were wasting his time (and theirs) futilely convincing him to worship idols, while the servants thought they made headway, and that, when push comes to shove, Mordechai will submit.