Esther 4:14, Question 1. Why does the verse use the double language of “silent, you will be silent?”

יד כִּי אִםהַחֲרֵשׁ תַּחֲרִישִׁי בָּעֵת הַזֹּאת רֶוַח וְהַצָּלָ֞ה יַעֲמוֹד לַיְּהוּדִים מִמָּקוֹם אַחֵר וְאַתְּ וּבֵיתאָבִיךְ תֹּאבֵדוּ וּמִי יוֹדֵעַ אִםלְעֵת כָּזֹאת הִגַּעַתְּ לַמַּלְכוּת

14. “Because if silent, you will be silent at this time, relief and rescue will stand to the Yehudim from another place. And you and your father’s house will be destroyed. And who knows if to a time like this you attained to royalty?”

  • Often in the Torah, a double language implies an emphasis. This phrase here would mean, “if you are surely silent.”
  • The Midrash in Esther Rabbah 8:6 writes that if Esther does not speak now, she will not be able to speak later. According to the Torah Temimah, this “later” refers to Esther’s judgment in Heaven in the end of her days.
  • Yalkut Shimoni writes that this phrase is referring to the idea that if Esther is silent now, H-Shem will be silent about her. This is a reference to kareis (“spiritual excision”), in which a person lacks a spiritual connection to H-Shem. Class participant ID mentioned that this is the natural consequence of hishtadlus (“effort”). The effort we exhaust in serving H-Shem is answered in equal (or greater) force by Him in attending to our needs.
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Esther 3:6, Question 1. Why was killing Mordechai embarrassing for Haman?

ו וַיִּבֶז בְּעֵינָיו לִשְׁלֹח יָד בְּמָרְדֳּכַי לְבַדּוֹ כִּיהִגִּידוּ לוֹ אֶתעַם מָרְדֳּכָי וַיְבַקֵּשׁ הָמָן לְהַשְׁמִיד אֶתכָּלהַיְּהוּדִים אֲשֶׁר בְּכָלמַלְכוּת אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ עַם מָרְדֳּכָי

6. And it was embarrassing in his eyes to send his hand on Mordechai alone because they related to him the nation of Mordechai. And Haman sought to kill all of the Yehudim who are in all of the kingdom of Achashverosh, the nation of Mordechai.

  • On a simple level, killing Mordechai was embarrassing for Haman because Haman was highly placed. Much like dictators and mafia bosses, he considered it lowly to personally kill someone beneath him, and preferred that his underlings do it. Also, as class participant KL pointed out, it seems weak to show someone that you let them get under your skin. So it is with many so-called leaders. Quite the opposite is true of the One with real power. The Talmud (Gittin 56b) points out that the Men of the Great Assembly composed in the first blessing of the Amidah, “Who is like You, b’eilim (“with the mighty”)” because of its phonetic similarity with “b’ilmim” (“with the silent”). H-Shem’s greatness can be appreciated by observing His silence in the face of insult. Haman’s response displays his weakness.
  • In his commentary to Vayikra (16:8), the Baal HaTurim write that the word “vayivez” (“it was embarrassing”) is related to the word, “livozezu” (“those who rob us”) in Yeshaya (17:14). Since that verse has to do with lots (as will our story shortly), they imply H-Shem’s choosing – and thus protecting – of the Jews.