Esther 4:6, Question 1. Why does the verse emphasize that Hasach encounters Mordechai on the “rechov?”

ו וַיֵּצֵא הֲתָךְ אֶלמָרְדֳּכָי אֶלרְחוֹב הָעִיר אֲשֶׁר לִפְנֵי שַׁעַרהַמֶּלֶךְ

6. And Hasach went out to Mordechai to the street of the city that was before the king’s gate.

  • According to the Alshich, the verse emphasizes that Hasach encounters Mordechai in the “rechov” because Hasach walked to Mordechai indirectly in order to seem like theirs was a casual meeting.
  • Similarly, Me’am Loez writes that they met in public to avoid spies and suspicion.
  • According to the Vilna Gaon, Hasach was asking Mordechai why he wasn’t embarrassed to weep here, out in public.
  • R’ Moshe Dovid Valle writes that the gematria of rechov (200+8+6+2) is 216, which is the same gematria as “gevurah” (3+2+6+200+5) (“strength”). He continues that the initial letters of the phrase in Tehillim (55:10) “rayisi chamas v‘riv b‘ir” also spell out rechov. This indicates a certain form of moral strength in publicizing one’s faith.

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.