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 4:4, Question 7. Why does Esther send Mordechai clothing?

  • According to the Malbim, Esther sent Mordechai clothing because he needed to be dressed properly to enter the palace, and she wanted to hear the information directly from him. This would be especially true if, as the Vilna Gaon surmises, Esther thought the information in question was confidential.
  • R’ Dovid Feinstein, however, writes that Esther sent clothes to Mordechai because she felt he was over-reacting; she felt confident that she could overpower Haman within the remaining eleven months before the given date of the Jews’ destruction.
  • Interestingly, Tiferes Shlomo takes this incident as indicative of the classic argument on Judaism – should one fast and practice asceticism, or should one fulfill the words of Tehillim in striving to “ivdu es H-Shem b’simcha” serve H-Shem in joy (100:2)? Even in such dark times, Esther still felt that one should strive to find joy in serving H-Shem, and combat annihilation that way.
  • Similarly, according to Rav Pam, the events in this verse point to a fundamental difference between Esther and Mordechai regarding their approach to defending Judaism in exile.
  • He quotes the Megillas Sesarim who writes that Esther felt we should use teshuva together with political maneuvering to effect change. Mordechai, on the other hand, felt we should fulfill the words of the wisest of men, who wrote, “When a person’s ways are desirable for H-Shem, even his enemies seek peace with him” (Mishlei 16:7). In other words, all we must do is attempt to be the best we can be, and H-Shem will protect us from any potential enemy.

Esther 2:6, Question 1. Why does the verse specify that Mordechai was exiled if the entire Jewish people were?

ו אֲשֶׁר הָגְלָה מִירוּשָׁלַיִם עִםהַגֹּלָה אֲשֶׁר הָגְלְתָה עִם יְכָנְיָה מֶלֶךְיְהוּדָה אֲשֶׁר הֶגְלָה נְבוּכַדְנֶאצַּר מֶלֶךְ בָּבֶל

6. who exiled himself from Yerushalayim with the exiles who were exiled with Yechanya king of Judah who was exiled by Nebuchadnetzer, king of Bavel.

  • Melachim 2 (24:16) records that the Babylonians exiled 1000 Jewish scholars to be advisers for their royals. By doing so, they not only garnered wise advice, but taking away the scholars from the Jews also threatened to break Judaism. The Talmud in Makkos (23b-24a) tells us that the gematria of Torah (400+6+200+5) is 611, which are the total number of mitzvos (613) minus the additional two that we have from rabbinic authority. Torah is incomplete without the rabbis. As the Maharitz Dushinsky writes, “The land of Israel without Torah is like a body without a soul.”
  • The Tiferes Shlomo mentions that Mordechai anguished over the destruction of the Jewish homeland and spiritual center. As the Talmud (Megillah 13a) reports, he exiled himself. He learned this from our forefather Yaakov, who went down to Egypt (Bireishis 46:6) even before his descendants were exiled there in order to prepare for their spiritual growth by planting cedar saplings they would later use to build the Mishkan in the desert (Rashi to Shemos 25:5).