Esther 9:21, Question 2. Why does the verse repeat the dates of the holiday?

  • The Meshech Chochma explains that these days were chosen because nobody was fighting on these days, and the Jews could commemorate Purim by focusing on the miracle rather than on death.
  • In Darash Moshe, R’ Moshe Feinstein, explains that the verse repeats the dates of the holiday because Adar 14th was an extra day for which Esther had to ask. The Jewish people wanted it to always be remembered that their success was due to their trust in their leaders and prophets.
  • The Ben Ish Chai notes that the mispar katan of Haman (9+5=14) is the same as the date of the first day of Purim, and the mispar katan of Amalek (7+4+3+1=15) is the same as the date of the second day of Purim.
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Esther 4:16, Question 10. Why is “I will be destroyed” written twice here?

  • The Malbim points out how this verse shows how selfless Esther was. According to him, what Esther was saying was that, if she is punished for approaching the king, at least only she will die – and the rest of the Jews will remain.
  • The Talmud (Megillah 15a) writes that Esther’s repeating “I will be destroyed” means that, just as she lost her father by being orphaned, so is she expecting to lose to her relationship to Mordechai through this act.
  • R’ Henach Leibowitz explains the Talmud’s use of the phrase “my father’s house” that one of our duties in life is to utilize our past experiences to further our personal growth. He continues that an orphan, like Esther, should use the loss of their parents to reawaken the feeling of trust in H-Shem that orphan had when still with parents.
  • R’ Moshe Dovid Valle writes that Esther used this phrase to indicate that she knew she would be disappointing one king or another – either Achashverosh or the King of kings. Either way, she was concerned she would be losing one king.
  • R’ Shimon Schwab wonders why Esther is concerned about losing her husband if she is anyway using a sheid to get out of relations with Achashverosh. He explains that the demon was created miraculously in reward for her resisting the gentile king. Such a miracle would not occur once she submits to him.
  • R’ David Forman writes in The Queen You Thought You Knew that there is a parallel verse in the Torah where the word ka’asher is followed by a double-verb. When Yaakov allows his sons to bring Binyamin to Mitzrayim he says, “ka’asher shakolti, shakolti” (“as I am mourning, so I am mourning”) (Bireishis 33:14). The parallel phrasing also parallels similar situations of national strife; Just as there, friction between Jews caused the threat on Jewish existence, and peace between Jews would bring their redemption.
  • Class participant RS pointed out another parallel in the fact that Esther descends from King Shaul, who was from the tribe of Binyamin.

Esther 4:5, Question 1. Who is Hasach?

ה וַתִּקְרָא אֶסְתֵּר לַהֲתָךְ מִסָּרִיסֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲשֶׁר הֶעֱמִיד לְפָנֶיהָ וַתְּצַוֵּהוּ עַלמָרְדֳּכָי לָדַעַת מַהזֶּה וְעַלמַהזֶּה

5. And Esther called to Hasach from the chamberlains of the king who stood before him, and she commanded him on Mordechai to know what is this and why is this.

  • According to both the Alshich and Malbim, whoever Hasach was, he was obviously someone trustworthy.
  • The Maharsha adds that he must have been wise, discreet, and Jewish.
  • Perhaps for this reason, the Talmud (Megillah 15a) says that he was the prophet, Daniel. After all he should have been alive at this time, and fits all of these criteria. The Talmud (ibid.) suggests that the name, Hasach, may also be related to “hesech” (“decision making”). It also suggests that the name, Hasach, may be related to “his’chuhu” (“cutting down”) because the prophet, Daniel, was demoted. At first, Nevuchadnezzer “made Daniel great…ruler over the whole province” (Daniel 2:48). Then, at the time of Balshazzar, he only had the power to “rule as a third in the kingdom” (Daniel 5:29). Then, under Darius I, Daniel merely “prospered,” with no mention of power or prestige (Daniel 6:29). Now, under Achashverosh, he is not even mentioned by name. Finally, under Darius II, Daniel went back to the level where he could have “prophesied” (Megillah 15a). Why did Daniel suffer such a steep fall from grace? According to the Talmud (Baba Basra 4a), Daniel gave Nevuchadnezzer advice to give charity. This kind act allowed the tyrannical Nevuchadnezzer to merit living an entire year more, causing countless deaths. Sometimes tragedy results from the best of intentions.
  • The Meshech Chochmo points out that Daniel’s earlier greatness was achieved in the eyes of the Jews from the fact that he was willing to give up his life for H-Shem. At this point, however, during this time of intense teshuvah, Daniel was no longer the only Jew willing to give up life. Therefore, he was not considered as great anymore in Jews’ esteem. The
  • M’nos HaLevi writes that Daniel changed his own name to Hasach because Daniel (4+50+10+1+30=95) has the same gematria as Haman (5+40+50=95).
  • Interestingly, the difference in gematria between Hasach (5+400+20=425) and Daniel ((4+50+10+1+30=95) is 330, the gematria of “saris” (60+200+10+60=330) (“chamberlain”), his current position.
  • Ginzei HaMelech points out that it is most appropriate that Hasach is a Jew, as this leads to a renewed trust in hashgacha pratis (H-Shem’s individual concern for all) in that a Jew saved Jews.

Esther 3:10, Question 1. What is the significance of Achashverosh giving Haman his ring?

י וַיָּסַר הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶתטַבַּעְתּוֹ מֵעַל יָדוֹ וַיִּתְּנָהּ לְהָמָן בֶּןהַמְּדָתָא הָאֲגָגִי צֹרֵר הַיְּהוּדִים

10. And the king removed his ring from his hand and gave it to Haman son of Hamdasa the Aggagite, enemy of the Yehudim.

  • According to M’nos HaLevi, the significance of Achashverosh giving Haman his ring is a sign that he consents to an agreement with Haman.
  • The Midrash here (Esther Rabbah 7:20) that Achashverosh hates the Jews more than Haman. After all, “the custom of the world is for the buyer to give a pledge to the seller. But here, the seller [Achashverosh] is giving the pledge [the ring].”
  • The Alshich writes therefore, that this giving of the ring is a legal transaction indicating an acceptance of Haman’s offer, an amount Haman is not likely to be carrying with him.
  • The Megillas Sesarim writes the ring means Achashverosh is giving Haman full authority to do anything he likes.
  • The Talmud (Megillah 14a) writes that the removal of the ring was stronger than forty prophets and seven prophetesses. None of them could encourage the Jews to repent as much as this one act. The Jews seemingly do not repent en mass until their very survival is threatened. R’ Mendel Weinbach says that this act is particularly frightening for the Jews because they know Achashverosh is capricious, and is famous for changing his mind. Once he gives authority to Haman, though, the Jews realize that they are in serious danger.
  • The Bircas Chaim asks why, when Mordechai is elevated to Haman’s position (Esther 8:2), does Achashverosh immediately give Mordechai his ring? In contrast with Mordechai at that point, Achashverosh does not trust Haman. However, now that Haman is willing to give this great amount of silver to the government, Achashverosh is under the mistaken impression that he is patriotic.
  • In Pachad Yitzchak, Rav Yitzchak Hutner wonders why the Talmud calls this incident the “removal of the ring” when it is Haman’s desire to kill the Jews which should be the focus. In response, he writes that whenever the descendants of Eisav or Yaakov prosper, the descendants of the other fall (see Rashi to Bereishis 25:23). Therefore, Achashverosh’s raising up of Haman necessitates a corresponding lessening of the Jews in the esteem of the king.