Esther is related to the word “nistar”, which means hidden, and the word Megillah which is related to the word “megaleh”, which means “to reveal”. Thus the Megillah of Esther can be literally translated as “the revelation of the hidden”.
The destruction of the enemies of the Jews could have been accomplish, eleven months earlier, after the death of Haman, if the goal had merely been the destruction of the Jews. But, that was NOT the goal. The goal was to have a total reversal. That which was meant for evil MUST be changed into the good. The evil must be reversed! It is only when the evil is turned to good that HaShem becomes Echad.
The Sages teach that one must drink enough wine so that one does not know the difference between Blessed is Mordechai and Cursed is Haman. This, too, was designed to show us that HaShem is Echad. How does this happen?
Wine is related to Daat, knowledge. Both maintain excellence only in humble containers. Both get better with age. Wine, and associated products, is the only substance on earth that gets better with age. Wine, and the sod, the secret level of Torah, both have the same gematria, which is why the Sages teach that when “wine goes in the secret comes out”.
So, what secret does wine reveal on Purim? Since we know what the Sages command, as one of the mitzvot of Purim, is to drink enough wine so that one does not know the difference between “Blessed is Mordechai” and “Cursed is Haman”, we have the beginning of an answer to our question. This mitzva is coming to teach us that the secret of Purim is to reveal that HaShem is echad only when the two statements are equal:
Blessed is Mordechai = Cursed is Haman
“Cursed Haman”, ארור המן, has a gematria of 502.
“Blessed Mordechai”, לברוך מרדכי, has a gematria of 502.
When the evil is so thoroughly reversed that it is the good, then HaShem is Echad.
This, also, is the secret behind teshuva, repenting or better returning. When a sin CAUSES us to do teshuva, the teshuva makes the sin into a mitzva (a good deed)!!! After all, any thing that moves us closer to HaShem is defined as a mitzva.
Chanukah is the celebration over those who have tried, and failed, to culturally assimilate us (the Greeks and Western Culture). They did not try to kill us, they tried to separate us from HaShem and from Torah. For a spiritual attack, we attacked physically. Everything is in the hand of Heaven except the fear of Heaven. When we must demonstrate our fear of Heaven, we are on our own and we must physically demonstrate our fear of Heaven.
Purim is the celebration over those who have tried and failed to physically destroy us (the Persians and Western Culture). For a physical attack, we reacted spiritually. Here our lives are physically in danger for no other reason than just pure hate. There is no attack to prevent us from fulfilling the mitzvot. There was no spiritual attack, only a physical attack. For this we realize that HaShem is coming against us. When HaShem is coming against us, all we can to is repent. Any physical response will be entirely in vain because we would be fighting HaShem.
What does “Purim” mean?
In Megillat Esther, neither HaShem, inner spiritual, nor ethical values seem to determine the course of events, but rather external values, such as power, wealth, physical beauty, sex (if you’re a man), and, more than anything else, luck, chance, or coincidence. Indeed, Purim means chance or coincidence, that is, the lots by which Haman (the wicked descendent of Amalek who seeks to annihilate the Jews) decided on which day the Jews should be destroyed.
The holiday is called Purim after the selection process that Haman used to select the date of the Jews destruction: a lottery (or a “Pur”), using astrological forecasting. This method was supposed to result in the date that the Jews were most vulnerable to attack. In fact, this was astrologically true: The Jews were most vulnerable on the 13th of Adar. One of the miracles of Purim was that HaShem totally reversed the astrological implications of the day so that the Jews would instead be victorious. Because of this miracle that came about through the lottery, the “Pur,” the holiday is called Purim.
However, that very lottery triggered a series of events that led to his own downfall instead, revealing the hand of HaShem in the entire affair. This is also why Purim is a holiday related to Torah SheBaalPeh, the oral Torah, which reveals that which is hidden within the simple letters and stories of Torah Shebiktav, the written Torah.
If Achashverosh (a grubby man who picks his wife through a beauty contest and accepts bribe money for the destruction of the Jews) hadn’t thrown such a big party maybe he wouldn’t have become drunk, and if Vashti (who name means, “and drink”) hadn’t come into the party when Achashverosh was drunk perhaps he wouldn’t have become angry with her and had her killed. And if she hadn’t been killed then Esther (Mordechai’s cousin and wife) wouldn’t have become queen. And if Achashverosh hadn’t decided, on a whim, to find a new queen by having a beauty contest, then perhaps Esther wouldn’t have become queen. And if Esther were not beautiful... and if Mordechai (the Chief Rabbi of Shushan and member of the highest Jewish Court of Law, the Sanhedrin) hadn’t heard about the contest... And if Mordechai hadn’t overheard the plotting against the king... And if Achashverosh hadn’t been unable to sleep that night, and hadn’t asked his servants to read to him from the book of chronicles of his kingdom, and if they hadn’t just happened to have opened to the place which told about how Mordechai had saved the king’s life! The role of chance, coincidence, or apparent coincidence, is striking, in Megillat Esther!
On most years Parashat Ki Tisa, in the annual cycle, is read in close proximity to Purim, and according to the Tikunai Zohar, there exists an intrinsic relationship between Purim and Yom Kippurim, the day on which the Jews were forgiven for the sin of the golden calf.
Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 185a ‘Observe this: the goat which the
Israelites sent down to Azazel, into that desert, was sent with the intention
of giving to the “other side” a portion, so pacifying and keeping it occupied
that it might not do harm to the sons of the Kingdom. But it may be objected: “Why,
then, was it necessary to have two goats, one “to the Lord” and one to the “other
side”? The answer to this question can be gathered
from the following parable. A king once became angered with his son, and he
called to that minister whose office it was to punish offenders that he might
be at hand to chastise his son on the morrow. The
minister, in high spirits, was overjoyed, and entered the palace to partake of food there. The prince, on seeing him, thought to himself:
“Surely, that man comes here to no good purpose, but doubtless because my
father is angry with me.” So what did he do? He straightway went in unto his
father and persuaded him to forgive him. Then the
king commanded that a banquet should be prepared for him and his son, but that
the minister should not be told thereof, for, he thought to himself, should he
get wind of the repast which I have ordered for myself and my son, he will
disturb our meal. What, then, did the king do? He called to his chamberlain and
said unto him: “Prepare first a meal for this minister,
in order that he may imagine that I am showing him a mark of special favour by
giving a banquet in his honour, and so be satisfied and depart, without knowing
anything of the previous meal which I have commanded thee to prepare, and which
we shall consume when he is gone. Therefore let him, as I have said, take his
part and then go, that our joy may be complete and undisturbed.” And so it was
done. Now, if the king had not dealt thus with his minister and his son, the
former would not have left the palace, and the feast of forgiveness
would have been marred. Similarly, the Holy One said to Israel: “Prepare ye two goats, one for Me and one for that Accuser,
in order that he may imagine that he is participating in My meal, but in
reality may be quite unaware of the true meal of our joy. Let him take his part
and go his way and leave My house.” As the “supernal Mother”, the world to come, comes down to dwell
in the palace of the lower world in order that all
faces should be lit up there, it is meet that the Accuser should not be found
in its holy presence, neither he nor any other of the ministers of judgement,
when it dispenses blessings and radiates light upon all things and freedom unto all creatures, and Israel
takes of these blessings. For when the “world to
come” enters into its palace, the lower world, and
finds that it rejoices with its children in the most excellent meal, it blesses
the table, and all the worlds are blessed, and all is
joy and radiant looks. Therefore it says (in regard to the Day
of Atonement): ‘‘That ye may be clean from all
your sins before the Lord” (Lev. XVI, 30). It is
written: “And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel”. This
gives the Accuser great joy: that God should take a lot with him, and, as it
were, invite him by the Holy One’s own desire and invitation. But he little realizes how that
the Lord heaps coals of fire on his head
and upon the heads of all his legions. Haman, too, “went forth that day joyful
and with a glad heart” (Esther v, 9)-namely, with that
portion which was given him. But when the Supernal King comes in unto the
Matrona She pleads before the King for Herself, for Her children, for Her
people, and even when Israel is in exile, if they pray all this day long (on the Day of Atonement), She ascends unto the Supernal King and pleads
for Her children, whereby all the punishments which the Holy One
is about to inflict upon Edom (Rome) are decreed and
fixed, and, in addition, those concerning the unsuspecting Accuser himself -for
though he knows it not, he is destined to be done away with, as it is written, “And
death will be swallowed up for ever” (Isa. xxv, 8). So Esther said: “For we are
sold, I and my people, to be destroyed... for the enemy could not countervail
the king’s damage” (Ibid. VII, 4). And then: “Haman was frightened before the
presence of the King and the queen” (Ibid. VII, 6). Then radiant looks and
perfect joy prevail, and
The Zohar teaches that there is a relationship between Yom Kippurim (Day of the Atonements), and Purim. Notice the similarity of sound and spelling. In fact Ki is a causative prefix often found in the scriptures. Note that on both days the pur or lot is cast. “Yom Ki purim” means “a day like Purim”.
Pesachim 68b Now according to him who explained. ‘One means by hand, and the other means with a utensil,’ why did he not say. Both mean by hand, yet there is no difficulty: one refers to a moist [wart]; the other, to a dry one? — He can answer you: a dry one [just] crumbles away. And according to him who maintained, ‘Both mean by hand, yet there is no difficulty: one refers to a moist [wart]; the other to a dry one’; why did he not say: Both refer to a moist [wart], yet there is no difficulty: one means by hand, and the other means with a utensil? — He can answer you: as for a utensil, Surely he [the Tanna] teaches there, ‘if [it is done] with a utensil, it is forbidden in both cases!’ And the other? That which he teaches [about] a utensil here, [is because] he comes to inform us of the controversy of R. Eliezer and R. Joshua. SAID R. ELIEZER . . . IF SHECHITAH etc. R. Joshua is consistent with his view, for he maintains, Rejoicing on a Festival too is a religious duty. For it was taught, R. Eliezer said: A man has nought else [to do] on a Festival save either to eat and drink or to sit and study. R. Joshua said: Divide it: [devote] half of it to eating and drinking, and half of it to the Beth Hamidrash. Now R. Johanan said thereon: Both deduce it from the same verse. One verse says, a solemn assembly to the Lord thy God, whereas another verse says, there shall be a solemn assembly unto you: R. Eliezer holds: [That means] either entirely to God or entirely to you; while R. Joshua holds, Divide it: [Devote] half to God and half to yourselves.
The Vilna Gaon (18th century
The Arizal, the greatest kabbalist of the past 700 years, also points out that the Torah refers to Yom Kippur as Yom Kippurim, which can either be read as the day of atonement or the day like Purim. It would seem, then, that the two holidays are not only related but, in some way, Purim is even greater!
The Arizal explained this relationship as follows. Purim is, in fact, on a higher level, and Yom Kippurim should be translated as a day like Purim. like means that Yom Kippurim is a lesser holy day than Purim because the reality is always greater than the copy that is like it. The Talmud, states that, in the future, all holidays will fall into disuse with the exception of Purim.
Interestingly, we see the balance of half-physical/half-spiritual reflected within each holiday itself. On Yom HaKippurim, we prepare for the fast by having a feast the day before. On Purim, we prepare for the feast by fasting the day before (Taanit Esther).
We would assume that Yom HaKippurim is the greater of the two days. But in one sense, Purim is even greater: It is easier to achieve spiritual elevation on a day like Yom HaKippurim, when we pray and have no time for forbidden activities like gossip or getting angry. By fasting, the soul achieves dominance over the body. However on Purim, in our state of rambunctious drunkenness, it is much harder to maintain our human dignity. As Rabbi Eliyahu KiTov writes: “If one attains holiness through affliction, and another attains holiness through indulgence, who is the greater of the two? It may be said that the one who attains holiness through indulgence is greater, for the attainment of holiness through indulgence requires an infinitely greater degree of striving and effort.”
The purpose of life, as Judaism sees it, is to enjoy the greatest pleasures this world has to offer. But these pleasures are not only physical. Rather, as they become more profound they also become increasingly abstract, such as love, meaning, and creativity. To appreciate these more subtle joys we have two options: the first is to remove oneself from the physical world, and the second is to immerse oneself within it, probing its depths until one reveals the profound wonders hidden within it.
On Yom HaKippurim we employ the first method by abstaining from all earthly activities (eating, working, bathing, etc.) in an attempt to get in touch with our spiritual nature. In this way we become like souls without bodies. Unfortunately, this high comes at the expense of an important aspect of our humanity, because Judaism maintains that mankind was created to appreciate this world on both levels, body and soul. Purim, on the other hand, treads the second pathway, a pathway toward spiritual awareness bordering on euphoria by immersion within the physical.
On Yom Kippurim
Lots were cast in the presence of Haman, for a proper day to destroy the Jews.
On Purim, we prepare for the feast by fasting the day before (Ta’anith Esther)!
On Purim we must drink enough wine so that we can not tell the difference between blessed is Mordecai and cursed is Haman. We must be so inebriated that we can not tell the difference between the one destined for holiness (Mordecai) and the one destined for destruction (Haman).
We must choose two goats which are identical in outward appearance. They must be so identical that we can not tell the difference between the goat for HaShem and the goat for Azazel. They must be so identical that we can not tell the difference between the goat destined for elevation (l’HaShem) to holiness and the goat destined for destruction (l’Azazel).
We dress in costumes to conceal who we are. Esther, when she went in to the inner chamber to visit “The King”, was not wearing makeup. There was simply herself without embellishment.
The Megillah of Esther is read at Purim. In the Megillah, Esther goes into the inner room and spoke with “The King”. It turns out that the Megillah describes the palace of “The King” with the exact same words that it describes the house of The Holy One.
We elevate eating and drinking.
We completely abstain from eating and drinking.
Jews accept the Torah without a mountain hanging over them.
Jews accept the Torah with a mountain hanging over them.
The Sages tell us that third day of Esther’s fast was the 15th of Nisan, the night of the Passover Seder. Because of the desperate situation, the seder could be forfeited. Still, Esther kept as much as she could and served matza at the banquets. Additionally, the banquets are called a wine feast (5:6, 7:2, 7:7), alluding to the four cups of wine that were drunk at the seder.
Just as Esther had spent the whole evening telling the national story (the Haggada), Achashverosh reviews the story of his kingdom as well. When Achashverosh reviews his “royal book” and, for the first time, becomes aware that Mordechai had saved the King’s life (6:2), he determines to reward Mordechai.
On Rosh HaShanah (The Feast of Trumpets) the book of life and the book of death are open and on Purim they were judged if the decree would stand [and they would be killed] or if they would be rescued.
On Succoth (The Feast of Tabernacles) they are under the shadow of the clouds of glory and on Purim many came under the shade of the wings of the Shechinah, as the verse says, many of the people of the land became Jews.
It may be that for this reason the holiday is called Purim because of the Pur. This is because the first letters of Purim are the first letters of the words: Pesach, And Succoth, Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippurim, Matan Torah, the giving of the Torah.
The day of Purim consists of four main activities: sending treats to one or more friends, giving gifts to the poor, listening to the story of Purim, and, of course, the festive meal. Judaism, as the science of self-perfection, utilizes the technique of awakening one’s inner world through outer expression. When we understand the depth of these activities we can use them to develop a spiritual perspective on reality.
The word HaShem doesn’t appear openly in the Megillat, because in life the Divine remains hidden until we read between the lines of our own life-story. The very name Megillat Esther alludes to this, since in Hebrew, “Megillat” also means revelation of, and Esther means that which is hidden. Putting the two together, Megillat Esther means revealing the hidden. This explains the custom of wearing masks and costumes on Purim: It causes those who see us to attempt to reveal that which we have hidden, since this is essence of what we all should do while reading the Megillat Esther.
According to Jewish thought, the last people to see the world in a state of perfection were Adam and Eve. The Garden of Eden means a perfect world. How did Adam and Eve fall from that state? By eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. That is, they pursued the world of illusion, in which the transcendence of the universe (good) is masked by seeming imperfection (evil). If we approach Purim correctly, when we reach the tipsy state of no longer knowing good from evil, we actually realign our perspective by seeing the Transcendent as the source of all physical reality, thereby revealing its hidden perfection. Therefore Purim at its peak is like a taste of Eden.
Now we can understand how Yom Kippurim and Purim are really two halves of the same day: they both serve to reconnect us to the highest Source of spirituality. However, on Yom Kippurim we abandon the physical while on Purim we embrace it. Thus the greatness of Purim is the unique opportunity for both body and soul to revel in the hidden spirituality of the physical world.
We know that at the beginning of a thing, all of the energy of creation comes together to form that thing. From there on, everything is just maintenance. This means that if we can go back to where a word is first used in the Torah, we can see its beginning. We can see the essence of the word by examining the context of its conception or genesis.
Since Torah is literally the blueprint for the world, the place where a word is first found in the Torah is where that thing is created. This helps us to understand what HaShem is trying to accomplish in His world.
What allusions, in Esther, are found in the Talmud?
Chullin 139b Where is Haman indicated in the Torah? — In the verse: Is it [hamin] from the tree? Where is Esther indicated in the Torah? — [In the verse,] And I will surely hide [asthir] my face. Where is Mordecai indicated in the Torah? — In the verse: Flowing myrrh, which the Targum renders as mira dakia.
המן = Hamin (“from”) - Bereshit 3:11
המן = HaMan (the manna) - Shemot 16:35, Bamidbar 11:6, 11:9, 20:10, Devarim 8:3, Yehoshua 5:12
המן = Hamin (“from”) - Bamidbar 20:10
המן = Hamin (“whence”) - 2 Melachim 6:27
המן = Haman - Esther 3:1, 3:5, 3:6, 3:7, 3:8, 3:12, 4:7, 5:5, 5:9-12, 5:14, 6:5-7, …
Haman is found in the QUESTION, in Bereshit!
Now that we know that Haman is connected with the question regarding the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil. The mystics call the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil, “the tree of doubt”. The Hebrew word for doubt (sufek) and the word Amalek share the same gematria, 240.
From the time that Adam ate from that tree, he had doubts, and HaShem manifested Himself with doubts. After all, why did HaShem have to “ask” where Adam was? It is a cardinal rule of our faith that HaShem knows everything there is no doubt.
So, Haman was conceived in the garden when Adam ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil. Haman is the gap between ourselves and HaShem. Haman, an Amalekite descendant of king Agag (Gog), is the epitome of the role of the Amalekites. The Amalekites represent the gap between us and HaShem.
Lets take a look at the Amalekites and how they fulfill their role in separating us from HaShem. When we came out of Egypt after we had accepted the Torah and were ready to enter the promised land and bring in the final restoration of our relationship with HaShem, then the Amalekites threw themselves at us in battle. A battle they KNEW they had no chance of winning. They had seen the miracles that HaShem had done for His people, and he knew he could not defeat us. Never the less, it is his job to put a gap between HaShem and us.
The first attack by Amalek occurred just prior to the Jewish people’s arrival at Har Sinai, in a place called Refidim. But, as we know from tradition, many of the names given to the camps during the forty years in the desert had more to do with what occurred there spiritually, than physically.
Rebi Chanina said, “I asked Rebi Eliezer in the big Beit Midrash ... ‘What does Refidim mean?’ He answered me, ‘That was its name.’ ... Rebi Yehoshua said, “[It means] they became weak (reefu) in Torah.”
The incident when Moshe struck the rock also contains a hint to Amalek. This episode is a duplication of the one at the time the Shabbat manna first fell, then, it comes as no surprise to find an allusion to Haman here as well:
Bamidbar (Numbers) 20:9 Moshe took his staff from before God as commanded. Moshe and Aharon gathered the community before the rock and said to them, “From this (ha-min; heh, mem, nun) rock (ha-selah) should water come out!”
Not only is Haman found in this verse, but the word ha-selah (the rock) is equal in gematria to the word HaEtz:
HaEtz (heh, ayin, tzaddik) = ha-selah (heh, samech, lamed, ayin)
5+70+90 = 5+60+30+70
Bereshit 3:11 ha-min HaEtz?
Hence, this episode at Mei Merivah (“Waters of Dispute” as they are called) was not simply a fight about water; it was another battle in the long war against nature, doubt, and Amalek. The drying up of Miriam’s well had created another opportunity to teach the Jewish people what is supposed to distinguish them from the nations of the world: their potential to rise above nature, especially through the usage of speech.
There is a Midrash that indicates that with the exception of Qorach, Haman was the wealthiest man in the Tanach. He was wealthy because he stole the wealth of the Judean kings and the wealth of the Temple.
Debarim (Deuteronomy) 32:20 And He said, “I will hide My face from them. I will see what their end will be, for they are a generation of changes; they are not [recognizable] as My children whom I have reared.
Allusions to Mordechai
Where is Mordechai alluded to in the Torah? (Rashi: the greatness of Mordechai.) As it says, “Pure myhrr”, which translates [into Aramaic, Onkelos] mara dachia [the consonants of which spell Mordechai]. (Rashi: The pure myhrr is referred to in this verse as ‘the head of all spices.’ The righteous Men of the Great Assembly are compared to fragrant spices, and their head-leader-is Mordechai.)
Allusions to HaShem
Megillat Esther, too, recounts an altogether natural
story. The name of HaShem is not mentioned even once in the Megillat. Mordechai commands that the days of Purim be commemorated, and it is through this that the nation comes to the realization that even those things that appear natural are in fact directed by HaShem. Indeed, in the Megillat itself the victory over Amalek leads to the reinstatement of HaShem’s name:
Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 55:13 “In place of the thorn-bush a cypress will rise, and in place of the nettle, a myrtle...”
“In place of the thorn-bush” - in place of Haman “a cypress will rise” - this refers to Mordechai.
“In place of the nettle” - in place of Vashti
“a myrtle” - this is Esther the righteous one, who is called Hadassah.
There are at least four times when the ineffable Name of HaShem appears in acrostic form embedded in the text of Esther. This ineffable name, known as the tetragrammaton (yod hay vav hay), was pronounced only by the High Priest of Israel, only on the Day of Atonement. The Hebrew letters yud-hay-vav-hay are vocalized as “Adonai”.
היא וכל־הנשים יתנ
Hi v’chol h’nashim yitnu
“It, and all the women will give.”
יָבֹ֨וא הַמֶּ֤לֶךְ וְהָמָן֙ הַיֹּ֔ום
Yavo hamelech v’haman hayom
“and let the king and Haman come today.”
זה איננו שוה לי
zah ainenu shoveh li
“This gives no satisfaction to me.”
כי כלתה אליו הרעה
ki chaltah ailav hara’ah
“that his fate had been determined.”
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 31:16-18 And HaShem said to Moses: “You are going to rest with your fathers, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them. On that day I will become angry with them and forsake them; I will hide my face from them, and they will be destroyed. Many disasters and difficulties will come upon them, and on that day they will ask, ‘Have not these disasters come upon us because our God is not with us?’ And I will certainly hide my face on that day because of all their wickedness in turning to other gods.
The Hebrew word for hide is esther, so we have an allusion, in the Torah, to Esther, because in her day HaShem did hide His face to the extent that we do not find the name of HaShem in the book of Esther.
In fact, the disguises and the masks, of Purim, are all designed to underscore the essential hiddenness of this day.
Luqas (Luke) 21:29 – 22:1 He told them this parable: “Look at the fig
tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves
and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see
these things happening, you know that the
Luke writes in the remez, or hint, level. So we see the last verse of the above passage points to Passover. So, the “hint” might be that the previous stitch points to Purim which precedes Passover by thirty days. The passage begins with speaking of the approach of summer and goes forward to describe the state of life that we encounter in the opening chapter of the book of Esther. As we near the end of this passage, we encounter the same anxiety that gripped the Jews just after Haman’s decree was promulgated.
Another hint of Purim, found in the Nazarean Codicil, is found in the book which could be called second Luke. This book, Acts, is also written at the remez, or hint, level. Once again, just before Passover we find that HaShem’s people are sending gifts to the poor. This is one of the mitzvot of Purim, found in the Book of Esther:
II Luqas (Acts) 11:25 - 12:1
Then Barnabas went to
This following passage is a command from Hakham Paul, to Timothy, to be attentive to the reading. There is no more important reading than the halachic obligation to hear the Megillah. Every word must be heard and we must be attentive to every word:
I Timothy 4:12-13 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
Esther and Hadassah were different names for the same person:
Esther 2:7 Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This girl, who was also known as Esther, was lovely in form and features, and Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.
Hadassah is derived from the Hebrew word for myrtle: 1918 hadac, had-as’; of uncert. der.; the myrtle:-(myrtle) tree.
Esther is derived from the Hebrew Istahar meaning as beautiful as the moon. Others say that Esther means hidden (from the root astir). Esther was Mordechai’s cousin and wife. How can she be his wife when the English text clearly says daughter? In Esther 2:7, we see the word daughter. Daughter, in Hebrew, is, בת - bat. The same Hebrew characters can also be vocalized as Beit, which means house. If Esther was Mordechai’s house, then she was his wife. Chazal teach that we ‘read’ wife and we say daughter (for more insight take a look at the study titled kri&ktiv). This idea of reading one thing and saying something different occurs regularly in the Hebrew version of the Tanach.
In the Megillat Esther, the heroine, Esther, undergoes a remarkable transformation. She starts off being submissve and ends up giving orders. Notice:
Esther 2:10 - Esther obeys Mordechai and does not reveal her ancestry.
Esther 2:15 - Esther goes to the King with only that which is recommended by Hegai.
Esther 2:20 - Esther continues to hide her family background and nationality in obedience to Mordechai. She continues to follow Mordechai’s instructions even after she has become queen.
Esther 2:22 - Esther gives Mordechai credit for saving the king’s life.
Esther 4:11 - Esther complains about Mordechai’s command that she go into the king and plead for her people.
Esther 4:16 - 17 - Esther changes her role as she obeys Mordechai, again. Esther “orders” Mordechai and the other Jews to fast.
Esther 5:7-8 - Esther begins devising her own strategy to effect the deliverance of the Jews.
Esther 7:3-4 - Esther continues to act on her own initiative.
Esther 8:3 - Esther continues to act on her own initiative.
Esther 8:12-13 - Esther continues to act on her own initiative.
Esther 9:32 - Esther is now giving orders to the entire kingdom.
Thus we understand that Esther has dramatically changed her role from talmid (student) to Hakham (teacher). When we realize that Esther is a an allegory for the Bne Israel, then we realize that this is the intended transformation for all of the Bne Israel. They should first become talmidim and advamce in their Torah studies until they become Hakhamim.
The transformation of the Bne Israel is not the only transformation we see in the Book of Esther.
Is the prophet Daniel in the book of Esther?
Esther 4:5 Then Esther summoned Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.
Rav, in the Gemara, says that Hathach is Daniel:
Megilah 15a And Esther called Hatach. Rab said: Hatach is the same as Daniel. Why was he called Hatach? Because he was degraded [hataku-hu] from his position. Samuel said, Because all affairs of state were decided [nehtakim] by his voice.
We can also see that the problems in the time of Esther began in Shushan, when the Jews partook of the festive meal of the king, an inappropriate experience which echoes the festivities after the golden calf.
When Esther went into Achashverosh, she felt an acute loss of the Presence of HaShem. She said, My God, my God, why have you left me?. Now, we know that Esther went to Achashverosh on Pesach, and that this phrase is associated elsewhere with Pesach! Now, note what Yeshua said on Pesach:
לוט = Lot = curse
טול = Tol = redemption.
The Talmud clarifies the process of the rebuilding of the
Beit HaMikdash. It states that the nation of
Sanhedrin 20b It has been taught: R. Jose said: Three commandments were given to Israel when they entered the land; [i] to appoint a king; [ii] to cut off the seed of Amalek; [iii] and to build themselves the chosen house [i.e. the Temple] and I do not know which of them has priority. But, when it is said: The hand upon the throne of the Lord, the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation, we must infer that they had first to set up a king, for ‘throne’ implies a king, as it is written, Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king. Yet I still do not know which [of the other two] comes first, the building of the chosen Temple or the cutting off of the seed of Amalek. Hence, when it is written, And when He giveth you rest from all your enemies round about etc., and then [Scripture proceeds], Then it shall come to pass that the place which the Lord your God shall choose, it is to be inferred that the extermination of Amalek is first. And so it is written of David, And it came to pass when the king dwelt in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from his enemies round about, and the passage continues; that the king said unto Nathan the Prophet: See now, I dwell in a house of cedars etc.
This is a fascinating pattern that seems to repeat itself in regards to Amalek. When we come into eretz Israel, we were commanded to appoint a King. Keep in mind that a King is not just a king, but rather he is the emblem of government and of justice:
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 17:14-15 When thou art come unto the land which HaShem thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that [are] about me; Thou shalt in any wise set [him] king over thee, whom HaShem thy God shall choose: [one] from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which [is] not thy brother.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25:17-19 Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, [even] all [that were] feeble behind thee, when thou [wast] faint and weary; and he feared not God. Therefore it shall be, when HaShem thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which HaShem thy God giveth thee [for] an inheritance to possess it, [that] thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget [it].
Now there are Hakhamim who have told us that Amalek is not just this one nation, but rather, Amalek is identified as any nation which is determined to destroy ALL Jews, no matter what the cost to themselves.
Now, this pattern:
was followed in the days of Moshe. Moshe was appointed the leader, or King, over
This pattern was followed again in the days of King Saul. First, HaShem brings the people into eretz Israel. Then He anoints Saul as King. Then, in Shmuel Alef (I Samuel) chapter 15, King Saul makes war against Amalek. Lastly, King Solomon builds the Beit HaMikdash.
This pattern was followed again in the days of Mordecai and Esther. First HaShem causes his people to return to eretz Israel from Babylon, then He raises up The King (hinted at in Megillat Esther regarding King Achashverosh) and also Zerubbabel to govern His people. Then the Jews make war against Haman and the rest of the Amalekites who wish to destroy the Jews. Finally, King Darius orders the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash.
Finally, we see this same pattern in the days of the Maccabeans. The Maccabees became the leaders of the Jewish people and proceeded to drive out the descendants of Esau, the Syrians. Finally, they reestablished the altar in the Temple.
1 Shmuel (Samuel) 9:21 And Saul answered and said, [Am] not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benyamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?
1 Shmuel (Samuel) 15:7-8 And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah [until] thou comest to Shur, that [is] over against Egypt. And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
In Shoftim, we learn that the Benjamite King is supposed to destroy Amalek:
Shoftim (Judges) 5:14 Out of Ephraim was there a root of them against Amalek; after thee, Benjamin, among thy people; out of Machir came down governors, and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer.
Notice the pattern:
King Saul comes to destroy Amalek and fails. He is replaced with King David.
In the future, I expect to see the same pattern:
Given this pattern, which was repeated three times, we would expect the pattern to occur again!
The Gulf war provided a hint towards this pattern. The Jews were in eretz Israel. They had established a government, a king. Then the people of the entire world, EXCEPT THE JEWS, made war against Saddam Hussein (an Amalekite), because of oil! Lastly, we have HaShem causing great controversy regarding the Har HaBayit, the Temple mount.
Now, the pattern of HaSatan has been to imitate the patterns of HaShem, with a twist. Therefore, we can expect that HaSatan will cause His own anti-mashiach to be made king over the Jews. He will then wage war against the people of HaShem. Lastly, this anti-mashiach will cause a temple to be built.
In, 1948, HaShem began bringing His people back to eretz Israel. Then He established a government, a king, over His people. Further, we expect that HaShem will complete this process when He brings us Mashiach ben David, The King. At this time, we should expect to have a war against Amalek. This war should be the pattern for the final destruction for all of the Amalekites. Finally, according to Yehezechel (Ezekiel) 40ff, we should expect The King to rebuild the Beit HaMikdash.
The Israeli Government is also Amalek. If we treat the word as an English word whereby the prefix “A” means “without”, then A-melek = No King.
Now we can understand the Talmud in Tractate Shabbat when it states that the study of Torah is greater than the building of the Temple. Before we can even consider rebuilding the Temple, the destruction of the nation of Amalek is necessary. In order for the Jewish people to decimate Amalek, we do not need swords, guns, or tanks; rather we need to have the word of HaShem on our lips. As we say every day in the morning prayers:
This extermination of Amalek, the epitome of evil, is needed before the Jewish people can create the holy Temple to house the epitome of good. After the annihilation of Amalek is complete, the importance of the study of Torah parallels the construction of the Temple, since Torah itself constructs the spiritual foundation of the holy Temple.
Lets look at what had happened shortly before the story of Esther:
Belshazzar and Achashverosh both attempted to calculate the end of the seventy years of captivity prophesied by Jeremiah:
Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 25:11-14 ‘And this whole land shall be a desolation and a horror, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. ‘ Then it will be when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,’ declares the \Lord\,’ for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation. ‘And I will bring upon that land all My words which I have pronounced against it, all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah has prophesied against all the nations. ‘(For many nations and great kings shall make slaves of them, even them; and I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the work of their hands.)’ “
Belshazzar’s calculation led him to have a big party with the Temple implements, at the end of the seventy years. Unfortunately, his calculations were wrong, and Belshazzar paid with his life, for his blasphemy.
The Megillah Esther opens with:
Esther 1:3 And in the third year of his reign he
gave a banquet for all his nobles and officials. The military leaders of
Achashverosh also miscounted the seventy years, and like Belshazzar, he also had the nerve to party with the Temple implements. Unlike Belshazzar, his end did not come immediately, because God’s plan called for him to father Darius, who would properly calculate the end of the seventy years. Darius, however, fulfilled the prophesy rather than follow his predecessors and profane the Temple implements.
Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 45:1-6 “This is what HaShem
says to his anointed, to Koresh (Cyrus),
whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor,
to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: I will go before you
and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through
bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know
that I am HaShem, the God of Israel,
who summons you by name. For the sake of Jacob my servant, of
One might logically ask why Mordecai
and Esther, along with all of the Babylonian Jews, did not return to
Ezra 4:1-24 When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin
heard that the exiles were building a temple for HaShem, the God of
Israel, They came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said, “Let
us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing
to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria,
who brought us here.” But Zerubbabel, Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the
So, Achashverosh stopped what Koresh (Cyrus) had begun. This caused the Israelites to become confused about the following prophecy:
Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 29:10-14 This is what HaShem says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares HaShem, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares HaShem, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares HaShem, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
Daniel 9:1-3 In the first year of Darius son of Achashverosh (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom-- In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of HaShem given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.
It is at this point that the party in the opening verses of Esther takes place:
Esther 1:1-9 This is what happened during the time of Achashverosh,
the Achashverosh who ruled over 127 provinces stretching from
Esther’s rose to prominence in:
Esther 2:16 She was taken to King Achashverosh in the royal residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.
And the book of Esther closes with this:
Esther 3:7 In the twelfth year of King Achashverosh, in the first month, the month of Nisan, they cast the <pur> (that is, the lot) in the presence of Haman to select a day and month. And the lot fell on the twelfth month, the month of Adar.
Nebuchadnezzar assumes the throne of Babylon. He reigns from 3318 till 3363.
Nebuchadnezzar conquers King Yehoyakim.
Nebuchadnezzar exiles King Yechaniah together with the leading scholars.
Evil Merodach reigns until 3386.
Belshazzar begins to reign. He reigns until 3389. He is the last Babylonian king.
Darius the Mede (Daniel 5:30-31) defeats Belshazzar and reigns for one year.
Koresh (Cyrus) orders the construction of the Temple. It is indeed seventy
years since the first stage of the exile, the conquest of
Achashverosh becomes king and orders the cessation of construction of the Temple.
Achashverosh, in the third year of his reign, concludes that “seventy years”, dating from Yechaniah’s exile, have ended. Although only sixty-seven calendar years have elapsed, Achashverosh follows the ancient custom of counting a fraction of a royal year as a full year.
Achashverosh dies and is succeeded by Darius the Persian - Ezra 4:24 (not Darius the Mede who succeeded Belshazzar as king), son of Achashverosh and Esther.
Here is another way of looking at the timing:
Nisan 16 - Esther goes to the King uninvited. Esther 5:1
- Esther has dinner with Haman and the King. Esther 5:4
Nisan 17 - Esther has dinner with Haman and the King for a second night. Esther 5:8
- Haman is hung on his own gallows.
- Yeshua rises from the dead, thereby taking the captives from the prince of the
power of the air.
Water swells on the earth in the days of Noah. Day 103. Genesis 7:24
Levites still consecrating the temple in Hezekiah’s day, day 13. II Chronicles 29:17
Sennacherib - day 2. 2 Kings 20:1, Seder Olam 23
Haman buys the order for the destruction of the Jews. Esther 3:7-12
Satan enters Judas Iscariot. Luke 22:3
Fast-day of the first-born. Soferim 21
Water swells on the earth in the days of Noah. Day 104. Genesis 7:24
Cain and Able offer their sacrifices. Genesis 4:3-5, PdRE, section 21, Yonaton b. Uziel
Og comes to Abram and relates the capture of
On high they praise HaShem and the treasures of dew are opened. Targum Pseudo Yonatan on Genesis 27.
Mordecai and the Jews fast for the second day. Esther 4:16
Preparation day. John 19:14, 31
Levites still consecrating the temple in Hezekiah’s day, day 14. II Chronicles 29:17
Sennacherib - day 3. 2 Kings 20:1, Seder Olam 23
Pilate releases Barabbas. Matthew 27:15-21
Yeshua was crucified. John 19:42
Curtain of the temple rent. Matthew 27:51
Holy dead are raised to life. Matthew 27:52-53
Water swells on the earth in the days of Noah. Day 105. Genesis 7:24
Abraham learns of Lot’s captivity and defeats the 4 kings. “Legends of the Bible”, Ginzberg
Death of Job. Jer. Sotah 5:8
Moses saw the burning bush in 2447. Exodus 3:2, Bahya, Bo
Egyptian officials beg Moses and the Israelites to leave. Exodus 11:8
Egyptians bury their firstborn. Exodus 33:3-4
All males to appear before the Lord in Jerusalem. Deuteronomy 16:16
Joshua and the Israelites celebrate Pesach at Gilgal. Joshua 5:10
Levites still consecrating the temple in Hezekiah’s day, day 15. II Chronicles 29:17
God heals the people. II Chronicles 30:1-20
Daniel is thrown into the lion’s den in 3389. Daniel 6, The Haggada
King Achashverosh has his sleep disturbed. Esther 6:1
Vashti is executed by King Achashverosh. Esther 1:21; Derash le-Purim
Mordecai is honored by Haman and king Achashverosh. Esther 5:1 - 6:10
Esther invites the king to feast. Esther 5:1-4, Seder Olam 29
To be celebrated during the millennium. Ezekiel 45:21-24
John the Baptist is born. Luke 1:24
Yeshua performs miracles and is believed. John 2:23
Peter is arrested. Acts 12:3
The day of vengeance when the winepress is trodden. Isaiah 63, The Haggada
The Omer is offered. Leviticus 23:14, Rambam, Temidin U’Musafin 7:2-17
Water swells on the earth in the days of Noah. Day 106. Genesis 7:24
Yocheved hides Moses after a 6 month and one day pregnancy - day 39. Artscroll Mesorah on Shavuos, page 61.
The supply of manna was exhausted in 2488. Kiddushin 38a
Israelites eat produce of the promised land (2488 BCE). Joshua 5:11
Bread from heaven (Manna) stopped. Joshua 5:12
Joshua and the Israelites march around Jericho – day 2. Joshua 6:1ff
Hezekiah finishes consecrating the Temple, day 16. II Chronicles 29:17
Esther, Haman, and the king feast. King kills Haman. Esther 5:5-5
Haman was hanged in 3404. Esther 7:10, Seder Olam 29
Mordecai becomes chief minister in place of Haman. Esther 8:2
Cyrus, King of Persia, captured Babylon in 539 BCE.
Yeshua tells the parable of the wheat and the tares. Matthew 13:24-30
Yeshua tells the parable of the wheat and the tares. Matthew 13:24-30
Yeshua’s second day in the tomb. John 19:30-36
Torah section is Leviticus ; Numbers 28:19-25. Haftorah is 2 Kings 23:1-9; 21-25.
The Omer, day 2.
Water swells on the earth in the days of Noah. Day 107. Genesis 7:24
Abraham returns to his family in Beer Sheva. Genesis 22:19
Joshua and the Israelites march around Jericho – day 3. Joshua 6:1ff
Hamans plans came to naught. Esther , , 5:1, 7:2-9
Peter is arrested and imprisoned by Herod. Acts 12:3
So, the sages understood that Darius the Persian, was the son of Achashverosh and Esther. After Darius took the throne he finally completed the “seventy years” in:
At this point, bells should be going off in our heads. A king (Achashverosh), in his palatial house in Shushan, has ordered that the house (Temple) of the King of the Universe (HaShem), should not be completed! The Israelites in Shushan are in exile:
Esther 2:5-6 Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, Who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin king of Judah.
So, lets put some of these pieces together: Some Israelites
(forty-two thousand) are back in
1. They were both made with tekhelet (blue), argaman (purple), gold, and silver:
Esther 1:6 [Where were] white, green, and blue, [hangings], fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the beds [were of] gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black, marble.
Shemot (Exodus) 25:2-8 “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give. These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; Blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; Ram skins dyed red and hides of sea cows; acacia wood; Olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; And onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.
The purple in the above verse according to Strong’s is:
8504 tekhelet, tek-ay’-leth; prob. for 7827; the cerulean mussel, i.e. the color (violet) obtained therefrom or stuff dyed therewith:-blue.
713 ‘argaman, ar-gaw-mawn’; of for. or.; purple (the color or the dyed stuff):-purple.
2. Achashverosh and HaShem both claimed sovereignty over the same area:
Esther 10:1-2 King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant
shores. And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account
of the greatness of Mordecai to which the king had raised him, are they not
written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and
Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 41:4-5 Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, HaShem--with the first of them and with the last--I am he.” The islands have seen it and fear; the ends of the earth tremble. They approach and come forward;
The story of Esther closes with Achashverosh proving his sovereignty while HaShem is left unmentioned.
3. Both “houses” had an inner and an outer court. Unauthorized entry into the inner court, of both “houses”, brought death to the one who trespassed. Similarly, the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) enters the Holy of Holies twice, once to obscure things with incense and once to accomplish the atonement, whilst Esther entered the inner sanctum twice, once to get the king drunk with wine and the second time to get the decree annulled. It is also interesting to note that the Kohen Gadol enters with a plain white garment whilst Esther entered all dolled up:
Esther 4:11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”
Esther 6:4 The king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on the gallows he had erected for him.
Ezekiel 42:1-3 Then the man led me northward into the outer court and brought me to the rooms opposite the temple courtyard and opposite the outer wall on the north side. The building whose door faced north was a hundred cubits long and fifty cubits wide. Both in the section twenty cubits from the inner court and in the section opposite the pavement of the outer court, gallery faced gallery at the three levels.
Vayikra (Leviticus) 16:2 HaShem said to
Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron not to come whenever he chooses into the
4. The Book of Esther, and the Tanakh, twelve times refers to Shushan as:
Esther 1:2 [That] in those days, when the king Achashverosh sat on the throne of his kingdom, which [was] in Shushan the palace,
1002 biyrah, bee-raw’; of for. or.; a castle or palace:-palace.
This word, biyrah (palace), is used consistently to refer to Shushan AND to HaShem’s house:
Divrei HaYamim (I Chronicles) 29:1 Then King David said to the whole assembly: “My son Solomon, the one whom God has chosen, is young and inexperienced. The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for man but for HaShem God.
Divrei HaYamim (I Chronicles) 29:19 And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, requirements and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided.”
Nehemiah 2:8 And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the king’s forest, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel of the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests.
Nehemiah 7:2 I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most men do.
So, even the Hebrew word, biyrah, links the king’s house (Achashverosh) with the KING’S HOUSE (HaShem)! It is noteworthy that the name of HaShem is not found in the Book of Esther, while the word “king” is found nearly 200 times. HaShem is not in the house at Shushan, king Achashverosh is in this house!
Ok, lets sum this up: HaShem’s people were carried into exile because of disobedience. At the end of the seventy appointed years, some forty-two thousand actually return to the promised land, while millions more remained in the comfort of Babylon. All of the exiles had been invited to return, but only a small fraction actually returned. These exiled Israelite slaves chose to celebrate in king Achashverosh’s house rather than return to the promised land to celebrate in King HaShem ‘s house. HaShem’s name is revealed in His House, while HaShem’s name is concealed in Achashverosh’s house. Instead of serving as inhabitants in HaShem’s house, they are serving as exiled slaves in Achashverosh’s house. Instead of serving the Sovereign of the Universe, they serve the sovereign of Babylon. No wonder they are getting into trouble!
The sages understood that the reason for this party was due to the calculations that Achashverosh made: he believed that the seventy years had expired and that he could rejoice because the prophesy would not be fulfilled. They also believed that he was using the Temple utensils for this party.
Midrash Rabbah - Genesis LVIII:3 3. A HUNDRED AND SEVEN AND TWENTY YEARS. R. Akiba was once lecturing, and the congregation became drowsy. Wishing to arouse them, he remarked: Why did Esther deserve to reign over a hundred and twenty-seven provinces? The reason is this: Let Esther, the descendant of Sarah, who lived a hundred and twenty-seven years, come and reign over a hundred and twenty-seven provinces.
Midrash Rabbah - Leviticus XXVIII:6 A Roman lady addressed a question to R. Jose. She said to him: ‘How grieved that righteous man_ must have been! How many menservants and maidservants he had, yet they rejected his food and his drink!’ The answered her: ‘Why all this? To inform you that as long as Israel are in sorrow the righteous also suffer sorrow with them.’ R. Levi said: It was the same merit that stood them in good stead in the days of Haman. For R. Levi said: When Mordecai saw Haman coming towards him leading the horse in his hand, he remarked: ‘It appears to me that this villain comes for the sole purpose of slaying me.’ His disciples were sitting and learning in his presence. Said he to them: ‘ Rise and flee, lest you be scorched by my coal!’ They answered him: ‘Whether to be killed or to remain alive, we are with you, and will not desert you!’ What did he do? He enveloped himself in his talit and stood before the Holy One, blessed be He, in prayer, while his disciples sat and learned. Haman said to them: ‘What are you studying?’ They answered him: ‘The commandment of the sheaf which Israel used to offer in the Temple on this day.’ He asked them: ‘ What was this sheaf made of, gold or silver? ‘ They replied: ‘ Of barley.’ ‘And how much,’ he asked them, ‘was it worth? Ten centenaria?’ They replied: ‘Ten manehs were sufficient.’ He said to them: ‘Arise, for your ten manehs have conquered the ten thousand centenaria of silver!’ When Esther heard how matters stood she issued a proclamation throughout the province, saying: ‘Let no one open his shop in the market-place! Let all the people go out, for the chief of the Jews is about to be hanged!’ When Mordecai finished praying, Haman said to him: ‘Put on this royal robe, set this crown upon your head, and come and ride upon this horse.’ He answered him: ‘O you most foolish man in the world! Do you not know that I have just emerged from sackcloth and ashes? Would a person put on royal robes without bathing? Why do you wish to disgrace royalty? ‘ So he went for a bath-attendant but could not find one. What did he do? Putting on bathing apparel he went and mixed the water and cleansed the bath, then he bathed him. When he finished Mordecai donned the royal robe. Haman said to him: ‘Set this kingly crown on your head!’ Said he: ‘Would a person put the king’s crown on his head without a haircut? Why do you wish to disgrace royalty?’ He went in search of a barber and could not find one. What did he do? Producing barber’s tools he sat down and gave him a haircut. As he was sitting and cutting his hair Haman began sighing. ‘What ails you?’ Mordecai asked. ‘Woe to that man! ‘he replied, ‘What has come over him! He who used to appoint the Comes Privatarum, he who used to appoint the Comes Calator, he who used to appoint the Magister Palatii, is such a man to be made a bath-attendant and a barber?’ Said the other: ‘And did I not know the father of that man (may his bones be ground to dust!) at Kefar Kiryanos, who was a bath-attendant and a barber, and whose tools these are!’ When Haman finished cutting his hair, he said to Mordecai: ‘Mount and ride on this horse!’ He said to him: ‘I have no strength, for I am an old man. “ Said the other: ‘Am not I too an old man? ‘ ‘ But,’ the former retorted, ‘ have you not brought it all on yourself?’ Haman said: ‘Stand, I will bend my back for you so that you can step upon me and mount and ride upon this horse, to fulfill for you what your Scripture says: And thine enemies shall dwindle away before thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places’ (Deut. XXXIII, 29). As Mordecai rode on the horse he began to praise the Holy One, blessed be He, and said: ‘I will extol Thee, O Lord, for Thou hast raised me up... O Lord my God, I cried unto Thee, and Thou didst heal me; O Lord, Thou broughtest up my soul from the nether-world’ (Ps. XXX, 2 f). What did his disciples say? ‘ Sing praise unto the Lord, O ye His godly ones, and give thanks to His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment,’ etc. (ib. 5 f). What did the villain say? ‘Now I had said in my security: I shall never be moved. Thou hast established, O Lord, in Thy favour the mountain as a stronghold’ (ib. 7 f). What did Esther say? ‘ Unto Thee, O Lord, did I call... what profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise Thee? shall it declare Thy truth?’ (ib. 9 f). What did Israel say? ‘Hear, O Lord, and be gracious unto me;... Thou didst turn fear me my mourning into dancing’ (ib. 11 f). R. Phinehas said: Mordecai was then occupied with the reading of the Shema’ and he did not interrupt it, as may be inferred from the fact that it says, So that my glory may sing praise to Thee, and not be silent: O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto Thee for ever (ib. 13).
Midrash Rabbah - Esther I:3 ACHASHVEROSH. R. Levi and the Rabbis differed on this. R. Levi said: Achashverosh is the same as Artaxerxes; and why was he called Achashverosh? Because no one could mention him without feeling a headache. The Rabbis said: Artaxerxes was the same as Achashverosh; and why was he called Artaxerxes? Because he used to fall into a passion and then be sorry (martiah vehash). ACHASHVEROSH: THIS IS ACHASHVEROSH. R. Isaac and the Rabbis explained differently. R. Isaac said: [He was the] ACHASHVEROSH in whose days all trouble came, as it says, There was great mourning among the Jews (Est. IV, 3). THIS IS ACHASHVEROSH: in whose days all blessings came, as it says, The Jews had gladness and joy, a feast and a good day (ib. VIII, 17). The Rabbis say: ACHASHVEROSH, before Esther went in unto him; THIS IS ACHASHVEROSH; after Esther went in unto him he did not have intercourse with women in the period of separation.
Why was Vashti deposed?
Esther 1:10-12 On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him--Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Carcas-- To bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at. But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.
At the feast, Achashverosh asks Queen Vashti to parade “wearing the royal crown” (1:11). The Midrash derives from here that Vashti was to appear wearing the crown only – i.e. naked:
Midrash Rabbah - Esther III:13 13. TO BRING VASHTI THE QUEEN BEFORE THE KING WITH THE CROWN ROYAL (I, 11). R. Aibu said: What makes atonement for Israel is that when the Israelites eat and drink and make merry they bless and praise and extol the Holy One, blessed be He, whereas when the other nations eat and drink they turn to lewdness. So here, one said, ‘The Median women are more beautiful,’ and the other said, ‘The Persian women are more beautiful.’ Said that fool to them: ‘The vessel which I use is neither Median nor Persian, but Chaldean. Would you like to see it?’ They replied, ‘ Yes, but she must be naked.’ ‘ Very well,’ he said to them, ‘ let her be naked.’ R. Phinehas and R. Hama b. Guria in the name of Rab said: She asked permission to wear at least as much as a girdle, like a harlot, but they would not allow her. He said to her: ‘It must be naked.’ She said, ‘I will come in without a crown.’ [He said]: ‘ If so, they will say, ‘ ‘ She is a maidservant.”‘ Then she [a maidservant] might put on royal garments and enter? R. Huna said: A subject must not put on royal garments.
The Midrash answers this question:
Midrash Rabbah - Esther IV:1 1. THEN THE KING SAID TO THE WISE MEN, WHO KNEW THE TIMES (1, 13). Who were these? R. Simon said: These were the tribe of Issachar, as it says, And of the children of Issachar, men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do (I Chron. XI, 33). R. Tanhuma said: This means, for fixing the calendar: R. Jose b. Kazrath said: For intercalation. (‘To know what Israel ought to do’: they knew how to heal skin disease. The heads of them were two hundred (ib.): these are the two hundred presidents of the Sanhedrin which the tribe of Issachar produced. And all their brethren were at their commandment (ib.): they all accepted the Halakhah as pronounced by them as if it were the Halakhah of Moses at Sinai.) The wicked Achashverosh said to them: ‘Seeing that I ordered Vashti to appear before me naked and she refused, what is to be her punishment?’ They replied: ‘Your Majesty, when we were in our own land, we used to inquire of the Urim and Thummim, but now we are tossed about,’ and they quoted to him the verse, Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity; therefore his taste remaineth in him, and his scent is not changed (Jer. XLVIII, 11) He said to them: ‘Is any one of them here?’ They replied: ‘ Their near neighbours [are] ‘; and so it says, AND THE NEXT UNTO HIM WAS CARSHENA, SHETHAR, ADMETHA, TARSHISH, MERES, MARSENA, AND MEMUCAN (Memuchan was Haman; why was Haman called Memuchan? Because he was set aside for punishment (muchan l’puranos). (Megillah 12b)), THE SEVEN PRINCES OF PERSIA AND MEDIA, etc. (I, 14). The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead (Proverbs XI, 8). ‘The righteous is delivered out of trouble’: this is the tribe of Issachar. ‘And the wicked cometh in his stead’: these are the seven princes of Persia and Media.
An interesting change takes place in the King’s authority:
Esther 1:12-14 But when the attendants delivered the king’s command,
Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with
anger. Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke
with the wise men who understood the times And were
closest to the king--Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena and
Memuchan (Memuchan was Haman; why was Haman called Memuchan (Me-muchan)?
Because he was set aside for punishment (muchan l’puranos). (Megillah 12b)),
the seven nobles of
The King is furious, but, he still takes time to consult with his advisors. Later on we see this:
Esther 7:5-10 King Achashverosh asked Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is the man who has dared to do such a thing?” Esther said, “The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman.” Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life. Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining. The king exclaimed, “Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?” As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, “A gallows seventy-five feet high stands by Haman’s house. He had it made for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.” The king said, “Hang him on it!” So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided.
It appears as though the King did not consult his advisors this time. The sages understood that Haman had asked the King to stop doing this so that he could get his edict of annihilation signed. So, again we see the hand of HaShem meting out justice in-kind.
The Sages tell us that third day of Esther’s fast was the 15th of Nisan, the night of the Passover Seder. Because of the dire situation, the regular Seder could be forfeited. Still, Esther kept as much as she could and served Matzot at the banquets. Additionally, the banquets are called “Mishteh ha-yayin”, a wine feast (5:6, 7:2, 7:7), alluding to the four cups of wine drunk at the seder.
Achashverosh figures that since Esther spent the whole evening telling national history (the Haggada - it is Passover after all.), he can review the history of his kingdom as well. So Achashverosh reviews his royal book, and for the first time becomes aware that Mordechai had saved the King’s life (6:2).
Why did Esther have seven maids?
Esther 2:9 The girl pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven maids selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her maids into the best place in the harem.
Why 10,000 talents (Kikars):
Esther 3:8-9 Then Haman said to King Achashverosh, “There is a certain people dispersed and scattered among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom whose customs are different from those of all other people and who do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will put ten thousand talents of silver into the royal treasury for the men who carry out this business.”
When Haman proposed to Achashverosh the annihilation of the Jews, he offered to pay 10,000 “kikars” for the right to do so (Esther 3:9). Since one kikar equals 3,000 shekels, Haman was in fact putting a price tag of 30 million shekels on the Jews.
Since there are 600,000 main souls in the Jewish nation (see Numbers 2:32), and 50 shekels is the donation value of an adult male (as specified in Leviticus 27:3), this amount multiplied times 600,000 souls equals thirty million.
The Chizkuni on our verse independently gives us a calculation of how Haman’s 10,000 “kikar” weights of silver equal the amount of half-Shekalim 600,000 Bnei Israel would give. On average, people live seventy years. The responsibility to give a half-shekel begins at the age of twenty. On average people give a half-shekel for fifty years. The type of half-shekel given is in the “shekel hakodesh” coin system, which has double the value of non-kodesh “Shekalim,” hence twenty-five shekelei kodesh given in a lifetime equal fifty standard Shekalim. Fifty “Shekalim” equal a hundred zuzim, given on average by each person. Sixty people would give 6,000 “zuzim,” equal to sixty “maneh”, the weight of a “kikar” of silver. Ten thousand times this amount was given by 600,000 people as sixty goes into 600,000 ten thousand times. Thus a total of 10,000 “kikar kesef,” a “kesef” equals a “zuz,” was given by these 600,000 people, and Haman offered an equal amount. The Ba”ch on the above Tosafot calculates exactly as the Chizkuni and says that this is the intention of the Tosafot.
Another idea was:
II Melachim (Kings) 24:13-14 As HaShem had declared, Nebuchadnezzar removed all the treasures from the temple of HaShem and from the royal palace, and took away all the gold articles that Solomon king of Israel had made for the temple of HaShem. He carried into exile all Jerusalem: all the officers and fighting men, and all the craftsmen and artisans--a total of ten thousand. Only the poorest people of the land were left.
Therefore there was a talent for each of the officers, fighting men, craftsman, and artisans.
One talent contains 3000 Shekalim (Exodus 35:24). A shekel contains approximately .80 ounces of silver. Thus a talent of silver is equal to about 2,400 ounces. The price Haman was ready to pay for the right to exterminate the Jews, 10,000 talents, was 24 million ounces, or 750 tons of silver! $5 X 24,000,000 = $120,000,000 at today’s price. in the 1870’s silver was worth 40 times as much! This yields $4,800,000,000. So, try to imagine what silver was worth in Mordechai’s day.
The Megillah states that Haman offered to increase the King’s coffers by 10,000 kikar silver in exchange for the right to get rid of the Jews. Tosafot in Megillah 16a, indicates that this was a half Shekel for every Jewish person. On a metaphysical level the Hakhamim tell us that Haman was trying to negate the merit of the Jews annual half-Shekel contribution to the Temple’s upkeep. The Gemara says that since HaShem knew that Haman would offer Shekels to Achashverosh to ‘purchase’ the right to destroy the Jews, HaShem pre-empted Haman’s contribution through the half-shekel. The merit of the Jews contributing the annual half-shekel protected them (in the future) against Haman’s evil designs.
Esther 3:8 “There is a people that is dispersed and divided...”.
It is only because there is division and unjustified hatred within the Jewish nation that their enemies have the ability to harm them. When the Jews are divided, they represent only individuals, not a Klal, a communal entity. When that happens we have lost our strength.
Haman’s whole plot was based on the division of the nation. That is why HaShem insisted that each Jew should give exactly one half shekel. The symbolism of the half-shekel is that each Jew is only a fraction of the entity. He needs to combine with his fellow Jew to make a significant contribution. If we think we can be ‘an entire shekel unto ourselves’, that is not going to work. Our strength is through the recognition that we need each other, and the realization that we need to set aside our petty differences to come together to provide a complete shekel.
This silver, then, has several very significant implications. Now, lets see how this silver, and it’s evil decree will be handled.
The Sages say that Esther’s fast began the day that Haman ordered the decree to go out:
Esther 3:12 Then on the thirteenth day of the first month the royal secretaries were summoned. They wrote out in the script of each province and in the language of each people all Haman’s orders to the king’s satraps, the governors of the various provinces and the nobles of the various peoples. These were written in the name of King Achashverosh himself and sealed with his own ring.
The deliverance of the Israelites began:
Esther 5:1-2 On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.
The Talmud records an interesting thing about Esther’s appearance before the king:
Megillat 15b “And it was so when the king saw Esther the queen. R. Johanan said: Three ministering angels were appointed to help her at that moment; one to make her head erect, a second to endow her with charm and a third to stretch the golden scepter.”
R’ Yehudah Prero interprets the Talmud for us: Three angels assisted Esther when she went before the king. One was there to help her raise her head, as she was so weak from fasting that she could not keep her head up without assistance. The second angel was there to assure that she would find favor in Achashverosh’s eyes, even though her beauty had diminished to the point that Achashverosh might be angered.
The usual gesture of the king that indicated approval of a visit and permission to enter the king’s chambers was his lifting of his scepter and extending it towards the person. In order to assure that Achashverosh would perform this necessary gesture even though he did not order the visit (making “illegal”), an angel (the third one discussed above) came and extended the scepter that Achashverosh was holding. With the assistance of the angels, Esther was admitted to Achashverosh’s court without suffering any dire consequences.
If you consider that the King was aware that Esther was willing to die in order to bring a request to him, then you can understand why he was willing to grant her request. He would know that it was a most serious request. Obviously this also accounts for him repeating his question at the two banquets. He knew that she would not have risked death to invite him to dinner.
Esther 9:22 As the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.
KJV renders it as:
Esther 9:22 As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.
sorrow is: 3015 yagown, yaw-gohn’; from 3013; affliction:-grief, sorrow.
joy is: 8057 simchah, sim-khaw’; from 8056; blithesomeness or glee, (religious or festival):-X exceeding (- ly), gladness, joy (-fulness), mirth, pleasure, rejoice (-ing).
good day is: 2896 towb, tobe; from 2895; good (as an adj.) in the widest sense; used likewise as a noun, both in the masc. and the fem., the sing. and the plur. (good, a good or good thing, a good man or woman; the good, goods or good things, good men or women), also as an adv. (well):- beautiful, best, better, bountiful, cheerful, at ease, X fair (word), (be in) favor, fine, glad, good (deed, -lier, liest, -ly, -ness, -s), graciously, joyful, kindly, kindness, liketh (best), loving, merry, X most, pleasant, + pleaseth, pleasure, precious, prosperity, ready, sweet, wealth, welfare, (be) well ([-favoured]).
good day 3117 yowm, yome; from an unused root mean. to be hot; a day (as the warm hours) whether lit. (from sunrise to sunset, or from one sunset to the next), or fig. (a space of time defined by an associated term), [often used adv.]:-age, + always, + chronicles, continually (-ance), daily, ([birth-], each, to) day, (now a, two) days (agone), + elder, X end, + evening, + (for) ever (-lasting, more), X full, life, as (so) long as (... live), (even) now, + old, + outlived, + perpetually, presently,+ remaineth, X required, season, X since, space, then, (process of) time, + as at other times, + in trouble, weather, (as) when, (a, the, within a) while (that), X whole (+ age), (full) year (-ly), + younger.
This reminds me of:
Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 31:7-14 This is what HaShem
says: “Sing with joy for Jacob; shout for the
foremost of the nations. Make your praises heard,
and say, ‘O HaShem, save
your people, the remnant of Israel.’ See, I will
bring them from the land of the north and gather them
from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame,
expectant mothers and women in labor; a great throng will return. They will
come with weeping; they will pray
as I bring them back. I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path
where they will not stumble, because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my
firstborn son. “Hear the word of HaShem, O nations; proclaim it in distant coastlands: ‘He who
* * *
The term “Sefirah”, perhaps the most basic term within the lexicon of the Kabbalistic tradition, finds repeated expression in the Book of Esther. Of the names for the Sefirot, the emanations of Divine light and energy which are the basic forces of creation, all but one explicitly appear in the Book of Esther. No other Biblical text exhibits such a density of Kabbalistic terminology.
* * *
Lets look at the pedigree of some of the players in the Purim story:
Esther 2:5-7 Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, Who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin king of Judah. Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This girl, who was also known as Esther, was lovely in form and features, and Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.
Sh’muel (II Samuel) 16:5-13 As King David approached Bahurim, a man
from the same clan as Saul’s family came out from there. His name
was Shimei son of
Sh’muel (II Samuel) 19:15-23 Then the king returned and went as far as
the Jordan. Now the men of
Megilah 12b There was a certain Jew in Shushan the castle, etc. a Benjamite. What is the point of this verse? If it is to give the pedigree of Mordecai, it should trace it right back to Benjamin! [Why then were only these specified?] — A Tanna taught: All of them are designations [of Mordecai]. ‘The son of Jair’ means, the son who enlightened [he’ir] the eyes of Israel by his prayer. ‘The son of Shimei means, the son to whose prayer God hearkened [shama’]. ‘The son of Kish’ indicates that he knocked [hikkish] at the gates of mercy and they were opened to him. He is called ‘a Jew’ [Yehudi] which implies that he came from [the tribe of] Judah, and he is called ‘a Benjamite’, which implies that he came from Benjamin. [How is this]? — R. Nahman said: He was a man of distinguished character. Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said in the name of R. Joshua b. Levi: His father was from Benjamin and his mother from Judah. The Rabbis, however, said: The tribes competed with one another [for him]. The tribe of Judah said: I am responsible for the birth of Mordecai, because David did not kill Shimei the son of Gera, and the tribe of Benjamin said: He is actually descended from me. Raba said: The community of Israel explained [the two designations] in the opposite sense: ‘See what a Judean did to me and how a Benjamite repaid me!’ What a Judean did to meviz., that David did not kill Shimei from whom was descended Mordecai who provoked Haman. ‘And how a Benjamite repaid me’, viz., that Saul did not slay Agag from whom was descended Haman who oppressed Israel. R. Johanan said: He did indeed come from Benjamin. Why then was he called ‘a Jew’? Because he repudiated idolatry. For anyone who repudiates idolatry is called ‘a Jew’, as it is written, There are certain Jews etc.
King David spared Shimei, and Mordecai descended from him.
Mordechai and Esther were descendents of King Saul, whose error in keeping the Amalekite king Agag (Haman’s grandfather) alive for one night caused great suffering to the Jewish people. Therefore, Mordechai and Esther had to rectify this mistake of their ancestor.
Shmuel (Samuel) And Saul answered and said, [Am] not I a
Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of
Shmuel (Samuel) 15:7-8 And Saul
smote the Amalekites from Havilah [until] thou comest
to Shur, that [is] over against
Mordechai refused to bow down (he was from the tribe of Binyamin). In fact, he always stood.
Because Mordechai was always by the gate, he was constantly aware of the goings on by the palace. On one occasion, he overheard two of the king’s officers plotting to assassinate Achashverosh. These officers spoke in a language that they assumed Mordechai would not understand. However, because Mordechai was a member of the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish court, he knew seventy languages, including the one the officers spoke. He immediately informed Esther of the plot, who related the story in Mordechai’s name to the king. Achashverosh had the two officers executed, and Mordechai’s deed was recorded in the king’s book of chronicles.
The Talmud confirms this:
Megillat 13b In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh were wroth. R. Hiyya b. Abba said in the name of R. Johanan: The Holy One, blessed be He, [once] caused a master to be wroth with his servants in order to fulfill the desire of a righteous man, namely Joseph, as it says, And there was with us there a young man, a Hebrew, etc.; and servants with their master in order to perform a miracle for a righteous man, namely, Mordecai, as it is written, ‘And the thing was known to Mordecai etc. ‘R. Johanan said: Bigthan and Teresh were two Tarseans and conversed in the Tarsean language. They said: From the day this woman came we have been able to get no sleep. Come, let us put poison in the dish so that he will die. They did not know that Mordecai was one of those who had seats in the Chamber of Hewn Stone, and that he understood seventy languages. Said the other to him, But are not my post and your post different? He replied: I will keep guard at my post and at yours. So it is written, And when inquisition was made, he was found, that is to say, they were not [both] found at their posts.
Mordechai was truly the flower of Jewish culture - a member of the Sanhedrin, a polyglot, a noble descended from a line of kings (evidently he is from the family of King Saul). It also appears that he was the chief Rabbi of Shushan.
Let’s look at Haman’s pedigree:
Esther 3:1-2 After these events, King Achashverosh honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles. All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.
Sh’muel (I Samuel) 15:1-9 Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one HaShem sent to anoint you
king over his people Israel; so listen now to the
message from HaShem. This is what HaShem Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25:19 When HaShem your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in the land he is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!
I heard that the Vilna Gaon (Rav Eliyahu Kremer of Vilna, c. 1750), was asked, “Where is it hinted in the Torah that we should make noise when the name of Haman is mentioned during the reading of the Megillat Ester on Purim?” He answered, “It says in the Torah, ‘Vehaya Im Bin Hakot Harasha’ [if the evildoer deserves to be hit] (Devarim 25:2).”
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25:1-3 When there will be a quarrel between men, they shall approach the justice, who will judge them. They will prove the righteousness of the one who is righteous and the evil of the one who is evil. And “if the evildoer deserves to be hit”, the judge shall throw him down and flog him as befits his wickedness. He shall be flogged forty times...
Said the Gaon, “The last letters of the first three Hebrew words in this verse spell out the name ‘Haman.’ The following two Hebrew words read as, ‘hit the evildoer!’ (This hints that when Haman is mentioned, we hit or bang on the nearest object in order to demonstrate our distaste for hearing the mention of his name.)” (Rav Tzvi Shlez, in “Nifloat Mitorat HaShem,” Warsaw 1879)
The verse that we have been discussing (“...if the evildoer deserves to be hit...”) that spells out Haman’s name, is exactly the eighteenth verse from the command to destroy Amalek at the end of the Parashah, counting backwards. According to the Targum, in Megillat Ester, Haman was exactly the eighteenth generation after Amalek. Perhaps this verse is hinting that after eighteen generations, HaShem will cause Amalek’s plans to wipe out the Jewish people to be reversed (i.e. to backfire). As it says in Megillat Esther, “It was reversed, so that the Jews were the ones who had power over their enemies”. In the Purim story the plans of Haman, Amalek’s descendant, were reversed. The day that Haman had set aside for the destruction of the Jews became instead the day the Jews saw victory against Haman. This is why the Torah hints at the downfall of Haman eighteen verses back from the verse that tells us to destroy Amalek!
There is another place in the Torah where the war between Amalek and the Jews who left Egypt is discussed. This passage is earlier in the Torah, in Parashat Beshalach (Shemot 18:16). Is there any hint to the destruction of Haman eighteen verses before the mention of the destruction of Amalek, there? Let us examine the verse that is exactly eighteen verses before that:
The verse not only hints to Haman, but it mentions his name twice in the verse itself! The verse suggests that
Haman was eaten
by the Jews. Being eaten is, of course, a metaphor for being
consumed, or destroyed, as in Devarim
7:16, “You will eat
all the nations [of
Rashi makes an interesting comment on the above verse in Shemot. He writes that there are two dates that are mentioned in the verse as marking the day upon which the Jews finished eating the Manna. These two dates, says Rashi, are the seventh day of Adar and the sixteenth day of Nisan. According to our new interpretation, that the verse hints at the destruction of Haman, the two dates are especially appropriate. As we shall see, it was HaShem’s reversal of Haman’s fortune on those very two dates, that turned Purim into a victory for the Jews.
Haman drew lots in order to decide which month would be best for his decree to kill the Jews (Esther 3:7). We learn from the Gemara that when Haman saw that the lots chose the month of Adar he was tremendously happy.” He felt that since Adar was the month in which Moshe died (Moshe passed away on the seventh of Adar), Adar would be a successful month in which to exterminate the Jewish people. However, concludes the Gemara, Haman didn’t realize that although Moshe passed away on the seventh of Adar, that was also the date on which Moshe was born. (Therefore, instead of being a day of loss for the Jews, it was a month reserved for redemption and salvation.) The seventh of Adar was the day that originally encouraged Haman to bring about the destruction the Jews. But HaShem reversed the outcome of that day and made it into the opposite, into a sign of the triumph of the Jewish people over their enemies!
The second date referred to in the verse was the sixteenth of Nisan. According to the Gemara, the day that Haman built his gallows and came to tell the King to hang Mordechai (in Megillat Esther 6:4), was the sixteenth day of Nisan. Of course, at the end of that day it was not Mordechai who was hanged, but rather Haman himself was hanged from that very tree. The sixteenth of Nisan, too, marks the reversal of Haman’s evil plans.
As we learned above, that verse in Shemot 16:35, which is eighteen verses before the story of Amalek, hints at the reversal of Amalek’s fortune after eighteen generations (in the time of Mordechai and Haman). Now we see that the verse in Shemot not only hints at the destruction of Haman. It also refers to the two days that saw the reversal of his fortune!
“All the festivals will be annulled in future time, except for Purim“ The future revelation of Divinity will be so intense that the revelation currently evinced by the festivals will be as insignificant as a midday candle. Purim, however, will be the exception, because the Purim miracle was called forth by the year-long self-sacrifice of the Jewish people of that time. (They could have averted Haman’s decree by apostasy.) Their mesirus nefesh evoked a Divine reaction so sublime that even in the future time it will never be annulled.
Sephardim (From The Ben Ish Chai):
The story of how our Holy Torah and the good therein triumphed over the forces of evil is recounted in the reading of the Megillah, on Purim.
When the wicked Haman, the seed of Amalek (may his name and memory be erased), sought to annihilate the Jewish people, the Jews realized that they had only one weapon, but it was a formidable one, their Torah.
Through his egotistical pride and hatred for Mordechai the Jew, Haman gave the order in the name
of King Achashverosh to destroy every Jew, both
young and old and women and children. Throughout one
hundred and twenty-seven
The Jewish People prayed and fasted for three days and nights in order to rectify the three types of wrongs they may have committed, by their actions, speech and thought. And in the end their prayers were answered. The evil are elevated to eminence to show how great their fall and this was the case with the wicked Haman. From being the most powerful man in the kingdom, second only to the king himself, he was hung in total disgrace, as were all his sons, on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordechai the Jew.
The Sabbath before Purim is known as Shabbat Zakhor (Shabbat ‘Remember’) as the portion “Remember what ‘Amalek did unto you” is read. It is important for all to hear this. It is customary, on this Shabbat as well as on Purim itself, to sing Shbahoth (songs of praise) such as “Simeni Rosh ‘Al Kol Oybai” (Place me above all my enemies).
The day before Purim is called the Fast of Esther, as we fast in memory of the three day fast of our forefathers. The fast is broken after the Megillah reading. When the Megillah is read on Motzi Shabbat (Saturday night after Shabbat) and Sunday morning, the fast is held on the preceding Thursday.
OF THE FAST OF ESTHER
1) The fast begins at dawn (“Alot Hashachar”) and ends after nightfall (“Tzait Hakochavim”).
2) No eating or drinking is permitted. Though other aspects -- like wearing shoes and washing -- are permitted.
3) Since this is not a major fast, pregnant or nursing women are exempt from the fast, as are moderately ill people. If one is otherwise healthy but has a headache and finds it difficult to fast, he may eat, but is obligated to “make up” the fast another time. In all cases, a competent rabbi should be consulted.
4) If the 13th falls on Shabbat, we don’t fast that day, due to the honor of Shabbat. The fast is not even held on Friday, since this would adversely affect Shabbat preparations. Rather, we observe the fast on Thursday, the 11th of Adar.
5) It is customary to extend the fast until after the Megillah is read. (Except in walled cities, where the Megillah is read on the night of the 15th.)
6) During the afternoon Mincha prayers, the paragraph of Aneinu is added to the silent Amidah, during the blessing of Shema Koleinu. In both Shacharit and Mincha, the chazan inserts Aneinu as a separate blessing between Geulah and Refuah.
7) As on other public fasts, the Torah reading of Vayechal Moshe (Exodus 32:11-14, 34:1-10) is read both at Shacharit and Mincha.
8) If a Brit Milah falls on the Fast of Esther, the Seudat Mitzva should be postponed until the evening. The father, mother, and Sandek may even eat during the afternoon of the fast day, since it is considered like their “holiday.” (Sha’ar HaTziun 686:16)
9) Avinu Malkeinu is said only in Shacharit, but not in Mincha. (An exception is if Purim falls on Sunday and the fast is observed on Thursday, then Avinu Malkeinu is in fact said in Mincha.)
Both men and women are obligated to hear the Megillah reading. One who does not have a Kosher Megillah must hear every word read by the Chazzan. Prior to the reading, the Chazzan unfolds his Megillah like a letter, but the congregation read theirs like one would read a Sefer Torah. This is the most common custom among Sephardim.
The Minhag is to stand for the Berachoth of the Megillah reading at night include the blessing of Shehekeyanu, but in the morning it is omitted.
The general noise making at every mention of Haman’s name throughout the reading poses problems in many synagogues, as we are obligated to hear every word of the reading. It is appropriate, therefore, to limit this to banging one’s foot at the first and last mention of Haman’s name and the names of his sons.
During the day both men and women must send Mishloah Manoth – two types of food to one adult friend. Men should send to men and women to women. There is no need to send to all ones acquaintances. A mourner who is in his twelve months of mourning should only send to one person and others should not send to him.
Sephardim traditionally send delicacies such as Baqlawa, Sambusak and Halwah. It is the tradition among Ashkenazim to eat “‘Oznai Haman” (lit. Haman’s ears, Hamantaschen in Yiddish, on Purim. It is a Mitsvah to have a festive meal at which one eats and drinks well. It must be eaten during the day. If it is eaten at night, one has not fulfilled one’s obligations.
Sephardim eat this meal earlier than do Ashkenazim and must finish before sunset. If a Sephardi is eating in a home where the meal ends when it is no longer still day, he may not include the portion of ‘Al Hannisseem in the Birkath Hammazon.
It is good to eat foods containing Qitniyoth (pulses) on Purim
in memory of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and ‘Azariah who, for reasons of
Kashrut, ate only these in the
And it is appropriate on this day, to refrain from work and to dress up in one’s Shabbat clothes: “Like those days whereon the Jews had rest from their enemies and the month was changed unto them from sorrow to joy and from mourning into a feast day; to make them days of entertainment and joy and sending portions one to the other and gifts for the needy”. (Esther 9:22).
Taken from the writings of Hakham Ya’aqov Menashe.
“A person is obligated to hear the reading of the Megillah once at night and again the next day.”
1) Men, women, and children (who have reached the age of education – age 6) are required to hear the Megillah.
2) The Megillah is so important that even Torah study is deferred to hear the reading.
3) The Megillah is read twice – first at night, then the next day. The time for the night reading is from nightfall (“Tzais Hakochavim”) until dawn (“Alos Hashachar”). Some authorities permit, even in the case of a mild illness, to read the Megillah one and a quarter hours before night fall.
4) The time for the daytime reading is from sunrise to sunset. Post facto, the daytime reading may be read even after sunset (as long as the reading is concluded before nightfall), though the blessings may not be recited.
5) Because of the concept of “B’rov Am Hadras Melech” - with the multitude of the nation is the King honored (Mishlei - Proverbs 14:28) - it is preferable to hear the Megillah at a synagogue with a large number of people. If, however, there may be difficulty in properly hearing the Megillah because of the crowd, in that case it is preferable to attend a smaller synagogue.
6) Immediately before the blessings are recited, an announcement should be made that the reader should have in mind to be motzie the congregation, and they should have in mind to be yotzai.
7) Those listening to the Megillah can sit throughout. Though when read in public, the Baal Koreh (person actually reading the Megillah) must be standing. In private, the Baal Koreh may read either standing or sitting.
8) The Megillah, which is called an “Iggeres” (a letter), is folded open before being read.
9) We say three blessings before reading:
1) “al Mikra Megillah,”
2) “She’asa Nissim,” and
If a woman reads the Megillah, she should say as the first blessing, “lishmo’ah Mikrah Megillah.” The blessings should be said standing, even when reading for an individual. If one accidentally omitted the blessings, he has still fulfilled his obligation to hear Megillah.
12) The custom is to make noise at the mention of Haman’s name, to comply with the command to wipe out the remembrance of Amalek. Parents should be careful that children do not make so much noise that others are unable to properly hear the Megillah reading.
13) If at all possible, every word of the reading should be from a kosher Megillah. Therefore, the reader should wait for the noise to subside after reading Haman’s name before continuing.
14) Their are four verses of redemption, which the congregation traditionally reads aloud: “Ish Yehudi,” “Mordechai yatza,” “LaYehudim haysa ora,” and “Ki Mordechai HaYehudi.” Since every word of the reading should be from a kosher Megillah, the reader must repeat these verses after the congregation.
15) The Pri Megadim says that where possible, it is preferable for those listening to have their own kosher Megillah to follow from.
16) Unless one is following from a kosher Megillah, he may not read along with the reader but should listen quietly and follow in a printed book. Of course, it is forbidden to speak during the reading.
17) Post facto, if a word or sentence is not heard, it may be read from a printed book or said by heart.
18) The Talmud
says that the names of all ten sons of Haman (and the
following word, “aseres”) should be read audibly in one
breath. The custom is also to include “500 ish” in the one
breath, if possible. According to the Rogachaver Gaon (19th century
19) The four phrases in which HaShem’s name is hidden should be read on a higher key, and emphasized: “levado avsa Vashti hamalka” (1:16), “he, vechol hanashim yitnu” (1:20), “yavo hamelech vahaman hayom” (5:4), “ze aynenu shoveh li” (5:13).
20) When the reader reaches the verse “Nad’da shnas hamelech” (and the King’s sleep was interrupted (6:1), he should raise his voice since this essentially was the miracle. The reader should raise his voice as well for the verse 2:17, since this was the catalyst for the miracle.
21) The following verses should be read with the tune of Eicha [Lamentations] (rather than the normal tune for Esther), to signify the sad or tragic implications of these verses: 2:6, 3:15, 4:1, the last half of 4:3, and 7:4.
22) Some have the custom to shake the Megillah when saying the words “ha-iggeres hazot” (this letter).
23) After the Megillah reading, we say the blessing “Harav es riveinu,” thanking HaShem for saving us. This blessing should only be said with a minyan. (If there is no minyan, it may be said without HaShem’s name.) After the night reading, we also say “Uva Li-Tzion,” “Aleynu,” “Kaddish,” and “Shoshanas Yaakov.” On Saturday night, we also say “Vee-hee Noam.”
Feasting on Purim is considered a virtue. “Each family gathers and eats and drinks together” (Rashi, Esther IX:28). A man must rejoice on Purim and enjoy all kinds of drinks and delicacies. Generally it is the custom to spread a sumptuous feast, light candles and celebrate from late afternoon into the night. Only when Purim falls on Friday the celebration starts earlier in honor of the Sabbath.
Among the Jewish communities in the Arab countries and in
During the Purim feast troupes of actors would visit the homes of the wealthy and present Purim plays. They were paid in money and in holiday goodies. In the Sephardic communities they sang “Complatim” (groups of songs) about Purim, recited ballads, parodies and jokes from the book “Allegory of Purim”. Several would dress up and present “The Wedding of Haman and Zeresh”.
Purim in the synagogue: The Book of Esther (the Megillat) is read with a special cantillation both on the Eve of Purim and on the holiday itself. This is the only time during the year when there is a reading from the Torah to the congregation in the evening. Before the reading three blessings are recited: “On the reading of the Megillat”, “Who performed miracles for our fathers”, and “Who has kept us alive”.
4. The mitzva of saying the SHEHECHIYANU blessing (1 of the 3).
6. Attend services on Shabbat ZACHOR (the Shabbat of Remembrance), one week prior to Purim, Remember the evil ones who sought to destroy the Jewish people. Contribute or work to stop anti-Semitism and in particular, neo-Nazism.
Hear every word from the book of Esther
The book of Esther is read twice, once in the evening and again in the morning.
Sending food to our friends
Giving money to poor persons
We give charity to needy people
Having a good drinking party
We have a festive meal during the day, replete with great wine!
OF GIVING GIFTS ON PURIM
We have the Mishloach Manot, those delightful packages of goodies. They range from a sandwich bag with raisins, cookies and a drink to a three-foot-high wicker basket filled with aged-wine and elegant treats. There are numerous differences in packaging, price and products, but, once again, all shalach manot have one thing in common: they foster unity. Unity not just because we feel good when we give and when we receive. But unity also because we customarily give the shalach manot through a messenger--we involve another person in the mitzva. When giving the shalach manot we connect not only with the person to whom we are giving, but to a third person as well. And the messenger can be anyone--young or old, friend or stranger, male or female.
The distributing of Purim gifts (“Mishloah
Manot”) and presents to the paupers on the day of the celebration is an ancient
Our sages determined the expression as the “distributing of gifts” and “gift”. Therefore, at least two gifts should be sent to a person. Maimonides (the Rambam) wrote (Mishna Torah, Customs of the Megillat) “It is better for a man to increase gifts to the poor than to enlarge his feast and to increase gifts to his friends. For there is no greater and more wonderful joy than to make happy the hearts of the poor, the orphans, the widows and the strangers, for he who uplifts the hearts of the unfortunate is like unto the Divine Presence”.
For “Mishloah Manot” the women of
In the Ashkenazi communities it was the custom to put these presents on a large or deep dish and to cover it with a white napkin, the ends of which were folded under the dish and held by the messenger. They were careful to send a generous gift to the rabbi of the community, the other religious functionaries, and the teachers of the children. In many towns there were special men who were paid to carry the gifts from house to house as instructed.
There was a pleasant custom according to which bridegrooms sent gifts -- gold and silver jewelry, elaborate clothing, etc., -- to their brides; and the brides sent a Megillat written on parchment in a silver case, or a gold watch, spices, religious books, etc., to the groom. In the Sephardi communities the groom would send the jewels to his bride on a metal tray nicely arranged with “Pastorale” cakes and adorned with leaves of the aromatic herb rue -- which had been cast in the form of a hand with five fingers to bring good luck and ward off the evil eye. A woman acting as a special messenger would bring the present accompanied by another woman beating a drum and singing wedding songs to publicize the event. The bride and her friends, singing and dancing, would go out to meet them.
The custom of “Mishloah Manot” exists today in practically
every Jewish community.
4) This is not a “family” obligation, but rather each person should perform the mitzva themselves.
6) Matanos La’evyonim is a special mitzva, not to be included in the amount of money a person sets aside for charity during the rest of the year.
7) Maimonides writes that it is inappropriate to buy expensive Mishloach Manot, if this will come at the expense of larger gifts to the poor.
1) The Purim Seudah (feast) is held during the daytime. It is also customary to extend the meal until after dark. (Even if the meal finishes after dark, we still include the paragraph of “Al HaNissim in Grace After Meals.)
The Fast of Esther
The custom of fasting on the day preceding Purim (TASANIT ESTHER - the Fast of Esther) to share in the heroic, but anguished, deed that Esther did for her people.
Why did she call for a fast? To lower the volume on our physical pursuits in order to focus more acutely on our spiritual selves. This facilitates the process of “teshuva” - literally “return.” We return to our essential state of purity. Esther called for a fast, knowing that through soul-searching the Jews would forge a spiritual connection necessary to make her mission successful. (And it paid off!)
This is not a fast of sadness. Rather, the purpose of the fast is elevation and inspiration.
Similarly, there was another fast during the Purim story: The Jews fasted and prayed on the 13th of Adar in preparation for their defense against Haman’s decree. The Torah prescribes that whenever a Jewish army goes to war, the soldiers should spend the previous day fasting. This is in stark contrast to a secular army which spends the day preparing weapons and armaments. A Jew’s best weapon is the recognition that strength and victory come only through HaShem.
The fast before a war helps us to focus on the fact that our success or failure is in the hands of HaShem. Additionally, the fact that we are physically weakened when the battle begins, assures us that any victory cannot be attributed to our physical prowess. Mortals have limits, but HaShem can achieve the impossible. (Case in point: the Six Day War.) As Mark Twain wrote, “All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?” It is actually this pre-battle fast that we commemorate every year before Purim. In honor of the Purim heroine, the fast is called “Taanit Esther.”
1) The fast begins at dawn (“Alot Hashachar”) and ends after nightfall (“Tzais Hakochavim”).
2) No eating or drinking is permitted. Though other aspects - like wearing shoes and washing - are permitted.
3) Since this is not a major fast, pregnant or nursing women are exempt from the fast, as are moderately ill people. If one is otherwise healthy but has a headache and finds it difficult to fast, he may eat, but is obligated to “make up” the fast another time. In all cases, a competent Rabbi must be consulted.
4) If the 13th falls on Shabbat, we don’t fast that day, due to the honor of Shabbat. The fast is not even held on Friday, since this would adversely affect Shabbat preparations. Rather, we observe the fast on Thursday, the 11th of Adar.
5) It is customary to extend the fast until after the Megillah is read. (Except in walled cities, where the Megillah is read on the night of the 15th.)
6) During Mincha, the paragraph of “Aneinu” is added to the silent Amidah, during the blessing of “Shema Koleinu.” In both Shacharit and Mincha, the chazzan inserts “Aneinu” as a separate blessing between “Geulah” and “Refuah.”
7) As on other public fasts, the Torah reading of “Vayechal Moshe” (Exodus 32:11-14, 34:1-10) is read both at Shacharit and Mincha.
9) “Avinu Malkeinu” is said only in Shacharit, but not in Mincha. (An exception is if Purim falls on Sunday and the fast is observed on Thursday, then “Avinu Malkeinu” is in fact said in Mincha.)
The custom of wearing costumes.
The custom of wearing costumes is generally not observed among the Sephardim.
When someone is dressed up in a costume or mask, his identity is concealed. Rich or poor, smart or average, pretty or homely, we no longer perceive the physical, economic, or intellectual differences that often separate us. Yes, one costume is expensive, another more original, and there are hundreds of Queen Esthers. But it’s obvious that these are just externals. They aren’t the person inside the costume. On a very basic level, when we dress up on Purim our superficial differences are, for the moment, concealed. In the Megillat Esther, HaShem is concealed. The commentators point out that many Jews, though they attended Achashverosh’s feast, did so as only an exterior display of support for the King. They didn’t really endorse the “feast of Jewish defeat,” they just gave the appearance. As a measure-for-measure punishment, HaShem gave these Jews a tremendous scare through Haman’s plot. HaShem “didn’t really mean it,” He just gave the appearance. This is one of the reasons why we wear masks and costumes on Purim – in keeping with the theme of “external appearance.”
One is obligated to drink until he can no longer distinguish between “Arur Haman” and “Baruch Mordechai.”
However, one should not become so drunk that he will be negligent in performing mitzvot – e.g. Netilat Yadayim (washing hands before bread), saying the blessings of “HaMotzi” and Grace After Meals, and praying Mincha and Maariv. It is improper to say Grace After Meals or pray if a person is so drunk that he is “unfit to stand before the King.”
In contrast to the approach taken by the Palestinian sources, the Talmud records the famous dictum of the noted sage Rava: “A man is obligated to get drunk on Purim to the point where he can no longer distinguish between Cursed is Haman’ and `Blessed is Mordecai.’“
Later authorities had trouble accepting the ruling at face value. For an arch-rationalist like Maimonides it was unimaginable that the halachah could be condoning such actions; hence he reinterpreted the ruling to refer to drinking only enough to fall asleep. Some authorities understood that the statement was rejected by the Talmud, a view which it indicates by juxtaposing to it an incident wherein Rabbah slaughters Rabbi Zera while under the influence (Rabbah is able to revive his colleague, though the latter politely refuses an invitation to the next year’s festivities).
L. Sending gifts to the poor (Matanos L’Evyonim)Another commandment incumbent upon us is Matanos L’Evyonim,” gifts to the poor. As by Shalach manot, this commandment has to be done on Purim day. This means that the money has to be distributed to the poor on Purim, and therefore, if one gives money to someone on or before Purim to distribute to the poor, they should be sure that the money will be distributed to the poor on Purim. Matanos L’Evyonim can be done with either money or food. The accepted minimum amount is the cost of one inexpensive meal (approx. US$2.00). One has to give to two poor people this amount. The Chafetz Chayim quotes the Rambam who says that it is better to give more gifts to the poor than it is to have a bigger Seudah or give more Shalach Manot. The reason for this is that the biggest joy on Purim is gladdening the hearts of the poor. There is beautiful a custom before reading the Megillah in shul, to contribute three half-dollar coins (or their equivalent) to charity. This symbolizes the half-shekel which every Jew used to give as dues to the Temple in Jerusalem. The commentators ask: Why does the Torah specify a half-shekel instead of a whole? The answer is that by giving a half, each Jew realizes that he’ll never become a “complete” shekel unless he becomes part of the larger community. Furthermore, the halacha states that everyone – rich or poor – was to give no more and no less than a half-shekel. This is to teach that every Jew is equally important to our mission. Just as removing one letter invalidates a Torah Scroll, so too the loss of one Jew hinders our destiny. Sometimes it is through our enemies that we come to realize: Every Jew is precious and integral to the future of our nation. The Talmud says that the biggest problem of the Jewish People at the time of Mordechai and Esther was a lack of unity. It was the wicked Haman who reminded us that we stand together as one people: In plotting genocide, he referred to the Jewish People as “Am Echad” — and planned that they should literally “hang together.” In modern times as well, we’ve seen that the anti-Semite doesn’t distinguish between assimilated and Chasidic Jews. It is particularly meritorious to send to someone you need to make up with. Just as we would never consider distancing ourselves from a good friend based on our disagreements, so too we should never consider distancing ourselves from any Jew (or group of Jews) based on our differences. In fact, the Talmud says that the antithesis of evil in this world - Amalek - was born out of a Jewish refusal to accept others lovingly. Haman is a direct descendent and spiritual heir to Amalek. The Talmud says that “Kol Yisrael Araivim” - each Jew is responsible one for the other. If the boat is sinking, we’re all going down. But when there is love and unity amongst us, even the wrongdoers become righteous and our enemies cannot harm us! For this reason, on Purim we give charity to anyone who asks, without investigating the validity of their need. (In contrast to the rest of the year, when we are obligated to ensure that our Tzedakah money is being disbursed most properly.) On Purim, every Jew is worthy without question. HaShem treats us as we treat others. On Purim, if we give others the “benefit of the doubt” and don’t check their worthiness, then HaShem doesn’t “check for worthiness” either. Purim, therefore, is an auspicious time to ask - for closeness, unity and a speedy redemption for the Jewish People.
Before the outbreak of the Gulf War, the Rebbe stated, and
repeated these statements throughout the war, that
He who caroused from the holy vessels (Belshazzar) was slain on that same night.
From the lions’ den was rescued he who interpreted the meaning of the terrors of the night.
Haman bore hatred in his heart and wrote proscriptions at night.
Torah: Vayiqra (Lev.) 16:1-34
Ashlamatah: Isaiah 6:1-8 + 8:10-11
Our Torah portion speaks of Yom Kippurim and the service of the High Priest. Yom HaKipurrim, according to our sages, can be divided as Yom Ki Purim: A Day like Purim. We are reading this on Shushan Purim katan, in 5774. In the bimodal Torah readings, we read this on the first Sabbath after Yom Kipurim and the high Holy days. In a non-leap year we read this on the Shabbat closest to Purim. However, 5774 is a leap year so we are reading it on Purim katan II. Our Ashlamata speaks of Yom Kipurim as it takes place in the ‘upper’ Temple in heaven. Thus we have connections between the time of the year and the Torah, the Ashlamata, and the Psalm.
The day of Purim Katan (the 14th of Adar I) should be viewed as a precious guest. In the 19-year cycle of regular years and leap years we have 19 Purims, but only 7 Purim Katans, according to our calendar.
“Purim Katan” is also called the “fourteenth of the first Adar” in the Gemara. Therefore, when we choose to use the term “Purim Katan,” we are emphasizing that it has an aspect in which it is “smaller” than Purim.
Purim Kattan is a microcosm of the larger Purim. It comes exactly 30 days before the “big” Purim and serves as an official reminder that it is time to begin preparing ourselves for the upcoming holiday. In essence, we have 30 extra days to put ourselves in the holiday spirit.
* * *
“All prophetic books and the sacred writings will cease (to be recited) during the Messianic era, except the Book of Esther. It will continue to exist, just as the Five Books of the Torah and the Oral Torah that will never cease.” (Rambam, Megillah 2:18)
* * *
This study was written by
Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David
Comments may be submitted to:
Rabbi Dr. Greg Killian
4544 Highline Drive SE
Olympia, WA 98501
Internet address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web page: http://www.betemunah.org/
Return to The WATCHMAN home page
Send comments to Greg Killian at his email address: email@example.com
 Talmud - Berachoth 33b
 It would not be called cutting at all.
 Does he not accept the force of this argument?
 Not merely permitted.
 Deut. XVI, 8.
 Num. XXIX, 35.
 Rashi 5:1
 p. 155 sefer Bnei Issachar teachings of Rebbe Tzvi Elimeilech of Dinov.
 Ibid. III, 11. Heb. המן The first word can be read as Haman, and the second can refer to the tree or gallows upon which Haman was hanged; cf. Esther 7:10.
 Devarim (Deuteronomy) 31:18. The second word is very
like the name Esther, both in spelling and in sound. The verse in general
foretells the many evils and troubles that shall befall
 Shemot (Exodus) 30:23
 The aramaic translation of Onkelos renders the Hebrew by xxxx, which words both in spelling and in sound resemble: Mordecai.
 Chullin 139b
 Haman was an Agagite who was a descendant of Amalek.
 Bechorot 5b
 Bamidbar 21:1
 Shemot (Exodus) 30:23
 Megillat 10b
 Most of this study comes from “The ArtScroll Tanach Series”, “The Megillath - The Book of Esther
 The Nazarean Codicil is a more accurate way of describing the collection of oral Torah known commonly as the New Testament.
 Which he held in the reigns of Belshazar, Darius and Cyrus.
 Shabbat 88a
 Sanhedrin 20b
 See also Maimonides, Laws of the
 From Mesorah Publications, Esther.
 Midrash Rabbah - Esther IX:2 Another explanation: NOW IT CAME TO PASS ON THE THIRD DAY, Israel are never left in dire distress more than three days. For so of Abraham it is written, On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off (ib. XXII, 4). Of Jacob’s sons we read, And he put them all together into ward three days (ib. XLII, 17). Of Jonah it says, And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights (Jonah II, 1). The dead also will come to life only after three days,4 as it says, On the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His presence (Hos. VI, 2). This miracle also [of Mordecai and Esther] was performed after three days of their fasting, as it is written, Now IT CAME TO PASS ON THE THIRD DAY, THAT ESTHER PUT ON HER ROYAL APPAREL, and she sent and invited Haman to the banquet on the fifteenth of Nisan.
Rashi also indicates that the third day of the fast was the first day of Pesach.
 From Luke 6:1
Strong’s number 1207 deuteroprotos, dyoo-ter-op’-ro-tos; from 1208 and 4413; second-first, i.e. (spec.) a designation of the Sabbath immediately after the Paschal week (being the second after Passover day, and the first of the seven Sabbaths intervening before Pentecost):-second...after the first.
 Yaaros Devash
 Esther 3:9
 Megillah 13b
 Esther. II, 5.
 Targum 5:1; Targum Sheni 3:1
 Megillat Ester 9:1
 Megillat 13b, Ester Rabba 7:14
 Megillah 16a, see Rashi s.v.
 Midrash Mishlei 9:2.
 Sefer HaMaamarim 5626, p. 34
 Aish HaTorah’s Calendar Series
 Devarim - Deuteronomy 25:17-19
 submitted by the
 Megillah 4:16
 Exodus 17:10
 Megillat 7b
 Davidson, Parody in Jewish Literature,
 see Exodus 30:11-16
 See Jerusalem Talmud, Megillah 4:1
 In seven out of nineteen years we add an additional month as part of the month of Adar. This means that in a leap year Adar is 60 days long instead of the normal 29 and a half days. In a leap year, Purim is pushed to the second Adar so that it is always 30 days before Passover.