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Megillas Esther - Vol. 3,
Compiled by Oizer Alport
Hipil pur hu hagoral lifnei Haman miyom l’yom umi’chodesh l’chodesh shneim asar hu chodesh Adar (3:7)
Rav Gedaliah Schorr points out that since the Jewish months are counted from Nissan, Adar is the final month of the year. On a spiritual level, Nissan represents renewal. It is the beginning of a new year and the first month of spring, when the earth begins to awaken from its winter slumber. It is full of potential and energy, and for that reason, it was chosen as the month for the redemption from Egypt.
The further a month is from the source of light, the darker and more hidden it will seem. For this reason, Haman was ecstatic at the choice of Adar, the last month of the year and not surprisingly the month in which Moshe was taken from us, as the most auspicious time for the annihilation of the Jews.
However, Rav Schorr explains that within the apparent concealment, a pool of light is hidden away. In fact, this source must be even stronger than at other times in order to allow it the ability to penetrate the darkness and not be completely swallowed up. In the midst of the great darkness, the month of Adar contains within it a tremendous source of radiance. When the Jewish people were inspired to properly repent, they were able to access and reveal this brilliant light, reversing all of the negative energy into forces for good. This potential energy is present every Adar, available and waiting for us to tap into it in order to reveal the ultimate light – la’Yehudim haysa orah, kein tihyeh lanu!
Uv’chein avo el hamelech asher lo k’das v’ka’asher avadti avadti (4:16)
The Gemora in Megillah (15a) interprets Esther’s words as lamenting that until this point, each time that she had relations with Achashverosh it was against her will. Now that she was voluntarily going in to him, it would be considered as if she was a willing participant.
The law is that a married woman who voluntarily has extramarital relations becomes forbidden to remain married to her husband (Yevamos 56b). Even after Esther married Achashverosh, she remained married to Mordechai and continued secretly having relations with him (Megillah 13b). However, this was only permitted as long as her interactions with Achashverosh were against her will. Now that she was willingly going in to have relations with him, she would be forbidden to Mordechai for the rest of her life.
Tosefos questions why Mordechai didn’t divorce Esther at this time, as any relations she would have while single – even voluntarily – wouldn’t prevent her from later remarrying him. Tosefos answers that giving one’s wife a get must be done in the presence of witnesses. Mordechai feared that the witnesses might absentmindedly talk about the event, which would eventually make its way to the ears of Achashverosh, thereby endangering the lives of himself, Esther, and the entire Jewish nation.
The Rashba questions why Mordechai didn’t give Esther a get written in his own handwriting, which effects a divorce even in the absence of witnesses. The Rashba answers cryptically “Ein meishivin al divrei aggada”– it isn’t always possible to ask or answer questions regarding homiletic passages.
The Noda BiYehuda (Yoreh Deah 2:161) was once asked to resolve a difficulty in a different homiletic passage. He begins his reply by describing how pressed he is for time to answer even the most pressing and practical questions which come before him and apologizes that he is unable to delve into the deep, complex subject at that time. He further justifies his actions by quoting the aforementioned Rashba, who writes that such questions can’t always be asked and may not have readily-apparent resolutions.
The overworked Noda BiYehuda then continues, “But now that I’ve mentioned the Rashba’s comment, let me tell you the answer to his question!” He suggests that as a historical fact, Mordechai did divorce Esther without witnesses using a get that he personally wrote, exactly as suggested by the Rashba.
If so, what is the explanation of the Gemora which understands Esther as mourning the fact that she would be eternally forbidden to Mordechai, which according to the Noda BiYehuda shouldn’t be the case? He innovatively explains that while it was possible for Mordechai to divorce Esther without attracting attention, thereby preventing her from becoming forbidden to him, there was no parallel option to subsequently remarry her. A wedding must be conducted in the presence of witnesses to take effect, leaving Esther technically permitted to him but forbidden for all practical purposes!
V’hayamim ha’eileh nizkarim v’na’asim b’chol dor va’dor (9:28)
The Mishnah in Megillah (17a) rules that a person who reads the Megillah backwards doesn’t fulfill his obligation. The Ostrovtzer Rebbe questions why a person would ever consider reading the Megillah backwards. He suggests that although most of us are familiar with the plot of the storyline from a very young age, somebody who is encountering the narrative for the first time may quickly become frightened by the rise to power of the inimical Haman and his diabolical scheme to eradicate the Jews.
Such a person may quickly flip a few pages to see if the story, as Hollywood has taught us to expect, ends happily ever after. Upon discovering that the Jews were indeed saved, Haman and his sons were hanged, and Mordechai and Esther inherited Haman’s estate and position, he then turns back to the beginning to continue with the narrative and see how the suspenseful plot unfolds.
Every person’s life is full of struggles and challenges. The lesson of the Megillah is that a Jew must face them with a deeply-rooted trust that an all-powerful and loving Hashem is watching over him and will orchestrate the unfolding events in a way which is for his ultimate good. The Ostrovtzer Rebbe writes that the Mishnah is hinting that somebody who reads the Megillah “backwards,” only willing to relive the difficult and scary events after he is assured of the happy ending, has missed the point entirely and therefore failed to fulfill his Purim obligation!
Purim Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):
1) Achashverosh showed off his wealth by making elaborate feasts full of delicious food and drink (1:3-8). Why wasn’t there any musical entertainment at these parties? (Derashos Maharam Shiff)
2) The Gemora in Megillah (15b) lists 12 reasons why Esther invited Haman to the banquet she made for Achashverosh. How many can you name?
3) The Shulchan Aruch rules (Orach Chaim 649:1) that a person cannot fulfill his obligation to take the four species on Sukkos if even one of them is stolen. How can this be reconciled with the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 691:11) that a person can fulfill his obligation to hear the Megillah by reading from a stolen Megillah? (M’rafsin Igri Inyanim Vol. 2)
4) The Gemora in Megillah (7b) relates that Rabbah and Rav Zeira once ate their Purim meal together. They became so intoxicated that Rabbah killed Rav Zeira, only to pray for him the following day and successfully bring him back to life. At this point, was Rav Zeira still married to his wife, or did their marriage terminate with his death, thus requiring a new kiddushin? (Birkei Yosef Even HaEzer 17:1, Ben Yehoyada Megillah 7b, Haaros Al Kiddushin 13b)
5) If a person sent Mishloach Manos with an agent, who erred and told the recipient that it was sent by somebody else, did the sender fulfill his obligation? (Kisvei Kehillas Yaakov Megillah 177, Purim V’Chodesh Adar 16:58, Shalmei Moed)
6) Was the year of the Purim miracle a regular year with one month of Adar or a “leap-year” with two Adars? (Yerushalmi Megillah 7a)
7) It is well-known that at the Pesach Seder we do several unusual things to arouse the interest of the children and encourage them to question the reasons for our actions. Where do we find in Hilchos Purim that we do something unusual for the same reason? (Mishnah Berurah 689:16)
8) We sing on Chanuka in Maoz Tzur “Rov banav v’kinyanav al ha’eitz talisa” – You (Hashem) hanged most of Haman’s sons and possessions on the gallows. Which possessions of Haman’s were hanged with him, and how did they constitute the majority of his estate? (Mayan Beis HaShoeivah)
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