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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek

Introduction

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Parshas Vayakheil

This week I will offer another selection from Megillas Esther (taken from the new volume "Megillas Esther - What's Bothering Rashi?" available at book stores.)

Esther 3:1

After these events, the King Achashveirosh promoted Haman the son of Hameddatha the Agagite, and elevated him and placed his seat above all the princes that were with him.

After these events: Rashi: That this cure was created to be a salvation for Israel.

The king elevated etc. Haman: Rashi: For The Holy One, blessed be He, creates the cure for Israel's wounds before He brings the wound upon them.

Rashi's two comments are related.

What would you ask?

Your Question:

Questioning Rashi

A Question: What prompted Rashi's comment?

Your Answer:

What Is Bothering Rashi?

An Answer: The Megillah begins this chapter with the words "After these events." This implies a connection to the previous section. That is, a connection between Haman's ascension to power and the last words of the previous section. What is the connection ? This is what Rashi's comment is relating to. He seeks the connecting link between the two sections. First, he says, there was a cure, then there was a wound.

What is the "cure" and what is the "wound" that Rashi is referring to?

He finds the connection between the two. What is it?

Your Answer:

Understanding Rashi

An Answer: The last words of the previous chapter are "and it was written in the book of chronicles which was before the king." This refers to Mordecai's discovery, reporting and thwarting of, the assassination plot against the king. This was the "cure."

Haman's rise to power, described at the beginning of this chapter, on the other hand, is the "wound." .

How is Mordecai's act, which saved the king's life, a "cure" of the "wound" ?

Your Answer:

A Fuller Understanding

An Answer: The "wound" of course was the destructive power Haman wielded in Achashveirosh's government. He used this power to obtain the king's consent to eradicate the Jewish Nation. If we look at verses 3:8 ff we see what Rashi is referring to. The cure on the other hand was Mordecai's selfless act to save the king's life and the fact that it was recorded and remembered by the king. This happened before Haman's rise to power. Mordecai's elevated stature in the king's eyes and Haman's deflated stature ( illustrated by Haman's leading the royally robed Mordecai through the streets of Shushan ) was the beginning of the end for Haman and his sinister plot.

A Hidden Message in the Dibbur Hamaschil

Look closely at the second of Rashi's Dibbur Hamaschil (Lead Words) in Hebrew Gadol HaMelech v'gomer ( meaning:etc.) Haman

Do you see anything unusual about it?

What is it?

Your Answer:

Did you notice that Rashi uses an abbreviation which means "etc." Rashi will sometimes do this in his Dibbur Hamaschil when he skips over several words in the verse in order to save space. But in our verse he skips over only one solitary word. This is not much of a space-saver; skipping the one word here doesn't look reasonable.

Which word has he skipped over? And why would he skip over it?

Your Answer:

Understanding Rashi's Dibbur Hamaschil

An Answer: Rashi has left out the word - "Achashveirosh." Rashi has written "King" and left out Achashveirosh's name. Does this mean anything to you?

Remember the Midrash had said that any time the word "king" appears alone in the Megillah, it refers to Hashem. But our verse says "the king Achashveirosh."

When we look at Rashi's comment we see that his first words are "For The Holy One, blessed be He, creates the cure for Israel's wounds " By quoting the word "King" without the name "Achashveirosh, Rashi is subtly implying that the King of kings, the Holy One, was behind the "wound" (Haman's rise to power) just as He was behind the "cure." Granted it was Achashveirosh who elevated Haman, but behind his act was the King , Hashem, who prompted Achashveirosh to act as he did.

This fits in with the Megillah's Turnabout theme in the Megillah. Because only after Haman was elevated to a position of prominence and influence, would his defeat (the "cure") create the astounding Turnabout with its profound impact on the people and on history.

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek

"What's Bothering Rashi?" is a production of "The Institute for the Study of Rashi."

The Institute has published a new volume on Megillas Esther. It is titled:
"What's Bothering Rashi - Megillas Esther. It analyzes both Rashi and selected Midrashim on the megillah. Ask for it at your local bookstores or order from Feldheim Publishers on the internet.


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