This issue is sponsored in honor of
Vol. 14 No. 20
Sarah Aliza Fuchs n.y.
on the occasion of her Bas-Mitzvah.
May she be a constant source of Naches to her dear parents
and to all of us.
Remember What You Did
(Adapted from the B'nei Yisaschar)
Commenting on the Mitzvah to remember what Amalek did, the Medrash cites a parable of a king who guarded his orchard by placing a mad dog at the entrance, to frighten away any would-be thief. Now it happened once that a close friend of the king, who tried to enter the orchard with the intention of stealing some of the fruit, was attacked by the dog, who managed to tear his clothes and scare him away.
Whenever the king wanted to remind his friend of what he had done, he would simply refer to his mad dog, and the friend would be duly chastised.
So it is with K'lal Yisrael, against whom Hashem sent Amalek after they queried Him, by asking 'Is Hashem in our midst or not?' Like in the above Mashal, when chastising them, Moshe Rabeinu did not want to refer directly to Yisrael's sin, so he had merely to mention Amalek's attack, and Yisrael would remember what they had done.
This Medrash, says the B'nei Yisaschar, is difficult to understand, for a number of reasons. Firstly, what problem did Moshe have that prompted him to give a Mashal at all? Secondly, if Moshe wanted to remind us how we sinned, why did he find it necessary to mention Amalek? Indeed, the Mitzvah is defined as 'remembering Amalek' (not as 'our sin')? Thirdly, if, as appears from the Medrash, Moshe deliberately declined to mention Yisrael's sin directly (only by way of hint), why, on many occasions in Seifer Devarim, does he chastise Yisrael directly, without the use of parables?
The B'nei Yisaschar hints at more discrepancies that will emerge in the course of his explanations. However, before proceeding with his answer, he adds another three, all based on the Pasuk in Shmuel (1 15:4) "va'Yeshama Shaul es ha'am, va'yifkedeim ba'tela'im" ('And Shaul gathered the people and he counted them using lambs' [in connection with the battle that King Shaul waged against Amalek, as a result of which he lost the throne]). 1. Why does the Navi use the word "va'Yeshama" (for 'gathered'), and not the more common 'va'Ye'esof' or 'va'Yikbotz'? 2. Why did he choose to use lambs when counting the soldiers? 3. Why does the Navi find it necessary to stress the fact that he did?
To answer the above questions, the B.Y. refers to the prohibition of research in the realm of Emunah. The ideal kind of Emunah he explains, is that which is handed down traditionally from one's ancestors and teachers. This Emunah originated with Avraham Avinu, about whom the Torah writes in Vayeira (18:19) "Ki yeda'tiv (Because it is revealed before Me [Targum Unklus]) that he will command his children ... after him, that they will guard the way of Hashem ... ".
The B.Y. translates "Ki yeda'tiv", as 'Because I have imbued him with Da'as'. And the Pasuk is in effect, issuing a promise on the part of G-d that basic knowledge of Himself had become an intrinsic part of Avraham, and that it would be passed to his descendents automatically. That is why David instructed his son Shlomoh in Divrei ha'Yamim 1 (28:9) "Know the G-d of your father" (through tradition) rather than 'Know your G-d' (which would have implied that he should get to know him through research and investigation).
Now Emunah that a person attains through investigation is defined as 'seeing', in the sense of understanding (as the Gemara says in Kesubos 109a 'I see the words of Admon'). The Emunah that one attains via tradition, on the other hand, is defined as 'hearing' (she'mi'ah, which also has connotations of acceptance, as in 'Sh'ma Yisrael').
Emunah that comes through 'seeing', the B.Y. concludes, can be broken; Emunah that comes through 'hearing' cannot! Furthermore, he says, whereas the latter is an inheritance that goes back to Avraham Avinu, which in turn, is based on knowledge of G-d (which is Kabalistically entitled 'Ein Sof' [and indeed has no end], as we explained), the former, which is based on one's own conclusions, has no firm base on which to stand.
And he cites the Ya'avetz, who quotes writings that he saw regarding the Spanish Inquisition. There, the writer attests to the striking fact that all those who arrived at their Emunah by means of research (common in a day and age where philosophy was popular) succumbed to the threat of torture, and gave up their Emunah. Whereas those whose Emunah stemmed from tradition, among them the women and children, remained faithful to G-d and died al-Kidush Hashem.
Galus Mitzrayim, says the B.Y., is known as Galus ha'Da'as, in that Yisrael did not know Hashem. That is why G-d declared, before the plague of locusts "And you will know that I am Hashem". And that is why He intended Yisrael to leave Egypt with a knowledge of Hashem that was complete, and that was not dependent upon investigation, so that their Emunah should be perfect and everlasting. But when they arrived in Refidim, this fell by the wayside, when they announced "Is G-d in our midst or not?", querying His Hashgachah! ( To be cont. )
* * *
Nothing Happens in Vain
'And these are the garments you shall make; the Choshen and the Eifod ... " (28:4).
Commenting on the Eifod, Rashi writes 'And my heart tells me that it was worn on the back of the Kohen Gadol, somewhat like the apron worn by aristocratic women when riding on horseback'.
The question is asked a. what Rashi means when he says 'And my heart tells me'; and b. what prompted him to base his interpretation on aprons worn by aristocratic women?
In answer to both questions, they tell the story that Rashi once left the Beis-ha'Medrash, just as the wife of a minister was riding past on horseback. Rashi, it appears, was taken aback and could not understand why min ha'Shamayim, they allowed his well-guarded eyes to be shown a sight so removed from Kedushah.
Some time later, when Rashi was working on the shape of the Eifod, it struck him that the sight that had been shown him on the earlier occasion, was with good reason. As Rashi himself writes, he had no tradition whatsoever (neither verbal nor written), as to what the Eifod looked like. That is when his heart told him that min ha'Shamayim, they had arranged for the minister's wife, who had been wearing an apron in exactly the way Rashi described, to ride past exactly when she did.
The Two Stones of the Eifod
"Six of their names on the one (onyx) stone, and the remaining six on the second stone, like their order of birth (ke'soldosom)" 28:10.
Rashi takes the order of their birth literally, presenting it as: Re'uven, Shimon, Levi, Yehudah, Dan and Naftali on the one stone, and Gad, Asher, Yisachar, Zevulun, Yosef and Binyamin on the other.
The Chizkuni queries Rashi however, from the Pasuk in Yehoshua (19:47), which ascribes Leshem (which is both the name of a stone [jacinth] on the Choshen and a town) to the tribe of Dan.
But whereas Dan was the fifth son of Ya'akov, Leshem was the seventh stone (the first stone in the third row) in the Choshen. And what's more he points out, Rashi, in his explanation on Nach, acknowledges that the stone Leshem pertained to Dan.
It therefore seems more likely, says the Chizkuni, that "ke'soldosom" means, according to the mothers, in which case, Yisachar and Zevulun would precede Dan, rendering Dan the seventh tribe. Then Leshem will indeed correspond with Dan.
The Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos citing Rabeinu Tam, concurs with this explanation, only he cites the Gemara in Sotah (36a), which confines the word "ke'soldosom" to the second stone, a contention which does not clash with the wording of the Pasuk, if one examines it carefully. The first stone, the Gemara maintains, fits into neither of the above interpretations of "ke'soldosom", since Yehudah was the first to appear on the stone.
Choshen - Nachash
"And you shall make the Choshen Mishpat" (28:15).
'Choshen' written backwards, spells 'Nachash' (divination), comments the K'sav ve'ha'Kabalah.
Nachash, he explains, entails the use of foreign powers to discover unknown facts. The Choshen on the other hand, is the use of the holy sources to achieve the same end.
Not surprising then, is it, that one is called 'Nachash', and the other, 'Choshen'?
"Tarshish, Shoham and Yoshpeh' (28:20).
Chazal say that 'Yoshpeh (jasper) was the stone on the Choshen that pertained to the tribe of Binyamin. Indeed, the Ba'al ha'Turim points out that the numerical value of 'Yoshpeh' is equivalent to 'Binyamin ben Ya'akov'.
Interestingly, based on a well-known story, there is a special connection between Binyamin and that particular stone ...
According to the version of the story cited in the Yerushalmi in Pe'ah, a certain gentile by the name of Dama ben Nesinah, owned a jasper, which Yisrael needed for the Choshen. However, when a delegation approached him to sell them the stone, he refused, because his father was sleeping on the box which contained it.
Amazing! So deep was his respect for his father, that he was prepared to lose the vast profits from the sale of a precious stone, in order not to have to awaken his father.
Binyamin was the one brother not involved in the sale of Yosef, which caused their father such anguish. Consequently, his Kibud Av was untainted and remained intact. It is therefore not surprising that it was in connection with his stone that the above episode, which became a shining example of Kibud Av, occurred.
Sanctified by the Mizbei'ach
"Whatever touches the Mizbei'ach shall become holy" (29:37).
From here, says the K'sav ve'ha'Kabalah, Chazal learn that a Korban Pasul that is brought up to the Mizbei'ach may be sacrificed, seeing as the Mizbei'ach has sanctified it. Hence they said 'Having gone up, it does not go down again'.
They qualify the above ruling however, by confining it to a Korban that became Pasul in the Azarah, after having initially been Kasher. And that too is hinted in the above Pasuk, says the K'sav ve'ha'Kabalah. For the word 'ha'no'gei'a' (which touches) also has connotations of being connected with (like 'Shayach'). The Pasuk therefore implies that it is only a Korban that had a prior connection with the Mizbei'ach that can be brought as a sacrifice if it is brought on the Mizbei'ach, but not if it was Pasul to begin with.
Fire Consumes Fire
"And you shall make a Mizbei'ach for burning incense, acacia-wood you shall make it ... and you shall overlay it with pure gold" (30:1 & 3).
The Medrash relates how Moshe wondered why it was that the wood did not burn. Until G-d informed him that such is the nature of the Heavenly fire, it consumes fire but not wood, as the Pasuk writes "and the bush did not burn (Medrash Tanchuma, cited by Tosfos in Chagigah, 27). Moshe knew, says the Likutei Shoshanim, explaining the Medrash, that that Heavenly-fire does not burn wood, for he had seen with his own eyes that the bush did not burn.
What puzzled him was that the human fire, which the Kohanim were obligated to provide, did not burn up the wood. That is why G-d told him that Heavenly fire consumes fire. Now the matter was clarified; for if the Heavenly fire a. does not burn wood, and b. consume the human fire which does, then there is no reason for the wood of the Mizbei'ach ha'Zahav to burn.
* * *
'And you shall fill in it a filling, comprising four rows of precious stones, corresponding to the four corners of the earth. The first row ... a ruby, an emerald and a topaz; and on them you will engrave the names of the tribes Reuven, Shimon and Levi' (28:17).
'And you shall place into the Choshen of justice the Urim (whose words illuminate and reveal the secrets of Beis Yisrael) and the Tumim (whose works give the Kohen Gadol the complete picture) when he requests teaching from before Hashem. On them there shall be clearly engraved the Great Name of Hashem, with which the three hundred and ten worlds were created, and which is clearly engraved on the E'ven Shesiyah (the Foundation Stone), which in turn, the Master of the World used, to seal the great deep. Whoever mentions that Holy Name in time of distress will be saved. They (the Tumim) reveal what is hidden, and they shall be placed on the heart of Aharon when he comes before Hashem. And Aharon shall carry the judgement of B'nei Yisrael on his heart before Hashem, always' (28:30).
' ... it (the Me'il) shall be wrapped around Aharon to serve, and its 'voice' shall be heard whenever he enters the Kodesh before Hashem and when he leaves, and he will not die by means of a burning fire' (28:35).
' ... You shall place it (the Tzitz) on a spun thread of Techeiles, to atone for brazenness, and it shall go over the turban, above the Tefilin shel Rosh ... ' (28:37).
'And it (Ibid.) shall be placed on the forehead of Aharon stretching from one end to the other, and Aharon shall carry the sin of the Kodshim that Yisrael sanctify, with regard to all the gifts of their Kodshim which they misappropriate ... ' (28:38).
'And you shall make ('u'serametz' ?) a linen shirt to atone for the shedding of innocent blood, and you shall make a linen turban to atone for haughtiness ... ' (28:39).
* * *
ALL ABOUT PooRIM
(Adapted from the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim)
When Poorim Falls on Sunday
When Purim falls on Sunday (and Shushan Purim on Monday), we bring the fast forward to Thursday (and not Friday). The reason for this is because fasting on Friday would interfere with the preparations for Shabbos, since a. one would then not be able to taste the Shabbos food (Tur), and b. ... the S'lichos that we recite during Shachris would detract from the time available to get on with the Shabbos preparations (Levush).
Why We Fast on Ta'anis Esther
The reason that we fast prior to Purim, rather than in Nisan (when Esther and the people fasted), says the Rosh, is because of the prohibition to fast in the month of Nisan. And the reason that we fast only one day and not three, is in order not to come down too heavily on the community (Levush).
The Avudraham however, cites the E'ven ha'Yarchi, who, based on the fact that we do not fast for three days, maintains that Ta'anis Esther does not come to commemorate the fast that Esther initiated in Nisan, but rather in keeping with the Pasuk in Esther "The Jews gathered in their cities (with reference to the thirteenth of Adar, about which the Gemara in Megilah [2a] writes 'It is the time when everyone gathered', (and which the Yerushalmi specifically says refers to the fast). And this is also how Rabeinu Chananel explains it.
vWearing Shabbos Clothes
One should dress in one's Shabbos clothes (though not necessarily in one's Yom-Tov best) in honour of the Megilah (Kuntras Acharon). It is doubtful that costumes qualify!
Preparing the Megilah on Shabbos
When Purim falls on Sunday, it is not correct to bring a Megilah to Shul even in a place which has an Eiruv, because it involves the prohibition of preparing on Shabbos for a weekday. The same applies to wine for Havdalah, which the Magen Avraham forbids even on the first day of Yom-Tov for the second. Similarly, the Maharil prohibits scrolling the Seifer-Torah to the right place on Shabbos for Yom-Tov (Kuntras Achron).
The Wording of the B'rachah
We recite ' ... al Mikra Megilah' when reading the Megilah, but 'li'Sh'mo'a Kol Shofar', when blowing the Shofar, because whereas by the latter, the Mitzvah is to hear the tone of the Shofar (not to blow it), the Mitzvah by Megilah is to read it (even if one cannot hear it [Avudraham]). One may therefore assume that a deaf person is unable to fulfill the Mitzvah of Shofar, whereas he will fulfill that of Megilah, provided he reads it.
Following in a Kasher Megilah
It is fitting for everyone to follow in his own Megilah, and to read together with the Ba'al Korei, in case one fails to hear a word or two from the Ba'al Korei. Those who do not have their own Megilah should follow in a Chumash, so that at least they are able to fill in any missing words by heart (by reading them in the Chumash). By so doing, they are at least Yotzei Bedi'eved (P'ri Megadim).
Megilah = Revelation
'Megilah', the Nifla'os Chadashos explains, has connotations of 'Hisgalus', revelation, because it was on Purim that G-d revealed how He runs nature.
Scrolling the Megilah
The obligation cited by the commentaries to scroll the Megilah to the beginning (after the conclusion of the reading) before reciting the B'rachah, says the Eishel Avraham, is confined to the Ba'al Korei. The reason for this is because the fear that people might otherwise think that the B'rachos are written in the Megilah applies with regard to his Megilah, but obviously not to their own.
What's more, although it is customary for the community to be Yotzei with the Ba'al Korei's B'rachah, in the event that someone wishes to recite the B'rachah himself, it is better for him to recite the B'rachah before scrolling the Megilah, to avoid interrupting between the Leining and the B'rachah.
It once happened that the Ba'al Korei began the B'rachah before they had scrolled his Megilah, and the Maharil stopped him in the middle, and made him wait until they had finished, before starting the B'rachah again.
* * *
This section is sponsored
Le'Iluy Nishmas R. Shlomoh b'R. Ya'akov Prentzlau z.l.
whose sixth Yohrzeit will be on the
13th Adar (Ta'anis Esther),
by his children
Dr. Eli and Sheryl Prenzlau n.y.
Beating the Living Daylights out of Haman
& Related Topics
(Adapted from the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim)
The Minhag to beat Haman whenever his name appears in the Megilah, actually has a source in the Torah, when at the end of Ki-Seitzei, it writes "Blot out any memory of Amalek ... ".
The Minhag however, has been taken a little out of context, especially when some kids (and grown-ups too) 'sound the trumpet and beat the drums', creating the impression that they are cheering a hero, rather than blotting out the name of a villain.
The Mateh Moshe also cites the Pasuk in Mishlei "And the name of Resha'im shall rot", thus enhancing the Minhag, whilst R. Pinchas Koritzer translates "timcheh" (not just as 'Blot out', but) as 'Strike" (like in S'lichos 'Machi u'Masi' ['He strikes and He heals']).
The Seifer Kav ha'Yashar cites R. Heshel, who would test his quill by writing the word 'Amalek' or the names of Haman and his children (too lengthy to list here), and then erase them. By doing this, he claimed that he was fulfilling the Mitzvah of blotting out the memory of Amalek for we are obligated to pray for the blotting out of Amalek, so that Hashem's Name and His Throne should be complete. Following that, he said, the Pasuk "And I will become great and sanctified among the nations", will be fulfilled too, as will that of "On that day, Hashem will be One and His Name, One".
Others have the Minhag to write 'Haman' or to draw a picture of him on a stick and to beat the stick on the table or on the floor whenever his name is mentioned.
The Seifer Medrash Eliyahu writes that when somebody says 'Arur Haman' or merely mentions the names of Haman, his wife and his sons, and then strikes, G-d ensures that they actually feel the stroke in order for them to suffer greatly. This is due to the fact that whenever a Jew is born, it is as if the miracle of Purim is recurring. Remember that had Haman's plans materialized, the birth would not have taken place.
It is forbidden to negate any Minhag, says the Remo (675:17), or even just to poke fun at it, since a Minhag is not fixed without good reason. And the Magen Avraham writes (Ibid. 22) that once a Minhag is written in the name of a Posek, it may not be negated even in case of emergency. He does go on however, to cite exceptions to this rule (see also Kuntras Acharon 11).
A hint for some of the above customs is cited by the Mateh Moshe, who points out that in the Pasuk in Ki Seitzei (25:2) "ve'hoyoH iM biN hakos ho'rosha", the last letters of the first three words spell 'Haman', and that together with the last two words, it reads 'Haman, beat the Rasha!'
And whilst we are on the subject of the word 'Haman', the Seifer Imrei Tzadikim citing R. Chayim mi'K'rasni, comments on the Pasuk in the Megilah "va'yimolei Haman cheimah" ('and Haman was filled with anger'). There is a concept, he explains, of 'sweetening the Dinim'. This means that every curse contains an aspect of blessing, and that this is made possible by turning to the hidden part of the word (e.g. in the letter 'Alef', which when written out, is spelt 'Alef' 'Lamed' and 'Fey': the hidden part of the letter is 'Lamed' and 'Fey'). In this way, it is feasible for the revealed part of a letter or of a paragraph to spell out a curse, whilst the hidden part (also know as the 'Miluy') contains a blessing.
Not so 'Haman', whose hidden letters are the same as the revealed ones (since the Miluy of 'Hey' = 'Hey', of 'Mem' = 'Mem' and of 'Nun' = 'Nun'). In this way, "va'yimolei Haman cheimah" can also mean " ... and the Miluy of Haman is 'anger' (there's no sweetening of Dinim for him in the eyes of G-d, whose anger he evokes, irrespective of how one looks at him).
* * *
'Purim and Megilas Esther
will Last Forever'
"VI'YEMEI HA'PURIM HA'EILEH LO YA'AVRU MI'TOCH HA'YEHUDIM, VE'ZICHRAM LO YASUF MI'TOCH ZAR'AM" ( ... and these days of Purim will not pass from the Jews and their memory will not cease from their descendants [Esther 9:28]).
Citing Medrash Mishlei, the Torah Temimah, based on the first phrase, informs us that even if all the Yamim Tovim will become obsolete, Purim will not; whilst based on the second phrase, citing a Yerushalmi in Megilah, he tells us that Megilas Esther will never be negated.
The Yerushalmi has just taught us that in the days of Mashi'ach, Nevi'im and Kesuvim will be negated, and now adds that Megilas Esther will be the sole exception.
Nevi'im and Kesuvim, the Torah Temimah explains, consist mainly of Tochachos (rebukes), which will become basically redundant in the days of Mashi'ach, when people will have no inclination to sin. This is similar to the Gemara in Nedarim 22b, which states that had Yisrael not sinned, they would only have been given the five Books of the Torah and Seifer Yehoshua (the latter, due to the great esteem of Eretz Yisrael, the conquest of which fills the Seifer).
And the reason that Megilas Esther will remain intact is due to the greatness of the miracle that it describes.
As for the statement of Medrash Mishlei, the Rambam at the end of Hilchos Megilah explains that the Yamim Tovim will become obsolete due to the fact that the troubles that the Yamim Tovim commemorate will become totally forgotten, whereas the issues that led to Purim will not.
The Torah Temimah however, prefers the explanation of his father (the author of the Aruch ha'Shulchan) who explains it like this: All the events that surround the formation of the Yamim Tovim were open miracles which leave no room for doubt, the events of Purim were all hidden miracles, which one can easily ascribe to natural means should one be inclined to do so. What the Medrash therefore means is not that the Yamim Tovim will become obsolete in the days of Mashi'ach, but that from the time we went into Galus, we survived on hidden miracles, such as that of Purim, and not on open miracles, such as those that led to the Yamim Tovim.
The Yerushalmi also cites this Pasuk as the source for Chazal fixing a special Masechta for Purim ('Megilah'), in spite of the relatively few Halachos that it covers, which they could have inserted in one of the other Masechtos of Seider Mo'ed, as they did with Chanukah. And it is due to this D'rashah, says the Torah Temimah, that they gave Purim a Masechta of its own, made up to size by adding a few other Halachos and filling it with an outsize quota of Agados.
Why Esther Made Two Parties
(apart from the Pasuk in Koheles
"Two are better than one",
and if that wasn't said with reference to parties,
then what was it said with reference to?)
Here are three alternative reasons:
a. So that Yisrael should really despair of receiving any assistance (to negate Haman's evil decree) from their sister in the royal palace.
b. To increase Achashverosh's suspicion of Haman, adding fuel to the flames of hatred which were already burning in his heart.
c. In order to receive a sign from Heaven that she was proceeding on the right path. This she most certainly did, starting with the King's inability to sleep, and hurtling with breakneck speed from then on.
Just Like A Seifer-Torah
Our Gemara in Megilah (15b) learns from the Pasuk "Divrei sholom ve'emes" (9:30), that just like a Seifer-Torah, the Megilah requires Sirtut (lines scratched into the parchment, underneath which the words of the Megilah are written).
The Yerushalmi however, learns from the same words that one can Darshen the words and letters of the Megilah just like one Darshens the words and the letters of a Seifer-Torah.
Indeed, there is no other Seifer in T'nach which contains such an abundance of D'rashos, based largely on the thirteen principles of R. Yishmael. The following are two perfect examples of this, both taken from the opening Sugyos of Maseches Megilah.
Z'man, Z'manom, Z'maneihem
"Lekayeim es yemei ha'Purim ho'eileh bi'Zemaneihem" (9:31).
The Gemara in Megilah (2a) explains the word "bi'Zemaneihem" in the following manner:
The Pasuk could have written 'bi'Z'man' and it could have written 'bi'Z'manam', yet it chose to write "bi'Zemaneihem".
Had it written 'bi'Z'man', the Gemara explains, we would have known that reading the Megilah can be done on various dates (the fourteenth and the fifteenth), only we would then have thought that both open towns and walled cities have the option of reading on whichever of the two days they please. Therefore the Pasuk adds a 'Mem' and writes 'Z'manam', to teach us that the towns read specifically on the fourteenth, and the walled cities, on the fifteenth.
And now that the Pasuk writes "bi'Z'maneihem', we extrapolate that there are more possible dates (the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth) on which the villages are permitted to read the Megilah.
"Ve'ha'yomim ho'eileh nizkorim ve'na'asim be'chol dor vo'dor Mishpachah u'Mishpachah Medinah u'Medinah, ve'Ir va'Ir " (9:28).
"Medinah u'Medinah", says the Gemara in Megilah (2b) comes to differentiate between towns that had walls from the time of Yehushua bin Nun (that read on the fifteenth of Adar) and those that didn't (and that read on the fourteenth). Whereas "Ir va'Ir" differentiates between other towns (that read on the fourteenth) and Shushan (that reads on the fifteenth, even though it had no wall round it in the days of Yehoshua bin Nun, because the miracle occurred there, and they killed their enemies on the fifteenth, too).
The Torah Temimah explains that initially, the Chachamim had other intentions. They meant to issue a ruling that, in honor of Shushan, all towns that were walled in the time of Achashverosh, should read Megilah on the fifteenth and those that were not should read on the fourteenth (which is actually the opinion of R. Yehoshua ben Korchah). It struck them however, that this would be a slight on Eretz Yisrael, whose cities lay in ruins. So they changed the criterion to towns that had walls in the days of Yehoshua bin Nun (the first to fight Amalek), thereby raising the prestige of Eretz Yisrael's cities.
As for "Mishpachah u'Mishpachah" the Gemara concludes (in 3a), it comes to include the families of Kehunah and Leviyah, who are obligated to interrupt the Avodah, in order to hear the communal reading of the Megilah (see Tosfos 'Mevatlin Kohanim'). And if reading the Megilah takes precedence over the Avodah, then it certainly takes precedence over the Torah learning of an individual.
The Third Day
The Pasuk in Megilas Esther (5:1) relates how, on the third day of the fast, Esther dressed regally and stood in the inner courtyard of the royal palace, opposite the throne-room, where the Achashverosh sat.
Why did Esther choose to go in to the King on the third day, asks the Medrash?
Back comes the answer, because G-d never leaves Yisrael in trouble for longer than three days. Presumably, that explains why Esther initiated a three-day fast in the first place.
Likewise, we find with Yosef, who jailed his brothers for three days before setting them free. It happened again with Yonah, who spent three days inside the whale, before it spat him out on to dry land.
And so the Pasuk says in Hoshei'a (6:2 [in connection with the days of Mashi'ach]) "on the third day He will establish us and we will live".
The truth of the matter is that the salvation did not come on that day; But it began ... with the stretching of Achashverosh's scepter - that's when the salvation began!
Having said that, here's what Tosfos in Megilah (15a) have to say about the third day:
Either on the merit of …
1. Torah, Nevi'im and Kesuvim, or …
2. of Kohanim, Levi'im and Yisre'eilim, or …
3. of Moshe, Aharon and Miriam, or …
4. of the third day on which the Torah was given.
* * *
THE SEVENTY YEARS OF EXILE
(Based on the Gemara in Megilah 11b)
The Kings got it Wrong
Beltshatzar erred, Achashverosh maintained, by taking out the vessels of the Beis-Hamikdash and using them prematurely. He thought that the seventy years of Galus began when the Kingdom of Bavel came to power (at the beginning of Nevuchadnetzar's reign). That is why he took out the vessels in the second/third year of his reign, after seventy years had passed, and Yisrael were still in Galus. If nothing had happened until then, he figured, nothing was destined to happen later, since Hashem had clearly lost His power (Kevayachol). Yisrael would remain in Galus, and Hashem would be unable to punish him for abusing the holy vessels.
But he (Achashverosh) was cleverer! He 'knew' that the seventy years of Galus began (not when the Kingdom of Bavel came to power, but) with Galus Yechonyah eight years later. So he waited eight years, until the third year of his reign, before following in the footsteps of Beltshatzar.
In fact, he erred too. Since the seventy years Galus began (not with Galus Yechonyah, but) with the Churban Beis Hamikdash and Galus Tzidkiyahu eleven years later, and would end in the second year of Daryavesh the 2nd (twelve years later).
In any event, both kings erred by a year (even according to their reckoning), since some of the above years overlapped, in which case the seventy year period ended earlier than they both thought, as the Gemara explains.
This is not to say that the prophecy of Yirmiyahu (with its reference to seventy years after Bavel first conquered Yisrael), did not take effect. As the Metzudas David points out, it was in the first year of the reign of Koresh the first that they were allowed to return to Eretz Yisrael, and the first stage of the redemption began. Indeed, this formed the basis of Daniel's initial mistake, as the Gemara explains on 12a.
Below is a chart showing the dates of the relevant events, where the two kings erred, and what really happened.
Bear in mind, that we still need to deduct one year (due to overlapping) from both Nevuchadnetzar and E'vil Merodach and from Daryavesh 1st. Otherwise, we would have arrived at the year 3409.
|The First Beis-Hamidkash is completed || 2928|
Source: "Because when seventy years of Bavel are completed, I will remember you, and I will establish for you My good word, to return you to this place" (Yirmiyah 29:10).
|The Empire of Bavel|| 3319|
|Death of Nevuchdnetzar (45 years)|| 3364|
|Death of E'vil Merodach (23 years),|| |
|Beltshatzar reigns|| 3387|
|Beltshatzar takes out the vessels of the|
|Beis Hamikdash ||3389|
Source: "In those days, when King Achashverosh sat on the throne of his kingdom ... in the third year of his reign he made a feast for all his ministers ... and vessels of various kinds (Esther 1:2/3 & 7)
|The Exile of Yechonyah|| 3327|
|+ remaining years of Nevuchadnetzar|| 38|
|+ years of E'vil Merodach|| 23|
|+ years of Beltshatzar|| 2|
|+ years of Daryavesh (King of Medes)|
|& Koresh 1st (King of Persia||) 5|
|Achashverosh reigns|| 3395|
|Achashverosh takes out (and uses)|
|the vessels of the Beis Hamikdash|| 3398|
Source: "In the first year of his (Daryavesh 1st) reign, I Daniel, was studing the scrolls ... the number of years that the word of G-d came to Yirmiyah ha'Navi, seventy years after the destruction of Yerushalayim" (Daniel 9:2)
|The Destruction of the First Beis-Hamikdash &|
|Exile of Tzidkiyahu || 3338 |
|+ Remaining years of Nevuchadnetzar|| 26|
|+ years of E'vil Merodach|| 23|
|+ years of Beltshatzar|| 2|
|+ Daryavesh 1st (King of Medes)|| |
|& Koresh 1st (King of Persia)|| 4|
|+ fourteen years of Achashverosh ||14|
|+ two years of Koresh 2nd|| 2|
|The Building of the Second B.H.|| 3408|