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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 1, v. 1: "Hu Achashveirosh" - He is Achashveirosh - These words seem to be totally superfluous. The gemara Megiloh 11a therefore derives from these words that he was the same evil person from the beginning until the end. Simply, this means that we should not mistakenly think that he was evil in the earlier episodes of this story, as evidenced by his agreeing to give Homon free-reign over the bnei Yisroel to do with them as he wished, but later he bettered his ways and wanted to save them. Rather, he was evil throughout, and it was only through Hashem's clandestine intervention that the bnei Yisroel were saved. Alternatively, the medrash says that he originally reigned over 240 countries, and Targum Sheini says that he now reigned over 127 lands, which are half of his original kingdom. It is very understandable that when one has mastery over as vast a number of countries as 240 or 254, and has not experienced any rebellion or defection, he likely would rule with an iron fist, and also would not be reluctant to destroy any group, as he still has many countries under his rule. As well, this would put any thoughts of rebellion out of the minds of any other ethnic group or country. However, once he has already experienced the loss of half or over half the countries he once ruled, he should have been exceedingly reluctant to have any other group destroyed. This would be unlikely to stem the tide, as so many others have already shaken off his yoke, and he would want to retain the allegiance of all remaining countries and peoples. In spite of these logical reasons, with no major persuasion, he acquiesced to Homon's wishes and sold the bnei Yisroel down-river. This is what is meant with, "He was the same evil person from the beginning until the end." The beginning refers to when he ruled over either 254 or 240 countries, and the end refers to our verse, when he was left with only 127 countries. (Chidushim Y'korim - Rabbi Yaakov Tenenbaum Baal responsa Naha'rei Afarsimon)

Ch. 1, v. 1: "Hamoleich" - Who rules - The verse should have said "ha'melech." The gemara Megiloh 11a derives from this that Achashveirosh was not of royal lineage, and took the position for himself. Why is this relevant to the Purim story? This accentuates the awesomeness of our being saved from his diabolical schemes. A king who was heir to the throne is more apt to be tough with his people as they accept him, since he inherited his position, a king the son of a king. It is less likely for them to revolt even if he issues tough edicts. One who is not of royal lineage who ascends to the throne, normally is kind to his subjects as he fears that they might otherwise revolt. This is the intention of the verse in T'hilim 72:1, "LiShlomo Elokim mishpo'techo l'melech tein v'tzidkos'cho l'ven melech." A king needs to have the ability to be tough when required and to be benevolent at other times. Kind Dovid was the first king from the lineage of Yehudoh. He therefore had the tendency to be soft and yielding. Therefore we have the prayer to Hashem, "Give the king (Dovid) the characteristic of 'mishpot,'" the ability to carry out just ruling even when it is harsh. King Shlomo, on the other hand, was a "ben melech." He more readily had the nature to be tough with his subjects as he ascended to the throne as an heir of royalty. His prayer was therefore for "tzidkos'cho," Your charity and kindness. In spite of Achashveirosh's ascending the throne on his own, he did not display the normal character of benevolence, which usually accompanies such a situation. He killed his wife, who had royal blood in her veins, and also handed over the bnei Yisroel to Homon gratis. Being saved from such a nasty despotic ruler deserves our greatest praises. (Droshos Rabbeinu Yoseif Nechemioh Rov of Krakow)

Perhaps this gives us another explanation of Achashveirosh's being evil from the beginning until the end. He was not only evil after being the king for many years, when he felt comfortable and secure in his position, but even in the beginning, when he ascended the throne lacking the merit of being royalty himself, he nevertheless was also wicked.

Ch. 1, v. 3: "Ossoh mishteh" - He made a party - The reason for prefacing the Purim story with the party Achashveirosh threw for his county-men is that it is surely germane to understanding why the evil decrees came about in the first place. The gemara Megiloh 12a says that the decree of annihilation was a result of the bnei Yisroel's enjoying their involvement in the party. But there is also a lesson in fully appreciating the miracle that took place. Don't think that the development of events was in the realm of the norm, as it is normal for a king to issue edicts and readily agree to rescind them at the request of his wife, thus minimizing the miracle of Achashveirosh's hearkening to Esther's request. It is not so! If Vashti, who was a true daughter of royalty, who also brought him to the position of king, when he was displeased with her, was disposed as quickly as a used paper plate, surely if Esther suggested something that would displease him, and as far as he knew, she was but a waif from the street with no royal blood, he would certainly replicate the Vashti scenario. (The Holy Alshich)

Ch. 1, v. 6: "Karpas" - Coloured cloth - The gemara Shabbos 10b says that the brothers' sale of Yoseif brought about the bnei Yisroel's descent to Egypt. They became especially jealous of Yoseif after his father gave him a unique garment, "kso'nes passim." This was a multi-coloured garment according to some opinions. On the first night of Pesach, during the Seder, we use a vegetable called "karpas." One reason this name is used is to remind us that although we left Egypt, we should not forget what brought us there in the first place, and avoid similar behaviour, i.e. jealousy. "Karpas" is likewise coloured cloth, as per our verse, a reminder of the "k'so'nes passim." (Shomati)

Ch. 1, v. 6: "RitzFas" - Flooring of - This is the correct way to read this word, with a letter Fei, and not a Pei. A "ritzpoh" is a burning coal, as in the beginning of Yeshayohu. Our word is sourced from "r'tzoFoh," as in "martzeFes avonim" (M'lochim 2:16:17). Likely, this word has the same etymology as "rotzuf," continuous. Flooring, at least in years past, was not one solid piece of material, but rather, many tiles, stones, or the like, laid down one immediately next to the other, a continuum of tiles, hence the same word source.

Ch. 1, v. 7: "V'hashkose bichlei zohov" - And drink in golden vessels - Once a goblet was used it was not rinsed and used again. Rather, it was given to the one who used it to keep. (Yalkut Shimoni and Medrash Abba Gurion)

Ch. 1, v. 8: "V'hash'sioh chados ein oneis" - And the drinking was proper without coercion - Since Achashveirosh wanted the bnei Yisroel to sin why didn't he force the imbibing of alcoholic beverage? He would rather create the ambiance where drinking came naturally without coercion. Thus when the bnei Yisroel would drink of their own accord they would sin willingly and Hashem's wrath would ch"v pour upon them in abundance. Measure for measure they repented. At the time of receiving the Torah it was forced upon them. They now accepted it willingly. (The Holy Shal"oh)

Ch. 1, v. 11: "L'hovi es Vashti" - To bring Vashti - The gemara Megiloh 12b relates that Achashveirosh commanded that Vashti be brought to him in this public gathering in a most immodest manner. She, being of similar mind, readily agreed to this. Hashem punished her by either having leprosy cover her body or by having a tail grow. The Rambam explains that the tail grew from her forehead. Alternatively, he says that the tail is not to be taken literally, but rather, that it is an allusion to her suddenly menstruating heavily. He adds that "zonov," a tail, has the same mathematical value as "nidoh."

Ch. 1, v. 12: "Vatmo'ein hamalkoh" - And the queen refused - The gemara Megiloh 12b relates that Hashem punished Vashti by either having leprosy cover her body or by having a tail grow. She refused to appear in public and sent a message of derision back to Achashveirosh, saying that her father was capable of imbibing 1,000 glasses of alcoholic beverage, while Achashveirosh, a former horse attendant, lost his head figuratively by drinking just a little of the golden brew. She, in turn, lost her head literally.

Why didn't Vashti simply send a private message that she was "dermatologically challenged"? Achashveirosh surely wouldn't want her to appear thus in public, and much anger and retribution could have been spared. We can derive from this, the deep-seated weakness of a person who is very haughty. Admitting that she was the source of the problem was so far removed from her mind that she wouldn't admit her shortcoming. Rather, she said that Achashveirosh's being inebriated was the problem; someone else is at fault, not I. (Rabbi Y.R.)

Ch. 1, v. 20: "V'nishma pisgam ha'melech" - And the word of the king will be heard - We find the word "v'nishma" in two other places, Shmos 24:7, "Kole asher di'beir Hashem naa'seh V'NISHMO," and Shmos 28:34, "V'NISHMA kolo b'vo'o el hakodesh." The Baal Haturim connects the "mesoroh" of these 3 words as follows: The gemara Megiloh 3b states that Raboh says that if a person has the opportunity to learn Torah and at the same time has the responsibility to read Megilas Esther, or to do service in the Beis Hamikdosh and read Megilas Esther, reading Megilas Esther takes precedence.

We can thus say that "V'NISHMA pisgam ha'melech," to hear the word of the King, the miracle of the Purim story, takes precedence over "naa'seh V'NISHMO," the learning of Torah, and "V'NISHMA kolo," the service in the Beis Hamikdosh, as the verse in Megilas Esther ends with "ki raboh hee," - it is greater. Alternatively, he offers that "ki Raboh hee," means that the statement of Raboh is binding. Another explanation of "ki RABOH hee" is given in the offering on the words "Kimu v'kiblu" (9:27).

The Nachal K'dumim offers another insight into this "meso'roh." The gemara Shabbos 88a derives from the verse "va'yisyatzvu b'sachtis hohor" (Shmos 19:17) that the bnei Yisroel were coerced into accepting the Torah. The gemara goes on to say that since they were coerced, if one were to ch"v transgress the precepts of the Torah, he could excuse himself by saying that it was accepted through coercion. The gemara adds that in the days of Achashveirosh the bnei Yisroel willingly accepted the Torah, as is written, "kimu v'kibl(u) haYehudim" (Megilas Esther 9:27). Tosfos d.h. "kofoh" asks why there was a need for coercion, as we see that the bnei Yisroel willingly accepted the Torah, as is indicated by the words "kole asher di'ber Hashem naa'seh v'nishmo" (Shmos 24:7). Tosfos answers that coercion was necessary since there was the fear of the bnei Yisroel's rescinding their acceptance when they would see the awe inspiring fire present at the time of the giving of the Torah.

The medrash Tanchuma on parshas Noach #3 says that coercion was necessary for acceptance of the Oral Torah, and "naa'seh v'nishmo" was a willing acceptance of the Written Torah only. This automatically answers Tosfos' question, as the willing acceptance in the days of Achashveirosh was necessary for the Oral Torah.

Alternatively, the Rashb"o writes that the excuse of being coerced into accepting the Torah only helped until the bnei Yisroel entered the Holy Land. However, upon entering, this excuse fell to the wayside, as the merit to live in Eretz Yisroel was predicated upon the bnei Yisroel's complying with the Torah's precepts, as is stated, "Va'yi'tein lo'hem artzose goyim, Baavur yish'm'ru chukov v'Sorosov yintzoru" (T'hilim 105:44,45).

We can now explain the "mesoroh" of "v'nishma" as follows. The statement of "naa'seh v'nishmo," indicating that the bnei Yisroel willingly accepted the Torah, was limited to the Written Torah only, "v'nishma PISGAM haMelech," the King's statement as WRITTEN in the Torah only. However, even the Oral Torah became binding, "v'nishma KOLO," even His voice, Torah "she'b'al peh," upon entering the Holy Land, "b'vo'o el haKodesh." (Nachal K'dumim)

(n.b. - If your Baal Koreh reads the word "pisgOm" rather than "pisgAm" please don't correct him based on what you've read here. There are two opinions about this matter.)

Ch. 1, v. 22: "Li'h'yos kol ish soreir b'veiso" - For every man to be master over his household - This played a crucial roll in the future developments. Mordechai would now not be excused by saying that Esther hid herself. (Chasam Sofer in the name of the Ponim Yofos)

Ch. 2, v. 5: "Ish Yehudi ushmo Mordechai ish Yemini" - A man from the tribe of Yehudoh and his name was Mordechai a man from the tribe of Binyomin - The gemara Megiloh 12b explains that Mordechai was maternally from the tribe of Yehudoh and paternally from the tribe of Binyomin. If so, why was his maternal lineage mentioned first? This is because his ancestor from his father's side was Shimi, who grievously sinned against King Dovid. (Rokei'ach)

Ch. 2, v. 5: "Ushmo Mordechai" - And his name was Mordechai -The gemara Chulin 139b asks, "Where is Mordechai alluded to in the Torah?" The gemara answers, "It is found in the words 'mor drore' (Shmos 30:23), which Targum Onkeles translates as 'mira dachia,'" which is phonetically very close to the name Mordechai. In his preface to the Hagodoh of Pesach, the Rei'ach Dudo'im explains this with the Rambam hilchos klei hamikdosh 1:3 who says that the incense "mor drore" is derived from the sweat ("musk") of a non-kosher animal. The Raavad sharply disagrees with the Rambam, stating that an item used in the Mikdosh for the incense burning surely does not come from a non-kosher source. He posits that it is a plant extract. The Kesef Mishneh justifies the Rambam, stating that this sweat is dried and is ground down to a fine powder. It is considered a totally different object in this form, similar to sand, and is therefore totally kosher (see Mogein Avrohom O.Ch. #216, s.k. 3). The word "drore" is translated as FREE, as per commentators on Vayikra 25:10. FREE, "mutar," also means permitted, while TIED, "ossur," means prohibited. Although the "mor" comes from a non-kosher source, nevertheless it is "drore," permitted, "dachia," pure, as explained by the Kesef Mishneh. The M.R. Bmidbar 19:1 comments on the words of the verse in Iyov 14:4, "Mi yi'tein tohore mito'mei," - who can extract a pure object from a defiled one - that this refers to Mordechai who was pure and holy, although he was the grandson (Megilas Esther 2:5) of the defiled Shimi (Shmuel 2:16:5, M'lochim 1:2:8).

The allusion to Mordechai, a holy person who came from an unholy source is appropriately taken from "mor drore," an object used for the holy incense, also taken from an unholy source.

Ch. 2, v. 5: "Mordechai" - The M.R. on this verse says that Mordechai was equal to Moshe. We find that Mordechai's name appears in Megilas Esther 58 times, the same numerical value as Noach. The Ari z"l writes that Noach's soul transmigrated into Moshe. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 2, v. 6: "Asher hegloh Nevuchadnetzar" - That Nevuchadnetzar sent into exile - The medrash says that when Raabi Yonoson read this verse (while studying Megilas Esther, but not when reading it to fulfill the mitzvoh, as it is prohibited to interrupt) he would add, "May his bones be pulverized." When reading his name in the book of Yirmiyohu he would not add these words because the evil king was still alive. The Sfas Emes explains that as long as he was alive, as evil as he was, there was the possibility that he would repent. I don't grasp this. Although it is true that during the narration of the story in the book of Yirmuyohu he was living, and during the narration of Megilas Esther he wasn't, but when Rabbi Yonoson read the book of Yirimiyohu Nevuchadnetzar was already dead.

Ch. 2, v. 7: "Va'y'hi o'mein es Hadasoh" - And he was the caretaker of Hadasoh - He pumped "emunoh," faith, into Hadasoh. (Likutei Mahara"n)

Ch. 2, v. 10: "Asher lo sagid" - That she should not disclose - Why did Mordechai command her to keep her nation and ancestry a secret?

1) Mordechai realized that Achashveirosh was easily brought to anger and lashed out with severe punishments. Perhaps if he would be angry with Esther he would take it out not only on her but also upon her nation. (Targum)

2) If Achashveirosh wouldn't know her religious affiliation it would be much easier for her to keep Shabbos, kashrus, etc. (Ibn Ezra)

3) To increase the likelihood of her being chosen, as an alien would probably not be his first choice. (Ibn Ezra)

4) Mordechai knew through a prophecy that the salvation would come through Esther, and to minimize the miracle he told her to not disclose that she was Jewish, as this would make her a most unlikely candidate for queendom. (Ibn Ezra)

5) It would be disclosed that she was a descendant of the royal family of Sho'ul, and this would give Achashveirosh a great impetus to take her as his wife. (Rashi)

6) If he would find out that she was Jewish he might defile her numerous times, as she was very attractive, but he would not take a Jewess as his queen. (Rishon L'tzion - Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)

7) This was indeed totally illogical. Had she disclosed that she was Jewish she would never have been in the running. Hashem put this illogical notion into Mordechai's mind to bring about the salvation. (Megilas S'sorim)

8) Mordechai felt that Esther would likely be Achashveirosh's choice. If she told him that she was Jewish he might attempt to convince her to change her religion, and she would have to give up her life. If however, he would not know her religion, he would be taking her only for his personal gratification, and she would be allowed to cooperate with him. (Rabbi Moshe Almosnino)

Ch. 2, v. 11: "Es shlome Esther" - Esther's welfare - The Ibn Ezra explains this to simply mean that he checked on her health to see if she needed doctors' care.

Ch. 2, v. 22: "Va'ya'geid l'Esther" - And he related to Esther - The Beis haLevi asked his son Rabbi Chaim Brisker, when he was just a little child, "Why did Mordechai reveal the plot of the attempted assassination of Achashveirosh? What is so terrible if an evil person would die?" Rabbi Chaim immediately responded, "And what's so terrible if two evil people would die?"

Ch. 2, v. 23: "Va'y'vukash hadovor va'yimotzei" - And the matter was investigated and it was found - Yalkut Shimoni writes that Bigson and Teresh planned to kill the king by placing a poisonous snake into Achashveirosh's drinking water and having it expel its venom. They then removed it from the vat. When Mordechai had Esther transmit this information to Achashveirosh and he in turn looked into the matter, Hashem miraculously made a snake appear in the water. This is indicated by the word "va'yimotzei," and it was found. A "m'tzioh" is an object that was lost and is now found, Here too, a snake was removed, but a snake was later "found" in the water.

Ch. 2, v. 23: "Va'yiko'seiv b'sefer divrei ha'yomim" - And it was recorded in the book of chronicles - The medrash remarks, "If the simple recording of events in a book written by flesh and blood brought about such major events, imagine the impact of the recording of people's lifetime of activities in Hashem's chronicles!"

Ch. 3, v. 1: "Homon" - The gemara Chulin 139a says that Homon is alluded to in the Torah in the words "hamin ho'eitz" (Breishis 3:11). "HaMiN" has the same letters as HoMoN. This is a most appropriate verse for this allusion. It is more than just a word that can be read Homon; it embodies Homon. Odom was given free reign over the whole world. He literally lived in Paradise. Hashem forbade just one tree to him. Nevertheless, he faltered and ate from it. Likewise Homon was elevated to the coveted position of second-to-the-king. Everyone bowed down to him. One Jew by the name of Mordechai would not bow down to him. Instead of noting that he had mastery over everyone save one Yid, he felt that all his honour was negligible, "V'chol zeh ei'nenu shoveh li" (6:13).

Ch. 3, v. 2: "U'Mordechai lo yichra v'lo yishtachaveh" - And Mordechai would not kneel nor would he bow down - All commentators note the unusual future tense of these words. It could well be that the verse is relating the greatness of Mordechai. He was fully aware of the elevated position given Homon and the possible consequences, not only for him, but also for all the bnei Yisroel, for not cooperating. Indeed, verse 6 tells of Homon's machinations against all of the bnei Yisroel as a result of Mordechai's defiant snub. One might think that Mordechai had to struggle with himself to be so courageous to defy Homon, and today's success is no indication of tomorrow's possible capitulation. Our verse therefore tells us of Mordechai's great internal strength, to the point that not only didn't he bow down to Homon that day, but he had so fortified himself that he surely would not bow down in the future either. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 3, v. 2: "V'lo yishtachaveh" - And he would not bow down - In verse 5 we find, "Ein Mordechai korei'a umishtacha'veh LO va'yimo'lei Homon cheimoh."

A number of questions:

1) Why is this information repeated in verse 5?

2) Why is there no word LO in verse 2?

3) Why did Homon only get angry in verse 5?

We can say that our verse relates that "Mordechai would not bow down" does not refer to Homon, but rather that Homon wore a graven image on his chest as explained in the gemara Sanhedrin 61b and Medrash Esther chapter #7. Mordechai simply wouldn't bow down in front of Homon to the idol. This is why the verse does not say that he would not bow down to HIM, as Homon understood that the graven image kept Mordechai from paying him homage. He then removed it so that Mordechai would bow down to HIM. Verse 5 relates that Mordechai refrained from bowing down to Homon, even without the graven image, "ein Mordechai korei'a umishtacha'veh LO." At this point Homon became very angry, but not earlier. (Chidushim Y'korim)

Ch. 3, v. 4,5: "Va'yagidu l'Homon, Va'yar Homon ki ein Mordechai korei'a umishtacha'veh lo" - It was only after Homon was told that Mordechai did not bow down to him that he saw that it was so. Before this he was unaware of it because in his great arrogance and conceit, he didn't even bother to look at his lowly subjects. (GR"A, Taamo Dikro)

Ch. 3, v. 7: "Hu chodesh Nison" - It is the month of Nison - The name of this month alludes to miracles, "nisim." Alternatively, it means a time of light, as in Z'charioh 9, "misnosesses." (Ro'kei'ach)

Ch. 3, v. 7: "Miyom l'yom u'meichodesh l'chodesh" - From day to day and from month to month - The story is told of the Avnei Nezer's being in Krakow right at the beginning of the month of Ador. Among the people who came to see him was the Krakower town drunk, and in an inebriated state to boot. The Avnei Nezer asked him why he jumped the gun and started his "bisu'mei" two weeks ahead of schedule. He responded that he not only began in earnest from Rosh Chodesh, but also extended his "hidur mitzvoh" until the end of the month. He justified himself by asking the following: "Why did Homon decide upon having only one day set aside for ch"v slaughtering the bnei Yisroel? Surely some of them would hide and be saved. If the edict would be for a week or a month he could more realistically actualize his goal. It must be that Homon feared that things might turn against him, as indeed happened. If this were to happen the bnei Yisroel would in kind make the whole month be a festival. This made Homon see red! He would rather limit his diabolical plans to one day of slaughter so that if it wouldn't work out the bnei Yisroel would have but one day of rejoicing. In theory he would really have preferred to have the slaughter last the complete month of Ador. Am I then to limit my drinking to but one day on Ador because Homon could not 'fargeen,' have the generosity, to have the bnei Yisroel celebrate a whole month?" The Avnei Nezer lauded this explanation and told it over in the name of the Krakower "shikur" to many people.

Perhaps this explains why "day to day" is mentioned before "month to month," as Homon first decided that the slaughter would last but one day, even before he decided the month.

Ch. 3, v. 7: "L'chodesh shneim ossor hu chodesh Ador" - To the twelfth month it is the month Ador - The reason only Ador haSHeini may be the additional 13th month is that our verse says that Ador is the 12th month, and if we were to add any other month to the calendar, then Ador would no longer be the 12th month.

Was there an extra Ador in the year of the miracle of the Purim salvation? Rabbi Levi in the name of Rabbi Chomoh says that there was. He derives it from this verse (gemara Yerushalmi Megiloh 5:1).

Ch. 3, v. 7: "Hu chodesh Ador" - It is the month of Ador - Homon was happy that the month was Ador, as its "mazel," sign, is fish. He thought that just as fish are easily caught, so too, the bnei Yisroel would be easy prey. Hashem responded that some fish swallow others. Homon would not be like the fish that swallows, but rather, like the one that is swallowed. (Yalkut Shimoni) Perhaps this explains why "mazel Ador DOGIM," in the plural. The "mazel" of the bnei Yisroel is that there are 2 fish, alluding to one that swallows and one that is swallowed. They are portrayed facing each other and not face to tail, one behind the other. Perhaps this alludes to what happened to Homon. A strong, quick swimming fish can overtake a slow moving one and swallow it. They would be facing the same direction. This is what commonly takes place. Homon thought that he would prevail and attacked the bnei Yisroel head-on. With the ensuing "v'nahafoch hu," the miraculous turn-around, the bnei Yisroel overcame him as he was trying to swallow them, hence the two fish facing each other. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 3, v. 8: "Yeshno am echod" - There exists one nation - The gemara Megiloh 13b says that Homon attempted to allay Achashveirosh's fears of retribution from Hashem by saying "yeshno," the bnei Yisroel are "asleep" when they do mitzvos. This means that they put no heart or emotion into their mitzvoh acts. Because of this Hashem will likewise "remain asleep" and not come to their aid. Mordechai was the leader who brought the bnei Yisroel back to serving Hashem with emotion and vigour. "Nirdomim" is a word that is synonymous with "y'sheinim." "Ki Mordechai haY'hudi" (10:3) has the same numerical value as "nirdomim." (Goral Samach-Beis - Rabbi Dov Fink)

Ch. 3, v. 8: "Yeshno am echod m'fuzor umforod bein ho'amim" - There exists one nation that is scattered and split among the nations - The reason for the bnei Yisroel's being able to exist, "yeshno," is that they are united, "am echod." The way to ch"v overpower them is "m'fuzor umforod bein ho'amim." (Rebbe Reb Bunim of Parshis'cha)

Ch. 3, v. 8: "V'do'sei'hem shonos mikol om" - And their creeds are different from those of all other nations - Their religion dictates that they must be different from all other nations. (Rebbe Reb Bunim of Parshis'cha)

Ch. 3, v. 9: "Yiko'seiv l'abdom" - Let it be written to have them disappear - The medrash says that when the angels in heaven came to intercede for the bnei Yisroel, Hashem responded that the edict to ch"v annihilate the bnei Yisroel was sealed with a clot of mud and not with blood, so it could be rescinded. (It seems that the concept of "in mud" and "in blood" is symbolic. If one were to create a seal of mud, the mud would later dry and crumble. Not so with blood, as it leaves a permanent mark.) The Ari z"l says that the words of this medrash are alluded to in the word "l'abdom," which is spelled Lamed-Alef-Beis-Dalet-Mem. This word can be split in two, leaving us with "lo b'dam," - not in blood. There is an even earlier source for this insight. It is the Ro'kei'ach, although he does not connect it with the medrash.

Ch. 3, v. 9: "Vaa'se'res alofim kikar kesef" - And ten-thousand kikar weight of silver - The gemara Megiloh 13b says in the name of Reish Lokish, "It was known to the One Who created the world that Homon would weigh "shkolim" to purchase the bnei Yisroel and do with them as he wishes. Therefore Hashem preempted him by giving the bnei Yisroel the mitzvoh of giving "shkolim." This is fulfilled as mentioned in the first mishnoh of Shkolim, "On the first day of the month of Ador announcements are made to give 'shkolim.'" The mitzvoh is to annually give a "machatzis ha'shekel," a half-shekel. Perhaps we can offer a mathematical allusion for the gemara's statement. Homon attempted to PURCHASE the bnei Yisroel, taking them out of Hashem's control and supervision. "SheKeL," spelled Shin-Kuf-Lamed, when halved, "machatzis," gives us the numerical values 150, 50, and 15. The corresponding letters are Kuf-Nun, Nun, and Yud-Hei. These letters spell "HaKiNYaN," - the possession. This refers to the bnei Yisroel's being owned exclusively by Hashem, and by none other, as per Pirkei Ovos 6:10, "Yisroel kinyon echod." (Nirreh li)

Tosfos on the gemara Megiloh 16a d.h. "v'dochi" writes that he heard that the 10,000 "kikar" weight of silver that Homon offered Achashveirosh in our verse equals the amount of "shkolim" that the 600,000 bnei Yisroel who left Egypt gave in the form of half-shkolim, and Homon wanted to give their complete redemption. Tosfos ends by saying that if you calculate it you will find that it is accurate.

The Chizkuni on our verse independently gives us a calculation of how Homon's 10,000 "kikar" weights of silver equal the amount of half-shkolim 600,000 bnei Yisroel would give. On average, people live seventy years. The responsibility to give a half-shekel begins at the age of twenty (This is contested by some, see Torah T'mimoh on Shmos 30:13.) as is written in Shmos 13:14, "mi'ben ESRIM shonoh." On average people give their 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 shkolim, hence 25 "shiklei kodesh" are given in a lifetime, which equal 50 standard shkolim. Fifty shkolim equal 100 "zuzim." Sixty people would give 6,000 "zuzim," equal to 60 "monoh," the weight of a "kikar" of silver, as a unit of "kesef" equals a "zuz." Ten-thousand times this amount was given by 600,000 people as 60 goes into 600,000 ten-thousand times. Thus a total of 10,000 "kikar kesef" was given by these 600,000 people, and Homon offered an equal amount. The Ba"ch on the above Tosfos calculates exactly as the Chizkuni and says that this is the intention of the Tosfos.

The Targum Sheini on Megilas Esther simply states that Homon offered 100 "kesef" for each of the 600,000 bnei Yisroel who left Egypt. He does not explain why 100 "kesef" per person was offered.

I believe that the calculation of the Chizkuni is not that of the Tosfos. Tosfos clearly states that the amount was equal to that given by the bnei Yisroel WHO LEFT EGYPT. The 600,000 adults who left Egypt above the age of 20 years did not start giving a half-shekel until the second year in the desert at the time of the building of the Mishkon, at the earliest being 21 years of age, thus allowing for only 49 years of giving, and also, they did not live beyond the age of sixty because of the death sentence brought on by their sinning at the time of the sending of the spies, as recorded in Bmidbar 14:29. This further reduces their giving to only 39 years. Thus the calculation Tosfos had in mind seems to not be that of the Chizkuni, contrary to the Ba"ch.

Perhaps the intention of Tosfos can be explained with the words of the Rabbeinu Chanan'eil mentioned in Tosfos on the gemara Sotoh 5a d.h. "Odom." He says that the weight of a "rviis halug" of blood, the minimal amount required to be in a person's circulatory system to stay alive, is that of 25 shkolim. The R'vid Hazohov explains according to this that the giving of a half-shekel is a fiftieth weight of that of a "rviis" of blood. Thus a half-shekel is truly a tithing, a "trumoh" as mentioned in the end of our verse, since the average tithing of "trumoh" is one part of fifty.

As mentioned earlier, Tosfos said that Homon wanted to give their COMPLETE redemption. The R'vid Hazohov says that this likely means shkolim for the complete weight of their blood, 25 shkolim, or 100 "kesef," per person. We thus arrive at exactly 10,000 "kikar kesef."

Although a daring "chidush," perhaps with the approach of the R'vid Hazohov we have an insight into why money is called "domim," whose literal meaning is blood.

Ch. 3, v. 11: "Ha'kesef nosun loch" - The money is given to you - The M.R. 7:21 says that Achashveirosh unwittingly alluded to Homon's eventually being hung from the gallows. "Ha'kesef" has the same numerical value as "ho'eitz." The gallows are given to you. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 3, v. 11: "Ha'kesef nosun loch" - The money is given to you - Although Homon offered to purchase the bnei Yisroel, Achashveirosh declined and gave them over to Homon gratis. This might be somewhat of a fulfillment of the admonition, "V'hismakarteM v'eiN koneH" (Dvorim 28:68). These final letters of these three words spell HoMoN. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 4, v. 2: "Ki ein lovo el shaar ha'melech bilvush sok - Because it is inappropriate to come to the gate of the king in sackcloth - Sforno applies these words to 3 situations in the Torah. The first is in Breishis 41:14, when Yoseif was drawn out of the dungeon and had his prison clothes exchanged for presentable clothing before appearing in front of Paroh. The second time is in Breishis 50:4, when Yoseif spoke to the "household" of Paroh to receive permission to take his deceased father to Eretz Yisroel for burial. The Sforno posits that the reason Yoseif didn't approach Paroh himself was not because he was estranged from Paroh, but rather, that Yoseif was wearing rented mourning clothing. It is interesting to note that the first and final time that Yoseif communicated with Paroh as recorded in the Torah involved the concept of "ki ein lovo " The third time is in Vayikra 21:18, where the verse prohibits a Kohein who has a physical blemish from doing the service. Sforno says that this is akin to "coming to the gate of the king in sackcloth."

Ch. 4, v. 16: "El ha'melech asher lo chados" - To the king inappropriately - The medrash on the words "K'dos mah laasose bamalkoh Vashti" (1:15) says, "To his swine (Vashti) he sought counsel to act 'k'dos,' - as is appropriate, while to the holy Jewish nation he behaved 'asher lo ch'dos.'" We can thus interpret these words in our verse as saying, "And thus I will come to the king who behaves inappropriately." Perhaps because of his bad behaviour Hashem will foil his plans. Alternatively, "I will come to the king who ascended the throne inappropriately," as the gemara Megiloh relates that he took the throne by force. (Siach Yitzchok Verbauer Rov)

Ch. 4, v. 16: "Lo chados" - Inappropriately - Do not entertain the thought that Esther felt that she was taking a limited risk, thinking that even if the king would be displeased with her coming unannounced and uninvited that she would be subject to no negative consequences, as after all, she was the queen, or in the worst scenario she would only receive a rebuff or tongue lashing. She knew full-well that Achashveirosh might have her head. "Lo chados" has the same numerical value as "misoh," death, 455. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 4, v. 16: "V'chaasher ovadti ovodti" - And as I have lost will have been a permanent loss - Esther stated that until now when she appeared in front of the king it was only at his behest, and when he had relations with her she had no choice, and thus had not committed a sin. If she would now appear in front of the king of her own volition, and he would likely have relations with her, she would be held responsible, and thus would be prohibited to remain married to her true husband, Mordechai (gemara Megiloh 15a).

However, the Holy Zohar in parshas Vayikra writes that "vatalbeish Esther malchus" means that she clothed (enveloped) herself with the Holy Spirit of "ruach haKodesh." He writes in parshas Ki Seitzei page 276a that if Esther received the level of "ruach haKodesh" it is impossible to say that the heathen Achashveirosh had relations with her. Instead, he writes, that Hashem sent a human form called a "sheidoh," which resembled Esther, and Achashveirosh had relations with this human form, while Esther remained untainted. Medrash Talpios says that this is alluded to in the gemara Chulin 139a, which says that Esther is hinted to in the Torah in the words, "V'onochi hasteir astir" (Dvorim 31:18). The double expression, "hasteir astir" indicates Esther's being hidden; the real Esther never fell into Achashveirosh's clutches.

Ch. 5, v. 1: "Vatilbash Esther malchus vataamode" - And Esther donned royalty and she stood - The word "vatilbash" alludes to the gemara Shabbos 113a, that a person should dress himself in clean respectable clothing in honour of Shabbos. The letters of the word "vatilbash" can be rearranged to form "ulShabbos." Likewise, one is to do this in honour of Yom Tov as per the gemara Yerushalmi Kidushin 1:4. This is alluded to in the word "vataamode," whose letters can be rearranged to form the word "mo'adose." (Rokei'ach)

Ch. 5, v. 2: "Va'y'hi chirose ha'melech es Esther" - And it was when the king saw Esther - Yalkut Shimoni writes that Achashveirosh suffered from a debilitating blinding condition called "sanveirim." When Esther appeared in front of him his eyesight totally returned. This is the intention of the words, "And it was when the king SAW Esther." It is no wonder that "nosoh chein b'einov," - she found favour in his just-healed eyes. Alternatively, she found favour "because of" his eyes. (Medrash Talpios)

Ch. 5, v. 6: "Mah sh'eilo'seich" - What is your request - Esther had earlier in the day requested that Achashveirosh and Homon attend her wining/dining feast (verse 4). What prompted him to ask her, "What is your request" at the meal itself? Perhaps all she wanted was a get-together with the king and his most prominent minister. Medrash Lekach Tov says that Achashveirosh and Homon voraciously dug into the wining and dining, while Esther sat there in a sullen mood. It then became quite obvious to Achashveirosh that her intention was not in the social sphere, but rather to make a request.

Ch. 5, v. 6: "Chatzi hamalchus v'sei'os" - Half the kingdom and it shall be done - The Torah contains 248 positive mitzvos. This is alluded to in these words. The numerical value of "malchus" is 496. Half of "malchus" is 248, "v'sei'os," that should be DONE, i.e. the positive precepts. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 5, v. 9: "V'lo kom v'lo zo" - He did not rise nor did he tremble - Homon noted that Mordechai not only refrained from according him honour by not standing up in his presence, but that there was absolutely no reaction, not even a facial expression. This caused Homon to be filled with anger. (Taamo Dikro)

Ch. 5, v. 9: "Zo" - Tremble - This translation is preferred by Ibn Ezra, and is sourced as a 2 letter word based on Koheles 12:3, "ba'yom she'yoZU'u," rather than the translation "sweat," sourced as a 3 letter word, with the first letter Yud falling away in conjugation, based on Yechezkeil 44:18, "lo yach'g'ru b'YoZA."

Ch. 5, v. 14: "Yaasu eitz govoah chamishim amoh" - They shall prepare a tree/gallows 50 cubits tall - From where did Homon procure a wooden pole of such extreme length?

1) From the "eitz hadaas" mentioned in Breishis 2:17 (M.R.)

2) It was a beam from Homon's home. (Yalkut Shimoni)

3) From Noach's ark (Targum Sheini)

4) From the Beis Hamikdosh (Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer chapter #3)

5) Homon created it through magic. (Medrash Talpios) "Yaasu" might not mean "prepare," but rather, literally "make."

6) Homon chopped down a tree called "erez" from the royal botanical garden, "ginas habison." (Rokei'ach)

We know the height of the gallows, but how wide was it? The Rokei'ach says that it was 12 "amos" and a "zerres" wide, while the Medrash Talpios says that it was 12 "zerres" wide. What is puzzling is that Targum Sheini explains how Homon and his 10 sons were hung on the 50 "amoh" tall gallows, and Tosfos on the gemara Yoma 31a d.h. "Amoh" is a bit hard-pressed in finding enough space for this elite troupe. Since the pole was either 6 or 12 "amos" wide, why wasn't there sufficient room to hang a few people side-by-side? Actually, this seems to be a legitimate question even if the pole was relatively thin, as two people could be hung at the same level on two sides of the pole. It seems that we have a tradition that they were hung one below the other, as indicated by the gemara Megiloh, which explains why we have their names stacked one below the other on one column of the Megiloh.

Ch. 6, v. 1: "Va'y'h'yu nikro'im" - And they were read - Why is the "nifal," - it was done to - form used, rather than simply "va'y'ikr'u"? This teaches us that the sons of Homon, who were Achashveirosh's servants who were requested to read from the historical chronicles, attempted to skip over the incident of Mordechai's saving the king's life, and the books miraculously read of themselves, audio books.

Rabbi Yaakov says in the name of Rabbi Chanina, "Do not be startled with this interpretation. If the lots cast for the division of Eretz Yisroel read themselves aloud so that there should be no strife among the tribes, to help orchestrate the saving of the whole nation, surely Hashem would wreak such a miracle."

Ch. 6, v. 2: "Va'yimotzei chosuv" - And it was found recorded - The medrash says that the sons of Homon opened to the page where the incident with Mordechai and Bigson and Teresh took place was recorded, but they leafed further to avoid reading this, and the book itself went back to the place where it was opened. We can thus extend the concept of the previous offering from the medrash that the book read of itself and say that "Va'yimotzei chosuv asher higid Mordechai," was also verbalized by the chronicle book. It declared that it "was found written," the book was already opened to the incident of Mordechai, but the readers intentionally attempted to skip over this. (Medrash Talpios)

The Yalkut Shimoni writes that "Va'yimotzei chosuv" teaches us that it was "just now found to be written," because Shimshi, the son of Homon, who was to read these words, was also the court scribe, and erased these words, but the angel Gavriel rewrote them.

Alternatively, Medrash Talpios writes that he heard in the name of the medrash that we find in our verse a change in the name of one of the attempted murderers of the king. Earlier (2:22) his name is Bigson, and here it is Bigsono. The sons of Homon were the scribes who recorded the happenings in the royal chronicles. To diminish Mordechai's great deed of saving the king's life they entered that Bigson OR Teresh attempted to have the king killed. In other words, even after investigation, it was not clarified which one of these two people was the guilty party. "When in doubt knock them both out!" So both Bigson and Teresh were hung. Thus the words "Bigson O Teresh" appeared in the chronicles. This would considerably diminish Mordechai's great deed, as an innocent person was also killed.

Hashem wrought a miracle and had the two-letter word "O" (Alef-Vov) split, with the Alef attaching itself to the end of the word Bigson, and the Vov attaching itself to the beginning of the word Teresh. (I trust that there was no problem with the "final Nun" in Bigson because the chronicles were written in the Persian language. On the other hand, the word O is Loshon haKodesh.) Thus Bigson became Bigsono. This is the intention of "va'yimotzei," - and it was NOW found, but this is not the way it was originally recorded.

Alternatively, "divrei ha'yomim" are chronicles of past history, things that took place before Achashveirosh was born. Although he requested history books, and they were clearly in different tomes from those that chronicled the happenings that took place during Achashveirosh's reign, miraculously, the pages relating to the incident with Mordechai and the attempted assassination were FOUND in the older history volume.

Ch. 6, v. 8: "V'sus asher rochav olov ha'melech vaasher nitan keser malchus b'rosho" - And the horse upon which the king rode when he was coronated" - What was the name of Achashveirosh's horse? You will find it in Targum Sheini.

Ch. 6, v. 11: "Va'yarki'veihu" - And he had him ride - The Rokei'ach has this word spelled lacking the letter Yud between the Kof and the Veis. This is not our spelling, as we do have the letter Yud. According to the Rokei'ach's text it allows for a reading of "va'yar'k'veihu" meaning and he rode him. This teaches us that Mordechai literally rode upon Homon. This explains why the verse does not say that Homon had Mordechai ride "upon the horse." We now also understand the gemara Megiloh 16a differently. The gemara says that Homon bowed down to enable Mordechai to ride. This is understood as Homon acting as a step-stool upon which Mordechai trod to mount the horse. The Rokei'ach says that Homon bent down to allow Mordechai to mount him.

Ch. 6, v. 12: "O'veil vachafuy rosh" - A mourner and his head covered - The gemara Megiloh 16a explains that when Homon led Mordechai who was riding on the king's horse through the streets of Shushan, Homon's daughter looked down from above when they passed by. Having only a bird's-eye view, she could not tell who was who and assumed that her father was on the horse being led by Mordechai. She took the household garbage and dropped it down upon the head of the horse handler. Realizing her mistake, she took it so to heart that she threw herself out the window as well, garbage after garbage, and died. Homon was therefore an "o'veil," a mourner, because his daughter had committed suicide, and had his head covered with the refuse she dumped on his head.

The Gri"z haLevi Brisker asks a simple question. "According to these words of the gemara, why doesn't the verse reverse the order and say "chafuy rosh v'o'veil," as Homon's head was first covered with garbage before his daughter committed suicide?" He answers this with the words of Tosfos on the gemara B.K. 17a d.h. "zorak." Tosfos says that if A threw a rock or shot an arrow at someone's vessel and was right on the mark, but before the destruction of the vessel took place B shattered it, B is held financially responsible. If however, A took the vessel itself and threw it in a manner that it would surely shatter upon impact, and again B preempted him and shattered the vessel, A is responsible. (Tosfos ends by saying that it is simple to understand the difference between these two cases. The great Gaon Rabbi Dovid Karliner wrote to the Tzemach Tzedek that he wracked his mind but could not fathom the difference.)

Given this difference we can offer that Homon's daughter dropped the garbage from quite a distance above the ground. Homon looked up. She now realized that the garbage was about to land on her father and she immediately threw herself out the window. Both she and the garbage were simultaneously in flight. Since the damage inflicted by throwing an object at another object is only considered done when it actually hits its target, Homon was not yet a "chafuy rosh." Homon's daughter however, was the object itself in flight, clearly destined to die upon impact. Here we consider the object as if it was already destroyed. Thus halachically Homon was first an "o'veil" and only afterwards a "chafuy rosh."

Ch. 6, v. 13: "Linpol" - To fall - Usually "to fall" is expressed as "lipol," with the first letter of the verb disappearing, "chasrei Pei Nun." Perhaps, because Homon's advisors and his wife Zeresh told him of his possible downfall and his mastery coming to an end, the letter Nun was left in place, as "lonpol" has the numerical value of 190, the same as "keitz," the end. (Nirreh li)

Alternatively, the Nun alludes to the 50 cubit gallows. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 6, v. 13: "LinpoL l'fonoV lO suchaL" - To fall in front of him you will be unable - The merit for the bnei Yisroel's being saved was their repenting. This brought about Homon's downfall. The final letters of these words in our verse spell Elul, connoting repentance. (Siach Yitzchok Verbauer Rov)

Ch. 7, v. 2: "Ad chatzi hamalchus" - Up to half the kingdom - Targum says that this means up to, but not including, rebuilding the Beis Hamikdosh, whose location was exactly in the middle of all the countries over which he lorded.

Ch. 7, v. 5: "V'eizeh hu asher mlo'o libo laasos kein" - And who is he whose heart has filled him (with the audacity) to do thus - Did Achashveirosh suffer from selective amnesia? As king, he was in the prime position of authority, and was the greater partner in the diabolical plan against the bnei Yisroel, as clearly recorded in 3:8-15!

The M.R. 7:13 and the Targum record a lengthy conversation between Achashveirosh and Homon, with Achashveirosh continually displaying fear of retribution from Hashem and Homon rebutting his concerns and attempting to allay the kings fears. We can now explain an anomaly. Achashveirosh was willing to forego a payment of 10,000 "kikar kesef," a tidy sum by any standard (3:11). This is so unusual for a money-hungry individual the likes of Achashveirosh that the M.R. 7:20 comments that this is totally the reverse of what is to be expected, especially in light of Achashveirosh's being a greater bnei Yisroel hater than Homon. By taking the money Homon's ownership of the bnei Yisroel would be binding, and as he devised the idea, he would surely carry it out.

We are clearly led to the conclusion that although Achashveirosh acquiesced to Homon's wishes, he still feared retribution, or was at the least, in doubt. He therefore washed his hands of the affair. By not taking money he kept himself at arms-length distance and left the dirty work for Homon. He would not be held responsible because he never issued an edict. All he did was grant Homon permission to do with the bnei Yisroel as he saw fit (verse 11).

Homon, in his attempt to bring his scheme to fruition, stepped beyond his bounds. Not only did he issue the evil edict, but he also enhanced it by writing that this was "b'shem ha'melech Achashveirosh" (verse 12). This was totally contrary to Achashveirosh's wishes, and explains why he was in a fury (verse 7). Homon blatantly abrogated their agreement. We can now understand Achashveirosh as asking, "Who has the audacity of heart to do thus," to write that I issued the edict. (Agodoh Udrush by Rabbi Yaakov Tenenbaum Baal responsa Naha'rei Afarsimon)

Ch. 7, v. 6: "Va'tomer Esther" - And Esther said - Although in 2:5 we have a limited list of Mordechai's ancestors, see the Targum on this verse for a complete 41 generation ancestral list all the way back to our patriarch Avrohom. I do not know why Targum decided to give us this information here, as Mordechai was already mentioned earlier many, many times. Similarly, he lists the 20 generations of Homon's ancestors through Eisov in 5:1. It similarly eludes me as to why this was listed in that verse and not earlier.

Ch. 7, v. 9: "T'luhu" - Hang him - The verse in Shmos 3:14 says "E'h'yeh asher E'h'yeh." Rashi explains that Hashem told Moshe that He would be with them and redeem them from this difficulty and the double expression indicates that there will be later troubles from which Hashem will extricate the bnei Yisroel as well. Commentators explain that this expression is one of trusting in Hashem's fulfilling His words, as indicated by multiplying the numerical value of "E'h'yeh" by itself, 21x21=441, the value of EMES.

Here too, the fulfillment of redeeming the bnei Yisroel from Homon's terrible edict was realized at the point when Achashveirosh said, "Hang him!" "T'luhu" has the same numerical value as EMES. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 7, v. 10: "Va'yislu es Homon al ho'eitz" - And they hanged Homon on the tree - This took place on the 16th of the month of Nison. This is alluded to in Yehoshua 5:12, "Va'yishbos HAMON mimochoras." This refers to the day after Pesach had begun, the 16th of Nison, as indicated in the previous verse. (Hadar Z'keinim)

Ch. 8, v. 13: "HaY'hudi(i)m asi(u)dim" - The Jews will in the future - There is an extra letter Yud in HaY'hudi(i)m and a "kri" of "asidim" and "ksiv" of "asUdim." As mentioned earlier in 1:20, the Medrash Tanchuma on parshas Noach says that the bnei Yisroel willingly accepted the Written Torah at Har Sinai, and only accepted the Oral Torah willingly after being saved from the diabolical machinations of Homon. We can thus say that at this point, when the edict was changed, and in tandem the bnei Yisroel willingly accepted the Oral Torah, there is an extra letter Yud in the word "La'Y'hudi(i)m" to allude to their having accepted the Written Torah, embodied in the Ten Commandments, hence the letter Yud, whose numerical value is 10. "Asi(u)dim," in the future, they would also accept the Oral Torah, embodied in the Six sections of mishnoh, hence the letter Vov, whose numerical value is six. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 8, v. 16: "LaY'hudim hoysoh orOH" - For the Jews there was light - The gemara Megiloh 16b explains that the word "orOH" refers to the Holy Torah. Why is this word in the feminine form and not in the more familiar and common male form, "ohr," as per the gemara's proof (Megiloh 16b) from the words "v'Sorah ohr"? The gemara Shabbos 88a says that we derive from the words "kimu v'kiblu haY'hudim" (9:27) that the Jews WILLINGLY accepted the Holy Torah at this times, as at the time of the giving of the Holy Torah at Har Sinai they only accepted the Torah through coercion, as Hashem suspended Har Sinai above them as a barrel, threatening to lower it upon them if they were to not accept the Torah. Hashem is likened to the Groom and the bnei Yisroel to the bride when the Torah was given. The Groom's great interest in the marriage was demonstrated at Har Sinai, but not the bride's. At this point in time the bride WILLINGLY agreed to the spiritual "marriage," hence the word representing the Holy Torah, "orOH," is in the feminine form. (Droshos Rabbeinu Yoseif Nechemioh Kornitzer Rov of Krakow) Perhaps another answer can emerge through the compilation of a number of points. Tosfos on the above-mentioned gemara d.h. "kofoh" asks why it was necessary to coerce the bnei Yisroel to accept the Torah. After all, the Torah states that the bnei Yisroel said "naa'seh v'nishmo" (Shmos 24:7).

As mentioned earlier, the Medrash Tanchuma parshas Noach answers that although the bnei Yisroel willingly and eagerly accepted the Written Torah, "Torah shebiksav," they did not willingly accept the Oral Torah, "Torah sheb'al peh." This component required coercion.

Tosfos on the gemara P'sochim 116b d.h. "V'nomar" in the name of the Medrash Tanchuma on parshas Bo explains the difference between the words "shir" and "shiroh." Each means SONG, but "shiroh," the female form, connotes a song of praise for an act that is not final, i.e. there will again be difficulty afterwards from which we will need to be extricated. This is like a woman, who goes through severe labour pains and even when she has given birth is not over these pains, because she will again become pregnant, and will again have labour pains.

The word "shir," the male form, connotes song and praise for a final redemption, where no later pains of exile will be experienced. (This has a direct bearing on the text of our Seder, "v'nomar l'fonov SHIR chodosh," or "v'ne'emar l'fonov shirOH chadoshoh," see Mishneh B'ruroh and Eimek Brochoh)

In a similar vein, we can possibly suggest that "ohr," the male form, refers only to the Written Torah, as its text is complete. There will be no other written Torah ever given by Hashem (9th of the Rambam's 13 principles of faith). However, the Oral Torah is never complete. New insights, interpretations, and understandings develop as we continuously learn the Holy Torah. This is the nature of a female, as mentioned by Tosfos. Since the bnei Yisroel now accepted the Oral Torah willingly, it is most befitting to give it the female appellation "orOH." (Nirreh li)

Ch. 8, v. 16: "LaY'hudim Hoysoh Oroh V'simchoh V'soson Vikor" - For the Jews there was light and happiness and rejoicing and grandeur - The Rokei'ach notes that the numerical value of the first letters of all the words of this verse is 54. It is interesting to note that Homon's name appears 54 times as well. At this juncture in the Purim story, where the king's edict has become favourable for the bnei Yisroel, we have the power of Esther, whose name also appears 54 times, and is equal to the value of the first letters of the words of our verse, overcome Homon. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 9, v. 8: "Poroso Aridoso" - The Ibn Ezra writes that there were some so-called "wise men" in Spain who were very happy when they heard that among those who were hung were Poroso and Aridoso, as they mistakenly assumed that these were Jewish names. The Ibn Ezra assures us that they were Persian names (v'shem r'sho'im yirkov).

Ch. 9, v. 14: "V'eis a'se'res bnei Homon tolu" - And the ten sons of Homon they hung - The Rokei'ach had a text that we do not have. He had the word "yitlu" in the place of "tolu" as a "ksiv," the written text, although he says that this word should be read "tolu," which is both our written and verbalized word.

Logic dictates that the word be "tolu." The previous verse relates that Esther requested of Achashveirosh that ten sons of Homon be hung on the gallows. Our verse begins with the king's affirmative response, "l'hei'osose kein." There is therefore no need to repeat that they should be hung. Clearly the verse is telling us that the edict was carried out and they WERE hung. Yet, the Rokei'ach has a "ksiv" of "yitlu."

The list of the ten sons of Homon is in verses 7 through 9 of this chapter. Among their names we find three letters that are written in a diminished size. They are the letters Tof of "Parshandoso" in verse 7, Shin of "Parmashto, and Zayin of Vayzoso, both in verse 9. The numerical value of these 3 letters is 707. In the year 707 of the 5th millennium, i.e. 1947 c.e., the Nuremberg war crimes court convicted and hung 10 Nazis y"sh. All of them went to the gallows in a calm manner except for one who was dragged there. He hollered, "Purimfest Tof-Shin-Zayin!" It seems that these ten men were a repeat of the killing and hanging of the ten sons of Homon, and it gives us an insight into the "Purimfest" response. We now might have an understanding of the "ksiv" word "yitlu," meaning "they WILL hang," in the future tense. The verse in the "kri" form tells us that the actual ten sons of Homon were hung, while the "ksiv" form alludes to the ten sons of Homon being hung in the future, at the Nuremberg trial. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 9, v. 17: "SimchoH v'sossoN laY'hudiM" - Happiness and rejoicing for the Jews - The final letters of these three words spell HoMoN. When Homon is at the bottom, the bnei Yisroel experience "simchoh" and "sosson." (Rokei'ach)

Ch. 9, v. 18: "Bachamishoh ossor bo" - On the 15th of it - The Ramban in his commentary on the gemara Megiloh 2a explains that the reason the walled cities celebrate Purim a day later is that they felt secure in the fortified cities and did not agree to permanently make a day of rejoicing until they had a sign from heaven that they do so. Having Megilas Esther read on another day is a punishment for their feeling secure and not being empathetic to their brethren who lived in unfortified cities. The message for us today is very clear.

Ch. 9, v. 27: "Kimu v'kiblu haY'hudim" - The Jews established and accepted - The gemara Megiloh 7a brings Tano'im who offer four proofs that the text of Megilas Esther was inspired through "ruach hakodesh." Shmuel, the Amora, responded that had he been present at the assemblage of these Tano'im he would have offered a better proof. This is from these words of our verse. The double expression "kimu v'kiblu" is to be understood as, "They substantiated above (in the heavens) that which the bnei Yisroel accepted upon themselves below." Rovo responded that indeed Shmuel's proof is the best, as there are rebuttals to the other four proofs offered. The gemara then offers two more proofs.

Tosfos d.h. "L'chulhu" asks a most powerful question. Rovo, who so staunchly agrees with Shmuel's proof, uses these same words of our verse to derive another concept. In the gemara Shabbos 88a he says that we derive from these words that the bnei Yisroel willingly validated their previous acceptance of the Torah. At the time of the bnei Yisroel's acceptance of the Torah Hashem suspended Har Sinai above them, threatening to make this their burial spot if they refused to accept the Torah. Hence the Torah was accepted under duress. At this point in time, at the end of the Purim story, the bnei Yisroel willingly accepted the Torah, "kimu mah shekiblu ch'var." If so, how could Rovo himself say that there is no refutation to Shmuel's proof, since he himself uses these words for another insight? Tosfos answers the seeming contradiction of Rovo in 4 ways. 1) Tosfos on the gemara Chagigoh 9a d.h. "Dilmo" says that we can derive both thoughts from the same words, as not only is there a superfluous word in "kimu v'kiblu," but there is also an extra expression, as the verse could have said "kimu v'kimu," or "kiblu v'kiblu." Hence both ideas can be derived.

2) On the gemara Shovuos 39a Tosfos d.h. "kimu" answers that Rovo realizes that he is in dispute with Shmuel, as Shmuel clearly does not derive that the bnei Yisroel later accepted the Torah willingly from the words "kimu v'kiblu." According to Shmuel's position on this, his proof that Megilas Esther was Divinely inspired is conclusive.

3) On the gemara Shabbos 88a, Tosfos d.h. "omar Rovo" says that although Rovo's opinion in the gemara Megiloh makes Shmuel's proof inconclusive, Rovo does not destroy Shmuel's logic. The other 4 proofs are negated.

4) Alternatively, Tosfos says that RABOH, and not ROVO, made the statement in Chagigoh that needing the same words for one insight negates their use for deriving anything else. Thus there is no contradiction, as Rovo posits that the same words can be used for a second concept.

In 1:20 on the words "v'nishma pisgam ha'melech ki RABOH hee," the 2 insights of the Baal Haturim were mentioned. Perhaps another interpretation of "ki RABOH hee" emerges from the answer of Tosfos that RABOH made the statement in the gemara Chagigoh. If reading Megilas Esther takes precedence over learning the Torah and service in the Beis Hamikdosh, it is only logically so if Megilas Esther is at least on par with the Torah in some way. If the words of Megilas Esther are not even Divinely inspired, their reading should not take precedence. Since the other proofs that Megilas Esther was said through "ruach haKodesh" are not conclusive because the words of the verse that constitute the proof are used by Rovo himself to derive the insight mentioned in the gemara Shabbos, how could Megilas Esther come first? The answer is "ki RABOH hee." The statement in the gemara Chagigoh 9a was said by Raboh, and we posit like Rovo, that it teaches us that Megilas Esther was said with Divine inspiration, and therefore "v'nishma pisgam ha'melech," hearing the reading of Megilas Esther takes precedence over the other two. (Nirreh li)

The GR"A offers a most marvelous resolution to the problem posed by Tosfos. What is truly breathtaking is the attention given by the GR"A to a nuance of difference in the way the two gemoros express themselves. The gemara Shabbos says, "SHE'NE'EMAR 'kimu v'kiblu,'" while the gemara Megiloh says, "DICH'SIV 'kimu v'kiblu.'" Literally translating these two highlighted words we have, "as is SAID," and, "as is WRITTEN." This point makes all the difference and resolves Tosfos's problem. The word "v'kiblu" in our verse has a "kri" and a "ksiv," a "read" form and a "written" form. The word is actually written without a final letter Vov. This allows for two interpretations, the "kri" meaning, "and THEY accepted," while the "ksiv" ("ki'beil") meaning is, "and HE accepted." The gemara Megiloh derives from "v'kiblu," the way the word is READ, "she'ne'emar," that THEY (plural), the members of the Celestial Court above, accepted the mitzvos the Rabbis instituted upon the bnei Yisroel for all generations down below. This could only be known if the Megiloh was written through Divine inspiration. The gemara Shabbos derives from "v'ki'beil," the way the word is actually WRITTEN, "dich'siv," that the bnei Yisroel affirmed and willingly undertook to fulfill that which he, Moshe, "ki'beil," received, when he ascended Har Sinai. Beyond the obviously breathtaking beauty of this insight, it should also serve to teach us the razor sharp accuracy of the words used by our Holy Rabbis, a true lesson in accepting the Oral Torah of our Rabbis most eagerly!



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