chumash4ss.jpg (17308 bytes)

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to Purim Homepage



Ch. 1, v. 2: "Ba'yomim ho'heim k'sheves ha'melech" - In those days when the king sat - Why the generality "in those days," and why "K'sheves," and not "B'sheves"? The gemara Megiloh 11b says that Achashveirosh miscalculated when the end of the 70 year exile for the bnei Yisroel ended (as did Balshetzar and l'havdil Daniel). He thought that it came and went and as the bnei Yisroel were not redeemed from their exile he felt his reigning was secure, "nisyashvoh malchuso." We can thus explain our verse as "ba'yomim ho'heim," in the calculation of those years (70 years), "K'sheves," LIKE the settling of his reign, but not accurately so. (M'lo Ho'omer)

Ch. 1, v. 2: "Ko'heles ha'melech Achashveirosh al kisei malchuso asher b'Shushan" - When the king Achashveirosh sat upon his royal throne that was in Shushan - This is a most unusual way of orientating us with the situation, to say that he sat upon his royal throne, which was located in Shushan. Targum Sheini tells in great detail that Achashveirosh attempted to transport King Shlomo's royal throne, which was very large and heavy, which had many, many "whistles and bells" to the capital, which was actually located in Babylonia. On the way, in Shushan, it broke and it was impossible to carry it any further. Artisans were hired to make a replica, and it too, was too cumbersome to move any further. So eager was he to sit upon such an outstanding royal throne that he relocated the capital to Shushan. We now understand why the verse stresses that he sat upon the royal throne that "was in Shushan."

Ch. 1, v. 4: "B'haroso es osher k'vode malchuso v'es y'kor tiferes g'duloso" - With his displaying the wealth of honour of his kingship and the dear grandeur of his greatness - Medrash Esther relates that he inherited this great wealth from Koresh. It was a 1,080 storage houses volume of wealth. He threw a 180 day party. Every day he displayed 6 storage houses, as indicated by the 6 words, "osher k'vode malchuso y'kor tiferes g'duloso." Six storage houses a day, and 1080 storage houses takes 180 days.

Ch. 1, v. 4: "Yomim rabim shmonim um'as yom" - Many days one-hundred-eighty days - Once the verse clearly states that it lasted for 180 days, what need is there to state "yomim rabim"? We might have misunderstood that he threw his party over the period of 180 days, so by adding "yomim rabim" we now understand that the party lasted for 180 days straight. (Mahara"l in Ohr Chodosh)

Ch. 1, v. 8: "V'hash'sioh chados" - And the drinking was according to the law - The gemara Megiloh 12a says that it followed the law of the Torah, that the volume of food exceeded the volume of drink, as per the ruling of sacrifices and libations. The Imrei Emes says that this is why we do "v'nahafoch hu," the opposite, when we imbibe more drink than we eat at the Purim meal.

Ch. 1, v. 8: "Ein oneis" - There was no coercion - The gemara Megiloh 12a says that each person was served wine that was produced in his province. Rashi explains that wine to which a person is accustomed does not result in drunkenness. Rabbi Shlomo Alkabetz in Monos haLevi says that this is most crucial in appreciating the turn of events, not as a natural outgrowth of a drunken party, where even ordering one's wife to be killed even if she slightly displeased him is within reason, but rather, as clearly seeing Hashem's guiding hand guiding the events.

Ch. 1, v. 11: "B'cheser malchus l'haros ho'amim v'hasorim es yofyoh" - With a royal crown to show the nations and the ministers her beauty - The Ibn Ezra (Shmos 20:14) writes that a country bumpkin does not lust the king's daughter, as he realizes that he is not in her social status. "Amim" are the simple folk. The royal crown was placed on her head to impress the "amim," while the "sorim," who are on a closer level to the queen, would be drawn to her beauty. (M'lo Horo'im)

Ch. 1, v. 12: "Vatmo'ein hamalkoh Vashti lovo" - And the queen Vashti refused to come - The gemara Megiloh 12b says that she refused to come because the angel Gavriel made her grow a tail. Vashti was a granddaughter of Nevuchadnetzar, who was punished to become an animal (see Daniel 4). Since she continued in his bad ways, she too was punished along the same lines, to grow a tail. (Rabbi Pinchos of Piltz)

Perhaps we can put a positive spin on this. The tail alludes to her "tikun," correction. Mei'am Lo'eiz writes that Vashti's soul transmigrated into a cow. This cow was owned by Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir. He eventually sold it to a gentile. The gentile came back to Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir with the complaint that the cow would do no work on Shabbos. Rabbi Pinchos whispered into the cow's ear that it was no longer his, and now belonged to a gentile, and therefore it should work on Shabbos. He then advised the gentile that all was in order and it would now work on Shabbos. The gentile was still dissatisfied. He said that if it would still not work on Shabbos the problem was not alleviated, and if it would, and this as a result of Rabbi Pinchos's whispering something into its ear, he wanted no part of magic.

Rabbi Pinchos explained that the cow had never worked on Shabbos in the past as part of the Torah's requirement that bnei Yisroel not work their animals on Shabbos. He had now told the cow that it was no longer his, and as such, it would now work seven days a week. The gentile left satisfied. He was so impressed with what happened that he eventually converted to Judaism, and took on the name Rabbi Yochonon ben Turta, the son of a cow, as he was so strongly influenced by this cow. This was the "tikun nefesh" for Vashti who worked bnos Yisroel on Shabbos. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 1, v. 12: "Asher b'yad hasorisim" - Which was conveyed through the ministers - Had Vashti refused Achashveirosh's demand with the matter remaining between just the two of them, he likely would not have reacted so harshly. It was because her refusal came through the agency of his ministers, and he was unable to save face, that he reacted so strongly. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 1, v. 13: "Yodei ho'itim" - Who knew the dates - The gemara Megiloh says that Achashveirosh asked the Rabbis of the tribe of Yiso'chor, who knew how to calculate months and years, to judge Vashti. What bearing does this particular knowledge have with judging his rebellious wife?

A ben noach is not punished by an earthly court for acts committed before the age of twenty. Yalkut Shimoni #1,049 says that when her father Balshetzar was killed she was a "naaroh" and was married by Achashveirosh. "Naaroh" status is only until the age of 12 years (gemara Ksobus 39b). The gemara Megiloh 11b says that from the death of Balshetzar until the third year of Achashveirosh's reign seven years passed. This puts Vashti at 19 at the maximum. The royal party lasted 180 days, and it was on the seventh day after that that her rebellion took place. This would put her at just over 20 years old. However, this is only true of that year was not a two Ador year. If it was, she was still under 20 years old. Achashveirosh sought their expertise to find out if it was a thirteen or twelve month year to see if she was culpable for punishment. (Yaaros Dvash)

Ch. 1, v. 19: "Yeitzei dvar malchus milfonov" - The word of the monarchy should emanate from in front of him - The Holy Alshich explains that until now all edicts were placed in front of the cabinet, as stated in verse 13, "Ki chein dvar ha'melech lifnei kol yodei dos vodin." M'muchon suggested that this edict come straight from the king to guarantee its effectiveness.

Ch. 1, v. 19: "Dvar malchus" - The word of the monarchy - Compare this with "dvar ha'melech" of verse 13. Perhaps the change of wording reflects the manner in which this new edict was publicized. If it were simply stated that Achashveirosh was mortified by his wife's disrespect and he therefore (rashly) reacted by enacting this new law of chauvinistic mastery, he would be further disrespected. By stating that he enacted this law not as a response to his own honour, "dvar ha'melech," but rather as "dvar malchus," out of respect for his position, the monarchy, he gave it a thinly-veiled veneer of only caring about the position, and not his own skin. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 1, v. 19: "Asher lo sovo Vashti - That Vashti will not come - Why is Vashti's refusal, something that has already taken place, expressed in the future tense? This is a mild-mannered and respectful way of saying that she would be put to death, hence "that Vashti will never come in front of the king (or anyone else for that matter) again." (Megilas S'sorim)

Ch. 1, v. 20: "V'chol hanoshim yitnu y'kor l'vaa'lei'hen" - And all the wives will give honour to their husbands - The word "yitnu" seems to be grammatically incorrect, as plural, female, future conjugation should yield "ti'tenoh." This might be a proof for the position of the Ibn Ezra, that Tanach, i.e. Hashem's transmission of the text, is not as concerned for accuracy in the plural form as it is in the singular, although he himself explains that "yitnu" refers to "kol ish" of verse 22. I don't understand what this means, but he says that the problem is resolved.

Based on the insight of the Rebbe Reb Heshel, that when a woman is doing a manly act, the Torah sometimes expresses her action in the male form (examples: Vataan loheM Miriam, Nosone titen loheM), we might say that it was obvious that many woman would not act any differently from before, and in the male dominated society they would continue to be subservient. It was the women who really wanted to dominate over their husbands, but did not do so because it was not socially accepted, that Vashti's brash behaviour towards Achashveirosh might push over the brink. These "yitnu" women, who would act like men, would now be put into their place through the new edict. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 1, v. 20: "L'migodol v'ad koton" - From the large to the small - This simply means that women will honour their husbands, from the great men, who more readily are accorded honour, to the simple men, who would otherwise more likely be tread upon by their wives.

The gemara Eiruvin says that a "godol" is one who is self-sufficient, and a "koton" is one who relies upon others for his sustenance. We can thus say that all women will honour their husbands, from the man who brings in a proper livelihood to the man who doesn't. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 1, v. 22: "M'dinoh um'dinoh kich'sovoh v'el am vo'om kilshono" - Each land and land according to its script and to each nation and nation according to its language - Some men who originally came from one land now lived to the land of their wives. After living there for a bit they likely picked up a rudimentary knowledge of both the local language and its script. However, Achashveirosh did not want the edict to be self-contradictory. Since the new law was that the spoken word in the household would be that of the husband, imagine receiving a notice to this effect in, let us say, Italy, in Italian, in a home where the husband was Chinese and the wife Italian. For the men of the Chinese nation the edict would be phonetically in his language, although the lettering would be the same as Italians use. (Taamo Dikro)

Ch. 1, v. 22: "Li'h'yos kol ish soreir b'veiso" - That every man shall master in his home - It seems that this edict played a great royal in facilitating the great hidden miracle of Esther's becoming Achashveirosh's queen. She did not disclose her nationality, nor her religion. How could the king take as his queen a woman who had unknown roots, possibly a waif left at someone's doorstep? By denigrating all women in general with this new ruling the possibility of taking a queen of unknown background became a possibility and then a reality. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 1, v. 22: "Umda'beir kilshone amo" - And to speak the language of his nation - Ibn Ezra and Rabbeinu Bachyei both say that this second edict had nothing to do with the disastrous Vashti incident. Rather it was a distraction and obfuscation of Achashveirosh's very self-centred other law.

The Chasam Sofer offers that it was a very direct outgrowth of Vashti's impertinence. The gemara Megiloh 12b relates that Vashti sent this message back to Achashveirosh. "To the stable-keeper of my father - My father was able to remain sober even after drinking 1,000 glasses of liquor, and you are drunk after just a bit of drinking."

An obvious question arises: How did the king's ministers have the audacity to repeat her vindictive, impudent, brazen words? The Chasam Sofer answers that his ministers spoke the Sursi language, while Vashti, who was a Kasdaite, spoke the Kasdi language. She stated her response in the Kasdi language and they parroted it to Achashveirosh, assuming that she was excusing herself (and her tail), that she was dermatologically challenged. Since they repeated her words in front of many, many ministers, some of whom understood Kasdi, and no doubt served as translators to the rest of the crowd, Achashveirosh suffered great embarrassment. He therefore issued an edict that from now on all wives should speak the language of their husbands.

Ch. 2, v. 1: "V'eis asher ososoh v'eis asher nigzar o'lehoh" - And what she did and what was decreed upon her - The medrash relates that Hashem complained about Vashti," Here I have given you reign over 127 lands and you have desecrated the Shabbos of the bnos Yisroel.

As related in the Megiloh, Achashveirosh reigned for two years and then threw his royal feast for 180 days. After that he made a seven day extension, and it was on this day of the grand finale that Vashti was deposed of her position and her life. A year has 354 days. Two years have 708 days. Add the 180 days of the feast and we have 888 days. Divide this by 7 and we have 126, the number of Shabbosos during the 888 days. Add the final 7th day, which was Shabbos, and we have a total of 127 Shabbosos. She caused the bnos Yisroel to desecrate 127 Shabbosos, and in turn, Hashem removed her at this point from her reigning over 127 lands. (Likutei Anshei Shem)

Ch. 2, v. 2: "Va'yomru naa'rei ha'melech" - And the king's youths said - They had the merit that through their suggestion Esther was chosen the queen. This brought them to another merit later on in this story, that of relating to the king that no reward was given to Mordechai, in keeping with the dictum, "mitzvoh goreres mitzvoh." (Baal Medrash Shmuel)

Ch. 2, v. 9: "Sheva hanaaros" - The seven maidens - Each of these maidens served her a different day of the week, as per the gemara Megiloh 13a. Targum Rishon lists their names. Tosfos Brochoh suggests that each name corresponds to what took place on that day during the seven days of creation.

"Cholta," means creation, and the first day was the basis of creation. (As well, Rashi says that all things were created then and put into function on different days.)

"Rokaisa" means firmament, the day of the creation of the heavens.

"Ginonisa" means vegetation, as per the verse of the creation of greenery on the third day.

"N'horisa" means illumination, corresponding to the sun, moon, and stars, which were placed into service on the fourth day.

"Roch'shisa" means crawling creatures, corresponding to the sea and earth creatures of the fifth day.

"Chorfisa" means the "eve of," as per the gemara Shabbos 115. Friday was the eve of Shabbos.

"Rogaisa" means calmness, alluding to Shabbos, which is a day of rest.

When the gemara says that she used them to keep an accounting of which day of the week it was, it means that through using these names, she actually alluded to the days of creation.

The Rokei'ach notes that "hanaaros ha'ru'yos" has the same numerical value as "Zu hoysoh monoh vo'hen Shabbos."

Ch. 2, v. 11: "Uvchol yom voyom lodaas es shlome Esther" - And every day to know Esther's welfare - It was between four and five years until Esther was taken to Achashveirosh (see GR"A al derech hapshat). During that time Mordechai went daily to check on Esther's well-being. This was a key factor in the Purim story, as it was surely in the merit of Mordechai's total involvement and concern for Esther that he merited to have the Purim miracle take place through his efforts. (Sfas Emes)

Ch. 2, v. 15: "Esther bas Avichayil dode Mordechai" - It is most unusual for the verse to tell us her ancestry at this point, once she was already introduced earlier. Why wasn't her father's name mentioned there, and why mention here that Mordechai was a relative? Earlier, as Mordechai's wife, "l'bas = l'bayis," she was totally removed from her paternal connection. Now that she had to share her wifehood with Achashveirosh as well, and as such, Mordechai's relationship with her has weakened, she is called her father's daughter. At the same time, she still remained Mordechai's wife, so he is also mentioned, albeit as a relative of her father. (Mahara"l of Prague in Ohr Chodosh)

He does not explain why she is again called the daughter of Avichayil at the end of the Megiloh (9:29). This is clarified by Taamo Dikro. Since the verse there discusses Esther's offering the text of the Megiloh to the Rabbi's to be added to the Holy Scriptures, which hinges upon its being Divinely inspired (this is not the only factor), her upbringing by the holy and scholarly Avichayil (as mentioned by the Rokei'ach that he was Mordechai's teacher) was influential in her receiving Divine inspiration.

Ch. 2, v. 18: "V'hanochoh lamdinos ossoh" - And a tax exemption for the lands he enacted - We note taxation matters here and later, at the end of the Megiloh, where Achashveirosh reenacted taxes. What bearing does this have on the unfolding of events? We see that although Achashveirosh gave everyone a tax break, the bnei Yisroel were not included. Otherwise, why would Homon offer Achashveirosh a vast amount of money? As well, what need was there to convince him that "it is not worth the king's trouble to leave them alive" (3:8)? They were not paying taxes anyway. If we say that they did pay taxes, then he had to convince the king of their lack of value, and that the tax loss would be offset by his generous payoff.

Once Achashveirosh felt that Homon was his enemy he returned to the outlook of the bnei Yisroel's being a source for taxes and did not want them ch"v eradicated.

When Mordechai and Esther requested permission to kill their enemies, they did not have to offer money to make up the tax loss, as no one was paying taxes anyway, so this was readily agreed upon by Achashveirosh. Once the killing was over and there was no benefit for the bnei Yisroel in having people be freed from taxation, Hashem put it into Achashveirosh's mind to reinstate the taxes, as mentioned in 10:1. (Yoseif Lekach)

Ch. 2, v. 20: "Kaasher tzivoh o'lehoh Mordechoi v'es maamar Mordechai Esther osoh kaasher hoysoh v'omnoh ito" - As Mordechai commanded her and Mordechai's word Esther is fulfilling just as when she was fostered by him - Why the change from Mordechai's commanding to Mordechai's saying? When Mordechai told her earlier to not disclose her nationality, she was at that time his foster child, and as such, like his daughter. His word was a command, like that of a father. When it came to the implication, at that time she was Achashveirosh's wife, and Mordechai's command was no longer binding. It was only his word. However, the verse tells us that she fulfilled it with the same severity as the time she was "v'omnoh ito." (Baal Medrash Shmuel)

Ch. 3, v. 7: "Hipil pur" - He threw a lot - Eliyohu Rabboh O.Ch. #693 cites Sefer Amarkol, who says that when Homon saw the lottery land on the month of Ador he was most pleased because it was the month that many of the bnei Yisroel died during three days of darkness. However, he was not aware of "Ulchol bnei Yisroel hoyoh ohr b'moshvosom" of the survivors. An allusion to this might be that "hipil" (i"h) has the same numerical value as "a'feiloh."

Ch. 3, v. 13: "V'nishlo'ach sforim" - And to send writs - Rabbi Shlomo haLevi Alkabetz says that although the content of this verse is arguably the nadir of the Purim story for the bnei Yisroel, nevertheless, the seeds of redemption appear here as well. He notes that all the letters of the Alef-Beis, including the five final letters, are present in our verse. He adds that throughout Tanach there are a total of twenty-two verses (there are 22 letters in the Alef-Beis) that contain all the letters of the Alef-Beis. This alludes to the merit of the twenty-two letters of the Torah, through which we are protected. A careful review of this verse shows that one letter is not present, the final Tzadi. Although this is contrary to the insight of the Monos haLevi, perhaps a new insight emerges from noting that only the final Tzadi is not present. As mentioned in an early edition of Sedrah Selections, the letter Tzadi represents the "tzadik," the righteous person. This is clearly stated in the preface of the Holy Zohar to the Torah, "Tzadi ant v'tzadik ant." (Some people mistakenly call this letter Tzadik, and it seems to be the result of adjoining the sound of the first part of the following letter, Kuf, to it.) By leaving out the final Tzadi, our verse could well be indicating that this horrendous decree came about by virtue of the lack of the nation being TOTALLY righteous. Although there were tzadikim among them, there was no final tzadi(k). There is one, and only one verse in Tanach that contains all the letters of the Alef-Beis, including ALL final letters. Where is this verse? What does it indicate?

Ch. 3, v. 15: "V'ho'ir Shushan novochoh" - And the city Shushan was perplexed - Why? Achashveirosh, when under the influence of alcohol was very unpredictable. He had his wife Vashti killed when she displeased him when he was drunk. Once he missed her very much and regretted what happened, he decided to stay off the "golden brew." Now that he had a meeting with Homon, replete with liquor, "V'ha'melech v'Homon yoshvu lishtose," the populace was very uneasy. Who knows what new edict will result from Achashveirosh's being inebriated again? (Rabbi Shlomo Kluger)

Ch. 4, v. 1: "Va'yizak z'okoh g'doloh umoroh" - And he cried out a cry that was great and bitter - The medrash says that this countered Eisov's great cry when he felt he was robbed of the blessings that he deserved (Breishis 27:34). Why was Mordechai's crying out more powerful that Eisov's?

1) Here it is "z'okoh," while there it is "tz'okoh." The difference is that the latter is just screaming, while the former means screaming out to join as a group.

2) Here it was accompanied with renting his garments, donning sack-cloth, and placing ashes.

3) Here it was done in public.

4) Here there was no "ad m'ode" as there. M'ode is interpreted by our Rabbis to mean one's property, as in "uvchol m'o'decho." Eisov cried out in concern of his perceived physical losses, while Mordechai cried out concerned about lives.

Ch. 4, v. 2: "Ki ein lovo el shaar ha'melech bilvush sok" - Because it is inappropriate to come to the king's gate dressed in sackcloth - The Sforno cites this verse three times in his commentary on the Torah to explain those three verses. Which verses are they?

Ch. 4, v. 16: "Uvchein ovo el ha'melech" - And thus I shall come to the king - "Uvchein" coming on front of the king of our verse alludes to the text of our R.H. and Y.K. prayers, where we appear in front of the King in judgment and say three prayers that begin with "uvchein."

Ch. 4, v. 16: "V'chaasher avadto ovodti" - And as I have lost it is lost - The gemara Megiloh 15a explains that Esther said that until now her having relations with Achashveirosh was against her will as she had to cooperate with him. By coming now uncalled, she would be doing it willingly and thus become prohibited to Mordechai. This was the loss to which she referred. See responsa Noda Bihudoh Y.D. 2:161, where he deals with a case of a woman who was among a group of people who were captured and threatened to be put to death. She offered herself for being violated with the intention that this distraction would allow for the others to escape. The question was if she if what she did was proper, as it was here with Esther.

Ch. 5, v. 3: "Ad chatzi hamalchus" - Up to half the kingdom - the gemara Megiloh 15b interprets this to mean that Achashveirosh agreed to anything but the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdosh, a matter that splits the kingdom, "chatzi" = "chotzeitz." How does the building of the Beis Hamikdosh divide the kingdom? Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer chapter #11 relates that because Achashveirosh disrupted the building of the Beis Hamikdosh, the 254 lands over which he ruled were reduced to only 127. This cut his kingdom in half, truly a "dovor hachotzeitz hamalchus." (Yaaros Dvash)

Ch. 6, v. 2: "Va'yimotzei chosuv" - And it was found written - The gemara Megiloh 15b says that these words teach us that it was just found, because Shimshi, the son of Homon and a court scribe had altered the section dealing with Mordechai's saving Achashveirosh's life, and the angel Gavriel rewrote it. Rabbi Elisha Galiko explains this on a simple level. The large multi-paged tome opened exactly to this page. This made an impression on Achashveirosh that the text of this particular page was relevant.

Ch. 6, v. 2: "Asher higid Mordechai" - that Mordechai told - Why wasn't Esther's participation also included? After all, she related the information to Achashveirosh? This was again a case of "hashgochoh protis." An important component of the development of events was that Achashveirosh was also afraid that Esther was in cahoots with Homon to kill him, as related in the gemara Megiloh. Had Esther's involvement been recorded, he surely would not have been suspicious of Esther. (M'lo Ho'omer)

Ch. 6, v. 3: "Lo naasoh imo dovor" - Nothing has as of yet been done with him - The gemara Megiloh says that they said this not out of love for Mordechai, but out of hate for Homon. How is this indicated in our verse? The Chacham Zvi cites a few places in Tanach where a person is mentioned, but not by his name, and it is always where there is animosity towards him. Since they said "nothing was done for HIM" and not, "for Mordechai," it indicates that they did not say this because they favoured him. (Asifas Z'keinim)

Alternatively, "lo naasoh imo DOVOR," - not even a little bit has been done to reward him - indicates that all he deserves is a minimal reward. (Kikoyon d'Yonah, Rabbi Avrohom Karp, Kol Avrohom)

Ch. 7, v. 9: "Hi'nei ho'eitz asher ossoh Homon l'Mordechai" - Behold here is the tree that Homon made for Mordechai - What difference does it make that Homon prepared it for hanging Mordechai? Homon was Mordechai's slave, as related in the gemara Megiloh. Although as king, Achashveirosh had the right to kill Homon, nevertheless, this would be a monetary loss for Mordechai, and the king might not want to kill Homon. However, since Homon wanted to kill Mordechai, Mordechai would be very pleased to have him put out of the way. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 8, v. 10: "Ho'achashtronim bnei horamochim" - Since I am not wiser than our Chachmei ha'gemara I will not attempt to translate these words. The gemara Megiloh 18a says that we do not know how to translate these words. It is safe to at least assume that they are a type of animal used for quick travel.

The gemara Makos 5a raises the following issue: There is a structure of falsifying witnesses called "hazomoh." Simply put, a pair of witnesses is contradicted, not in the statement of fact they testified, but in their ability to testify to this matter at all. The contradicting witnesses say, "How can you two testify that this and this took place at this and this time in this specific place, when you were with us at the same time somewhere else?" Similarly if they testify that they were with them a few hours earlier (or later) in a totally different place, from which they could not have traversed the distance in the interim. The gemara gives an example of two places distanced numerous hours apart and the contradicting witnesses testifying to being together at a different time, but a narrow enough spread of time that they could not be there in time. The gemara asks why it is necessary to give an example, as it is self understood. The gemara answers that if the witnesses had access to "gamli parchi" - flying camels, i.e. camels that run at an amazing speed, it would be possible to be in both places within this narrow spread of time. Nevertheless, we do not assume that this took place (unless the witnesses can prove it was so), and the first witnesses are disqualified as "eidim zom'mim," plotting witnesses, subject to retribution in kind as they planned against the person about whom they testified.

The thrust of our verse is that new edicts were sent throughout the dominion of Achashveirosh at post haste speed. Since the fastest mode of transportation offered by the gemara is "flying camels," why weren't they sent? Rashi in his commentary on our verse says that they are a species of swift camels. How does Rashi know something that the gemara says it does not know? Perhaps on the basis of this question just posed Rashi derived that they are one and the same. Perhaps the gemara knew that it means swift camels, but does not know how to translate the actual words "Ho'achashtronim bnei horamochim," as any species of camel would at least incorporate the word "g'malim," but the straight-forward wording of the gemara seems to mean that they did not know what species this was, so we are back to our question.

One might simply answer that "achashtronim" are faster, but the gemara Makos does not know what they are, so it only mentioned "flying camels."

One could venture that there were no "flying camels" in Persia, although it is right next to Bovel, or that many of the countries where the new edict had to reach were too cold, too hot, too mountainous, for "flying camels" but not for "achashtronim," but this is all conjecture. However, there is a very good answer for this question that requires outside knowledge of the writings of a Rishon on Tanach. What is it? A hint: a dove - ANSWER AT BOTTOM -

Ch. 8, v. 16: "Oroh" - The gemara Megiloh 16b says that this word refers to the Torah, as per the verse, "Ki ner mitzvoh v'Sorah ohr." The gemara Shabbos 88a says that the bnei Yisroel accepted the oral Torah in the days of Achashveirosh, and not at the time of the giving of the Torah, because then they were forced into accepting it. As explained in the Medrash Tanchuma parshas Noach #3, the coercion was only for the oral Torah, as the written Torah was readily accepted, as per "naa'seh v'nishmo." Lachmei Todoh notes that the numerical value of "biksav," written, is 424, while "b'al peh" is 187, which total 611, the same as Torah. Only when both are accepted is the Torah complete. It was most befitting to accept the oral Torah after the sin of enjoying the feast offered by Achashveirosh, which was against the wisdom of Mordechai, the "Torah she'b'al peh." The 187 days of the feast, correspond to the numerical value of "b'al peh," and they realized that it was a mistake to only follow the written words without the insight of our sages. (Droshos Minchas Yitzchok)

Ch. 8, v. 16: "Vikor" - The gemara Megiloh 16b says that this word refers to tefillin, as per the verse, "V'ro'u chol a'mei ho'oretz ki shem Hashem nikra o'lecho" (Dvorim 28:10), which the gemara Brochos 6a says refers to the head tefillin. What is the connection to "vikor"? The word "nikra" comes closest to "vikor." However, based on the words of the Holy Zohar, Divrei Sholo'm Ve'emes by R' E. Mund, finds a different connection. The Holy Zohar in his preface to the Torah 13b writes that the four parshios that are contained in the head tefillin correspond to the four letters of Hashem's Holy Name Y-H-V-H. The four parshios of the arm tefillin correspond to His Holy Name A-D-N-Y. The verse says that "shem HASHEM" is upon you, and therefore this refers specifically to the head tefillin only. "Ykor" is paired with "tiferes" in the Megiloh, and the Holy Zohar writes that "tiferes" is a sfiroh connected with Y-H-V-H, while "kovod" is connected with A-D-N-Y. Thus, "y'kor" is a manifestation of the Holy Name Y-H-V-H, which corresponds to the shel rosh tefillin.

Ch. 9, v. 23: "Umishlo'ach monos ish l'rei'eihu umatonos lo'evyonim" - And sending portions a man to his friend and presents to the destitute - The Rambam writes that donations to the destitute are far more important than mishlo'ach monos, and one should maximize donations to the needy, even at the cost of minimizing mishlo'ach monos. Given this priority to matonos lo'evyonim, why does the verse first mention the less important? Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried in his commentary on the Torah, Aperion, answers that since the preferred manner of donating to a poor person is without public fanfare, so that people not realize that one is the recipient of charity, our Rabbis instituted to give mishloach monos. That way if one sees that Reuvein is giving something to Shimon he will not automatically assume that it is a charity handout, but rather mishlo'ach monos. Mishlo'ach monos, mentioned first, upgrades the giving of matonos lo'evyonim.

Ch. 9, v. 26: "Ho'i'gerres hazose" - This letter - In verse 29 we find "i'gerres haPurim hazose." Perhaps the reason that the word "haPurim" is added to describe the letter is because after the great salvation and the transcribing of all the events, which were eventually the Megilas Esther text, it was not yet agreed upon by the sages that Purim be a national permanent event. By the time the first anniversary of Purim came around the sages had discovered that the Megiloh was written through the power of "ruach haKodesh," as explained in the gemara Megiloh 17a, so they decided that Purim should be an annual national event and they also instituted Megiloh reading by night and by day. This is the intention of "nizkorim," through Megiloh reading, and "naasim," through "mishteh, matonos," and "monos." Then, as recorded in verse 29, in the second year, "hazose hasheinis" (see Rashi), it became an "i'gerres Hapurim." (Nirreh li)

Ch. 9, v. 26: "Ho'i'gerres hazose" - This letter - The Mo'gein Avrohom on Sh.O. O.Ch. #690:17 writes that when these words in the Megiloh and likewise in Ch. 9, v. 29, when the words "i'gerres haPurim hazose" are read, the actual Megiloh scroll should be shaken.

Ch. 9, v. 27: "Kimu v'kibl(u)" - They established and accepted - The plural reading, "kri," of "v'kiblU," - and THEY accepted, flows with the next word, "haY'hudim," also plural. Nevertheless, there must be an understanding of the word in the singular form since the word is written, "v'ki'beil," without a Vov at the end. The Holy Zohar on Shmos page 40b writes that the singular "v'ki'beil" refers to Moshe. Even millennia before the Purim events actually transpired, Moshe "ki'beil," Moshe received the text of this Megiloh through prophecy.

Ch. 10, v. 1: "Va'yo'sem ha'melech mas" - The king placed a tax - This point of information is conveyed in the Megiloh to teach us how strongly the "v'nahafoch hu" impacted. Normally a king would be extremely reluctant to impose a tax just after giving the bnei Yisroel a free hand to kill anyone who opposed them, as indeed many were killed. The king should logically wait until things quieted down. By mentioning that he immediately placed a tax on all his provinces we see how accepting all were of the bnei Yisroel's right to attack those who would have attacked them. (Gri"z haLevi Brisker)

Ch. 10, v. 2: "Ha'lo heim k'suvim" - Aren't they written - "Ha'lo" is spelled with a Vov and an Alef. As mentioned in Sedrah Selections, this spelling gives a dual understanding, yes and no. A prime example is "LO" spelled in this manner by the laws of redeeming a home in a city that is fortified (walled), "asher LO chomoh." The gemara Megiloh says that we derive from this that even if at the time of the sale and redemption the city had no wall, but did have one in the days of Yehoshua's vanquishing the inhabitants of Canaan, the city has the status of being fortified. Similarly here, Mordechai's valour and being elevated to second-in-command by Achashveirosh, "aren't they written," but one can be sure that when the opportunity arose, the royal librarians tampered with the records and "aren't they written" became "are they written." (Nirreh li)

Ch. 10, v. 3: "Doreish tov l'amo" - He seeks out good for his nation - Mordechai was now saddled with additional governmental responsibilities as second-in-command to Achashveirosh. Nevertheless, he not only provided betterment for his people when requested to do so, but even looked out for opportunities to improve their lot. (Beis haLevi)


The Rokei'ach on parshas Breishis 1:25 on the words "V'es hab'heimoh" writes that "v'es" teaches us that Hashem also created the exotic "Achashtran," an animal that has eight feet. It runs with only four at a time, and when it tires, it puts down its other four feet, pulls up the tired ones and continues to run. It therefore seems that even if "flying camels" are faster, they will nevertheless eventually tire out and have to rest. "Achashtrorin" although not quite as fast, will get to their destination earlier, as they do not need to stop to rest. The gemara Makos offers "flying camels" for a distance that is sufficiently close that the camels will not need to stop, and they are the fastest to get there.

The hint of a dove is that the dove likewise is capable of flying with just one wing, and then using only the other while resting the first, as pointed out by Rabbeinu Efrayim in parshas Noach, where he notes that the verse says that the dove found no rest for the sole of its foot, indicating that for its wing it did find rest.



Back to Purim Homepage

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,

provided that this notice is included intact.

Jerusalem, Israel