Purim 5773: Hashem’s Cure Preceded the Blow — Then and Throughout History

by Moshe Burt

This vort endeavors to deal with two insights, among at least “127 Insights into Megillat Esther” (compiled from the words of Chazal by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach of Jerusalem) which are for the most part echoed in the sefer, “Let My People Live”, by Yosef Deutsch. These two insights seem integral to the saving of the Jews and their re-acceptance of Torah.

Mordekhai gets word of Haman’ plot to eradicate the Jews. Esther, who is already positioned as Queen for nine years after King Akhashveirosh of Persia, in a drunken stupor, accepted and carried out the advice of the most crude and nobility-lacking of his counselors, Memukhan — later known as Haman — who called for queen Vashti’s execution. Mordekhai summons Esther to entreat the king, in his court, regarding the threat to the Jews.

It’s not the first time that Mordekhai summoned Esther to use the power of her throne in defense of her people. There was the assassination plot of two of the king’s servants, Bigsan and Seresh. The two spoke openly about their plot in a seemingly obscure foreign tongue — unbeknownst to them that Mordekhai, a former member of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish High Court) had to be fluent in all 70 of the world’s languages to sit in as a member of that body. The story goes that Mordekhai got word to Esther who informed the King, giving full credit for disclosure of the plot to Mordekhai.

But Esther’s nervous — she can’t just enter the king’s court without first having been summoned. She fears being put to death, not out of fear for her own life, but out of fear of being put to death, and thus be unable to act to save her people. We are told that Esther, who held the name of Hadassah, was Mordekhai’s cousin who he adopted as his daughter. And according to commentators ( “127 Insights into Megillat Esther”, page 75) :

His deep concern for his orphaned cousin eventually moved him to marry her as well.

And so, Esther, whose liaisons with King Akhashveirosh were understood halakhically as having been by his summons under penalty of death for non-compliance, knew that her voluntary act of coming before the king (condoned by Mordekhai on behalf of the Jewish people) would result in a halakhic ban against her ever being with her husband again. Mordekhai chastened Queen Esther to go before the king. And so she called for the Jews to pray for her and to fast three days, including the first day of Pesach to:

…atone for the forbidden food and drink they had consumed at Akhashveirosh’s banquet. (“127 Insights into Megillat Esther”, page 115)

Thus, Esther’s positioning by Hashem as Persia’s Queen, enabled uncovering of the assassination plot which later resulted in the unraveling of Haman, and saving the Jewish people from Haman’s extermination plot.

But, there is another aspect to speak of, among many resulting in the saving of the Jews of Akhashveirosh’s empire from eradication. Mordekhai’s integral part in the unraveling of the assassination plot resulted in an entry in the King’s records or annals, which later a Persian sofer blotted out. But then came King Akhashveirosh’s restless night after the first banquet thrown by Queen Esther for both The King and for Haman, his most powerful (cabinet) minister. “127 Insights into Megillat Esther”, page 93 notes:

Mordekhai saved the King’s life just before Haman’s rise to power, i.e. the cure preceded the blow.

So we all know the results: A Molokh came and extended the length of the King’s septor to reach Esther. And then, after the first banquet, a Molokh came and re-wrote the entry in the King’s record which the restless monarch then read which detailed Mordekhai’s having saved the King’s life.

The next morning Haman arrives in the Palace bright and early seeking to have Mordekhai hung on the gallows. The King incercepts Haman with his question of what honors to bestow on one who saved the King. Haman, full of himself, assumes that the King wishes to honor him. He’s utterly shocked when the King tells tim to bestow honor upon Mordekhai by leading him (Mordekhai) through the streets of Shushan. There is even a story told that as Haman approached his own palace, his daughter, thought that it was her Father receiving honors and being led through the streets by what she thought was a disgraced Mordekhai.

From high above the street, she dumped an excrement bucket out, toward the street thinking it would hit Mordekhai. Instead, the excrement splattered all over her father, Haman. His daughter, grief-stricken at what she did, leaped to her death moments later.

It was about that very moment that Akhashveirosh summoned Haman back to the palace. It was time for the second banquet, the one where the extent of Haman’s evil was revealed, including what appeared to Akhashveirosh as Haman’s unseemly and aggressive forwardness toward Esther. Haman was seized, covered and led away by the King’s guards and hung, along with his 10 sons on the very gallows he had intended for Mordekhai.

But both Esther’s prior positioning as Queen, and the entry into the King’s record of Mordekhai’s foiling of the assassination plot seem as cures which preceded the blow. But these two related events are, by no means isolated. There is an understanding that the ram caught in the thicket and offered to Hashem in place of Yitzchak was created during creation’s first six days. The same seemingly with the Parah Adumah, Bila’am’s donkey (the inspiration for the 1960s TV series: Mr. ED) and more throughout history to this very day. The cure, Hashem’s antidote preceded and precedes the blow.

Is it any wonder, this citing from Mark Twain who wrote about the Jews? (Rebbetzin Shira Smiles, in her “Torah Tapestries” on Sefer Shemot, pages 2-6):

“The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian arose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dreamstuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they were gone; other peoples have sprung up up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in the twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all and is now what he always was. What is the secret of his immortality? (”Concerning the Jews, ” Harper’s Sept., 1899.)

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the other MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Purim Some’akh

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.