Purim 5783: The Extension of Achasveirosh’s Scepter and Hashem’s Total Mastery of the World

Shalom Friends;

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Moshe Burt
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Purim 5783: The Extension of Achasveirosh’s Scepter and Hashem’s Total Mastery of the World

by Moshe Burt

The “127 Insights into Megillat Esther” (compiled from the words of Chazal by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach of Jerusalem) and from the sefer, “Let My People Live”, by Yosef Deutsch provides insights regarding the saving of the Jews from Haman’s plot of annihilation and the Jews’ re-acceptance of Torah.

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

It’s not the first time that Mordechai 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, both of whom hailed from Tarshish (“Let My People Live”, by Yosef Deutsch, page 142 citing R’ Shmuel di Uzidah, sefer Melo HaOmer). The two spoke openly about their plot in their native tongue Tarsi (The Artscroll Tanach Series: The Megillah, The Book of Esther, Chapter 2, notes to posuk 22, page 63 citing gemura Megillat 13b), a seemingly obscure, insignificant foreign tongue. Seated about 20 paces away from where Bigsan and Seresh hatched their plot and unbeknownst to them, Mordechai overheard their assassination plot.

The story goes that Mordekhai got word to Esther who informed the King, giving full credit for disclosure of the plot to Mordechai (despite Mordechai’s wish that his name not be mentioned), taking no credit for herself. (“Let My People Live”, by Yosef Deutsch, page 147)

But, in the case of Haman’s plot and decree against the Jews, Esther is nervous. A bit of background here: according to laws enacted during the reign of Dar’yovesh (Darius) in the aftermath of Balshazzar’s assassination, and updated, with additional provisions and strictly enforced by Haman, she can’t just enter the king’s court without first having been summoned. Such a violation would be seen as “a major breach in security” (“Let My People Live”, by Yosef Deutsch, page 222 citing Aggadas Esther; Menos HaLevi; Akeidah). In fact, Deutsch indicates (page 222 of “Let My People Live”) that Haman would screen all visitors to the king lest anyone reveal that he (Haman) “once sold himself to Mordechai” or lest anyone speak up for the Jews or advocate for rebuilding the Beit HaMikdash.

Deutsch indicates that Esther queried (ibid) :

“Do you think that he will let me set up an appointment? He hates me! Whenever he sees me, he remembers that if it hadn’t been for me, he might have had his daughter sitting on the throne.” (“Let My People Live”, by Yosef Deutsch, page 222 citing Targum; Rokeach; Targum Rishon; Menos HaLevi)

Esther fears being put to death, not out of fear for her own life, but out of fear of being put to death, and thus being unable to act to save her people.

Megillat Esther records in Perek 4, posukim 13-14 as rendered to English in The Artscroll Tanach Series: Megillat Esther:

“…Then Mordechai said in reply to Esther: ‘Do not imagine that you will be able to escape in the King’s palace any more than the rest of the Jews, For if you persist in keeping silent at a time like this, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from some other place, while you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether it was just for such a time as this that you attained the royal position!'”

So, we know that Esther responded to Mordechai asking him to assemble all the Jews of Shushan to fast for her, as did she and her maids for three days.

Megillat Esther continues (ibid, Perek 4, posuk 16 through Perek 5, posuk 2 rendered to English) :

“‘Then I will go to the King though it’s unlawful. And if I perish, I perish.’ Mordechai then… did exactly as Esther had commanded him.”

“Now it came to pass on the third day, Esther donned royalty and stood in the inner court of the King’s palace … while the King was sitting on his throne in the throne room facing the chamber’s entrance. When the King noticed Queen Esther standing in the court, she won his favor. The King extended to Esther the gold scepter… , and Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.”

Rabbi Weinbach, in his Sefer, “127 Insights into Megillat Esther” writes:

Three angels were… dispatched to help [Queen Esther]. One raised her head erect and another endowed her with a miraculous charm. The extension of the golden scepter was… a sign that she would be pardoned for making an uninvited visit, but her right to present a request depended upon her ability to touch the tip of the scepter before it was withdrawn. Since she was… quite a distance from the king, this was [derech hateva — in natural terms] an impossibility. Thus, a third angel stretched the scepter until it reached Esther’s fingertips.

As to how far the two-cubit scepter was miraculously elongated,…. the most radical view, based only on tradition, is that the king’s gold scepter stretched two hundred cubits until it reached Esther.

Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, in his Sefer, “Unlocking the Torah Text,” Sefer Shemos, Parshat Va’eira discusses the the patterns and purpose of the plagues and an understanding of Rabbi Yehuda’s division of the plagues into three groups (page 59 -60) :

Is he [Rabbi Yehuda] simply creating a tool [dtzach adash bachav] for memorization, or is there deeper significance to his division of the plagues into three distict groups?

One of the first scholars to interpret Rabbi Yehuda’s division of the plagues is the Abravanel. Based upon hints within Pharaoh’s initial reaction to Moshe, the Abravanel identifies three basic principles rejected by Pharaoh: the existence of Hashem, Divine Providence (the involvement of Hashem in the life of man) and Hashem’s ability to control nature.

“And you may know that there is none like Me in all the world.” (Rabbi Goldin rendering to English Sefer Shemos, Perek 9, posuk 14) The plagues of hail, locusts and darkness demonstrate Hashem’s ability to control nature.

This author understands the miraculous elongation of Achasveirosh’s scepter to be a emblematic of Hashem’s ability to control nature — supernal [1 See below] — super-natural, just as was the maka (plague) of Choshek, the splitting of the Reed Sea and other beyond-nature occurrences through history.

We all know what happened next: Esther’s invite of the King and Haman to two successive banquets, Achasveirosh’s sleepless night and the revelation of the censoring, and re-writing the official record which told that Mordechai, the Jew, saved the king’s life; Haman’s presumption of honor and his subsequent assignment by Achashveirosh to honor Mordechai by leading him on a horse through streets of Shushan. We also know of the oft-repeated account of how, as the procession passed Haman’s home, that Haman’s daughter, thinking that it was Mordechai leading her father, dumped the “village pot” (excrement) which landed on her father’s head. A disheveled Haman was then led by the palace guard to the second banquet where he is exposed, as Rabbi Weinbach renders to Emglish, “the adversary is not worth the damage he causes the king” (Megillat Esther, Perek 7, posuk 4), whereupon Haman is hung on the very gallows where he had intended to hang Mordechai.

May we, the B’nei 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, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, all at total government expense; due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now in his third year at home in Eretz Yisrael and has embarked on a new chapter in his life. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her spirit and memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of eight years ago. 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 prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese corona virus pandemic and all like viruses. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei 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 Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Purim Same’ach!!

[1] adjective: being in or belonging to the heaven of divine beings; heavenly, celestial, or divine. lofty; of more than earthly or human excellence, powers, etc.
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.