Sunday, March 20, 2011

Megillah Observations

In Heshy's honor, because he asked me to post about this before Purim was out.


In Esther 6:13 we read יג וַיְסַפֵּר הָמָן לְזֶרֶשׁ אִשְׁתּוֹ, וּלְכָל-אֹהֲבָיו, אֵת, כָּל-אֲשֶׁר קָרָהוּ; וַיֹּאמְרוּ לוֹ חֲכָמָיו וְזֶרֶשׁ אִשְׁתּוֹ, אִם מִזֶּרַע הַיְּהוּדִים מָרְדֳּכַי אֲשֶׁר הַחִלּוֹתָ לִנְפֹּל לְפָנָיו לֹא-תוּכַל לוֹ--כִּי-נָפוֹל תִּפּוֹל, לְפָנָיו.

13 And Haman recounted unto Zeresh his wife and all his friends every thing that had befallen him. Then said his wise men and Zeresh his wife unto him: 'If Mordecai, before whom thou hast begun to fall, be of the seed of the Jews, thou shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely fall before him.

Note how Haman's downfall actually occurs. In Esther 7:8 we read

ח וְהַמֶּלֶךְ שָׁב מִגִּנַּת הַבִּיתָן אֶל-בֵּית מִשְׁתֵּה הַיַּיִן, וְהָמָן נֹפֵל עַל-הַמִּטָּה אֲשֶׁר אֶסְתֵּר עָלֶיהָ, וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ, הֲגַם לִכְבּוֹשׁ אֶת-הַמַּלְכָּה עִמִּי בַּבָּיִת; הַדָּבָר, יָצָא מִפִּי הַמֶּלֶךְ, וּפְנֵי הָמָן, חָפוּ. 8

Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman was fallen upon the couch whereon Esther was. Then said the king: 'Will he even force the queen before me in the house?' As the word went out of the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face.

When Haman falls upon the couch to beg for his life, the king misinterprets this as an attempt to conquer/ rape/ seduce the queen. Therefore, he angrily determines Haman must be punished, sealing Haman's fate of falling before Mordechai.

As a second observation, every time Haman talks to Zeresh he also talks to all his "loved ones." Only at the last does the verse say he speaks to Zeresh and his "wise ones." This would suggest either there are two different groups of people or somehow the loved ones transformed into wise ones. Anyone familiar with commentaries on this?


Joshua Josephs said...

I need to go back and look to find who made the following comment, but it went along the lines of the following. While Haman was on the ascendancy he considered those giving him advice to be his loved ones, in the vein that they flattered his ego. Once they no longer supported him they became to him merely wise men.

Ezzie said...

Don't have an answer necessarily, but perhaps it relates to the question I have: Why is it that the (seemingly) same group of people who all along told Haman to continue on his path and to hang Mordechai... then say "if he's Jewish you will undoubtedly fall". Didn't they know he was Jewish all along? What changed?

Perhaps it's easy to surround one's self with "Yes" men who consistently say "sure, do that, sure, do that", saying everything you want to hear - but if you ask people who are wiser rather than those who are your "loved ones" you will get a more accurate (if tough) reply. [My only qualm with this is Zeresh herself who was clearly in both groups, but perhaps she listened to the others as Haman did.]

anon1 said...

I have thought that the answer is looking at the order of the people and the verbs used -- when suggesting to hang Mordechai, it is vatomer Zeresh ishto vechol ohavav, that Zeresh is listed first and the verb of speaking is attributed to her, but later it is flipped vayomeru lo chachamav vezeresh ishto -- here the chachamim are the main speakers. I.e., Zeresh's role as advisor seems to be fading once they see that it didnt work out so well

Levi said...

They were always the loved ones, but by expressing the supremacy of the Jew they were now considered wise.

They knew about the Jew, everybody did. But Rashi notes that the Jews have their ups and downs. If the Jews sin then Haman would be victorious. But if Mordechai was acting like zera hayihudim like a Jew should, then he would fall.

I wonder why Zeresh is listed once before the loved ones, and once after?

Ezzie said...

Levi - That seems dachuf. Mordechai himself always acted as a Jew should.

levi said...

Maybe its not enough if only Mordechai 'behaved the Jew' we really need all Jews to live up to Torah standards to be considered zera hayihudim.

Shalom Rosenfeld said...

As soon as Haman's chips were down, all of his "lovers" jumped ship. All that remained were the "wise men."

Anonymous said...

To Shalom,

It would seem to me that when Haman was facing certain defeat it was the wise men who would have left!