Esther

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Esther: [1]

Messengers of the king were dispersed to find him a new wife to rule in place of Vashti. Esther, the niece and adopted daughter of Mordechai, was taken to the king’s palace. Esther was very beautiful in both figure and facial appearance. Each woman taken had a turn to appear before the King. When it came Esther’s turn, she found favor in the eyes of Achashveirosh and was chosen as Queen from amongst all the other women. Achashveirosh made a feast in honor of his new Queen. Esther, under orders of Mordechai, refused to tell the King of her family’s origin.

 

Q&A

Who was Mordechai?

Mordechai was one of the members of the Sanhedrin who sat by the Lishkas Hagazis in the Temple.[2] He was a member of the Anshei Kneses Hagedola and lived in the times of Chagaiy, Zecharia and Malachi.[3]

Which Sheivet/tribe was Mordechai from?[4] He was from Sheivet Binyamin. His father was from Binyamin while his mother was from Yehuda. He was a descendent of Shimi Ben Geira, whose life was spared by David who was from Sheivet Yehuda. Shimi merited such a descendant as a reward for the act of savory that Shimi’s wife did for Tzadok and Avyaser when they were running away from Avshalom.[5] He was also a direct descendent of Yehonason and Shaul.[6]

Gilgul of Moshe:[7] The Mekubalim write that Mordechai was a Gilgul of the soul of Moshe Rabbeinu.

In Chassidus:[8] Mordechai’s name comes from the word Mor Drur, which is translated by Unkelus as Mira Dachya. This refers to the Musk fragrance that is made from the blood of the musk deer. This blood is transformed into a fine smell. This represents the Avoda of Mordechai to turn the evil into good. This was due to the great Bittul that Mordechai contained.

 

Why was Mordechai called a Yehudi if he was from Sheivet Binyamin?

As he refused to bow to idolatry and whoever refuses idolatry is called a Yehudi.[9] Alternatively, all the Jews that were exiled with the kingdom of Yehuda were called Yehudim, even if they were from a different tribe.[10]

 

Who was Esther?

Esther was an orphan from her mother and father. Her father died before she was born and her mother died at childbirth.[11] The Midrash[12] states that Esther refused to nurse from all the women that she was given to. However Mordechai was able to successfully nurse her, as male milk is pure.

 

The name Esther:

Esther’s true name was really Hadassah. She was called Esther by the Persians, as in Parsi Esther means “as beautiful as a moon”.[13] Based on this the Maharsha[14] writes that then name Esther is not a Hebrew name but Persian.[15]

 

Was Esther truly beautiful?

The verse[16] states that Esther was very beautiful in both figure and facial appearance. The Sages listed Esther as one of the four most beautiful women in the world, together with Sarah, Rachav and Avigail.[17] However the Talmud[18] expounds that Esther had a greenish appearance and a “string” of kindness hovered over her. Hashem arranged for her to be with Achashveirosh in the cold month of Teves in order so her warmth finds favor in his eyes. According to this opinion, Esther was not one of the four most beautiful women in the world and they rather enter Vashti in her place on the list.[19]

 

Why did Esther find favor in everyone’s eyes?[20]

As everyone was convinced that Esther was from their nation, as she appeared to every person as a woman of their nation.

 

Was Esther married to Mordechai?

The Talmud[21] expounds that Esther was married to Mordechai. Mordechai would visit Esther in order to see her Kesamim to rule if she is pure. Esther would go [daily[22]] from the bosom of Achashveirosh, immerse for purity purposes, and go to the bosom of Mordechai.[23] However there are opinions[24] that rule that Esther was single.

 

How was Esther allowed to be married to Achashveirosh, a gentile?[25]

She was never willingly or actively together with Achashveirosh and acted like the ground of the earth.[26] She also prevented herself from being able to conceive.[27] In Kabala[28] it states that Esther sent a demon in her place and thus she was never actually with Achashveirosh.[29]

 

How old was Esther when she became Queen?[30]

Some say she was 40 years old. Others say she was 80 years old. Others say she was 74 years old. Others say she was 75 years old.

 

Why did Mordechai tell Esther to refuse to reveal her identity?

In order so she be able to keep the laws of Kashrus without suspicion.[31] Alternatively it was in order so they suspect that she was from a stained lineage and hence invalidate her candidacy for becoming the Queen.[32] Alternatively it is because Mordechai ran away from honor and did not want for it to be discovered that he was a relative of Esther, and then be risen to greatness.[33]

 

What did Esther eat at the king’s palace?[34]

She ate only Kosher foods.

 

Did Esther keep Shabbos in the palace?[35]

Yes. Esther had seven maidservants, one per day of the week, to use them to count the days of the week for the honor of Shabbos. [She knew of course what day was Shabbos even without the maidservants, however she appointed one maid per day in order so there be a special recognition for the day of Shabbos.[36]]

 

Purim Torah

Was Mordechai a Chassid or Misnagid?[37]

Mordechai was a Chasid as he instituted the obligation for one to drink “Ad Delo Yada”, and who would have established such a custom if not a Chassid. However for also the Misnagdim to have room to fulfill the law there is an opinion which allows you to fulfill the obligation through sleeping.

 


[1] 2/1-20

[2] Megillah 13b

[3] See Megillah 15a

[4] Megillah 12b; Yalkut Shimoni 1051-1052

[5] Yalkut Shimoni 1053; She hid them in a pit until Avshalom left.

[6] Yalkut Shimoni ibid

[7] Rav Yonasan Eibashitz in Yearas Dvash and in his commentary Yeshua Gedola on Megillas Esther p. 18

[8] Torah Or Esther

[9] Megillah 13a

[10] Rashi 2/3

[11] Megillah 13a

[12] Yalkut Shimoni 1053

[13] Megillah 13a

[14] Chulin 139a

[15] See Reshimos 6/9

[16] 2/7

[17] Megillah 15a

[18] Megillah 13a

[19] Megillah 15a

[20] Megillah 13a

[21] Megillah 13a

[22] Tosafus Megillah 13b states Achashveirosh was with her every day.

[23] Megillah 13b; Esther Raba; Eitz Yosef ibid

[24] The Taz Yoreh Deah 157/6 rules that one must say that Esther was single as otherwise it would have been forbidden for her to be with Achashveirosh due to Giluiy Arayos.

[25] Although for a single woman to be with a gentile is not defined as Giluiy Arayos, and she is thus not required to give up her life to prevent relations with a gentile, nevertheless Esther was married in which case the relations is defined as Giluiy Arayos and the question is thus asked as to how this was permitted. [See Rama Yoreh Deah 157/1]

[26] Sanhedrin 74b; Rama 157/1 [“However if they force a woman…There is no Giluiy Arayos by a gentile to a Jewish woman”]; Shach Yoreh Deah 157/9

Other Opinions: The Taz Yoreh Deah 157/6 rules that one must say that Esther was single as otherwise it would have been forbidden due to Giluiy Arayos. He establishes the ruling of the Rama ibid to refer only to a single woman. [like Riy in Tosafus Sanhedrin ibid; unlike Rabbeinu Tam] As to the Drasha of the Gemara ibid that Esther was like Karka Olam, seemingly this would only explain how the act itself was not forbidden, however the initial agreement for Esther to go with the messengers of Achashveirosh, this is not Karka Olam. [See Birkeiy Yosef in Shiyurei Bracha 157] However see Birkeiy Yosef ibid that says Esther was forced to go with them, and she did not walk willingly. Hence the concept of Karka Olam was referring to not only the act but even the initial bringing of Esther to the palace. Regarding Shach 157/14 which rules like Taz that a married woman is Giluiy Arayos with a gentile, one must conclude that the Shach learns that this ruling of Rama is referring to one actively being with the gentile, as rules the Birkeiy Yosef, and not to a woman who is being forced and not doing any action.

[27] Yalkut Shimoni 1056; Tosafus Megillah 13b; She used a Moch to prevent conception

[28] Zohar Ki Seitzei

[29] Taamei Hamingaim 894; Beis Yitzchak Megillah 18 in name of Maggid of Koznitz.

The name of this demon was Moch. This is the inner meaning behind the statement of Tosafus, that Esther used a Moch when she was with Achashveirosh, that she used a demon called Moch to take her place. [ibid]

[30] Yalkut Shimoni 1053

[31] Even Ezra 2/9

[32] Rashi 2/10

[33] Yalkut Shimoni 1053

[34] Yalkut Shimoni 1053; Megillah 13

[35] Megillah 13a

[36] See Iyun Yaakov on Megillah ibid

[37] Sichas Purim 1954 25 [printed in Toras Menachem 11 p. 146]

 

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