"זכר את ושתי ואת אשר עשתה ואת אשר נגזר עליה"
“He remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what had been decreed upon her.” (2:1)

QUESTION: The Gemara (Megillah 12b) says that this refers to the Heavenly decree against Vashti for causing the Jewish girls to disrobe and work for her on the Shabbat. Why did she want them to violate Shabbat and why was her punishment meted out necessarily on Shabbat?

ANSWER: Cyrus, King of Persia gave the order that the Beit Hamikdash, which had been razed by Nevuchadnezzar, should be rebuilt. Two years afterward, Achashveirosh, King of the vast Persian Empire, put a halt on the rebuilding. He did this under the influence of Queen Vashti, granddaughter of Nevuchadnezzar. She had furiously bellowed “Why are you allowing the rebuilding of what my grandfather destroyed?” (See Midrash Rabbah 5:2, Isaiah 45.)

Cognizant that in merit of properly observing Shabbat the redemption would come, (Jerusalem Talmud, Ta’anit 1:1) Vashti did not allow Jewish women to wear their nice clothing on Shabbat, which is a way of honoring Shabbat. Moreover, she forced them to actually violate it, by performing work. She anticipated that once the women stopped keeping Shabbat, they would influence the men to follow suit. Hence, the Jews would remain in exile and the Beit Hamikdash would not be rebuilt.

Hashem’s way of punishment is midah keneged midah — measure for measure. Since Vashti stripped the clothing of the Jewish girls and caused them to desecrate Shabbat, and Shabbat is known as Shabbat HamalkahShabbat the Queen (Shabbat 119a) — hence, on the Shabbat, as she celebrated her reign as Queen, she was stripped of her title malkah — Queen — and put to death.

(ילקוט מעם לועז)


"ויאמרו נערי המלך משרתיו"
“The King’s young men, his servants, said.” (2:2)

QUESTION: Who were they?

ANSWER: It was the King’s practice to discuss matters with his seven officers who knew law and judgment (see 1:13,14). After having Vashti killed, he was in a drunken stupor, and when he sobered up, he began to ask for her. Upon learning that she had been put to death, he was very upset because the punishment was unjustified, and he put to death those who recommended it. From then on, the young men who were simple servants became his advisors. They proposed the ill-conceived idea of seeking a Queen merely on the basis of beauty, without giving any consideration to character or pedigree.

(מנות הלוי)

Haman was indeed hung together with the other advisors, but he miraculously fell down from the gallows alive. The law in Persia was that when a person was hung publicly and fell off the gallows, he could not be hung again for the same crime.

(ארוחת תמיד מר' שמואל יצחק ז"ל מרבני שאלוניקי, ועי' בית יעקב - מסולתן)


"ויפקד המלך פקידים בכל מדינות מלכותו ויקבצו את כל נערה בתולה טובות מראה אל שושן הבירה אל בית הנשים"
“And let the King appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the young maidens, handsome in appearance, to Shushan the Capital, to the harem.” (2:3)

QUESTION: How could all the beautiful women from 127 provinces fit into Hegeh’s harem?

ANSWER: The King’s young men advised that officers should be appointed in the provinces to gather young beautiful maidens. After gathering them, the officers were to evaluate them and select one to be sent to the harem for the King’s ultimate decision. Thus, in total, only 127 beauty queens from the entire land came to Hegeh’s harem.

(ילקוט מעם לועז)

Hashem subjected the Persian women to the humiliation of being taken to the King and then rejected in favor of Esther [the Jewess] because they used to speak contemptuously to the Jewish girls, saying that they were so ugly that no one would look at them.

(מדרש רבה אסתר פ"ה:ג)


"איש יהודי היה בשושן הבירה"
“There was a Jewish man in Shushan the Capital.” (2:5)

QUESTION: There is an opinion in the Gemara (Megillah 19a) that the reading of the Megillah on Purim should start from this pasuk because it describes, “tokfo shel Mordechai — “the strength of Mordechai.” What special quality of Mordechai is discussed in thispasuk?

ANSWER: During this period of history, many Jews unfortunately succumbed to the power and glitter of the kingdom of Achashveirosh at the expense of their Torah observance. Even the ones who were faithful to Hashem in their hearts did not demonstrate their Yiddishkeit openly. The Megillah is indicating that Mordechai was a devout Jew, not only in the confines of his home, but even in the middle of Shushan the Capital. Whether in government circles or on the street among the public, he proudly demonstrated his Torah convictions.

(יערות דבש ח"ב דרוש ב')

Alternatively, as previously explained, (see p. 32) Shushan Habirah was the capital of Achashveirosh’s kingdom. Near it was a suburb known also as “Shushan.” The two cities were separated by the Ulai river (see Daniel 8:2). It was forbidden for Jews to live in the capital city, but they were permitted to live in the City of Shushan. Therefore, when the Megillah talks about Achashveirosh or the issuing of decrees, Shushan Habirah — Shushan the Capital — is mentioned. Whenever the Megillah talks about the Jewish people, Ha’ir Shushan — The City of Shushan — is mentioned.

By Divine Providence, Mordechai was the only Jew who happened to be living in the capital and was highly respected. Thanks to this, he had access to the King’s palace and was able to overhear the conversation of Bigtan and Teresh, which eventually brought about the downfall of Haman and the miracle of Purim.

(שפתי חכמים בהקדמה על מס' מגילה, אבן עזרא ח:ט"ו, מנות הלוי דף ס"ג, ילקוט מעם לועז)


"איש יהודי היה בשושן הבירה ושמו מרדכי"
“There was a Jewish man in Shushan the Capital whose name was Mordechai.” (2:5)

QUESTION: Since his real name was Mordechai and “Yehudi” was only a title he earned for not accepting idolatry (Megillah 13a), the text should first state his name and then his title?

ANSWER: Unfortunately, sometimes due to outward appearances the only way to know that one is a Jew is by his Jewish name, e.g., Goldberg, Cohen, etc. The Megillah is telling us that without even knowing his name, one who would see Mordechai walking in the streets of the capital would immediately know by his beard, peiyot, and attire that “ish Yehudi” — here walks a Jewish man.

(כ"ק אדמו"ר, פורים תשכ"ט)


"איש יהודי היה בשושן הבירה"
“There was a Jewish man in Shushan the Capital.” (2:5)

QUESTION: The words “Ish Yehudi” — “a Jewish man” — are superfluous. It could have just said that Mordechai the son of Yair... lived in Shushan the Capital?

ANSWER: According to the Gemara (Megillah 12b) the mention of Yair, Shimi, and Kish is not for a listing of his genealogy, but rather a description of Mordechai’s potent power of prayer: Ben Yair — a son who illuminated the eyes of Israel with his prayers, Ben Shimi — a son to whose prayers Hashem listened, and Ben Kish — a son who knocked on the doors of mercy and they were opened for him.

The Midrash Rabbah (7:18) relates that Eliyahu ran to Moshe and said to him, “O you faithful shepherd, how many times have you stood in the breach for Israel and nullified the decree against them so that they should not be destroyed, as it says, ‘Had not Moshe His chosen stood before Him in the breach, to turn back His wrath, from destroying’ (Psalms 106:23). How will you respond to this trouble? Moshe said to him, “Is there a virtuous man in that generation?” “There is,” he answered, “and his name is Mordechai.” So Moshe said to him, “Go and tell him, so that he may stand and pray there and I here, and we may together seek mercy for them from Hashem.” Thus, not only was it Mordechai’s prayers that saved K’lal Yisrael, but also the prayers of Moshe.

The words “Ish Yehudi” (איש יהודי) have the numerical value of three hundred and forty-six, and the name “Moshe” (משה) im hakolel — counting the word as one — also has the same numerical value. Hence, the extra words “Ish Yehudi” are alluding that thanks to the prayers of Moshe and Mordechai, the gates of mercy were opened and the salvation of K’lal Yisrael was assured.

(נחל אשכול, להחיד"א)


"ושמו מרדכי"
“And his name was Mordechai.” (2:5)

QUESTION: According to the Gemara (Menachot 65a), Mordechai’s real name was Petachya (פתחיה). There is a Midrash Peliah (“wondrous Midrash”) that says that this can be understood through the pasuk “Vehayah reishitecha mitzar ve’acharitecha yisgeh me’od” — “Your beginning will be small, yet your latter end will greatly increase” (Job 8:7).

How through this pasuk is there a connection between מרדכי and פתחיה?

ANSWER: The first letter in the name פתחיה is a "פ", which equals 80. If you divide that in half, the result is 40, which corresponds to "מ". The second letter is a "ת", which equals 400, half of which is 200, which corresponds to "ר". The third letter is a "ח", equaling 8, which divided in half equals 4, corresponding to "ד". The fourth letter, "י", equals 10, which when doubled equals 20, corresponding to "כ". The last letter is a "ה" — 5 — which when doubled equals 10 — "י". Thus, when the beginning (first three letters of פתחיה) is made smaller, and the end (last two letters) is made larger, פתחיה equals מרדכי.

(ר' שמשון זצ"ל מאסטראפאלי)


"איש ימיני"
“A Benjamite.” (2:5)

QUESTION: Since his ancestral tribe was Binyamin, instead of “Ish Yemini” it should have said “Benyimini” or “mibinyamin”?

ANSWER: In describing the birth of Binyamin, the Torah says, “As she was expiring, she called him ‘ben oni’ — ‘the son of my agony’ — and his father called him ‘Binyamin’ ” (Bereishit 35:18). Why, when Rachel was in such a condition, did Yaakov argue with her over the name to be given to the newborn child?

Rachel felt that her life in this world was ending, and she worried about what would happen to her child if he grew up without a mother’s care. As Yaakov was sitting at her bedside, she said, “I am very concerned about my child. I pray that when I am gone from this world and living in my heavenly abode, his behavior should not cause me pain.”

Yaakov, wanting to comfort his dying wife, told her not to worry. He promised her that he would take extra care of him and assured her that he would be a “ben yamin” — “a son of the right” — one whose conduct would be “right” and befitting for his family and a source of nachas to his mother in Gan Eden.

Thus, the Megillah is not just telling us that Mordechai was a member of the tribe of Binyamin, but that he truly represented the characteristic that Yaakov anticipated in Binyamin; namely he was “Ish Yemini” — a person who always was on the right and who never deviated to the left.

(מצאתי בכתבי אבי הרב שמואל פסח ז"ל באגאמילסקי)


"אשר הגלה מירושלים"
“Who had been exiled from Jerusalem.” (2:6)

QUESTION: Why is it necessary to know what happened to him many years ago?

ANSWER: Unfortunately, some Jews have become accustomed to galut — exile — and have made peace with it. They are well settled and acclimated to their surroundings and have no yearning for Mashiach and the geulah — redemption.

Regardless of the royal position Mordechai attained in Persia, he was never content there and always regarded himself as a galut Yid — a Jew in exile — and eagerly anticipated the return to his homeland — Jerusalem.

(לקוטי שיחות ח"ו ע' 380)


ויהי אמן את הדסה היא אסתר בת דדו
“He reared Hadassah, that is Esther, his uncle’s daughter.” (2:7)

QUESTION: Of what significance is it that she was “bat dodo” — “his uncle’s daughter”?

ANSWER: According to Midrash Rabbah (Bereishit 30:8) Mordechai was once unable to find a wet nurse for Esther, whereupon “Milk came to him and he suckled her.”

The Hebrew term for “his uncle” — “dodo” (דודו) — is usually spelled with a vav between the “daleds.” Here it is spelled without a “vav” (דדו) and can be read as “dado” — “his breast.” The Megillah is emphasizing their closeness; not only did he rear her, but she was even “bat dado” — nursed by him.

(ירך יעקב, מר' יעקב פתוסו - ליוורנו תר"ב)


"ויהי אמן את הדסה היא אסתר"
“And he reared Hadassah, that is Esther.” (2:7)

QUESTION: Her real name was Hadassah; why was she called Esther?

ANSWER: There is a popular question concerning how Esther was permitted to have relations with Achashveirosh. Isn’t this one of the three transgressions where one is required to allow oneself to be killed rather than transgress (see Sanhedrin 74b)?

According to the Zohar (Devarim 226a), she in fact did not have relationship with him; rather, a sheid — demon — was created which resembled Esther, and whenever the King called for Esther, the demon would appear in her stead. Mordechai created it, using his knowledge of Hashem’s holy Name.

Thus, Esther is from the root word of “seiter” — “concealment” — as in the verse “Atah seiter li” — “You are shelter [lit. concealment] for me” (Psalms 32:7). Hashem concealed her [hid her] from Achashveirosh while she remained faithful to Mordechai.


"ובמות אביה ואמה לקחה מרדכי לו לבת"
“And when her father and mother had died, Mordechai took her to himself as a daughter.” (2:7)

QUESTION: The Gemara (Megillah 13a) says, “read not ‘lebat’ — ‘a daughter’ — but ‘lebayit’ — ‘a wife,’ ” [lit. “a home”]. Instead of alluding, why doesn’t it say “bayit” explicitly?

ANSWER: The Gemara (Ketubot 59b) says that the purpose and desire of a women is in three things. 1) “banim” (בנים) — children. 2) “yofi” (יופי) — beauty. 3) “tachshitim” (תכשיטים) — jewelry. The acronym of these three is the word “bayit” בית)).

The Gemara (Megillah 13a) says, “Esther was of greenish complexion (like a myrtle). However, G‑d endowed her with an ingratiating kindness.” This made her appear beautiful in the eyes of Achashveirosh and all the people (Rashi).

Consequently, of the three main allurements of women, Esther lacked “yofi,” symbolized by the yud.” Hence, the Megillah, referring to the two allurements that she did possess, deletes the “yud” and refers to her as a “bat” — “daughter” — but our Sages tell us that she was really a “bayit” — a full-fledged wife.

(בחירת אברהם ר' אברהם ב"ר ישראל ז"ל מווילנא, ווילנא תר"ל)


"ובהקבץ נערות רבות...אל יד הגי ותלקח אסתר אל בית המלך אל יד הגי"
“And when many young girls were being brought together... under the charge of Heigai, Esther was taken into the palace, under the charge of Heigai, guardian of the women.” (2:8)

QUESTION: Originally he is called Heigeh (הֵגֶא) (2:3). Why now in the same pasuk is his name first spelled with a kamatz (הֵגָי) and then with a patach (הֵגַי)?

ANSWER: The word “patach” is related to the word “petach,” which means “opening.” To pronounce the patach vowel, one must open the mouth. On the other hand, kamatz literally means “close,” and to pronounce the kamatz vowel (in the Ashkenazi pronunciation) the mouth is in a “closed, rounded” position.

The two different spellings and pronunciations of the name “Heigai” relate to the hopes of the girls who were chosen to be potential replacements for the Queen.

Each of the other girls came to the house of the women hoping that it would be closed for admission to all her rivals. Thus, she would be assured the opportunity to become Queen. Each one expressed this feeling by referring to the chief supervisor הֵגָי with akamatz. Esther, on the other hand, came reluctantly and hoping that the doors would be flung open wide (patach) with multitudes of beautiful girls seeking entrance, so that she would not even be considered for the position or have only a very slim chance of being accepted. Therefore, in connection with her the pasuk refers to the supervisor in charge as הֵגַי, with a patach.

(נחל אשכול)


"ואת שבע הנערות הראיות לתת לה מבית המלך"
“And the seven maidens fitting to give her from the King’s house.” (2:9)

QUESTION: The Gemara (Megillah 13a) says that she had the seven maidens work on rotation, using a different one on each day so that she would be able to know when Shabbat was.

Shabbat is always on the seventh day — why didn’t she make a calendar for herself?

ANSWER: The Gemara (Ketuvot 59b) encourages a person to be busy with work because, “Idleness leads to insanity.” Thus, to retain her sanity, Esther worked six days of the week and rested on Shabbat. However, she was concerned that no one should know that she was Jewish. If the maidens that attended her would have noticed that she rested consistently on the seventh day, they might have suspected her of being Jewish and observing Shabbat. Therefore, in an attempt to conceal her identity she employed a different maiden each day. Hence, the six who attended her on the weekdays and witnessed her working assumed that on Shabbat she worked as well, and the one that attended her on Shabbat assumed that she was an idle person who never worked.

(יערות דבש - ח"ב דרוש ב' ע' י"ב)


"וישנה ואת נערותיה לטוב בית הנשים"
“And he preferred her and her maidens with the best things in the harem.” (2:9)

QUESTION: According to an opinion in the Gemara (Megillah 13a) this means that he fed her Jewish, i.e. kosher, food. Most likely, he gave her kosher food because she asked for it. Why would she do such a thing; wouldn’t it give away her identity, which she was trying to hide?

ANSWER: When the Megillah introduces Esther for the first time, it says she was raised by Mordechai because she had neither father or mother (2:7). When her mother conceived her, her father died, and her mother died while giving birth to her (Megillah 13a).

While everyone knew that she grew up in Mordechai’s house, many wondered how she got there. The popular assumption was that he found her somewhere and adopted her. Thus, it was very possible that she wasn’t Jewish. Esther told them that she wanted kosher food, because after spending all her years at the home of Mordechai the Jew, who strictly observed the laws of kashrut, she became accustomed to eat kosher food. It was the food that agreed with her most and changing her diet might cause her medical problems and in turn mar her beauty.

* * *

Alternatively, since it was known that kosher food is healthier than non-kosher food, people thought Esther could have requested for kosher food for health reasons.

(בן יהוידע)


"לא הגידה אסתר את עמה ואת מולדתה"
“Esther had not told of her nationality or her lineage.” (2:10)

QUESTION: Why here does it say “amah” — “her nationality” — before “moladetah” — “her lineage” — while after Achashveirosh married her and made a feast in her honor, it says, “Esther still did not tell ‘moladetah ve’et amah’ — ‘of her lineage or her nationality’ ” (2:20)?

ANSWER: There are two reasons for which Mordechai instructed her not to reveal her identity. 1) If Achashveirosh were to have learned the identity of her family and their royal lineage, that she was a descendant of King Shaul, he would have been likely to appoint her relatives to high ranking government posts in her honor. This would cause jealousy and awaken the wrath of the gentiles against the Jews. 2) If he would have learned her nationality, when he would have made a feast in honor of his marriage, he might have repeated his folly, asking her to exhibit herself immodestly before the people to prove that Jewish girls are the most beautiful. When she would refuse, he would kill her as he did to Vashti. This reason, however, was only relevant until the banquet in honor of their marriage was held.

Therefore, in the beginning, the primary concern was that he not know “amah” — “her nationality” — so that he would not want to demonstrate the beauty of Jewish women at the marriage celebration banquet, and of secondary concern was “moladetah” — “her lineage” — so that he would not appoint her relatives to prominent positions, thereby causing the gentiles to be jealous of the Jews. Once the banquet was over, the primary concern now was that he not know “moladetah” — “her lineage” — to avoid jealousy, and at that point hiding her nationality was secondary.

(לקוטי אנשי שם)

* * *

Alternatively, the Megillah writes, “Esther obtained grace in the eyes of all who beheld her” (2:15). The Gemara (Megillah 13a) explains that each person claimed her as a member of his own people. Therefore the public was interested in learning her nationality. On the other hand, Achashveirosh’s primary concern was to know her lineage in order to determine if it was proper to appoint her as the Queen.

Thus, when she was being prepared as a candidate for the Queen and everyone thought that this beauty was a member of his or her people, the people were more interested in knowing “amah” — her nationality — than “moladetah” — her lineage. Therefore it says, “She did not reveal either her nationality or her lineage.” When Achashveirosh married her, he was anxious to find out “moladetah” — her lineage — but was unconcerned with “amah” — her nationality — hence, the Megillah tells us that “She did not tell anything of her lineage nor her nationality.”

(עיון יעקב)


"ובהגיע תר נערה ונערה...ובהגיע תר אסתר בת אביחיל"
“When the turn of every maiden arrived [to come to the King]...And when the turn came of Esther daughter of Avichayil [to come to the King].” (2:12, 15)

QUESTION: Why is the cantillation (trop) on “na’arah vena’arah” — “every maiden” [whose turn arrived to come to the King], — a kadma ve’azla while the cantillation for Esther’s turn to come to the King, is munach?

ANSWER: “Kadma ve’azla” means to get up early and move. “Munach” means “resting.” All the other girls were excited and ran eagerly for the chance to be chosen as Queen. Esther, on the other hand, had absolutely no interest in this, and she went slowly and without any excitement.

In fact, the Megillah says twice, “Vatilakach Esther” — “Esther was taken” (2:8,16) — by force, against her will.

Originally, when it became known that the King wanted to appoint the most beautiful woman in his country to be Queen, Esther hid and was forcefully brought to the harem. After she had gone through the year-long procedure of preparation and her turn came to be with the King, she had no desire to go and again “vatilakach Esther” — “she was taken by force.”

(הגר"א, מנות הלוי)


"ותהי אסתר נשאת חן בעיני כל ראיה"
“And Esther obtained grace in the eyes of all who beheld her.” (2:15)

QUESTION: In the Gemara (Megillah 13a) Rabbi Yehoshua ben Karchah says that Esther had a greenish complexion (like a myrtle); however, Hashem endowed her with an ingratiating kindness which made her look beautiful to Achashveirosh and the people.

What compels Rabbi Yehoshua ben Karchah to say that she was not literally beautiful?

ANSWER: In the Gemara (Bava Batra 15a) there are different opinions as to when Iyov lived. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Karchah (ibid. 15b) says that from the statement “There were not found any woman as beautiful as the daughters of Iyov in the land” (Job 42:15) and from the fact that in the generation of Achashveirosh there was an emphasis on seeking beautiful woman for the King (see 2:2), it can be deduced that Iyov lived in the times of Achashveirosh.

Hence, it cannot be that Esther was selected for her beauty, since Iyov’s daughters were more beautiful. Consequently, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Karchah concluded that even though she was lacking in beauty, she was selected over all others due to her ingratiating kindness.

(קול אליהו, ועי' מהרש"א ב"ב דף ט"ו ע"ב)


"ויאהב המלך את אסתר... אין אסתר מגדת מולדתה... ואת מאמר מרדכי אסתר עשה כאשר היתה באמנה אתו"
“The King loved Esther... Esther would not tell her lineage... and Esther did the commandment of Mordechai, equally as when she was under his guardianship.” (2:17,20)

QUESTION: 1) The word “et” is extra — it could have just said le’Esther? 2) It already says (2:10) that “she did not reveal her lineage and nationality,” why is it repeated? 3) What was the “ma’amar Mordechai” — “[lit.] saying or words of Mordechai” — that Esther did?

ANSWER: Regarding the ox that is stoned for goring a person the Torah says “velo yeiachal et besoro” — “His flesh may not be eaten” (Shemot 21:28). The Gemara (Bava Kamma 41b) says that from the extra word et [besoro]” we derive that also “et hatafeil libesoro” — “that which is auxiliary to its flesh [the hide] — is forbidden.

As explained (see p. 63), when Achashveirosh desired Esther, a demon was created which would appear in her stead. The extra word “et” teaches that Achashveirosh, who was unaware of this, loved “et Esther” — that which was subsidiary to Esther — the demon.

Mordechai passed along to Esther the knowledge of how to make the demon, and thus, the pasuk tells us that when she needed it to act as a substitute, “she would do [i.e. utter] “ma’amar Mordechai” — “the saying [words] Mordechai taught her” — “ka’asher hayetah beamnah ito” — “while [through this] she remained faithful to him [Mordechai].”

The pasuk is also teaching that since “she would not tell her lineage and nationality” not only did Esther not violate the laws of arayot — forbidden relationships — but she also did not cause a chilul Hashem — desecration of Hashem’s Name. No one could say that a Jewish lady was violating the laws of her Torah.

(כתנות אור ר' מאיר ז"ל אייזןשטאט – פיורדא תקכ"ו)


"ואת מאמר מרדכי אסתר עשה כאשר היתה באמנה אתו"
“And Esther did the commandment of Mordechai equally as when she was under his guardianship.” (2:20)

QUESTION: The words “ka’asher hayetah be’amnah ito” — “equally as when she was under his guardianship” — are superfluous. What insight do they offer?

ANSWER: Before Eliyahu parted with his student Elisha and ascended to heaven, Elisha asked him, “May twice your prophetic power be mine.” Eliyahu said, “You have made a difficult request; [however], im tir’eh oti lukach mei’itach yehi lecha chein — if you will see me taken from you, it shall be so for you — but if you do not, then it will not happen” (II Kings 2:9, 10). What does Elisha’s seeing Eliyahu being taken away have to do with his request? Moreover, Eliyahu’s ascent to heaven took place in broad daylight before other witnesses. If so, what is unique about Elisha that he merited such a level of prophesy?

Eliyahu was telling Elisha, “I consider you my most dedicated disciple, and I know how much respect you have for me. However, I am wondering what our relationship will be when I am no longer physically here. Thus, im tir’eh oti — if you will continue to see me — i.e. envision my presence at all times — even when lukach mei’itach — I am physically taken away from you — then you will have proven your greatness and you will merit twice my prophetic power.”

According to the Gemara (Megillah 14a) Esther was one of the seven prophetesses. The pasuk is perhaps telling us that she reached such lofty spiritual heights because regardless of where she was, she always acted as though she was in the presence of Mordechai. Just as when she was under his guardianship, she would only do things which he would approve. Similarly, when she was in the King’s palace, she imagined that Mordechai was watching her and she would not do anything that she thought he would disapprove. This would be the inspiration for her lofty and refined conduct.

(מיוסד על מה שמצאתי בכתבי זקני הרב צבי הכהן ז"ל קאפלאן)


"בימים ההם ומרדכי יושב בשער המלך"
“In those days while Mordechai was sitting in the King’s gates.” (2:21)

QUESTION: How did Mordechai get to be so close to the King?

ANSWER: When Esther became the Queen, she told Achashveirosh, “There are some very wise people among the Jews, and throughout history many Kings have picked one of them to be advisors. In fact, King Nevuchadnezzar appointed Daniel to be among his advisors.” Achashveirosh asked her if she could recommend someone. Esther told him, “I have heard of a good and righteous Jew by the name Mordechai.” Achashveirosh immediately called him and appointed him to sit in the King’s gate instead of Bigtan and Seresh. This angered them so much that they plotted an assassination. Confident that Mordechai would not understand their language, they discussed the plot in his presence and he ultimately informed Esther of it.

(ילקוט שמעוני)


"בימים ההם ומרדכי יושב בשער המלך"
“In those days while Mordechai was sitting in the King’s gates.” (2:21)

QUESTION: Why was Mordechai sitting on the King’s gate when he should have been sitting in the Sanhedrin?

ANSWER: Realizing that anti-Semitism was prevalent in government circles and that the Jews were facing dangerous times, Mordechai took off from his time with the Sanhedrin and sat at the King’s gate. Thus, he would know immediately any plans that could negatively affect the Jewish community and “nip them in the bud.”

(ילקוט מעם לועז)


"ותאמר אסתר למלך בשם מרדכי"
“And Esther told it to the King in the name of Mordechai.” (2:22)

QUESTION: From this the Gemara (Megillah 15a) learns that, “Whoever says a thing in the name of the author brings redemption to the world.”

How do we know from Esther that there is always great reward when one says something in the name of the author? Perhaps Esther did it simply because it is unethical to take undue credit.

ANSWER: According to the Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni), the two attendants who plotted to poison the King hid the poison and it appeared again miraculously, as the pasuk says, “The matter was investigated and it was found” (2:23). So superficially, she was putting Mordechai in great jeopardy. If the accusation was not proven and if Bigtan and Teresh had been vindicated, Mordechai could have been punished severely for falsely accusing them, and the venom of the anti-Semites would have been turned loose on the Jewish people. Hence, it would have been wiser for her not to convey the information in the name of Mordechai, but merely to say, “I heard a rumor...and advise you, my dear King, to have it investigated.”

From her revealing that it was Mordechai who gave her the information, it is evident that she knew that for relating something in the name of the author, there is great benefit to the entire world. It is thus impossible that something unpleasant should occur to the author when the right thing was being done.

(יערות דבש ח"ב, דרוש ח')


"ויבקש הדבר וימצא"
“And the matter was investigated and found true.” (2:23)

QUESTION: Literally, the words mean “and the thing was searched for and found” — what lost thing was searched for and found?

ANSWER: Bigtan and Teresh were angry for being overworked by Achashveirosh after he married Esther, so they planned to poison him (Megillah 13b). They put a snake in his water decanter so that the water he would drink would become poisoned and would kill him when he drank it. Upon hearing that the King learned of their plan they quickly removed the snake and discarded it and denied the allegation. Miraculously, Hashem created a new snake in the decanter. When the investigators searched for the thing — i.e. the snake — it was found, in the decanter.

(מנות הלוי)


"ויכתב בספר דברי הימים"
“And it was recorded in the book of chronicles.” (2:23)

QUESTION: Who did the recording?

ANSWER: The sons of Haman were the secretaries who recorded all important happenings (see Megillah 16a, Bach, Ezra 4:8 Rashi). Being anti-Semites, no less than their father, they refrained from recording anything good about Jews. Hence, it was miraculously recorded in the book.

This explains why when Achashveirosh ordered that the book of chronicles be read before him, it says “vayimatzei katuv” — “and it was found written,” (6:2) for this was something the secretaries intentionally ommited and did not expect to see in the book.

(ילקוט מעם לועז)


"ויכתב בספר דברי הימים לפני המלך"
“And it was recorded in the book of chronicles before the King.” (2:23)

QUESTION: It would be sufficient just to say “And it was recorded in the book of chronicles.” Why the emphasis “before the King”?

ANSWER: From Esther’s conveying the information to Achashveirosh in the name of Mordechai our Sages derive that “Whoever says a thing in the name of its author brings redemption to the world” (Avot 6:6). The Zohar (Vayikra 109a) says that each instance of the word Hamelech — “the King” — in the Megillah is a reference to the King of the world — Hashem. Thus, the pasuk is telling us that her good deed of reporting it in the name of Mordechai was recorded in the book of chronicles which is “lifnei Hamelech” — before Hashem.

* * *

Alternatively, Mordechai could have told Achashveirosh of the plotted assassination but chose rather to tell it to Esther so that she relate it to the King and find favor with him. On the other hand, Esther gave all the credit to Mordechai, so that he would be rewarded handsomely for it. Their unselfish behavior and consideration for each other’s benefit was recorded in the “book of chronicles lifnei Hamelech” — “before The King” i.e. Hashem — it made a great impression before Hashem, and He took note of it. The merit of these noble deeds helped bring about Hashem’s salvation.

(אלשיך, שער בת רבים)