February, 2012 Archives

29
Feb

Midrash Esther Chapter IV-1-Recusal

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

In “Consultations,” we offered five views of Achashveirosh: Achashveirosh believes that his ascension to the throne was guided by the constellations, or, Achashveirosh as Bill Clinton, Achashveirosh who believes that he is a man with a great destiny, a man determined that every decision be perceived as a ruling by the Supreme Court expressing his deep commitment to law and structure, and finally, who understands a king that for some reason he will need Jewish support to succeed as King. We will have to examine the sages’ decision to recuse themselves from the perspective of each of these descriptions of Achashveirosh.

The Midrash continues: The wicked Achashveirosh said to them, “Seeing that I ordered Vashti to appear before me naked and she refused, what is to be her punishment?”

They replied, “Your Majesty, when we were in our own land, we used to inquire of the Urim and Tummim, but now we are tossed about,” and they quoted to him the verse, “Moab has been at ease from his youth, and he has settled on his lees, and not being poured from container to container, and did not go into exile; therefore his taste has stayed in him, and his scent was not diminished (Jeremiah 48:11).” [Esther Rabbah 4:1]

We must note that the verse never explicitly states that Achashveirosh ordered Vashti to appear naked before him. We must also note that when Achashveirosh later consults with other people, he does not mention anything about Vashti appearing naked; he simply describes her as refusing to obey his command. The Midrash wants us to understand that when Achashveirosh consulted with Jewish sages, he was not embarrassed to mention the “naked” issue.

If it’s true that the sages successfully recused themselves from this decision because they no longer had the wisdom for which they were famous, why would Achashveirosh keep Mordechai in such a lofty position in the palace? If Achashveirosh was deliberate in asking for the advice of these wise men, how could they refuse? Why would they believe that a verse in Jeremiah would convince Achashveirosh that he should consult with people of Moab, and not because of any great wisdom of theirs, but because they had not suffered exile and captivity?

How is their response calculated to address all of the above descriptions of Achashveirosh?

“Our wisdom has obviously not been sufficient to save us from suffering, captivity, and exile. If you seek people of destiny, seek it somewhere else. If you seek to connect with our great past, then look to the words of a great prophet, Jeremiah, and follow his advice by turning to a nation that seems to have been blessed with destiny, political smarts, stability and  a solid structure.”

The fact that Achashveirosh is unashamed to openly speak of his demand that Vashti appear naked, indicates that despite his belief in their wisdom, there was a part of him that looked at these men with disdain.

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Feb

Midrash Esther Chapter IV-1-Consultations

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“The king said to the wise men, those who knew the times (Esther 1:13).” Who were these men? Rabbi Simon said: These were the tribe of Yissachar, as it says, “And of the children of Yissachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do (I Chronicles 12:33).” Rabbi Tanchumah said: This means, for determining the most auspicious times to do certain things. Rabbi Yosi bar Katzrat said: they were experts in calculating leap months and years.

“To know what Israel ought to do,” they knew how to heal skin diseases based on the seasons.

“The heads of them were two hundred (ibid.).” These are the two hundred presidents of the Sanhedrin which the tribe of Yissachar produced.

“And all their brethren were at their command (ibid.).” They all accepted the Halacha as pronounced by them as if it were the Halacha of Moses on Mount Sinai. [Esther Rabbah 4:1]

Why would Achashveirosh turn to Jewish sages to determine how to deal with Vashti? He understood that it would be difficult to find anyone who would have the courage to voice an opinion in this very delicate situation. The wise men could not ignore the King’s rage, nor Vashti’s blatant disrespect for her husband, and yet, to condemn the Queen would be quite risky, especially after the King calmed down and began to miss his wife. The Jewish sages had nothing to lose. They already know that Achashveirosh hated them. The way this midrash is typically understood is that Achashveirosh needed the advice of people who, had solid reputations for their wisdom and wouldn’t hesitate to speak the truth. However, as the rabbis debate the definition of, “knew the times,” it is clear that they read much more into this scene:

We have 5 opinions:

1. They were experts in determining the most auspicious times to do certain things.

2. They were experts in calculating leap months and years.

3. They knew how to heal skin diseases based on the seasons.

4. These are the two hundred presidents of the Sanhedrin which the tribe of Yissachar produced.

5. The people all accepted the Halacha as pronounced by these men as if it were the Halacha of Moses on Mount Sinai.

The opinion that these wise men were experts in determining the most auspicious times to do certain things understands that Achashveirosh has a long-range plan. He wants to be certain that each of his decisions will be made in the most opportune moments. Basically, Achashveirosh wants to feel that the gods are on his side. These exiled sages, who continued to believe in their eventual redemption and return to Jerusalem, were, as far as Achashveirosh was concerned, people who believed that everything happens in its right time. Achashveirosh had already determined how he wanted to handle Vashti; he just wanted to make sure that this was the most auspicious moment in which to act.

This idea, of course, speaks to a fundamental Purim concept, that of the seeming conflict between free choice and predestination. By seeking to determine the most auspicious time to act, Achashveirosh is rejecting that God controls history, and is firmly stating  that events can be calculated by human beings based on the movements of the constellations and stars. He can reject God’s Providence even while rejecting the responsibility that comes with the gift of free choice.

By honoring the movement of the stars and constellations, Achashveirosh is also implying that his ascension to the throne was determined by some higher power.

Other sages understood this scene as less of a mystical manipulation by Achashveirosh to affirm his role as King than a calculating political strategist who wants to be certain that all the pieces are in place for Achashveirosh to make such a bold political move; he will be displacing the woman who made him king by marriage. He will be rejecting the old royal line and establishing his own. Achashveirosh had to be certain that the governors of his many provinces and the population were prepared for such a bold political maneuver. Achashveirosh had to consult with people who knew how to calculate different movements in time and, according to our understanding, political moods and movements.

Rabbi Yosi wants us to appreciate Achashveirosh as the Bill Clinton of Persia. He wants us to understand that every decision in the Book of Esther is made by a brilliant political strategist. He wants us to understand that when Mordechai and Esther interacted with Achashveirosh, they did so with full awareness of his political genius. Every step they took was calculated to influence the king’s political objectives.

The opinion that these sages, “who knew the times,” were experts in determining the right time of year to heal specific skin diseases, may seem slightly out of place in our story. However, when we recall that according to some midrashim that Vashti only refused to obey her husband because she had been stricken with leprosy, we can better understand why Achashveirosh would seek the advice of such experts. He wanted to determine whether her leprosy was a natural occurrence for this time of year. He had not decide whether to punish or cure her. Perhaps he wanted to know if she could be immediately healed and could then appear as he had demand. Achashveirosh was searching for the best dermatologists in Persia.

This scenario, Vashti more than happy to appear just as her husband demanded, but held back by the sudden and mysterious appearance of a skin disease, is a situation in which Achashveirosh suspects that some higher power is manipulating events, and he’s desperate to consult these dermatologist to determine if this was something natural or miraculous. Perhaps that he even believed this mysterious power was helping him achieve his agenda of ridding himself of the woman who was the real power behind the throne. This would mean that Achashveirosh began to believe that this mysterious power wanted him to be keying, a powerful King, independent of the great Royal lines of the past. This is a king who believes in his own destiny. This is a king with whom Mordechai and Esther will have to tread even more carefully than if he were Bill Clinton; A man convinced of his great destiny is far more dangerous than the calculating political strategist. Mordechai and Esther will have to convince him that each thing they ask of him will help him achieve his great destiny.

How are we to understand this idea of the two hundred heads of the Sanhedrin? Obviously these two hundred men did not all live at the same time. It’s as if Achashveirosh wants to consult only people who have a long day established history of leadership and legal expertise. This would make sense for a King who is considering taking the bold step of executing, or, as I believe, displacing, the Queen who represents the great Royal lines of the past. Achashveirosh will need the support of people who have a reputation for solid judgment.

This would be the story of a king who is very careful to frame his decisions as legally justified, no matter what he does. Whether it will be removing Vashti, marrying Esther, elevating Haman, executing the Jews, and eventually executing Haman and replacing him with Mordechai, Achashveirosh wants each decision to be perceived as a ruling by the Supreme Court.

“The people accepted the decisions of these wise men as if it were the Halacha of Moses on Mount Sinai.” Achashveirosh was concerned with how people would accept his decision regarding Vashti. This opinion holds that Achashveirosh would not be satisfied with a Supreme Court decision; he wanted each of his decisions to be accepted with the same authority with which people accepted the law of Moses on Mount Sinai.

It is also possible that Achashveirosh was intent on winning Jewish support! There seem to be an awful lot of Jews in Shushan, the capital city. All of the people of Shushan, even the non-Jews, were disturbed when the king ordered the execution of all the Jews. The fact that Achashveirosh eventually marries a Jew, and, despite the whole story of a contest to choose his queen, it certainly seems as if Achashveirosh always intended to form some kind of pact with Mordechai, the leader of the Jews, implies that he was fully aware that he needed Jewish support to succeed. But more about that later.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Feb

Midrash Esther Chapter Three X: Vashti’s View of Women

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“Made a feast for the women.” She gave them all kinds of delicacies. Rabbi Yitzchak said: she gave the women treats that are especially loved by women.

“In the royal house,” she put them in large rooms because she believed a woman is quick to misbehave, and so she wanted them in a large room without privacy.

Another explanation of, “In the royal house,” she placed them in decorated rooms, since Rabbi Abun said; a woman would rather have well decorated rooms and beautiful clothes than eat the finest meat.

Another explanation of, “In the royal house,” she put them in her own reception room so that if the husband of one of them thought of rebelling against Achashveirosh, his wife would be a hostage, and he would not rebel.

“Which belonged to King Achashveirosh,” Rabbi Yudan and Rabbi Levi said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan: whenever we find the expression, “to the King Achashveirosh,” the text is speaking of the actual King Achashveirosh. Where ever we find just, “to the King,” it may be either sacred, referring to God, or, profane, referring to Achashveirosh.

The midrash begins with Vashti relating to women as shallow and empty. The most they could accomplish was as hostages to the King. The Book of Esther begins with women portrayed as focused on silly things, and yet concludes with the achievements of esther, a great woman. This is a story of the difference between a world that treats women as objects and one that honors their potential.

Rabbi Yochanan takes this one step further: We can read a story as the tale of human beings, or one of God’s guidance and providence. Those who see women as did Vashti, see only the profane. Those who look to Esther will find the holy.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Feb

Midrash Esther Chapter Three IX: Vashti v Esther

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“Also Queen Vashti made a party for the women.” Why does the verse record Vashti’s party? Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Karcha said: Why all this about Vashti? To show how great was the wealth that eventually became Esther’s.

Rabbi Meir said: If God does so much for those who provoke Him, how much more so will He do for those who perform His will!

Another comment on, “Also Vashti the Queen.” The word ‘gam‘ always signifies something in addition to the plain meaning: Just as Achashveirosh opened six treasuries; so Vashti opened six treasuries. Just as he went to all kinds of expense; so she went to all kinds of expense. Just as he feasted after the style of the Land of Israel, so she feasted after the style of the Land of Israel. Just as he wore the clothes of the Kohen Gadol; she too wore the clothes of the Kohen Gadol.

Rabbi Berechiah said: She was like the bird that decks itself with its own feathers and with those of others.

Another explanation of, “also Vashti the Queen,” the time has come for Vashti “also” to be raised – legamem - to her foundation; the time of Vashti has come to be plucked; the time of the Vashti has come to be trodden.

Rabbi Huna said: The time of the Vashti has come to doggie: compared to this, “She took of the fruit and ate; and she gave gam, also, to her husband (Genesis 3:6).”

Rabbi Yehoshua sees Vashti only in terms of how her story affected Esther. When we later read that Achashveirosh offered Esther, “up to half my kingdom,” Achashveirosh was testing his new wife to see if she was as money hungry as Vashti. Esther earned the trust of Achashveirosh when she made it clear that she was not interested in money or power. Rabbi Yehoshua sees this as one of the keys to her success.

Rabbi Meir sees in the Vashti story a hint to the great reward promised to those who perform God’s will.

The midrash then describes Vashti as doing whatever Achashveirosh did in order to prove that she was his equal.

Whatever Vashti did contributed to her doom. Although we read the story as one in which her refusal to listen to Achashveirosh led to her punishment, this midrash is telling us that Vashti’s party instigated Achashveirosh’s summons.

Rabbi Huna sees in Vashti a parallel to the story of Eve in the Garden of Eden. Vashti was not trying to copy her husband, or to prove that she was his equal; she was determined to instigate him to do what he always wanted to do but was too fearful to put into action. Just as Eve, “The Articulator,” forced Adam to confront that he wanted to eat of the forbidden fruit, Vashti wanted Achashveirosh to openly rebel against the Jewish God.

Vashti spoke to the lowest parts of Achashveirosh. Esther, however, always addresses the King as if she sees only his goodness.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Feb

Midrash Esther Chapter Three VII: A Portion in the World to Come

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

Another explanation: “From among those whose death is by Your hand, God (Psalms and 17:14).” How mighty are those who received their portion from Your hand, O Lord (who died for Your sake)! Who are these? These are the generation of destruction (by the Romans during the time of Hadrian) to see, the phrase being interpreted, “who were slain at Your hand.” “From the world,” those, namely, whose flesh became covered with sores for the sanctification of Your name. Who are these? Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and Rabbi Elazar his son.

These two remained in hiding in a cave for 13 years during the great persecution until their flesh was covered with sores, and they subsisted on Caribs and fix. At the end of 13 years Rabbi Shimon went out and sat at the entrance of the cave. He saw a bird catchers spread his net to catch birds. Sometimes he heard a Heavenly Voice say demus, and the bird escaped, and sometimes he heard it say spikla and it was caught. He said: even a bird does not perish except by the decree of Heaven; how much more so we human beings! Let us go down and heal ourselves in the hot springs of Tiberius.

So they went down and were healed in the hot springs of Tiberius. They said: It is incumbent on us to do some kindness and benefit to the people of this place just as Jacob our father did, as it says, “And he brought benefit to the city (Genesis 33:18),” which means that he set up a market and sold to them cheaply. We must purify Tiberias.

“Whose portion is in life,” King David said before the Holy One, Blessed is He: “Sovereign of the Universe, will You promised me a portion with them in the future world?”

The Holy One, Blessed is He, replied: “David, not so (it will not be for you to have a portion with them, as though they were the more righteous, on the contrary, you are the more worthy, and they will have a portion with you) to see, “your treasure shall fill their bellies.” It is not written here, “the art treasure will fill your belly,” but, “your treasurer shall feel their belly,” all the people will eat of the surplus of your reward.” Thus, David received the good news that he had a portion in the Future World. King David said further before God: “Sovereign of the Universe, others rely on learning, pious actions, and good deeds which they can show, but, “I shall behold Your Face through charity (I will enjoy the Future World for Your sake) for ever (Psalms 17:15).”

Although most commentaries understand this midrash as a tangential explanation of a verse previously mentioned, I believe that there is a powerful message in this midrash that reflects the view of people suffering through Hadrian’s persecutions on the story of Esther, and specifically, Vashti’s party:

It is clear that Rabbi Shimon’s statement that, ‘even a bird will only die by Heavenly Decree, how much more so we human beings!’ sends a powerful message to people suffering through these horrible persecutions. Rabbi Shimon is telling them that ultimately there was a Heavenly Decree. A frightening thought indeed, especially when we think back on recent world history and wonder, was it really Heavenly Decree that determined each victim of persecution?

We have struggled with this issue in practically every generation of Jewish history. We can imagine that the Jews in the time of Achashveirosh and Vashti, devastated by the destruction of Jerusalem and the loss of the Holy Temple, now seeing that yet another generation of evil kings would rule over them, knowing they were bound to suffer more, wondered. why are we suffering? Is this all a Heavenly Decree?

Rabbi Shimon teaches us that the only response to this question is, “What shall we, those who have been saved, do to acknowledge our rescue?” We dare not say that we merited salvation while all those who died did not. We can only think of the Heavenly Decree in terms of the future: what shall we do to acknowledge our salvation?

Rabbi Shimon teaches we must acknowledge our miracle by bringing benefit to the world. Jacob brought benefit to the cities where he settled after his confrontation with Esau. Rabbi Shimon and his son brought benefit to Tiberius. Mordechai and Esther brought benefit to Shushan and the entire kingdom of Achashveirosh. If we have been rescued from danger we must bring benefit to the world.

It is of such people, the ones who acknowledge their rescue by bringing good to the world, that King David asks of God, “Please, allow me to have a portion in the Future World together with them!” King David appreciates the mighty level achieved by someone living through devastating times and acknowledging his salvation by bringing good to the world, the same world that thought against him and his people.

God responds to David, “Your portion, David, is greater than theirs. You have used your role as King only to bring benefit to the people.”

To which, David responds, “God, I want even more; I want to enjoy my portion in the Future World, for Your sake, not mine.” The one who lives was to bring benefit to others can actually live life in the Future World, to bring pleasure to God.

Contrast this with the selfishness of Achashveirosh and Vashti. They may have presented their parties as being for the benefit of the people, but we know that their intentions were entirely selfish. They lived only for themselves. They gave benefit to others only when it would benefit them. Therefore, they had no merit, and they would eventually self-destruct.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Feb

Midrash Esther Chapter Three VI: What Once Was

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

It is written, “From among those whose death is by Your hand, God, from men who die of old age, whose portion is eternal life, and with Your hidden treasure, You’ve fill their stomach, who are satisfied with children, and leave their abundance to their offspring (Psalms 17:14).” Rabbi Chanina the son of Rabbi Acha went to a certain place where he was asked to lecture on the following verse, “But that which is left of the meal offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons (Vayikra 2:10).”

He opened his lecture with the following verse, “From among those whose death is by Your hand, God.”

“How mighty in righteousness,” he said, “are those who received their portion from Your hand, O God! Who were those? The tribe of Levi.

“Whose portion is eternal life,” meaning, who receive no portion in the land.

“Whose portion is eternal life,” meaning, the holy things of the Sanctuary.

“With Your hidden treasure, You fill their stomach,” the holy gifts they receive from the farmers.

“Who were satisfied with children,” as it says, “every male among the Cohanim  may eat from it (Leviticus 6:22).”

“And leave their abundance to their offspring (Psalms),” as it says, “But that which is left of the meal offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons.”

This paragraph of the midrash is intended to serve as an introduction to the following paragraph. However, when we consider how Achashveirosh and Vashti said their guests with such abundance, Rabbi Chanina’s lecture becomes a poignant description of what once was, but was no more.

There was a time when those “mighty in righteousness” would feel that they were fed from the portion of the eternal life and from God’s hidden treasure. They did not have much, but they were able to leave their abundance to their offspring. No more. It is not those who are mighty in righteousness who have abundance, but the wicked Achashveirosh and Vashti. The Jews had lost their sense of the treasure of the eternal life that is opened to those who strive to live a life of righteousness. They were devastated.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Feb

Midrash Esther Chapter Three V: Zeh Lo Fair!

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“You indeed have seen it, for You observe mischief and anger, and it it is in Your power to allow it; nevertheless upon You the helpless relies, for the orphan, You have been the Helper (Psalms 10:14–15).” The Community of Israel said before the Holy One, Blessed is He: Sovereign of the Universe, “You indeed have seen it,” that the wicked Esau will come and destroy the Temple and carry Israel away from their land and fasten chains around their necks. “You observe mischief and anger, and it is in Your power to allow it,” and yet You did rest Your Divine Presence on Isaac even when he said to Esau, “behold, your dwelling on earth shall be on of its fat places… and you shall live by your sword (Genesis 27:39).”

“Nevertheless, upon You, the helpless relies,” tomorrow Esau will come and it seize orphans and widows and lock them in prison and say to them: “let Him of Whom it is written that He is ‘A Father of orphans, and a Judge of widows (Psalms 68:6),’ come and deliver you from my hands.”

But, in truth, “For the orphan, You have been the Helper,” two orphans were left to Esau, namely Remus and Romulus, and You gave permission to a she wolf to suckle them, and afterwords they arose and built to great tents in Rome.

Another explanation: “You indeed have seen it, for You observe mischief and anger.” The Community of Israel said before the Holy One, Blessed is He: “Sovereign of the Universe, You have seen the wicked Nebuchadnezar come and destroy the Temple and carry away Israel from their land and put their necks in chains. “It is in your power to allow it,” You caused Your Divine Presence to rest on Jeremiah so that he said to us, ‘And all the nations shall serve him (Nebuchadnezar), and his son, and his son’s son (Jeremiah 28:7).’ ‘Nevertheless, upon You the helpless relies,’ tomorrow Nebuchadnezar will come and seize Chananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, and cast them into the fiery furnace and say to them, “And who is the God that shall deliver you out of my hands (Daniel 3:15).” But in truth, ‘For the orphan, you have been the Helper,’ one orphan was left to Belshazzar, and You made her Empress over the kingdom that was not hers.”

Who was this? This was Vashti.

This midrash is Israel’s response to God’s complaint described in the previous midrash (Midrash Esther Chapter Three IV: Where is God’s Celebration?): “You  have seen our enemies and all they have done. You hold the power to stop them, but You did not. You empowered them, such as when You gave Isaac the ability to bless the wicked Esau, the ancestor of Rome. Esau saw himself as the helpless one who turned to You. His descendants mocked the imprisoned widows and orphans when they turned to You for help. The Romans saw themselves as the orphans (Remus and Romulus) for whom You were the Helper, (by allowing the she-wolf to suckle them). You saw what Nebuchadnezar did to  Your Temple, but You did not stop him. You empowered him through Jeremiah’s prophecies. You gave him the power to cast the three holy men into the fiery furnace and mock them as they turned to You. Who was the orphan who turned to You as the Helper? The evil Vashti.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Feb

Midrash Esther Chapter Three IV: Where is God’s Celebration?

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

Rabbi Yitzchak began his lecture on this section of the Book of Esther with the following verse, “Yet you have not called upon Me, O Jacob, neither have you wearied yourself about Me, O Israel (Isaiah 43:22).”

Rabbi Yochanan derived the meaning of this verse from another verse, “The burden of Damascus. Behold! Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap. The cities of Aroer are forsaken (Isaiah 14:1).” Why does the prophet mention Aroer when speaking of Damascus, seeing that Aroer is in the territory of Moab? The fact is that there were three hundred and sixty five houses of idol worship and Damascus including temples for the idols of Aroer and each had its day of worship, but there was one day in which the worshipers used to go round to all the temples and worship, and Israel united the whole of them into one body and worshiped them, and if so it is written, “And the Children of Israel again did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baalim, and the Ashtarot, and the gods of Aram, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; and they forsook God, and served Him not (Judges 10:6),” not even on long with all the other gods they served.

Rabbi Abba bar Kahana said: should not a priestess be at least equal to an innkeeper?

He continued: The Holy One, Blessed is He, said: “My sons have not even treated Me like the dessert which comes at the end of the meal.”

Rabbi Levi said: the Jews were like a king’s minister who made a feast for his troops and invited all the King’s legions but did not invite his master. The king said to him: “You might at least have put me on a level with all my troops!” So too, the Holy One, Blessed is He, said: “I wish that My children had treated Me at least like the dessert which comes at the end of the meal!” But, “You have not called upon me, O Jacob, neither have you grown weary about Me, O Israel!”

In connection with Baal is written, “And they called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying: O Baal, answer us (I Kings 18:26).” A man will sit and talk all day without growing tired, but as soon as he gets up to say prayers he feels tired. A man will sit and talk all day without being tired, but as soon as he sits down to study he feels tired. Hence, “You have not called upon Me, O Jacob!”

Would that I had not recognize you, Jake up, because you have not grown weary about Me, Israel! “You have not brought Me the lamb of your burnt offerings (Isaiah 43:23),” these are the two regular daily offerings, as it says, “The one lamb shall you offer in the morning (Numbers 28:4).”

“Neither have you honored Me with your sacrifices,” this refers to the sacrificial parts of the holiest offerings.

“I have not burdened you with a meal offering,” this refers to the handful from the meal offering.

“Nor wearied you with frankincense,” this refers to the handful of frankincense.

“You have brought Me know sweet cane with money.” Rabbi Huna said in the name of Rabbi Yosi: Cinnamon used to grow abundantly in the Land of Israel, so that even the goats and dear used to eat it.

“Neither have you satisfied Me with the fact of your offerings,” this refers to the sacrificial parts of the less holy offerings. “But you have burdened Me with your sins; you have wearied Me with with your iniquities.”

See what your guilt has forced Me to do, Israel: not only must I record the banquets of powerful men, but I have even to record the banquets of women intended only for frivolity; and so it says, “Also Vashti the Queen made a feast for the women.”

The midrash is describing God as observing the parties of Achashveirosh and Vashti and remembering how the Children of Israel would party at the three hundred and sixty five houses of idol worship in Damascus and yet not bother to worship Him at all. They had time and energy for every one of the false gods, but no time and no energy for God.

So, He took away His temple. There were no more demands for the daily offerings, the holiest offerings, meal offerings, or even frankincense. He had blessed them with such abundance of wealth that even the goats and deer would eat crops precious to everyone else in the world but worth nothing to the Children of Israel because they had such abundance. God had blessed then with great wealth, but they still had no time and no energy to turn to Him at all. Parties for hundreds of gods, but no service of God. Certainly no joyous service, just a tired and exhausted formal service., And here they were again. They did not only join the party of Achashveirosh under Royal pressure and with the motivation of earning the King’s goodwill, they joined Vashti’s party as well for empty fun.

His Temple was in ruins. He removed His Temple because the only service they would offer it in it was just exhausted. But here they were, once again, with all of the energy and strength in the world to party away.

They were not tired; they were tired of God. They did not even experience a sense of weariness when they fought of the destroyed Temple and Jerusalem, His holy city, in ruins. They were too busy partying to even think about what they had lost, what they had forced God to do.

It’s important to note that the first Purim story, the original battle with Amalek, was caused by the Children of Israel being, “Tired and weary.” The Midrash is telling us that our exhaustion when praying and serving God, especially when contrasted with our energy when partying, led to the challenge of Haman.

They didn’t realize that from God’s perspective it was no longer that they were just turning to Him without energy; they were tiring Him out having to observe and record all the joy they were discovering in the Shushan party season.

A powerful midrash introducing the reason for why Israel was threatened by Haman’s horrible decree.

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Feb

Midrash Esther Chapter Three III: Just Another Party

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

Another comment on, “Also Vashti the Queen.” Shmuel opened with the text, “with their heat I will prepare their feast (Jeremiah 60:39).” The Holy One, Blessed is He said: When they come to warm themselves up with the monarchy, I will destroy their foundations. “And I will make them drunken,” with their troubles. “Because they exulted,” because they rejoiced at the destruction of the Temple.

The Holy One, Blessed is He said: “the Temple is in ruins and this wretch makes parties!”

The wicked Vashti also made a party, as it is written, “Also Vashti the Queen made a party for the women.”

Achashveirosh made a party. He used his party to celebrate the fact that Jeremiah’s prophecy of redemption at the end of 70 years had not come true. He used the Temple vessels for his party. And yet, this midrash describes God as becoming angry only when Vashti too made a party. Why?

Until Vashti’s party, the Kings party was not meant as a celebration by as an astute political move to garner the support of all the powerful people, political and military, in his kingdom. The guests may have experienced it as a party, but Achashveirosh had a very clear objective. Achashveirosh may have included his rejoicing over the destruction of the Temple in his party, but it to was probably meant only as part of his political statement; the kingdom was secure. No one had to worry of destabilization of the kingdom by the rebuilding of the Temple.

There was no reason for Vashti to make a party. It did not serve a political purpose. Her party was just that; a party. It was a time of just and making merry. She intended to not only provoke her husband, but to send a message to everyone that no matter how well planned the king’s parties were, they were still just that; parties. Vashti popped Achashveirosh’s balloon. She transformed his six month United Kingdom conference into just another very, very long party.

It was at this point, when his party became just a party, that God’s anger was provoked. His anger would first be expressed by Achashveirosh’s public humiliation in  shaving to deal with a rebellious queen.

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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28
Feb

Midrash Esther Chapter Two: XIII: Drinking Customs

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel.” It varied according to the custom of different places. There are some places where they eat first and then drink, and somewhere they drink and then eat. It was all according to the custom of each people. For instance, for the Cutheans who do not drink wine kept in leather bottles he brought wine kept in jars.

“None did compel,” to drink wine neat (not diluted).

Rab said: none compelled to drink wine of libation (The Jews were not compelled to drink wine used for idol worship).

Rabbi Benjamin ben Levi said: they were not forced to drink from a kind of large cup used by the Persians. For in Persia they drink heavy wine, therefore none was compelled to drink too much.

“For so the king had appointed.” Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachman said: from this ‘yisad,’ you may judge the prosperity of that bad man, for his house was founded ‘meyusad,’ on precious stones and pearls.

“To all the officers of his house that they should do.” For the notables of the kingdom, that each one should be at liberty to amuse himself with his children and his household.

No one was compelled to drink against their custom, or to drink wine in an unfamiliar way. However, as we said earlier, they did feel compelled to match the King drink for drink. There was no blatant compulsion, just intense pressure.

There was social pressure, but there was also the pressure of the King’s great wealth; no one wanted to risk losing an opportunity to share the Kings money.

There was an additional form of pressure. The important guests were encouraged to bring their families with them. Not only would they have to match the King drink for drink because of the other guests. But they could not lose face in front of their families.

As we have said many times before, Achashveirosh was a master manipulator. Therefore even when he openly declares that there is no force, we know that there was.

We have to keep this in mind throughout the rest of the story of the Book of Esther; whenever the King presents something as “up to someone else,” he, in fact, will find one way or another to assert his will.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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