Posts Tagged ‘Midrash’

9
Jul

Prophet & Priest-Kinah 34-Background & Introduction

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“As the nations that God makes perish before you, so shall you perish (Deuteronomy 8:20).” Infer that as these nations perished through priest and prophet, [referring to the overthrow of Jericho where Joshua, the prophet, ordered the priests to march round the wall and blow the shofar, Joshua 6], so will Israel be exiled through priest and prophet [referring to Jeremiah who was both priest and prophet].

As they were overthrown with the blast of the shofar and shouting, so will Israel be exiled with the blast of the shofar and shouting [Jeremiah 4:19], “My innards, my innards, I shudder; the walls of my heart, my heart murmurs within me; I cannot be silent, for you have heard the sound of the shofar (See: 613 Concepts-Chapter 116-Rosh Hashanah and Shofar Part 3-Laws of the Blowing of the Shofar), O my soul, the shofar blast of war.” [Midrash Eichah 1.1.3]

There are layers of meaning to this Midrash, which we must consider to fully apprectiate its depth:


  1. Jeremiah, prophet and priest, was a direct descendant of Joshua: “Eight prophets, who were also priests, descended from Rahab the innkeeper (of the Jericho story, who married Joshua): Neriah, Baruch, Seraiah, Mahseiah, Jeremiah… (Megillah 14b)

  2. The murder of Zechariah son of Yehoiadah, prophet and priest, by Yoash: See Biblical Personalities-Yoash & Haftarah-Shekalim-Background and Reading the Text.

  3. The story of the boiling blood of the prophet and priest: Nevuzaradan, the general of Nebuchadnezzar’s armies, saw the blood of Zechariah seething. ‘What is this?’ cried he. ‘It is the blood of sacrifices, which has been spilled,’ they answered. ‘Then,’ said he, ‘bring [some animal blood] and I will compare them, to see whether they are alike.’ So he slaughtered animals and compared them, but they were dissimilar. ‘Disclose the secret to me, or if not, I will tear your flesh with iron combs,’ he threatened. They replied: ‘This is the blood of a priest and a prophet, who foretold the destruction of Jerusalem to the Israelites, and they killed him.’ ‘I,’ said he, ‘will appease him.’ So he brought the scholars and slew them over him, yet it did not cease [to boil]. He brought schoolchildren and slew them over him, still it did not rest; he brought the young priests and slew them over him, and still it did not rest, until he had slain ninety-four thousand, and still it did not rest.


Whereupon he approached him and cried out, ‘Zechariah, Zechariah, I have                          destroyed the flower of them: do You desire me to massacre them all?’ Straightway it rested. Thoughts of repentance came into his mind: if they, who killed one person only, have been so [severely punished], what will be my fate? So he fled, sent his testament to his house, and became a proselyte. (Sanhedrin 96b)


  1. The capture of Jericho and the role of the Shofar. (See: 613 Concepts-Chapter 116-Rosh Hashanah and Shofar-Part 2-Laws of the Shofar- The Size of the Shofar):

  2. An instant eternity of evil and wrong: Before being canonized, Thomas Becket was the twelfth-century Archbishop of Canterbury; having clashed with England’s King Henry II he was stabbed by four hired assassins during a divine service. In T.S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral the women of Canterbury, simple women, not especially pious, already hardened by the severity of their lives bear witness to the crime. The anticipation of what is about to happen is beyond their ken, and the death of a minister of God shocks them.  They sense that something has happened that cannot be repaired, it is an “instant eternity of evil and wrong.” To efface this moment, it would be necessary to wash the wind and sweep up the sky.


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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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9
Jul

The Greatness of a Human Being-Kinah 21

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“Terror rolls over me, pursues my path like the wind, and my rescue like a cloud passes on (Job 30:15).” You chase as the wind the men who are noble hearted and who should be the instruments of my deliverance. You scatter and make to pass as clouds the men who are noble hearted and through whom salvation should come to me; as it is said, “How has my Master covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in His anger, and cast down from heaven to earth the beauty of Israel, and remembered not His footstool in the day of His anger (Lamentations 2:1).”  [Midrash Eichah 1.1.2]

Kinah #21 describes the martyrdom of the Ten Sages who were martyred by the Romans in the middle of the second century. It is our lament that we experienced God depriving us of the very people who could have led us to salvation.

I often wonder why the Romans allowed the people such direct access to these great rabbis while they were being tortured and killed. It seems that the Romans wanted us to see our leaders as regular human beings, who when suffering, were no different from us.

What the Romans failed to understand was that it was the very humanity of these people that connected us with them. We knew that they were people, and represented what a human being could become. We do not lament the loss of leaders with extraordinary powers; we mourn the loss of great people who can teach us through example what a human being can achieve and become. A people that can remember and live with the awareness of the potential of a human being, will find the key to salvation. The cloud is the confusion that comes when we stop seeing these leaders as human beings who achieved greatness, and we begin believing that they have extraordinary powers that are inaccessible to us. The cloud is the despair we experience when we stop believing that we can find the key to salvation within ourselves.

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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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8
Jul

The Terror of Greatness-Kinah 29

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“Demons turn against me; evil chases away my nobility like the wind; my salvation has drifted away like a cloud (Job 30:15).” Rabbi Chanina said, the Community of Israel spoke before the Holy One, Blessed is He, “in the past I terrorized others, as it is stated, ‘ They hastened (bahal means both to hasten and to frighten) to bring Haman (Esther 6:14),’ and another verse has, ‘ I will make you a terror, and you will be no more (Ezekiel 26:21) [this verse refers to Tyre; the midrash reads it as, ‘ I will make you, Tyre, filled with terror inspired by Israel.’] And it is also stated, ‘ Then were the chiefs of Edom terrified (Exodus 15:15).’

But now, terror is turned upon me.”

Rabbi Acha compared this to the segment of a column which rolls along in an open space until it knocks against a stone and stops by it (so too, terrors rolled through the world, and, having struck Israel, stopped by him.) Thus it is written, “Upon me Your wrath weighed down, and You have afflicted me with all Your crushing waves (Psalms 88:8).” [Midrash Eichah 1.1.1]

The introductory verse from the Book of Job, describes how Job, cast into deepest desperation, sees a fleeting vision of his hoped for rescue sailing off from him like a cloud.

The verse from Esther describes how Haman, after having experienced the great honor of being the only person other than the king invited to Esther’s parties only to suffer the shame of having to parade his archenemy Mordechai through the streets of the capital, aware that his lucky streak has ended and his end is approaching, is rushed in his confusion to attend Esther’s party. He is a man lost and confused, not knowing what to expect next. The man who was second only to the King, has lost his bearings.

This same terror is experienced by Israel as they suffer the crushing defeat by the Babylonians, still clinging to their hopes as the people who once lived with the Temple in their midst. It is the terror of someone who experience is greatness and the lowest of lows. It is the terror of someone who has no idea what to expect next.

The verse from Ezekiel describes how Israel was once perceived as such a great power that even those who were not threatened by them were terrified.

The midrash is teaching us that the exiles understood that it was their very greatness that led to their current suffering. The exiles understood that as long as they would be measured by their greatness, they would continue to suffer for having failed in living up to that greatness. They were terrorized by their own greatness.

The final verse, that from the Song of the Sea, describes how the miracles God performed for Israel terrorized all those who did not stand with them. Israel is now experiencing the same terror suffered by the Edomites when they heard of the splitting of the Sea and the drowning of the Egyptians.

The midrash is telling us that Israel acknowledged that their devastating defeat was clearly an expression of God’s Power, the same power expressed at the Splitting of the Sea, and they wondered whether there were more such expressions of His power to come against them.

“Rabbi Acha compared this to the segment of a column which rolls along in an open space until it knocks against a stone and stops by it,” a segment of a column, not the column itself. A ruling, not anything more than a memory of greatness. The people understand that the power unleashed against them is only because they are ruins of what they once were, no longer a reflection of God’s presence on the Earth.

In Kinah #29, that which laments the atrocities suffered by the Jews during the first Crusade, focuses not only on lost greatness, but the consequences of forfeiting that greatness, of not living up to our potential. We begin to experience the same devastating terror that others experienced when God took us out of Egypt, split the Sea, led us through the desert for forty years, opened up the waters the Jordan River, and empowered us to conquer Canaan.

Yet, the very fact that we are able to connect our terror to that which our enemies suffered when we stood at our highest, indicates how real that greatness still is in our minds. We experience the terror of the broken column, yet we still see the column whole and strong, standing as part of a magnificent structure. That structure still lives in our minds. Our potential as a nation is still real in our hearts. We understand that the greatness and potential are demanding. We use this Kinah to bemoan the terror we experience when we acknowledge that we are failing to live up to that potential.

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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8
Jul

The Ripped Coat-Kinah 4

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

Rabbi Chaninah bar Papah began his lecture on Lamentations with the verse, “As one who removes his garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon natron, so is one who sings songs upon a sorrowful heart (Proverbs 25:20).” Rabbi Chaninah and Rabbi Yochanan both say, “What did the Ten Tribes and the tribes of Judah and Benjamin resemble? Two men who were both wrapped in the same new coat on a winter’s day; one pulled one way and on polled the other way until they ripped it. Similarly the Ten Tribes did not cease worshiping idols in Samaria and the tribes of Judah and Benjamin were shipping them in Jerusalem, Jerusalem to be destroyed until they caused Jerusalem to be destroyed. (Midrash Eichah-Introduction XII Part 1).

Both rabbis are comparing Jerusalem to the coat a person wears in the winter to protect him from the cold. Neither the Ten Tribes, nor the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, appreciated the protection that Jerusalem afforded them. Both nations were focused on ripping off their coat; both wanted to shed Jerusalem and all it represented. Little did they realize that by losing Jerusalem they were losing their protection.

The analogy describes two men sharing the same coat. We can assume that these men were too poor to afford their own coats. Poor and vulnerable, there shared code was so uncomfortable that they were willing to rip it off despite the cold winter. Each pulled at the coat forgetting that the coat was shared. The men are so close, wearing the same garment, both experiencing the same discomfort, both so bothered by, let’s imagine the itch of the material, so similar to each other, and yet, in their discomfort, each forgets that the garment will be torn unless they work together.

We are not simply describing people who forgot that Jerusalem afforded protection. We are discussing people who are incredibly similar to each other, people who share their experiences, people battling this same issues even while sharing the same coat so to speak, and yet in their rejection of the coat, they forget each other. People who shared so much, were so bothered by what Jerusalem represented, and how they experienced living in the presence of Jerusalem that they ceased to connect to each other.

Perhaps it was this break between people who shared so much that was the true cause of the loss of the protection of Jerusalem.

When we read Kinah #4 on Tisha b’Av night and speak of the debate between the Ten Tribes and Jerusalem, we are describing people who were so lost and uncomfortable and were so focused on shedding the demands of living with a Jerusalem, that they ceased to connect to each other.

We can have numerous people who share many of the same concerns, and yet when deciding how to respond to these concerns, each party is so focused on their approach that they forget the connection they share with others who are taking a different approach. When one party says, “The Internet is evil. It must be rejected!” And they determine that anyone who chooses a different approach must not share the same concerns, they too, are ripping away at the coat that all of us wraps to gather. It is the ripping of the coat, the forgetting that although we approach our problems in different ways we still share the same quote, that causes us to forfeit the protection of Jerusalem.

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 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.

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 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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