Posts Tagged ‘Midrash’

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.

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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 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.

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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: XII: Champion Drinker

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“And the Royal wine in abundance.” Elsewhere it says of Belshazzar, “And it drank wine before the thousand (Daniel 5:1).” Here, however, it is written, “And Royal wine in abundance, according to the bounty of the King.” This means according to the cups in the hand of the king.

Belshazzar did his best to out drink everyone else at his party put together. Achashveirosh on the other hand, shared whatever he drank with his guests.

Achashveirosh proved that he could drink more than anyone else. Achashveirosh wanted people to match him drink for drink. If he drank a glass of wine, every one of his guests had to drink one as well. He wanted them to see whether they could keep up with him. While they do were getting drunk and becoming sick, Achashveirosh maintained his steady spirit.

However, as we explained in the introduction to this chapter of the midrash, Achashveirosh was, “spending his spirit.” He lost his calm demeanor on the final day of the party when he summoned his queen Vashti. His world fell apart. He had lost control. He forfeit all of the great accomplishments he had attempted to prove to his subjects. The king who begins the story as one of immense wealth and great strength, finishes his party a humiliated man and a weakened King.

This would indicate that the great contest of all the women in Shushan was a way for Achashveirosh to reassert himself both as a man and as a king. His intention was to be with as many women as possible to prove his the virility.

This would mean that Esther’s winning the spot as Queen would indicate that she was the King’s match. We can now understand why the King allowed her to drag out her request for two parties and was desperate to find out what it was she wanted from him. Esther was truly his equal.

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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28
Feb

Midrash Esther Chapter II-X: Serving Drinks

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“And they gave them drink in vessels of gold.” The midrash wonders about the phrase “and they gave them drink,” as this is the only time this word appears in the entire Bible.

The midrash goes on to explain, that bad man gave to drink only in vessels of gold. An objection was raised from the verse, “And all King Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold (I Kings 10:21).” This implies that only the King himself drank from golden vessels, and yet you are saying that Achashveirosh served all his guests in golden cups; was Achashveirosh wealthier than Solomon?

Rabbi Pinchas explained: Is it not naturally repulsive to a person to drink wine out of gold?  Achashveirosh served the wine in vessels of finely cut crystal in which a person’s face is beautifully mirrored by the wine as in gold.

I believe that this is a continuation of the previous midrash (Midrash Esther Chapter II-IX: Love of Money) in which we described Achashveirosh and his guests walked on a floor with such valuable stones that everyone, including Achashveirosh, could have used to pay all their debts and achieve financial freedom.

Achashveirosh wasn’t simply showing off his great wealth; he was demonstrating that what others may consider a treasure was meaningless to him. He could throw away a treasure without thinking. A million dollars means far less to Bill Gates or Warren Buffet than it does to the rest of us. As we said, Achashveirosh was, “Spending his spirit.”

Achashveirsoh invited his guests to a drinking party. They were drunkenly guzzling the finest wines served in expensive crystal without any sense of the value of the wine or the goblets. He had his guests treating money as if it didn’t matter. He offered them a taste of how he experienced his wealth. Every guest would remember the experience of having so much that nothing mattered. Achashveirosh was tantalizing them with a taste of what would be possible if they cooperated with him.

This was a taste of what was to come when the King wanted to select a new Queen. He didn’t just search for the hundred most beautiful women in his kingdom, “The Miss Achashveirosh Contest,” he gathered all the beautiful women. He went through women the same way he went through precious stones, and had his guests go through priceless wines. He didn’t just celebrate when he chose Esther; he made another huge party, he gave out gifts on her honor, and he lowered taxes to celebrate his new Queen.

Achashveirosh has so much that he offers Esther, “Up to half my kingdom.”

The same man who can toss away priceless stones, the finest wines, and thousands of women, has no hesitation in tossing away Mordechai for Haman and then Haman for Mordechai. He doesn’t even think before tossing away an entire nation, the Jews, when they reject his ideas. He had so much of everything that nothing mattered. That is, except for Vashti and his honor…

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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 II: VIII: Introducing Jealousy

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“The couches were of gold and silver.” Rabbi Judah and Rabbi Nehemiah joined issue here. Rabbi Judah said: according to their stations they were assigned to either gold or silver. Rabbi Nehemiah said to him: if you explain it this way, you are introducing jealousy into the banquet of that wicked man. No; they were all of silver, and overlaid with gold.

Rabbi Tachalifa bar Bar Channa, however, said that they were of gold with silver fastenings.

Shmuel said that the outer legs were of gold and the inner of silver.

Rabbi Nehemiah seems to have a great point: If different people had more valuable beds than others, Achashveirosh was certainly introducing jealousy into the banquet. Rabbi Judah says, “Of course!” Achashveirosh wanted to introduce jealousy into the party. Jealousy would keep people focused on each other, not on him. Jealousy would make people feel insecure and therefore, more dependent on the King.

Rabbi Nehemiah’s description of the beds seems a little ridiculous; why make a bed of silver only to overlay it with gold? We could, of course, explain as we have earlier, that Achashveirosh simply wanted people to know, to hear rumors about the expensive materials he used to make the beds. However, I suspect that Achashveirosh was introducing an element of fantasy into the party. People would leave expecting to become very wealthy through their support of the King. There was always the promise of something more.

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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 II: VI: Court & Garden

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“In the court of the garden of the king’s palace.” Rabbi Judah and Rabbi Nehemiah joined issue here. Rabbi Judah said that the garden was without and the court within, closer to the palace. Rabbi Nehemiah said that the garden was closer to the palace, and the court a little bit away.

Rabbi Pinchus said: I will make you both right. When Achashveirosh desired he could make it a court, and when he wanted he could turn it into a burden. How so? He would hang a curtain so as to conceal the garden and turn it into a court. He could also roll up the curtain and transform it back into a garden.

Another explanation: the combination of the words palace, court, and garden, teach us that all this cost him a great deal.

Rabbi Judah and Rabbi Nehemiah understand that a party in the King’s court is quite different than one in the King’s garden: the former is more formal. The latter is more relaxed.

Rabbi Judah said that the center of the party was the court; the formal gathering of the king with his guests. The more important people attended the more formal celebration.

Rabbi Nehemiah disagrees and says that the King had a court before his garden, his personal space. He imagines that the people closer to the King, or those of more important positions, were invited to the king’s personal space, a more relaxed and intimate celebration.

Rabbi Pinchus believes that Achashveirosh actually kept everyone off balance. His guests were moved back and forth between the formal court and the more relaxed garden. People didn’t know whether to relate to the King in a very formal way, or if they could let down their guard. Basically, Achashveirosh, I believe intentionally, wanted every member of the Shushan bureaucracy to feel just a little bit unsure of how to relate to the King. He wanted them to know that they would constantly have to be on their toes when dealing with the King.

All this makes Mordecai’s interactions with the King far more amazing: Mordecai is perfectly consistent with himself. He is always described as sitting in the King’s gate. Not the court. Not the garden. Not the palace. Mordecai chose his own place. He does not adjust to Achashveirosh. Another reason for Achashveirosh to feel so threatened by Mordechai.

We can also understand the final point of the midrash that describes how much this party cost Achashveirosh: he was willing to spend a fortune sending this message to people that they could never rely on the previous day’s interaction with the King to give them a hint how to relate to him today.

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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28
Feb

Midrash Esther Chapter II: V: The Original Federalist

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“And when these days were completed the king made a feast for all the people who were present in Shushan for seven days.” Rav and Shmuel joined issue here. One said: it means seven days besides the hundred and eighty, whereas Shmuel said: it means seven included in the hundred and eighty.

Rabbi Shimon said: Shushan the castle on that occasion was like a great feasting place with food and drink were in abundance.

Rabbi Chanina bar Papa said: The notables of the time had been there but they fled.

Rabbi Chanina bar Atel said: Jews participated in that feast. That wicked man, Achashveirosh, said to them: “Can your God do more for you than this?” They answered: “An eye has not seen, O God, beside You, what He shall do for him who waits for Him (Isaiah 64:3).” If He provides for us nothing better than this feast in the World to Come, we could say to him, “we have already enjoyed the like of this at the table of Achashveirosh.”

The verse presents the seven day party as connected to the great feast that preceded it. The two rabbis are debating whether the seven day party was simply the climax of the first party, meaning the final seven days of the hundred and eighty, or if the purpose of the first feast was to prepare for the seven day feast.

When Rabbi Shimon describes how the entire Shushan became a great party place, he is describing the capital city, this seat of the kingdom. The federal bureaucracy was centered in Shushan. The purpose of gathering all the notables and military leaders for the hundred and eighty day party, paying attention to the individual needs of each guest, was to convince these people that the bureaucracy of Shushan would represent them before the king. They may live in faraway provinces but they would always have someone in the Shushan bureaucracy who would focus on their individual needs and concerns. All of the guests spend their time forming and nurturing powerful relationships with representatives of the federal government so that they would have their personal representatives advocating for them before the king. The purpose of this six-month conference was to nurture these relationships.

Therefore, Rava pictures the scene of this seven-day party as the climax of the six-month conference, when the new personal representatives of each of the notables and military leaders celebrated together with the people they represent. This was the King’s way of having everyone feel comfortable and vested in the Shushan bureaucracy.

Shmuel however, agrees with Rava regarding the purpose of the six-month conference, however he believes that after all these powerful and wealthy guests spent six months forming relationships with the Shushan bureaucrats, Achashveirosh made a special party for everyone in Shushan to remind them that ultimately they relied on him. All the power was in his hands. They may represent all the provinces, but they worked for Achashveirosh.

Achashveirosh had one serious challenge in Shushan: the Jews. They were still connected to God. They were not people who would be easily convinced that the world centered around Achashveirosh. Therefore, he showered them with so much abundance that he felt comfortable saying to them, “Can your God do more for you than this?” In other words, I can take care of you here and now. Your exiles, who have lost Jerusalem and any sense of power, need me, not God.

The Jews could not deny the advantages of working for Achashveirosh. They could not ignore the fabulous party. However, they sent a very clear message to the King; no matter how much they could theoretically benefit from his largesse, which was substantial, they were focused on the World to Come.

No wonder when Haman made his pitch to the King about “a certain people,” he does not need to mention their identity, he need only mention that they do not think the same way as does the King. He does not say, as usually translated, that these people do not obey the king’s laws; if they truly did not obey the king’s laws the Kings could simply have them executed immediately without any political repercussions. People who violate the king’s laws are immediately punished. He speaks of their rejection of the King’s ideas. Achashveirosh immediately knows that Haman is referring to the people at the party, the very ones who rejected his pitch of being the only source of wealth, honor, and power.

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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28
Feb

Midrash Esther Chapter II: II: Days of Tribulation

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

“Many days.” They were days of tribulation; and similarly we find, “And it came to pass in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died (Exodus 2:23).” Now were they really many days? No, only because they were days of tribulation, Scripture reckoned them as many days.

Similarly we find: “And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah (I Kings 18:1).” Now were they really many days? No, only because they were days of tribulation, Scripture calls the many days.

How many were they (The days of famine)? Rabbi Berechiah has said in the name of Rabbi Chelbo in the name of Rabbi Yochanan: One month in one year, and one month in another, and 12 months in the middle, making altogether 14 months.

Similarly, “And if a woman has an issue of her blood many days (Vayikra 15:25),” on which Rabbi Chiya taught: “Days,” signifies two, “many,” signifies three. Are these then many? No, only because they are days of pain they are called “many.”

The verse is describing a grand party and yet, the midrash describes the “many days” of the party as days of suffering. They compare the party of Achashveirosh to the slavery in Egypt, and defendant during the time of Elijah. They then compare the pain experienced by the citizens of the kingdom to the pain a woman suffers During her period.

At first glance the midrash determines that these were days of suffering by comparing the phrase “many days” to other places where it appears in the Bible. They believe that the author of the Book of Esther is providing a hint to what people felt during Achashveirosh’s party.

I believe that the three comparisons; Egypt, Elijah’s famine, and a menstruating woman, are actually indications of how the rabbis knew that these were days of tribulation, and what type of tribulation it was:

When the midrash compares this party to the servitude in Egypt, it’s pointing out to us that it is impossible for a king to run a six month conference of all the important political and military leaders of his entire kingdom with out the guests feeling compelled by the King to be there. Achashveirosh was informing then that they will act at his beck and call. No president, prime minister, Duke or King, will leave his country for six months. No province or state will allow its military leaders to be absent for so long. Unless, that is, they have no choice. These people did not. They were there at the king’s invitation and they could not refuse. They would remain in Shushan as long as Achashveirosh desired. Every moment they were there dragged on as they waited for permission to return home.

When the midrash compares these days of tribulation to those that the Children of Israel suffered during the family in the days of Elijah, it is pointing out that when all the political and military leaders watched as a Achashveirosh wasted all his money, or, as we said, “spent his spirit,” they were concerned for the future. Would the kingdom be able to pay for this grant party? They began to wonder whether they would have the ability to sustain their people. They felt as if they were watching a famine in the making.

When the midrash compares these days of tribulation to those of a woman suffering her. It is telling us that, just as a woman knows that the discomfort is temporary, so to, all of Achashveirosh’s guests pretty much knew that this king and the tribulations he imposed would be temporary. He could not last. He was truly, “spending his spirit.”

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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