Purim Chidushim for 5775

Here a list of new stuff I noticed in the Megilah this year that may be able to help you give a nice, good, drunken Dvar Torah at your Purim Seudah tomorrow. These are preliminary thoughts for development.

First, I noticed that, indeed, it was entirely Mordechai’s fault for endangering the entire Jewish people by exposing himself to Haman as a Jew. When Esther is kidnapped into the palace in a sadistic beauty pageant by a tyrant who wants a new plaything, Mordechai tells her not to tell anyone her nation or her heritage. את עמה ואת מולדתה are the words. כי מרדכי צוה עליה אשר לא תגיד. Mordechai commanded her not to say anything.

Why? What did he fear? Judging by Mordechai’s sitting at the gate, saving of the king, and respect for regulations (not going to the gate when he’s dressed in sackcloth), he was a political animal. So he probably didn’t want Esther to ruin her chances of coming out of this at least alive.  If Achashverosh killed Vashti, who knows what he would do with all the women he didn’t want. If she said she was Jewish, Achashverosh might have killed her.

Second, why, when pestered by the people at the gate as to why he does not bow to Haman, does Mordechai not follow his own advice and shut up about his nation and heritage? כי הגיד להם אשר הוא יהודי. Same words as he uses in telling Esther not to tell anyone. But he tells. Reluctantly, after they ask him again and again, but he breaks. After that, they tell Haman, who decides to go after everyone.

If either Esther had told the king at any point after she was chosen that she was Jewish, or Mordechai had not told anyone that he was, Haman would not have been able to go after the Jews as he did. If word came out that Esther was Jewish, Haman would never have been able to go after us. If Mordechai had kept his mouth shut, he would never have wanted to go after us in the first place.

But because Mordechai tells Esther not to say anything, but he himself doesn’t follow the same prudent course, Mordechai is responsible for this whole thing, and that’s why he rips his clothes. He reverses when he tells Esther to reveal herself at whatever cost.

Amalek vs Agagi, Israel vs Jew

The Torah reading for Purim starts ויבא עמלק ויילחם עם ישראל ברפידים. Amalek vs Israel. Full nation versus full nation. But Haman is never referred to as an Amalakite. He is referred to as an Agagi. Agag is the king of Amalek, just like Yehuda is the king of Israel. So the royal stock of the Jews, represented by Mordechai both as a Benjaminite (Saul) and a Jew (Yehuda) is fighting the royal stock of Amalek, Haman. Two shards fighting one last round, one never to recover (there is no more Amalek genetic line) one to return.

Haman has Esav Qualities

Maharal points out the language of ויבז with both Esav and Haman. ויבז עשו את הבכורה, vs ויבז בעיניו לשלוח יד במרדכי לבדו. Same personality, same language. Further, Esav in meeting with Ya’akov who offers him gifts says יש לי רב אחי, יהי לך אשר לך. I have much my brother, keep what you have. Ya’akov responds with כי יש לי כל, I have everything, please take my gift. Chazal make a big deal about the רב versus כל, that someone who has  רב always wants more, and someone who has כל is satisfied.

Haman has the same language. He tells his family, probably while drunk because he seems to be recounting his entire life story to his family who no doubt know it already, about his כבוד עשרו ורב בניו, his great riches and many sons. Not כל בניו, all his sons, but his many sons, same language as Esav.




9 thoughts on “Purim Chidushim for 5775

  1. However the relationship with this and dressing up like it’s Halloween, I don’t understand. Disguising is not hiding and is not surviving. Life can’t be death in disguise; when this happens it’s a comma not a choice.
    And why drink to get drunk on such occasion when mistakes have been made? When you said it was Haman the Amalek-kite who got drunk and proved his corruption while Mordechai did not get drunk and he sought a way out. A drunken Mordechai would have remained stuck as a background character. But a great one.

    • Jews were dressing up on Purim thousands of years before there was anything called “Halloween”. On Halloween you go to people’s houses and demand gifts under an implied threat of egging them if they don’t give. On Purim we go to people’s houses and give gifts, and give indiscriminately to the poor. On other days we are encouraged to make sure we are not being cheated by fake poor. On Purim we are instructed to give to anyone who asks immediately.

      We don’t get drunk on the day of the fighting. We fast a day before Purim. After we won, on the 14th, we get drunk. That is something I think you have to be Jewish to understand.

      • This is reassuring because Halloween scares me in all it’s significance from pagan times and after. Of course I don’t understand Purim and never will, I can only accept that you and I don’t.

  2. Not bad. Like the Yash Le Rav v Yash Le Col comparison to Aisav. Would like to see more support in the mkorot for your Mordecai point. To say he messed up is kind of strong without more support. Nice though.

    • Thanks. My view of main characters that are good is that they change for the better, meaning they initially mess up. Mordechai had to mess up somewhere and do teshuva in order to be a main character, especially if he’s going to take after Yehuda, the ultimate ba’al teshuva in Tanach. So what I mean is I think it’s the norm that initially heroes mess up. I think to say that he was perfect throughout would be what requires more support.

      • But didn’t Mordechai already contain in himself the future better choices just as he was messing up? I believe adversity does not really bring the better choices out with the exception of those who already have the means to discern the better choices from the fake choices (choices that one thinks one makes but in reality they are nothing self-consuming addictions).
        I think to Mordechai and Esther the song dedicated would be “Joga” by Bjork when she says: “I thought I could recognize freedom, how Scandinavian of me.” (maybe they believed they could finish the job by themselves through their determination alone?)
        It’s possible that both made the same mistake in parallel. If Adversity would would not have summed up those mistakes and let it go, if God would be successful in his attempts to turn Adversity blind, then Mordechai and Esther would be free to make mistakes without violent consequences and then discover something else (which is what the Bible names “Heaven”). The biggest discovery is the one that grounds you into form without addiction, this is what true in-formation would be like. Heaven…

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