Megillas Esther

With Purim just around the corner, I present here a selection from the Maggid’s commentary on Megillas Esther. Chapter 6 of the Megillah tells about Haman’s being ordered by Achashveirosh to escort Mordechai all around Shushan with Mordechai sitting on a royal horse. The Megillah goes on to describe what happened right afterward (Esther 6:13-14):
And Haman recounted to his wife Zeresh and all his close friends all that had happened to him. And his wise men and his wife Zeresh told him: “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish stock, then you will not prevail against him. You surely will fall to him (נפול תיפול לפניו).” While they were still speaking with him, the king’s chamberlains arrived. They rushed to bring Haman to the feast that Esther had prepared.
The Maggid asks: Why does the Megillah make a point of telling us that the chamberlains came on the scene while Haman’s wise men were still speaking to him? What difference does it make whether they came while Haman’s wise men were still speaking or afterwards? The Maggid goes on to explain that the timing of the chamberlains’ arrival was very significant: It was a true kindness on Hashem’s part to arrange for them to arrive precisely when they did.
Let us look at this episode more closely. The story as a whole presents a difficulty. If Haman’s wise men were truly wise, how could they have said what they said? How could they have declared that Haman will surely fall to Mordecai? Were they unaware of the well-known principle that the utterance of the lips seals in whatever is said, for good or for bad (see Moed Katan 18a)? Why did they “create an opening for Satan” by saying that Haman would fall to Mordecai again and again (as hinted at by the double verb נפול תיפול – see Megillah 16a)?
The answer lies in the following Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni, Torah 571, middle):
“Those who bless you are blessed and those who curse you are cursed” (Bamidbar 24:9). But previously it was written (Bereishis 27:29): “Those who curse you are cursed, and those who bless you are blessed.” However, Bilaam, since he hated us, opened with blessing and concluded with curse. Yitzchak, since he loved us, opened with curse and concluded with blessing.
We see that the main point of any statement is the conclusion. Yitzchak’s focus was on blessing, so he concluded with blessing. Bilaam’s focus was on curse, so he concluded with curse.
Haman’s wise men also wished to finish off on a negative note for Mordecai. This is seen from how they phrased their statement, as the Gemara interprets it (Megillah 16a). They began by saying, “If Mordechai descends from the tribes of Yehudah, Binyamin, Ephraim, or Menasheh, then you will not prevail against him.” They meant to conclude with the other side of the coin: “However, if Mordechai descends from one of the other tribes, then you will prevail against him, and you will be exceedingly elevated over him.”
But the All-Present One, in His kindness for us, did not allow the wise men to conclude their remarks. He would not allow a bad forecast for the Jews – even just a conditional one, preceded by an if ­– to come out of their mouths. Therefore, He arranged for the chamberlains to come while the wise men were still speaking. The wise men thus finished off with a bad forecast for Haman, thereby sealing Haman’s doom with the utterance of their lips.
Purim Sameach!
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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