Sunday, March 12, 2006

rebounding when down

Megillat Esther

After Haman leads Mordechai on horseback through the streets of Shushan, Haman goes home shamed. He tells over what happened to his wife Zeresh and family. They all tell him that being that Mordechai is a Jew you will surely fall before him.

Rashi explains their words to Haman. She said to him “This nation has been compared to the stars and to the dust. When they descend, they descend to the dust, and when they ascend, they ascend to the sky and the stars.”

In other words, previously you had a chance. The Jews looked like they were down for the count. But that's the thing with the jews - they are never down for the count. They can have momentary lapses where they can be overcome by their enemies, but they always rebound and when they do, nobody can overcome them.
It is a lesson repeated throughout history. The Jews get oppressed, but eventually God picks us up and we recover. Once that happens we overcome and emerge victorious over our enemies.

That is the story and lesson of Purim, in brief. if we take this lesson from Purim, we have gotten the point.


Tal Benschar said...

I always felt a slight bit sorry for Haman at this point. The same "etzes gebbers" -- advice givers -- who only yesterday had encouraged Haman to build a gallows to hang Mordechai today suddenly wake up and say "Well, if Mordechai is a Jew, then forget it, Haman, your goose is cooked!" Couldn't these wiseacres have thought of this before?

Rafi G said...

I know what you mean. I also felt that. But paying a bit more attention this year,, and after discussing it with a few people, I am not so sure they really knew Mordechai was Jewish until after this incident.
I know there are midrashim that are clear that they did know (such as the famous one about how Haman had sold himself to mordechai as a slave because he did not have food), but from the pesukkim themselves, it could very well be that they did not know.
Why? They took Esther from mordechai's house for the Queen contest and they knew they were related. Esther did not reveal she was Jewish until the second party. It could very weel be that they did not know about Mordechai.
Maybe they suspected, for whatever reason, btu they might not have known for sure (also indicated by Zeresh's words, If Mordechai is a Jew, you have no chance).

Tal Benschar said...

Haman was certainly aware that Mordechai was Jewish, he had been told so by the King's servants. (Esther 3:3-6) That is the reason Haman wanted to kill all the Jews, not just Mordechai.

I would assume that Haman would relate that to his wife Zeresh and the other "ohavav." When he relates how great he is and that Esther only invited him and the King to the party (5:10-13) he then adds that all that is not worth it so long as he sees "Mordechai ha Yehudi" sitting in the king's gate without bowing to him. (5:13) They then give him the advice about the 50 amos tall gallows.

So it seems pretty clear that Haman, Zeresh and the other advisors to Haman knew about "Mordechai ha Yehudi."