Shabbat B' Shabbato
1463: Tetzave 13th of Adar 5773 23/02/2013
|As Shabbat Approaches|
|"If I Perish" / Rabbi Oury Cherki, Machon Meir, Rabbi of Beit Yehuda Congregation, Jerusalem|
The Megillah of Esther can be viewed in many different ways. The simplest way is to look at it as the story of the transfer of the authority of the nation of Yisrael and the Shechina from Yisrael to the nations of the world, through the character of Esther. The text of the Megillah can leave one perplexed. Two good Jews, Mordechai and Esther, put in hard work, but in the end it is written, "For Mordechai the Jew, the viceroy of King Achashverosh and a great man among the Jews..." [10:3]. Where is Esther? Why has she disappeared from the Megillah.
This idea stands out especially when we take into account Mordechai's fate. Esther remained with Achashverosh. From one point of view the story of the Megillah is a personal tragedy for Esther – even though the Megillah is named for her. She disappears from sight completely. Mordechai warned her, "If you are silent now, salvation for the Jews will come from a different place, and you and your father's house will be lost." [4:14]. But then what happened in the end? Esther went to the King, begged for the Jews, and they were indeed saved. Not from some other place but as a direct result of her actions. And in spite of all this, she was lost. As Esther had said, "If I perish, I will perish" [4:16].
It is written, "And Esther put on royal clothing, and she stood in the inner courtyard of the palace" [5:1]. The sages explain, "She put on the royal kingdom of her father's house." Her father's house is the house of King Shaul, as is noted earlier in the Megillah. This implies that she took hold of the Kingdom of Yisrael and handed it over to Achashverosh! This was the price of salvation from the hands of Haman.
This can be seen explicitly in the Talmud: "Rabba Bar Ofran started to discuss this passage from this point..." [Megillah 10a]. In order to explain Megillat Esther, Rabba viewed it as a fulfillment of a verse in the book of Yirmiyahu, which contains the basic idea of the entire Megillah: "I will put My throne in Eilam, and I will cause king and ministers to be lost from there - this is the word of G-d" [49:38]. Eilam is Persia, and its capital was Shushan. As is written, "I was in the capital Shushan, in the country of Eilam" [Daniel 8:2]. "'The king' refers to Vashti, and the 'ministers' are Haman and his ten sons." [Megillah ibid]. The Maharal explains, "This means that this was also the reason behind the story of the Megillah. When Yisrael went into exile and they were under the control of Persia, G-d was with them too, so that it could be said that His throne was in Eilam, just as before, when the Kingdom of Yisrael existed, the Divine throne was in Jerusalem. Now we can say that His throne was in Eilam, where Bnei Yisrael lived."
The Holy One, Blessed be He, was in Shushan, the Capital, together with Achashverosh. The Divine Shechina was imprisoned among the other nations of the world. A truly shocking situation!
This point of view clarifies for us why the joy of Purim is achieved through an excess of intoxicating drinks. The purpose of the drinking is to hide a great secret – that salvation from trouble during a time of exile takes place through hidden actions of the Shechina from within the depths of darkness. This teaches us that the authority of G-d extends to everything in the world.