I.   Introduction. 1

II.  The Destruction of the Jews. 2

III.   The Meaning of Purim.. 2

IV.  Purim and Yom HaKippurim.. 3

V.   All The Festivals. 7

VI.   What is Purim all about?. 7

VII.  Allusions. 8

VIII. Names. 13

IX.   Redemption. 14

X.  King è War against Amalek è Temple. 14

XI.   An Historical Perspective. 17

XII.   The Kings Palace. 25

XIII.  Insights. 27

XIV.  Pedigrees. 34

XV.  Purim Customs. 39

XVI.  Purim Events. 47

It came to pass at midnight 48

In the Triennial Torah Lectionary. 48

XVII.  Purim Katan (Little Purim) 48



I.   Introduction


Megillat Esther takes place over a nine year period, during the period of the Babylonian exile from the land of Israel following the destruction of the first Temple (about 2500 years ago).


Esther is related to the word “nistar”, which means hidden, and the word Megillah which is related to the word “megaleh”, which means “to reveal”. Thus the Megillah of Esther can be literally translated as “the revelation of the hidden”.


Purim, which is celebrated on Adar 14, is a festival ordained by our Hakhamim, which comes to teach us that HaShem is Echad, One, and His Name is Echad – Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6:4.


All of the dichotomies in Megilah Esther, all of the topsy-turvy events, they all come to teach us that HaShem is Echad. How they do this is the secret of Purim.


For HaShem to be one, every event and every individual must be a part of HaShem. The turning of evil into good is what Purim does to teach us the Oneness of HaShem.


The destruction of the enemies of the Jews could have been accomplish, eleven months earlier, after the death of Haman, if the goal had merely been the destruction of the Jews. But, that was NOT the goal. The goal was to have a total reversal. That which was meant for evil MUST be changed into the good. The evil must be reversed! It is only when the evil is turned to good that HaShem becomes Echad.


The Sages teach that one must drink enough wine so that one does not know the difference between Blessed is Mordechai and Cursed is Haman. This, too, was designed to show us that HaShem is Echad. How does this happen?


Wine is related to Daat, knowledge. Both maintain excellence only in humble containers. Both get better with age. Wine, and associated products, is the only substance on earth that gets better with age. Wine, and the sod, the secret level of Torah, both have the same gematria, which is why the Sages teach that when “wine goes in the secret comes out”.


So, what secret does wine reveal on Purim? Since we know what the Sages command, as one of the mitzvot of Purim, is to drink enough wine so that one does not know the difference between “Blessed is Mordechai” and “Cursed is Haman”, we have the beginning of an answer to our question. This mitzva is coming to teach us that the secret of Purim is to reveal that HaShem is echad only when the two statements are equal:


Blessed is Mordechai = Cursed is Haman


“Cursed Haman”, ארור המן, has a gematria of 502.

“Blessed Mordechai”, לברוך מרדכי, has a gematria of 502.


When the evil is so thoroughly reversed that it is the good, then HaShem is Echad.


This, also, is the secret behind teshuva, repenting or better returning. When a sin CAUSES us to do teshuva, the teshuva makes the sin into a mitzva (a good deed)!!! After all, any thing that moves us closer to HaShem is defined as a mitzva.


When sin becomes a mitzva, through teshuva, then evil becomes reversed and becomes the good. Then HaShem is Echad.


This reversal of evil into good is the hidden secret behind all of the mitzvot of Purim. It is the secret of all of the events and plots of Megillah Esther.


As we study Megillah Esther and the Purim festival, watch for this constant theme.


II.  The Destruction of the Jews


There are two ways in which to try to destroy the Jewish people: physically and spiritually. Our enemies have attempted both.


Chanukah is the celebration over those who have tried, and failed, to culturally assimilate us (the Greeks and Western Culture). They did not try to kill us, they tried to separate us from HaShem and from Torah. For a spiritual attack, we attacked physically. Everything is in the hand of Heaven except the fear of Heaven.[1] When we must demonstrate our fear of Heaven, we are on our own and we must physically demonstrate our fear of Heaven.


Purim is the celebration over those who have tried and failed to physically destroy us (the Persians and Western Culture). For a physical attack, we reacted spiritually. Here our lives are physically in danger for no other reason than just pure hate. There is no attack to prevent us from fulfilling the mitzvot. There was no spiritual attack, only a physical attack. For this we realize that HaShem is coming against us. When HaShem is coming against us, all we can to is repent. Any physical response will be entirely in vain because we would be fighting HaShem.


III.   The Meaning of Purim


What does “Purim” mean?


In Megillat Esther, neither HaShem, inner spiritual, nor ethical values seem to determine the course of events, but rather external values, such as power, wealth, physical beauty, sex (if you’re a man), and, more than anything else, luck, chance, or coincidence. Indeed, Purim means chance or coincidence, that is, the lots by which Haman (the wicked descendent of Amalek who seeks to annihilate the Jews) decided on which day the Jews should be destroyed.


The holiday is called Purim after the selection process that Haman used to select the date of the Jews destruction: a lottery (or a “Pur”), using astrological forecasting. This method was supposed to result in the date that the Jews were most vulnerable to attack. In fact, this was astrologically true: The Jews were most vulnerable on the 13th of Adar. One of the miracles of Purim was that HaShem totally reversed the astrological implications of the day so that the Jews would instead be victorious. Because of this miracle that came about through the lottery, the “Pur,” the holiday is called Purim.


However, that very lottery triggered a series of events that led to his own downfall instead, revealing the hand of HaShem in the entire affair. This is also why Purim is a holiday related to Torah SheBaalPeh, the oral Torah, which reveals that which is hidden within the simple letters and stories of Torah Shebiktav, the written Torah.



If Achashverosh (a grubby man who picks his wife through a beauty contest and accepts bribe money for the destruction of the Jews) hadn’t thrown such a big party maybe he wouldn’t have become drunk, and if Vashti (who name means, “and drink”) hadn’t come into the party when Achashverosh was drunk perhaps he wouldn’t have become angry with her and had her killed. And if she hadn’t been killed then Esther (Mordechai’s cousin and wife) wouldn’t have become queen. And if Achashverosh hadn’t decided, on a whim, to find a new queen by having a beauty contest, then perhaps Esther wouldn’t have become queen. And if Esther were not beautiful... and if Mordechai (the Chief Rabbi of Shushan and member of the highest Jewish Court of Law, the Sanhedrin) hadn’t heard about the contest... And if Mordechai hadn’t overheard the plotting against the king... And if Achashverosh hadn’t been unable to sleep that night, and hadn’t asked his servants to read to him from the book of chronicles of his kingdom, and if they hadn’t just happened to have opened to the place which told about how Mordechai had saved the king’s life! The role of chance, coincidence, or apparent coincidence, is striking, in Megillat Esther!


IV.  Purim and Yom HaKippurim


On most years Parashat Ki Tisa, in the annual cycle, is read in close proximity to Purim, and according to the Tikunai Zohar, there exists an intrinsic relationship between Purim and Yom Kippurim, the day on which the Jews were forgiven for the sin of the golden calf.


Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 185a ‘Observe this: the goat which the Israelites sent down to Azazel, into that desert, was sent with the intention of giving to the “other side” a portion, so pacifying and keeping it occupied that it might not do harm to the sons of the Kingdom. But it may be objected: “Why, then, was it necessary to have two goats, one “to the Lord” and one to the “other side”? The answer to this question can be gathered from the following parable. A king once became angered with his son, and he called to that minister whose office it was to punish offenders that he might be at hand to chastise his son on the morrow. The minister, in high spirits, was overjoyed, and entered the palace to partake of food there. The prince, on seeing him, thought to himself: “Surely, that man comes here to no good purpose, but doubtless because my father is angry with me.” So what did he do? He straightway went in unto his father and persuaded him to forgive him. Then the king commanded that a banquet should be prepared for him and his son, but that the minister should not be told thereof, for, he thought to himself, should he get wind of the repast which I have ordered for myself and my son, he will disturb our meal. What, then, did the king do? He called to his chamberlain and said unto him: “Prepare first a meal for this minister, in order that he may imagine that I am showing him a mark of special favour by giving a banquet in his honour, and so be satisfied and depart, without knowing anything of the previous meal which I have commanded thee to prepare, and which we shall consume when he is gone. Therefore let him, as I have said, take his part and then go, that our joy may be complete and undisturbed.” And so it was done. Now, if the king had not dealt thus with his minister and his son, the former would not have left the palace, and the feast of forgiveness would have been marred. Similarly, the Holy One said to Israel: “Prepare ye two goats, one for Me and one for that Accuser, in order that he may imagine that he is participating in My meal, but in reality may be quite unaware of the true meal of our joy. Let him take his part and go his way and leave My house.” As the “supernal Mother”, the world to come, comes down to dwell in the palace of the lower world in order that all faces should be lit up there, it is meet that the Accuser should not be found in its holy presence, neither he nor any other of the ministers of judgement, when it dispenses blessings and radiates light upon all things and freedom unto all creatures, and Israel takes of these blessings. For when the “world to come” enters into its palace, the lower world, and finds that it rejoices with its children in the most excellent meal, it blesses the table, and all the worlds are blessed, and all is joy and radiant looks. Therefore it says (in regard to the Day of Atonement): ‘‘That ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord” (Lev. XVI, 30). It is written: “And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel”. This gives the Accuser great joy: that God should take a lot with him, and, as it were, invite him by the Holy One’s own desire and invitation. But he little realizes how that the Lord heaps coals of fire on his head and upon the heads of all his legions. Haman, too, “went forth that day joyful and with a glad heart” (Esther v, 9)-namely, with that portion which was given him. But when the Supernal King comes in unto the Matrona She pleads before the King for Herself, for Her children, for Her people, and even when Israel is in exile, if they pray all this day long (on the Day of Atonement), She ascends unto the Supernal King and pleads for Her children, whereby all the punishments which the Holy One is about to inflict upon Edom (Rome) are decreed and fixed, and, in addition, those concerning the unsuspecting Accuser himself -for though he knows it not, he is destined to be done away with, as it is written, “And death will be swallowed up for ever” (Isa. xxv, 8). So Esther said: “For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed... for the enemy could not countervail the king’s damage” (Ibid. VII, 4). And then: “Haman was frightened before the presence of the King and the queen” (Ibid. VII, 6). Then radiant looks and perfect joy prevail, and Israel enters into freedom on that day. And from that day on freedom and joy reign manifestly over them, and the Holy One wills to associate Himself with them in joy thenceforward. And as the Israelites gave Satan a portion in order that he might leave them alone and in peace, so also did they give a portion to the pagan nations (the offering of seventy oxen on the Feast of Tabernacles for the seventy nations) in order that they might leave them alone here on earth below


The Zohar teaches that there is a relationship between Yom Kippurim (Day of the Atonements), and Purim. Notice the similarity of sound and spelling. In fact Ki is a causative prefix often found in the scriptures. Note that on both days the pur or lot is cast. “Yom Ki purim” means “a day like Purim”.


The Talmud says that every Shabbat and Holiday is half spiritual and half physical:


Pesachim 68b Now according to him who explained. ‘One means by hand, and the other means with a utensil,’ why did he not say. Both mean by hand, yet there is no difficulty: one refers to a moist [wart]; the other, to a dry one? — He can answer you: a dry one [just] crumbles away.[2] And according to him who maintained, ‘Both mean by hand, yet there is no difficulty: one refers to a moist [wart]; the other to a dry one’; why did he not say: Both refer to a moist [wart], yet there is no difficulty: one means by hand, and the other means with a utensil? — He can answer you: as for a utensil, Surely he [the Tanna] teaches there, ‘if [it is done] with a utensil, it is forbidden in both cases!’[3] And the other?[4] That which he teaches [about] a utensil here, [is because] he comes to inform us of the controversy of R. Eliezer and R. Joshua. SAID R. ELIEZER . . . IF SHECHITAH etc. R. Joshua is consistent with his view, for he maintains, Rejoicing on a Festival too is a religious duty.[5] For it was taught, R. Eliezer said: A man has nought else [to do] on a Festival save either to eat and drink or to sit and study. R. Joshua said: Divide it: [devote] half of it to eating and drinking, and half of it to the Beth Hamidrash. Now R. Johanan said thereon: Both deduce it from the same verse. One verse says, a solemn assembly to the Lord thy God,[6] whereas another verse says, there shall be a solemn assembly unto you:[7] R. Eliezer holds: [That means] either entirely to God or entirely to you; while R. Joshua holds, Divide it: [Devote] half to God and half to yourselves.


We spend part of the day praying in the synagogue (the spiritual), and the rest of the day eating a fine meal and relaxing at home (the physical).


One exception to this rule is Yom HaKippurim, when both halves are spiritual: We spend our entire day praying in the synagogue, with no food, no marital relations, and minimal rest.


The second exception is Purim, when both halves are physical: We feast, visit friends, dress in costumes, and drink to excess.


The Vilna Gaon (18th century Lithuania) explains that Purim shares the same letters as Yom HaKippurim, the Torah name for Yom Kippur. That which we accomplish on Yom HaKippurim with spiritual pursuits, we accomplish on Purim with physical pursuits. These holidays are two sides of the same coin, two halves of the same day.


The Arizal, the greatest kabbalist of the past 700 years, also points out that the Torah refers to Yom Kippur as Yom Kippurim, which can either be read as the day of atonement or the day like Purim. It would seem, then, that the two holidays are not only related but, in some way, Purim is even greater!


The Arizal explained this relationship as follows. Purim is, in fact, on a higher level, and Yom Kippurim should be translated as a day like Purim. like means that Yom Kippurim is a lesser holy day than Purim because the reality is always greater than the copy that is like it. The Talmud, states that, in the future, all holidays will fall into disuse with the exception of Purim.


Interestingly, we see the balance of half-physical/half-spiritual reflected within each holiday itself. On Yom HaKippurim, we prepare for the fast by having a feast the day before. On Purim, we prepare for the feast by fasting the day before (Taanit Esther).


We would assume that Yom HaKippurim is the greater of the two days. But in one sense, Purim is even greater: It is easier to achieve spiritual elevation on a day like Yom HaKippurim, when we pray and have no time for forbidden activities like gossip or getting angry. By fasting, the soul achieves dominance over the body. However on Purim, in our state of rambunctious drunkenness, it is much harder to maintain our human dignity. As Rabbi Eliyahu KiTov writes: “If one attains holiness through affliction, and another attains holiness through indulgence, who is the greater of the two? It may be said that the one who attains holiness through indulgence is greater, for the attainment of holiness through indulgence requires an infinitely greater degree of striving and effort.”


The purpose of life, as Judaism sees it, is to enjoy the greatest pleasures this world has to offer. But these pleasures are not only physical. Rather, as they become more profound they also become increasingly abstract, such as love, meaning, and creativity. To appreciate these more subtle joys we have two options: the first is to remove oneself from the physical world, and the second is to immerse oneself within it, probing its depths until one reveals the profound wonders hidden within it.


On Yom HaKippurim we employ the first method by abstaining from all earthly activities (eating, working, bathing, etc.) in an attempt to get in touch with our spiritual nature. In this way we become like souls without bodies. Unfortunately, this high comes at the expense of an important aspect of our humanity, because Judaism maintains that mankind was created to appreciate this world on both levels, body and soul. Purim, on the other hand, treads the second pathway, a pathway toward spiritual awareness bordering on euphoria by immersion within the physical.


Lets examine some of the ways that Yom HaKippurim is a day like Purim. To help us understand some relationships, lets look at the meaning of the word Purim.


Purim is a Persian word that means lots. Lots were a device used to determine the will of HaShem in a matter much like dice are used in gambling.


So, here are some of the relationships between Yom HaKippurim and Purim. Please feel free to send me any additional connections that you may see:


On Purim

On Yom Kippurim

Lots were cast in the presence of Haman, for a proper day to destroy the Jews.

The Kohen Gadol cast lots, in the presence of the goat for Azazel, to determine which goat was for HaShem and which goat was for Azazel.

Purim is a time of joy.

Yom Kippurim is a time to afflict your soul.

On Purim, we prepare for the feast by fasting the day before (Ta’anith Esther)!

On Yom Kippurim, we prepare for the fast by having a feast the day before.

On Purim we must drink enough wine so that we can not tell the difference between blessed is Mordecai and cursed is Haman. We must be so inebriated that we can not tell the difference between the one destined for holiness (Mordecai) and the one destined for destruction (Haman).

We must choose two goats which are identical in outward appearance. They must be so identical that we can not tell the difference between the goat for HaShem and the goat for Azazel. They must be so identical that we can not tell the difference between the goat destined for elevation (l’HaShem) to holiness and the goat destined for destruction (l’Azazel).


Haman (l’Azazel) and “The King” (L’HaShem) both come to the wine feast. The look alike just as the goats did, especially after the wine.

We dress in costumes to conceal who we are. Esther, when she went in to the inner chamber to visit “The King”, was not wearing makeup. There was simply herself without embellishment.

The Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, wears special, plain linen clothing to show exactly who he is and what he represents in Israel.

The Megillah of Esther is read at Purim. In the Megillah, Esther goes into the inner room and spoke with “The King”. It turns out that the Megillah describes the palace of “The King” with the exact same words that it describes the house of The Holy One.

At Yom Kippurim, the Kohen Gadol goes into the inner room, the Holy of Holies, and speaks with “The King”.

We elevate eating and drinking.

We completely abstain from eating and drinking.

Jews accept the Torah without a mountain hanging over them.

Jews accept the Torah with a mountain hanging over them.

In the Megillah of Esther we never see the name of HaShem. When the Megillah is read, we blot out the name of Haman.

Only on Yom Kippurim is the name of HaShem pronounced, and only by the Kohen Gadol.

Mordecai refused to bow to Haman because Mordecai’s father, Benyamin, did not bow to Haman’s father, Esau. Esau was the father of Amalek who was the father of Haman.

Only on this day do Jews kneel. They kneel when the name of HaShem is pronounced by the Kohen Gadol.


V.   All The Festivals


In Sefer Divash L’Phi from the Chidah, he states that Purim includes in it, all of the Yamim Tovim (festivals).


On Pesach (Passover) they went out of slavery to freedom, and here, on Purim they went out of a decree for death to life.


The Sages tell us that third day of Esther’s fast was the 15th of Nisan, the night of the Passover Seder[8]. Because of the desperate situation, the seder could be forfeited. Still, Esther kept as much as she could and served matza at the banquets. Additionally, the banquets are called a wine feast (5:6, 7:2, 7:7), alluding to the four cups of wine that were drunk at the seder.


Just as Esther had spent the whole evening telling the national story (the Haggada), Achashverosh reviews the story of his kingdom as well. When Achashverosh reviews his “royal book” and, for the first time, becomes aware that Mordechai had saved the King’s life (6:2), he determines to reward Mordechai.


On Shavuot (Feast of Weeks) they received the Torah and on Purim they once again accepted the Torah.


On Rosh HaShanah (The Feast of Trumpets) the book of life and the book of death are open and on Purim they were judged if the decree would stand [and they would be killed] or if they would be rescued.


On Yom Kippurim (The Day of Atonement) they are forgiven for all their sins and on Purim they were forgiven for having had enjoyment at the meal the king had made, contrary to the Torah.


On Succoth (The Feast of Tabernacles) they are under the shadow of the clouds of glory and on Purim many came under the shade of the wings of the Shechinah, as the verse says, many of the people of the land became Jews.


It may be that for this reason the holiday is called Purim because of the Pur. This is because the first letters of Purim are the first letters of the words: Pesach, And Succoth, Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippurim, Matan Torah, the giving of the Torah.[9]


VI.   What is Purim all about?


The day of Purim consists of four main activities: sending treats to one or more friends, giving gifts to the poor, listening to the story of Purim, and, of course, the festive meal. Judaism, as the science of self-perfection, utilizes the technique of awakening one’s inner world through outer expression. When we understand the depth of these activities we can use them to develop a spiritual perspective on reality.



The word HaShem doesn’t appear openly in the Megillat, because in life the Divine remains hidden until we read between the lines of our own life-story. The very name Megillat Esther alludes to this, since in Hebrew, “Megillat” also means revelation of, and Esther means that which is hidden. Putting the two together, Megillat Esther means revealing the hidden. This explains the custom of wearing masks and costumes on Purim: It causes those who see us to attempt to reveal that which we have hidden, since this is essence of what we all should do while reading the Megillat Esther.


According to Jewish thought, the last people to see the world in a state of perfection were Adam and Eve. The Garden of Eden means a perfect world. How did Adam and Eve fall from that state? By eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. That is, they pursued the world of illusion, in which the transcendence of the universe (good) is masked by seeming imperfection (evil). If we approach Purim correctly, when we reach the tipsy state of no longer knowing good from evil, we actually realign our perspective by seeing the Transcendent as the source of all physical reality, thereby revealing its hidden perfection. Therefore Purim at its peak is like a taste of Eden.


Now we can understand how Yom Kippurim and Purim are really two halves of the same day: they both serve to reconnect us to the highest Source of spirituality. However, on Yom Kippurim we abandon the physical while on Purim we embrace it. Thus the greatness of Purim is the unique opportunity for both body and soul to revel in the hidden spirituality of the physical world.


VII.  Allusions


We know that at the beginning of a thing, all of the energy of creation comes together to form that thing. From there on, everything is just maintenance. This means that if we can go back to where a word is first used in the Torah, we can see its beginning. We can see the essence of the word by examining the context of its conception or genesis.


Since Torah is literally the blueprint for the world, the place where a word is first found in the Torah is where that thing is created. This helps us to understand what HaShem is trying to accomplish in His world.


What allusions, in Esther, are found in the Talmud?


Chullin 139b Where is Haman indicated in the Torah? — In the verse: Is it [hamin] from the tree?[10] Where is Esther indicated in the Torah? — [In the verse,] And I will surely hide [asthir] my face.[11] Where is Mordecai indicated in the Torah? — In the verse: Flowing myrrh,[12] which the Targum renders as mira dakia.[13]


The Talmud[14] offers as the origin of the name Haman the verse in Bereshit that refers to Adam’s sin: Hamin HaEtz hazeh (“from this tree”?).


Bereshit (Genesis) 3:11 And he said, Who told thee that thou [wast] naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree (Hamin HaEtz hazeh), whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?


The following table shows the Hebrew characters that make up the word for “Haman”, and the places where it is found. The first item details it’s beginning or conception:


המן = Hamin (“from”) - Bereshit 3:11

המן = HaMan (the manna) - Shemot 16:35, Bamidbar 11:6, 11:9, 20:10, Devarim 8:3, Yehoshua 5:12

המן = Hamin (“from”) - Bamidbar 20:10

המן = Hamin (“whence”) - 2 Melachim 6:27

המן = Haman - Esther 3:1, 3:5, 3:6, 3:7, 3:8, 3:12, 4:7, 5:5, 5:9-12, 5:14, 6:5-7, …


Haman is found in the QUESTION, in Bereshit!


Now that we know that Haman is connected with the question regarding the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil. The mystics call the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil, “the tree of doubt”. The Hebrew word for doubt (sufek) and the word Amalek share the same gematria, 240.[15]


From the time that Adam ate from that tree, he had doubts, and HaShem manifested Himself with doubts. After all, why did HaShem have to “ask” where Adam was? It is a cardinal rule of our faith that HaShem knows everything there is no doubt.


So, Haman was conceived in the garden when Adam ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil. Haman is the gap between ourselves and HaShem. Haman, an Amalekite descendant of king Agag (Gog), is the epitome of the role of the Amalekites. The Amalekites represent the gap between us and HaShem.


Lets take a look at the Amalekites and how they fulfill their role in separating us from HaShem. When we came out of Egypt after we had accepted the Torah and were ready to enter the promised land and bring in the final restoration of our relationship with HaShem, then the Amalekites threw themselves at us in battle. A battle they KNEW they had no chance of winning. They had seen the miracles that HaShem had done for His people, and he knew he could not defeat us. Never the less, it is his job to put a gap between HaShem and us.


The first attack by Amalek occurred just prior to the Jewish people’s arrival at Har Sinai, in a place called Refidim. But, as we know from tradition, many of the names given to the camps during the forty years in the desert had more to do with what occurred there spiritually, than physically.


Rebi Chanina said, “I asked Rebi Eliezer in the big Beit Midrash ... ‘What does Refidim mean?’ He answered me, ‘That was its name.’ ... Rebi Yehoshua said, “[It means] they became weak (reefu) in Torah.”[16] 


And that is why Amalek attacked them[17].


The incident when Moshe struck the rock also contains a hint to Amalek. This episode is a duplication of the one at the time the Shabbat manna first fell, then, it comes as no surprise to find an allusion to Haman here as well:


Bamidbar (Numbers) 20:9 Moshe took his staff from before God as commanded. Moshe and Aharon gathered the community before the rock and said to them, “From this (ha-min; heh, mem, nun) rock (ha-selah) should water come out!”


Not only is Haman found in this verse, but the word ha-selah (the rock) is equal in gematria to the word HaEtz:


HaEtz (heh, ayin, tzaddik) = ha-selah (heh, samech, lamed, ayin)

5+70+90 = 5+60+30+70

= 165

HaEtz is the next word after the first allusion to Haman, after Adam ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil:


Bereshit 3:11 ha-min HaEtz?


No wonder Amalek attacks the Jewish people, again, after this episode:


The Canaanite, the king of Arad ... fought against Israel[18] ... ... This is Amalek[19] ...


Hence, this episode at Mei Merivah (“Waters of Dispute” as they are called) was not simply a fight about water; it was another battle in the long war against nature, doubt, and Amalek. The drying up of Miriam’s well had created another opportunity to teach the Jewish people what is supposed to distinguish them from the nations of the world: their potential to rise above nature, especially through the usage of speech.


There is a Midrash that indicates that with the exception of Qorach, Haman was the wealthiest man in the Tanach. He was wealthy because he stole the wealth of the Judean kings and the wealth of the Temple.


The Triennial Torah portion, in the first cycle, includes the next few passages as allusions to Purim, as it is read on the last regular Shabbat before Purim.


Debarim (Deuteronomy) 32:20 And He said, “I will hide My face from them. I will see what their end will be, for they are a generation of changes; they are not [recognizable] as My children whom I have reared.


In verse 48 in the Targum Jonathan we see the specific date of Moshe’s death as the 7th of Adar. By this date, we know that the Fast of Esther and Purim are just around the corner.


Targum Pseudo Yonataon to Devarim (Deuteronomy) 32:48 And HaShem spoke with Mosheh on the seventh of the month Adar, on the same day, saying,


Devarim (Deuteronomy) 32:9 Because the Lord’s portion is His people Jacob, the lot (the word for ‘lots’ is Purim) of His inheritance.


Allusions to Mordechai


Where is Mordechai alluded to in the Torah? (Rashi: the greatness of Mordechai.) As it says, “Pure myhrr”,[20] which translates [into Aramaic, Onkelos] mara dachia [the consonants of which spell Mordechai]. (Rashi: The pure myhrr is referred to in this verse as ‘the head of all spices.’ The righteous Men of the Great Assembly are compared to fragrant spices, and their head-leader-is Mordechai.)


Allusions to HaShem


Megillat Esther, too, recounts an altogether natural

story. The name of HaShem is not mentioned even once in the Megillat. Mordechai commands that the days of Purim be commemorated, and it is through this that the nation comes to the realization that even those things that appear natural are in fact directed by HaShem. Indeed, in the Megillat itself the victory over Amalek leads to the reinstatement of HaShem’s name:


Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 55:13 “In place of the thorn-bush a cypress will rise, and in place of the nettle, a myrtle...”


“In place of the thorn-bush” - in place of Haman “a cypress will rise” - this refers to Mordechai.


“In place of the nettle” - in place of Vashti


“a myrtle” - this is Esther the righteous one, who is called Hadassah.


“And it shall be for HaShem for a name“ - this refers to the reading of the Megillat.’[21]


There are at least four times when the ineffable Name of HaShem appears in acrostic form embedded in the text of Esther. This ineffable name, known as the tetragrammaton (yod hay vav hay), was pronounced only by the High Priest of Israel, only on the Day of Atonement. The Hebrew letters yud-hay-vav-hay are vocalized as “Adonai”.


The yud-hay-vav-hay appears in: Esther 1.20 as the first letters of four consecutive words when read backward:


היא וכל־הנשים יתנ

Hi v’chol h’nashim yitnu

“It, and all the women will give.”


In Esther 5.4 these letters (yud-hay-vav-hay) appear again by initial letters of four successive words when read forward:


יָבֹ֨וא הַמֶּ֤לֶךְ וְהָמָן֙ הַיֹּ֔ום

Yavo hamelech v’haman hayom

“and let the king and Haman come today.”


Again, in Esther 5.13 the yud-hay-vav-hay is formed by final letters of four consecutive words when read backward:


זה איננו שוה לי

zah ainenu shoveh li

“This gives no satisfaction to me.”


In Esther 7.7 by the final letter of four consecutive words read forward:


כי כלתה אליו הרעה

ki chaltah ailav hara’ah

“that his fate had been determined.”


Where can we see an allusion to Esther in the Torah?[22]


Devarim (Deuteronomy) 31:16-18 And HaShem said to Moses: “You are going to rest with your fathers, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them. On that day I will become angry with them and forsake them; I will hide my face from them, and they will be destroyed. Many disasters and difficulties will come upon them, and on that day they will ask, ‘Have not these disasters come upon us because our God is not with us?’ And I will certainly hide my face on that day because of all their wickedness in turning to other gods.


Rashi makes the following comment on the above Torah verses: “During the time of Esther there will be a hiding of the face, and this will be a time of great troubles.”


The Hebrew word for hide is esther, so we have an allusion, in the Torah, to Esther, because in her day HaShem did hide His face to the extent that we do not find the name of HaShem in the book of Esther.


In fact, the disguises and the masks, of Purim, are all designed to underscore the essential hiddenness of this day.


Where are there allusions to Purim in the Nazarean Codicil?[23] The pasukim speak of the time just before Pesach, the time of Purim. Notice that the message is the revelation of the hidden:


I Luqas (Luke) 21:29 – 22:1 He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” Each day Yeshua was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, And all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple. Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching…


Luke writes in the remez, or hint, level. So we see the last verse of the above passage points to Passover. So, the “hint” might be that the previous stitch points to Purim which precedes Passover by thirty days. The passage begins with speaking of the approach of summer and goes forward to describe the state of life that we encounter in the opening chapter of the book of Esther. As we near the end of this passage, we encounter the same anxiety that gripped the Jews just after Haman’s decree was promulgated.


Another hint of Purim, found in the Nazarean Codicil, is found in the book which could be called second Luke. This book, Acts, is also written at the remez, or hint, level. Once again, just before Passover we find that HaShem’s people are sending gifts to the poor. This is one of the mitzvot of Purim, found in the Book of Esther:


II Luqas (Acts) 11:25 - 12:1 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, And when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul. It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.


This following passage is a command from Hakham Paul, to Timothy, to be attentive to the reading. There is no more important reading than the halachic obligation to hear the Megillah. Every word must be heard and we must be attentive to every word:


I Timothy 4:12-13 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.


VIII. Names


Esther and Hadassah were different names for the same person:


Esther 2:7 Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This girl, who was also known as Esther, was lovely in form and features, and Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.


Hadassah is derived from the Hebrew word for myrtle: 1918 hadac, had-as’; of uncert. der.; the myrtle:-(myrtle) tree.


Esther is derived from the Hebrew Istahar meaning as beautiful as the moon. Others say that Esther means hidden (from the root astir). Esther was Mordechai’s cousin and wife. How can she be his wife when the English text clearly says daughter? In Esther 2:7, we see the word daughter. Daughter, in Hebrew, is, בת - bat. The same Hebrew characters can also be vocalized as Beit, which means house. If Esther was Mordechai’s house, then she was his wife. Chazal teach that we ‘read’ wife and we say daughter (for more insight take a look at the study titled kri&ktiv). This idea of reading one thing and saying something different occurs regularly in the Hebrew version of the Tanach.


In the Megillat Esther, the heroine, Esther, undergoes a remarkable transformation. She starts off being submissve and ends up giving orders. Notice:


Esther 2:10 - Esther obeys Mordechai and does not reveal her ancestry.


Esther 2:15 - Esther goes to the King with only that which is recommended by Hegai.


Esther 2:20 - Esther continues to hide her family background and nationality in obedience to Mordechai. She continues to follow Mordechai’s instructions even after she has become queen.


Esther 2:22 - Esther gives Mordechai credit for saving the king’s life.


Esther 4:11 - Esther complains about Mordechai’s command that she go into the king and plead for her people.


Esther 4:16 - 17 - Esther changes her role as she obeys Mordechai, again. Esther “orders” Mordechai and the other Jews to fast.


Esther 5:7-8 - Esther begins devising her own strategy to effect the deliverance of the Jews.


Esther 7:3-4 - Esther continues to act on her own initiative.


Esther 8:3 - Esther continues to act on her own initiative.


Esther 8:12-13 - Esther continues to act on her own initiative.


Esther 9:32 - Esther is now giving orders to the entire kingdom.


Thus we understand that Esther has dramatically changed her role from talmid (student) to Hakham (teacher). When we realize that Esther is a an allegory for the Bne Israel, then we realize that this is the intended transformation for all of the Bne Israel. They should first become talmidim and advamce in their Torah studies until they become Hakhamim.


The transformation of the Bne Israel is not the only transformation we see in the Book of Esther.


Is the prophet Daniel in the book of Esther?


Esther 4:5 Then Esther summoned Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.


Rav, in the Gemara, says that Hathach is Daniel:


Megilah 15a And Esther called Hatach. Rab said: Hatach is the same as Daniel. Why was he called Hatach? Because he was degraded [hataku-hu] from his position.[24] Samuel said, Because all affairs of state were decided [nehtakim] by his voice.


IX.   Redemption


We can also see that the problems in the time of Esther began in Shushan, when the Jews partook of the festive meal of the king, an inappropriate experience which echoes the festivities after the golden calf.


Pesach and Purim both focus on redemption. At Pesach there were so many open miracles that we had no choice but to believe. The Sages tell us that we freely accepted the Torah at Purim.[25] 


When Esther went into Achashverosh, she felt an acute loss of the Presence of HaShem. She said, My God, my God, why have you left me?.[26] Now, we know that Esther went to Achashverosh on Pesach, and that this phrase is associated elsewhere with Pesach! Now, note what Yeshua said on Pesach:


Matityahu (Matthew) 27:46  And about the ninth hour Yeshua cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?


Thus we see a connection between Esther and Yeshua and between Purim and Pesach. Purim and Pesach have a common theme. This theme is redemption (See R2R for more insights on this connection).


Lot was redeemed at Pesach. His name means either:

לוט = Lot = curse

טול = Tol = redemption.


It is in Shushan so many years later that the Jews finally accepted the Torah completely and, therefore, advanced the time of the redemption.


X.  King è War against Amalek è Temple


B’Seder – In Order:


The Talmud[27] clarifies the process of the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash. It states that the nation of Israel is commanded to perform three commandments sequentially after they occupy the land of Israel:


  1. They are to appoint a king,
  2. They are to eradicate the offspring of Amalek, and
  3. They are to construct the holy Temple.


Sanhedrin 20b It has been taught: R. Jose said: Three commandments were given to Israel when they entered the land; [i] to appoint a king; [ii] to cut off the seed of Amalek; [iii] and to build themselves the chosen house [i.e. the Temple] and I do not know which of them has priority. But, when it is said: The hand upon the throne of the Lord, the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation, we must infer that they had first to set up a king, for ‘throne’ implies a king, as it is written, Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king. Yet I still do not know which [of the other two] comes first, the building of the chosen Temple or the cutting off of the seed of Amalek. Hence, when it is written, And when He giveth you rest from all your enemies round about etc., and then [Scripture proceeds], Then it shall come to pass that the place which the Lord your God shall choose, it is to be inferred that the extermination of Amalek is first. And so it is written of David, And it came to pass when the king dwelt in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from his enemies round about, and the passage continues; that the king said unto Nathan the Prophet: See now, I dwell in a house of cedars etc.[28]


This is a fascinating pattern that seems to repeat itself in regards to Amalek. When we come into eretz Israel, we were commanded to appoint a King. Keep in mind that a King is not just a king, but rather he is the emblem of government and of justice:


Devarim (Deuteronomy) 17:14-15 When thou art come unto the land which HaShem thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that [are] about me; Thou shalt in any wise set [him] king over thee, whom HaShem thy God shall choose: [one] from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which [is] not thy brother.


Next, after we are in eretz Israel, we were told to destroy Amalek:


Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25:17-19 Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, [even] all [that were] feeble behind thee, when thou [wast] faint and weary; and he feared not God. Therefore it shall be, when HaShem thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which HaShem thy God giveth thee [for] an inheritance to possess it, [that] thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget [it].


Now there are Hakhamim who have told us that Amalek is not just this one nation, but rather, Amalek is identified as any nation which is determined to destroy ALL Jews, no matter what the cost to themselves.


The third mitzva commanded to the Jewish People after they enter eretz Israel, is to build the Beit HaMikdash (the Temple).


Now, this pattern:


King è War against Amalek è Temple,


was followed in the days of Moshe. Moshe was appointed the leader, or King, over Israel. Then, after bringing the people to the borders of eretz Israel, in Shemot 17, he waged war against Amalek. Lastly, Moshe was commanded to establish the Mishkan, the Tabernacle.


This pattern was followed again in the days of King Saul. First, HaShem brings the people into eretz Israel. Then He anoints Saul as King. Then, in Shmuel Alef (I Samuel) chapter 15, King Saul makes war against Amalek. Lastly, King Solomon builds the Beit HaMikdash.



This pattern was followed again in the days of Mordecai and Esther. First HaShem causes his people to return to eretz Israel from Babylon, then He raises up The King (hinted at in Megillat Esther regarding King Achashverosh) and also Zerubbabel to govern His people. Then the Jews make war against Haman and the rest of the Amalekites who wish to destroy the Jews. Finally, King Darius orders the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash.


Finally, we see this same pattern in the days of the Maccabeans. The Maccabees became the leaders of the Jewish people and proceeded to drive out the descendants of Esau, the Syrians. Finally, they reestablished the altar in the Temple.


Purim is celebrated in Adar and points plainly at Benyamin. Mordecai, a major participant in the story, was a Benjamite:


Esther 2:5 [Now] in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name [was] Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite;


Haman, the enemy of the Jews in the book of Esther, was the descendant of an Amalekite who was supposed to be slain by a Benjamite. His name was King Saul:


1 Shmuel (Samuel) 9:21 And Saul answered and said, [Am] not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benyamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?


1 Shmuel (Samuel) 15:7-8 And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah [until] thou comest to Shur, that [is] over against Egypt. And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.


Mordechai, in Megillat Esther, refused to bow down (he was from the tribe of Benyamin). In fact, he always stood.


In Shoftim, we learn that the Benjamite King is supposed to destroy Amalek:


Shoftim (Judges) 5:14 Out of Ephraim was there a root of them against Amalek; after thee, Benjamin, among thy people; out of Machir came down governors, and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer.


Notice the pattern:


King Saul comes to destroy Amalek and fails. He is replaced with King David.


In the future, I expect to see the same pattern:


A Benjamite king comes first to destroy Amalek, Then Mashiach ben David comes to reign. Look for the pattern!



Given this pattern, which was repeated three times, we would expect the pattern to occur again!


The Gulf war provided a hint towards this pattern. The Jews were in eretz Israel. They had established a government, a king. Then the people of the entire world, EXCEPT THE JEWS, made war against Saddam Hussein (an Amalekite), because of oil! Lastly, we have HaShem causing great controversy regarding the Har HaBayit, the Temple mount.


Now, the pattern of HaSatan has been to imitate the patterns of HaShem, with a twist. Therefore, we can expect that HaSatan will cause His own anti-mashiach to be made king over the Jews. He will then wage war against the people of HaShem. Lastly, this anti-mashiach will cause a temple to be built.


In, 1948, HaShem began bringing His people back to eretz Israel. Then He established a government, a king, over His people. Further, we expect that HaShem will complete this process when He brings us Mashiach ben David, The King. At this time, we should expect to have a war against Amalek. This war should be the pattern for the final destruction for all of the Amalekites. Finally, according to Yehezechel (Ezekiel) 40ff, we should expect The King to rebuild the Beit HaMikdash.


The Israeli Government is also Amalek. If we treat the word as an English word whereby the prefix “A” means “without”, then A-melek = No King.


Now we can understand the Talmud in Tractate Shabbat when it states that the study of Torah is greater than the building of the Temple. Before we can even consider rebuilding the Temple, the destruction of the nation of Amalek is necessary. In order for the Jewish people to decimate Amalek, we do not need swords, guns, or tanks; rather we need to have the word of HaShem on our lips. As we say every day in the morning prayers:


Tehillim (Psalms) 20:8 Some with chariots, and some with horses, but we in the Name of HaShem, our G-d we call out.


This extermination of Amalek, the epitome of evil, is needed before the Jewish people can create the holy Temple to house the epitome of good. After the annihilation of Amalek is complete, the importance of the study of Torah parallels the construction of the Temple, since Torah itself constructs the spiritual foundation of the holy Temple.


So, look for this pattern: King è War against Amalek è Temple.


XI.   An Historical Perspective


There were prophets in Babylon to speak forth HaShem’s word:








Lets look at what had happened shortly before the story of Esther:


Belshazzar and Achashverosh both attempted to calculate the end of the seventy years of captivity prophesied by Jeremiah:


Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 25:11-14 ‘And this whole land shall be a desolation and a horror, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. ‘ Then it will be when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,’ declares the \Lord\,’ for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation. ‘And I will bring upon that land all My words which I have pronounced against it, all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah has prophesied against all the nations. ‘(For many nations and great kings shall make slaves of them, even them; and I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the work of their hands.)’ “


Belshazzar’s calculation led him to have a big party with the Temple implements, at the end of the seventy years. Unfortunately, his calculations were wrong, and Belshazzar paid with his life, for his blasphemy.


The Megillah Esther opens with:


Esther 1:3 And in the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all his nobles and officials. The military leaders of Persia and Media, the princes, and the nobles of the provinces were present.


Achashverosh also miscounted the seventy years, and like Belshazzar, he also had the nerve to party with the Temple implements. Unlike Belshazzar, his end did not come immediately, because God’s plan called for him to father Darius, who would properly calculate the end of the seventy years. Darius, however, fulfilled the prophesy rather than follow his predecessors and profane the Temple implements.


After Belshazzar’s disastrous party, Koresh (Cyrus) will take control of Babylon and begin to return the Israelites to their land:


Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 45:1-6 “This is what HaShem says to his anointed, to Koresh (Cyrus), whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am HaShem, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen, I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me. I am HaShem, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, So that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am HaShem, and there is no other.


One might logically ask why Mordecai and Esther, along with all of the Babylonian Jews, did not return to Israel when Koresh (Cyrus) permitted it. It is possible that Mordecai, like Daniel, was not permitted to return because of his governmental duties. If so, then it would be understandable why Esther did not return. This, however, could not hold true for all of the Jews in Babylon. So, why didn’t they return to the promised land when they had the chance?


Two years after Koresh (Cyrus) gave the order to rebuild Jerusalem, Achashverosh became King. Out of the millions of Jews who were taken captive to Babylon, forty-two thousand returned to Israel.


Ezra 4:1-24 When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for HaShem, the God of Israel, They came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said, “Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.” But Zerubbabel, Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered, “You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it for HaShem, the God of Israel, as King Koresh (Cyrus), the king of Persia, commanded us.” Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. They hired counselors to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Koresh (Cyrus) king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia. At the beginning of the reign of Achashverosh, they lodged an accusation against the people of Judah and Jerusalem. And in the days of Achashverosh king of Persia, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel and the rest of his associates wrote a letter to Achashverosh. The letter was written in Aramaic script and in the Aramaic language. Rehum the commanding officer and Shimshai the secretary wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Achashverosh the king as follows: Rehum the commanding officer and Shimshai the secretary, together with the rest of their associates--the judges and officials over the men from Tripolis, Persia, Erech and Babylon, the Elamites of Susa, And the other people whom the great and honorable Ashurbanipal deported and settled in the city of Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates. (This is a copy of the letter they sent him.) To King Achashverosh, From your servants, the men of Trans-Euphrates: The king should know that the Jews who came up to us from you have gone to Jerusalem and are rebuilding that rebellious and wicked city. They are restoring the walls and repairing the foundations. Furthermore, the king should know that if this city is built and its walls are restored, no more taxes, tribute or duty will be paid, and the royal revenues will suffer. Now since we are under obligation to the palace and it is not proper for us to see the king dishonored, we are sending this message to inform the king, So that a search may be made in the archives of your predecessors. In these records you will find that this city is a rebellious city, troublesome to kings and provinces, a place of rebellion from ancient times. That is why this city was destroyed. We inform the king that if this city is built and its walls are restored, you will be left with nothing in Trans-Euphrates. The king sent this reply: To Rehum the commanding officer, Shimshai the secretary and the rest of their associates living in Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates: Greetings. The letter you sent us has been read and translated in my presence. I issued an order and a search was made, and it was found that this city has a long history of revolt against kings and has been a place of rebellion and sedition. Jerusalem has had powerful kings ruling over the whole of Trans-Euphrates, and taxes, tribute and duty were paid to them. Now issue an order to these men to stop work, so that this city will not be rebuilt until I so order. Be careful not to neglect this matter. Why let this threat grow, to the detriment of the royal interests? As soon as the copy of the letter of King Achashverosh was read to Rehum and Shimshai the secretary and their associates, they went immediately to the Jews in Jerusalem and compelled them by force to stop. Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.


So, Achashverosh stopped what Koresh (Cyrus) had begun. This caused the Israelites to become confused about the following prophecy:


Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 29:10-14 This is what HaShem says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares HaShem, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares HaShem, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares HaShem, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”




Daniel 9:1-3 In the first year of Darius son of Achashverosh (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom-- In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of HaShem given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.


It is at this point that the party in the opening verses of Esther takes place:


Esther 1:1-9 This is what happened during the time of Achashverosh, the Achashverosh who ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush: At that time King Achashverosh reigned from his royal throne in the citadel of Susa, And in the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all his nobles and officials. The military leaders of Persia and Media, the princes, and the nobles of the provinces were present. For a full 180 days he displayed the vast wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and glory of his majesty. When these days were over, the king gave a banquet, lasting seven days, in the enclosed garden of the king’s palace, for all the people from the least to the greatest, who were in the citadel of Susa. The garden had hangings of white and blue linen, fastened with cords of white linen and purple material to silver rings on marble pillars. There were couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and other costly stones. Wine was served in goblets of gold, each one different from the other, and the royal wine was abundant, in keeping with the king’s liberality. By the king’s command each guest was allowed to drink in his own way, for the king instructed all the wine stewards to serve each man what he wished. Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Achashverosh.


Esther’s rose to prominence in:


Esther 2:16 She was taken to King Achashverosh in the royal residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.


And the book of Esther closes with this:


Esther 3:7 In the twelfth year of King Achashverosh, in the first month, the month of Nisan, they cast the <pur> (that is, the lot) in the presence of Haman to select a day and month. And the lot fell on the twelfth month, the month of Adar.


So, we have nine years (ten?) between the time when Achashverosh celebrates the end of the “seventy years” and the salvation of the Jews.


Here is the year by year chronology of the Babylonian captivity[29]:


Year AM

Year BCE




Nebuchadnezzar assumes the throne of Babylon. He reigns from 3318 till 3363.






Nebuchadnezzar conquers King Yehoyakim. Israel becomes a vassal state.






Nebuchadnezzar exiles King Yechaniah together with the leading scholars.






Nebuchadnezzar destroys the Temple and exiles the Jewish nation.






Evil Merodach reigns until 3386.






Belshazzar begins to reign. He reigns until 3389. He is the last Babylonian king.






Belshazzar, dating the “seventy” from the accession to the throne of Nebuchadnezzar, celebrates and dies. He interprets “seventy years of Babylon” as a reference to the reigning dynasty.






Darius the Mede (Daniel 5:30-31) defeats Belshazzar and reigns for one year.






Koresh (Cyrus) orders the construction of the Temple. It is indeed seventy years since the first stage of the exile, the conquest of Judea. God has “remembered” Jerusalem as promised to Jeremiah, but not yet redeemed it.






Achashverosh becomes king and orders the cessation of construction of the Temple.






Achashverosh, in the third year of his reign, concludes that “seventy years”, dating from Yechaniah’s exile, have ended. Although only sixty-seven calendar years have elapsed, Achashverosh follows the ancient custom of counting a fraction of a royal year as a full year.






Achashverosh dies and is succeeded by Darius the Persian - Ezra 4:24 (not Darius the Mede who succeeded Belshazzar as king), son of Achashverosh and Esther.






Darius the Persian, son of Achashverosh and Esther, orders that construction of the Temple begin again. It is “seventy years” since the destruction of Jerusalem. He reigns until 3442.

Here is another way of looking at the timing:


DATE                    EVENT



Nisan 13                      - Haman orders the destruction of the Jews. Esther 3:12

- The Jews begin to fast. Esther 4:16. Day one of a three day fast.


Nisan 14                      - Day two of a three day fast.


Nisan 15                      - Day three of a three day fast ordered by Queen Esther. [30] 


Nisan 16                      - Esther goes to the King uninvited. Esther 5:1

                                    - Esther has dinner with Haman and the King. Esther 5:4


Nisan 17                      - Esther has dinner with Haman and the King for a second night. Esther 5:8

                                    - Haman is hung on his own gallows.

- Yeshua rises from the dead, thereby taking the captives from the prince of the

 power of the air.


Adar 13                       - The day for the destruction of the Jews, a year later. Esther 3:13


It is extremely interesting to see how similar events always occur on the same day. Other events that occurred on Nisan 13 through 17:


 Nisan  13

       Water swells on the earth in the days of Noah. Day 103. Genesis 7:24

        All leaven must be put away by this evening.  Exodus 12:15 - Gateway to Judaism

        HaShem and the angels visit Abraham, three days after his circumcision - 2048.  Genesis 18:1ff  Bava Metzia 86b

        Yocheved hides Moses after a six month and one day pregnancy - day 36. Artscroll Mesorah on Shavuos, page 61.

        Levites still consecrating the temple in Hezekiah’s day, day 13.  II Chronicles 29:17

        King Hezekiah fell critically ill. According to Seder Olam, King Hezekiah was taken ill three days before  the defeat of King

            Sennacherib - day 2. 2 Kings 20:1, Seder Olam 23

        Haman buys the order for the destruction of the Jews.  Esther 3:7-12

        Esther has Mordecai and the Jews fast for three days before seeing the king.  Esther 4:16

        Satan enters Judas Iscariot.   Luke 22:3       

        Yeshua sends two disciples, from Bethany, to Jerusalem to prepare for Pesach.  Mark 14:1-16


Nisan 14

        Fast-day of the first-born. Soferim 21

        Water swells on the earth in the days of Noah. Day 104. Genesis 7:24

        Cain and Able offer their sacrifices.  Genesis 4:3-5, PdRE, section 21, Yonaton b. Uziel

        Og comes to Abram and relates the capture of Lot. Targun Pseudo Yonatan to Bereshit 14

        Isaac blesses Jacob and Esau. Genesis 27.  Targum Pseudo Yonatan on Genesis 27.

        On high they praise HaShem and the treasures of dew are opened. Targum Pseudo Yonatan on Genesis 27.

        Mordecai and the Jews fast for the second day.  Esther 4:16

        Preparation day.  John 19:14, 31

        Yocheved hides Moses after a six month and one day pregnancy - day 37. Artscroll Mesorah on Shavuos, page 61.

        Levites still consecrating the temple in Hezekiah’s day, day 14.  II Chronicles 29:17

        Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem. Targum, Ruth 1:22

        King Hezekiah fell critically ill. According to Seder Olam, King Hezekiah was taken ill three days before  the defeat of King

            Sennacherib - day 3. 2 Kings 20:1, Seder Olam 23

        Yeshua has a Pesach seder.  John 13:1

        Paschal lambs are killed at twilight.  Exodus 12:1-6

        Pilate releases Barabbas. Matthew 27:15-21

        Yeshua was crucified. John 19:42  

        Curtain of the temple rent.  Matthew 27:51                       

        Holy dead are raised to life.  Matthew 27:52-53

        Darkness came over all the land from the sixth until the ninth hour.  Matthew 27:34-45


 Nisan 15

       Pesach / Hag ha-Matza. A Sabbath of Sabbaths (Leviticus 23:6-7) (15 - 21) Exodus 12:17-20 

       Water swells on the earth in the days of Noah. Day 105. Genesis 7:24

       Abram leaves Haran  Exodus 12:40-41, Genesis 12:1-10

       Abraham learns of Lot’s captivity and defeats the 4 kings. “Legends of the Bible”, Ginzberg

       God afflicts Pharoah, orders Abram and Sarai to leave Egypt, with gifts. Genesis 12:15-20, Yalkut  Shimoni

       God afflicts Avimelech in a dream, regarding Sarah. Genesis 20, The Haggada

       Covenant between the parts, 430 years before the Exodus. Genesis 15:18,  Seder Olam 5, Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer

       Abraham is visited by angels and told that Isaac will be born next year in 2047. Genesis 18:10, Seder Olam 5

       Lot entertains two angels, then Sodom is destroyed while Lot and his daughters are delivered.  Genesis 19:1, 18:14

       Isaac was born after a seven month pregnancy, in a leap year - 2048. Exodus 12:40-41, Genesis 18, 19, Rosh HaShannah 10b

       Abraham binds Isaac (Akeidah). This is the tenth trial. Genesis 22:1-18 (see the Zohar on Genesis 28:11)

       Isaac was sacrificed. Seder Olam

       Isaac blesses Jacob. Genesis 27:4; Yonatan b. Uziel; PdRE 2, Rashi on Genesis 27:9

       God tells Laban to leave Jacob alone, in a dream. Genesis 31:24, The Haggada

       Jacob wrestles with an angel. Genesis 32:24, The Haggada

       God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah.  Genesis 19

       Death of Job. Jer. Sotah 5:8

       Jacob and sixty-nine descendants enter Egypt.  Exodus 12:40-42 - 2238 AM

       Yocheved hides Moses after a 6 month and one day pregnancy - day 38. Artscroll Mesorah on Shavuos, page 61.

       Moses saw the burning bush in 2447. Exodus 3:2, Bahya, Bo

       Israelites in Egypt celebrate the first Pesach (2448 BCE). Exodus 12:6-11

       Egyptian officials beg Moses and the Israelites to leave.  Exodus 11:8

       Egyptians bury their firstborn.  Exodus 33:3-4

       Israelites leave Ramses and journey towards Succoth, day one. The Exodus begins! Exodus 12:48-51 - 2448 AM

       All males to appear before the Lord in Jerusalem.  Deuteronomy 16:16

       Israelites celebrate Pesach in the Sinai desert.  Numbers 9:1-5

       Joshua and the Israelites celebrate Pesach at Gilgal.  Joshua 5:10

       Joshua and the Israelites besiege Jericho and march around the city – day 1.  Joshua 6:1ff

       Gideon is visited by an angel regarding the salvation of Israel.  Judges 6

       Gideon destroys Midian with the omer’s barley cake.  Judges 7, Midrash Yalkut 62, The Haggada

       Hashem swept away the army of the prince of Charoshes (Sisera) with the stars of night. Judges 4 and 5, The Haggada

       Ruth and Naomi enter the Promised land after leaving Moab. The Artscroll Machzor for Pesach.

       Levites still consecrating the temple in Hezekiah’s day, day 15.  II Chronicles 29:17

       God heals the people.  II Chronicles 30:1-20   

       Exiles celebrated with joy because Assyrian King to help with temple.  Ezra 6:22

       Josiah celebrates Pesach in the midst of removing idolatry. II Kings 23:19-25

       The Assyrian army of Sennacherib, which threatened Jerusalem was destroyed. 2 Kings 19:35, Targum Rav Yosef

       Nebuchadnezzar had a dream about a statue of four metals. Daniel 2 and 3, The Haggada

       The hand writing on the wall delivers a message of judgement to Belshazzar. Daniel 5, The Haggada

       Daniel is thrown into the lion’s den in 3389.  Daniel 6, The Haggada

       Israelites who returned from Babylonian exile, celebrated Pesach. Ezra 6:19-22

       King Achashverosh has his sleep disturbed.  Esther 6:1

       Vashti is executed by King Achashverosh. Esther 1:21; Derash le-Purim

       Mordecai is honored by Haman and king Achashverosh.  Esther 5:1 - 6:10

       Mordecai and the Jews fast for the third and last day.  Esther 4:16

       Esther invites the king to feast.  Esther 5:1-4, Seder Olam 29

       To be celebrated during the millennium.  Ezekiel 45:21-24

       John the Baptist is born. Luke 1:24

       Joseph and Mary celebrate Pesach in Jerusalem with 12 year old Yeshua. Luke 2:39-41

       Yeshua performs miracles and is believed.  John 2:23

       Yeshua’s first day in the grave.  Matthew 27:62

       Chief priests and Pharisees get Pilate to make the tomb of Yeshua secure.  Matthew 27:62-66

       Peter is arrested.  Acts 12:3

       The day of vengeance when the winepress is trodden. Isaiah 63, The Haggada

       The exile ends with unique day, without daytime or nighttime. Zechariah 16:6, Micah 7:15 and Psalm 139:12, The Haggada

       Double misfortune will You bring in an instant upon Utsis (Edom) on Passover. Isaiah 47, The Haggada

       Pesach will be celebrated in Ezekiel’s future.  Ezekiel 45:21-22

       Torah section is Exodus 12:21-51; Numbers 28:19-25. Haftorah is Joshua 5:2 - 6:1.


Nisan 16

       Hag ha-Matza - Second day. A partial Sabbath (Mishna: Seder Moed: Tractate Moed Katan).   Exodus 12:17-20  

       The Omer or the day after Pesach - bread of the FIRSTFRUITS (Pharisees) Leviticus 23:15

       The Omer is offered.  Leviticus 23:14, Rambam, Temidin U’Musafin 7:2-17

       Water swells on the earth in the days of Noah. Day 106. Genesis 7:24

       Birth of Levi. Midrash Tadshe, Midrash Yalkut 1

       Yocheved hides Moses after a 6 month and one day pregnancy - day 39. Artscroll Mesorah on Shavuos, page 61.

       Israelites leave Ramses and journey towards Succoth, for three days. Exodus 12:48-51

       The supply of manna was exhausted in 2488. Kiddushin 38a

       The Omer was offered for the first time by Jews in Israel. Joshua 5:11, Rosh HaShannah 13a

       Israelites eat produce of the promised land (2488 BCE). Joshua 5:11

       Bread from heaven (Manna) stopped.  Joshua 5:12

       Joshua and the Israelites march around Jericho – day 2.  Joshua 6:1ff

       An angel ordered Gideon to attack the Midianites. Judges 6:19, Rashi

       King Saul’s seven sons were killed. Midrash Rabbah, Naso, ch.8

       David and his men eat consecrated bread.  Luke 6:1-5 and 1 Samuel 21:1-6?  [31]

       Hezekiah finishes consecrating the Temple, day 16. II Chronicles 29:17

       Esther, Haman, and the king feast. King kills Haman.  Esther 5:5-5

       Haman was hanged in 3404. Esther 7:10, Seder Olam 29

       Mordecai becomes chief minister in place of Haman. Esther 8:2

       Cyrus, King of Persia, captured Babylon in 539 BCE.

       Yeshua’s disciples pick grain on the day (partial Sabbath) after Pesach.  Luke 6:1, Matthew 12:1 - 13:30   2

       Yeshua tells the parable of the wheat and the tares.  Matthew 13:24-30

       Yeshua heals the man with the withered hand.  Matthew 12:9-16

       Yeshua gives sight and hearing to a demon possessed man.  Matthew 12:22-23

       Yeshua tells the parable of the wheat and the tares.  Matthew 13:24-30

       Two Miryams prepared spices and perfumes to embalm Yeshua.  Luke 23:56

       Yeshua’s second day in the tomb.  John 19:30-36  

       Torah section is Leviticus 22:26 - 23:44; Numbers 28:19-25. Haftorah is 2 Kings 23:1-9; 21-25.


Nisan 17    

       Hag ha-Matza - Third day.  Exodus 12:17-20  

       The Omer, day 2.

       Water swells on the earth in the days of Noah. Day 107. Genesis 7:24

       Abraham returns to his family in Beer Sheva. Genesis 22:19

       Yocheved hides Moses after a six month and one day pregnancy - day 40. Artscroll Mesorah on Shavuos, page 61.

       Israelites leave Ramses and journey towards Succoth, day two. Exodus 12:48-51

       Moses collects Joseph’s bones.  Exodus 13:19

       Joshua and the Israelites march around Jericho – day 3.  Joshua 6:1ff

       Hamans plans came to naught.  Esther 3:12, 4:16, 5:1, 7:2-9

       Resurrection Sabbath. Yeshua rose from the dead, at the end of the third day. It is a Sabbath.  Matthew 12:48

       Yeshua heals the man with a withered hand on the Sabbath after Pesach.  Luke 6:6-11

       Peter is arrested and imprisoned by Herod.  Acts 12:3

       Torah section is Exodus 13:1-16; Numbers 28:19-25. There is no Haftorah.


So, the sages understood that Darius the Persian, was the son of Achashverosh and Esther. After Darius took the throne he finally completed the “seventy years” in:


Ezra 4:24 Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.


XII.   The Kings Palace


At this point, bells should be going off in our heads. A king (Achashverosh), in his palatial house in Shushan, has ordered that the house (Temple) of the King of the Universe (HaShem), should not be completed! The Israelites in Shushan are in exile:


Esther 2:5-6 Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, Who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin king of Judah.


So, lets put some of these pieces together: Some Israelites (forty-two thousand) are back in Israel trying to rebuild the Temple. Most Israelites are in exile in Babylon: they did not return! The Israelites, in Babylon, are in the wrong place. They should be in Israel. The Israelites in the wrong place are celebrating in the wrong house! This disparity is magnified when we examine these two “houses”:


1. They were both made with tekhelet (blue), argaman (purple), gold, and silver:


Esther 1:6 [Where were] white, green, and blue, [hangings], fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the beds [were of] gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black, marble.


Shemot (Exodus) 25:2-8 “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give. These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; Blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; Ram skins dyed red and hides of sea cows; acacia wood; Olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; And onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.


The purple in the above verse according to Strong’s is:


8504 tekhelet, tek-ay’-leth; prob. for 7827; the cerulean mussel, i.e. the color (violet) obtained therefrom or stuff dyed therewith:-blue.


713 ‘argaman, ar-gaw-mawn’; of for. or.; purple (the color or the dyed stuff):-purple.


2. Achashverosh and HaShem both claimed sovereignty over the same area:


Esther 10:1-2 King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores. And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai to which the king had raised him, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia?


Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 41:4-5 Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, HaShem--with the first of them and with the last--I am he.” The islands have seen it and fear; the ends of the earth tremble. They approach and come forward;


The story of Esther closes with Achashverosh proving his sovereignty while HaShem is left unmentioned.


3. Both “houses” had an inner and an outer court. Unauthorized entry into the inner court, of both “houses”, brought death to the one who trespassed. Similarly, the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) enters the Holy of Holies twice, once to obscure things with incense and once to accomplish the atonement, whilst Esther entered the inner sanctum twice, once to get the king drunk with wine and the second time to get the decree annulled. It is also interesting to note that the Kohen Gadol enters with a plain white garment whilst Esther entered all dolled up:


Esther 4:11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”


Esther 6:4 The king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on the gallows he had erected for him.


Ezekiel 42:1-3 Then the man led me northward into the outer court and brought me to the rooms opposite the temple courtyard and opposite the outer wall on the north side. The building whose door faced north was a hundred cubits long and fifty cubits wide. Both in the section twenty cubits from the inner court and in the section opposite the pavement of the outer court, gallery faced gallery at the three levels.


Vayikra (Leviticus) 16:2 HaShem said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die, because I appear in the cloud over the atonement cover.


4. The Book of Esther, and the Tanakh, twelve times refers to Shushan as:


Esther 1:2 [That] in those days, when the king Achashverosh sat on the throne of his kingdom, which [was] in Shushan the palace,


1002 biyrah, bee-raw’; of for. or.; a castle or palace:-palace.


This word, biyrah (palace), is used consistently to refer to Shushan AND to HaShem’s house:


Divrei HaYamim (I Chronicles) 29:1 Then King David said to the whole assembly: “My son Solomon, the one whom God has chosen, is young and inexperienced. The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for man but for HaShem God.


Divrei HaYamim (I Chronicles) 29:19 And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, requirements and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided.”


Nehemiah 2:8 And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the king’s forest, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel of the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests.


Nehemiah 7:2 I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most men do.


So, even the Hebrew word, biyrah, links the king’s house (Achashverosh) with the KING’S HOUSE (HaShem)! It is noteworthy that the name of HaShem is not found in the Book of Esther, while the word “king” is found nearly 200 times. HaShem is not in the house at Shushan, king Achashverosh is in this house!


Ok, lets sum this up: HaShem’s people were carried into exile because of disobedience. At the end of the seventy appointed years, some forty-two thousand actually return to the promised land, while millions more remained in the comfort of Babylon. All of the exiles had been invited to return, but only a small fraction actually returned. These exiled Israelite slaves chose to celebrate in king Achashverosh’s house rather than return to the promised land to celebrate in King HaShem ‘s house. HaShem’s name is revealed in His House, while HaShem’s name is concealed in Achashverosh’s house. Instead of serving as inhabitants in HaShem’s house, they are serving as exiled slaves in Achashverosh’s house. Instead of serving the Sovereign of the Universe, they serve the sovereign of Babylon. No wonder they are getting into trouble!


The sages understood that the reason for this party was due to the calculations that Achashverosh made: he believed that the seventy years had expired and that he could rejoice because the prophesy would not be fulfilled. They also believed that he was using the Temple utensils for this party.


XIII.  Insights


The Midrash contains several interesting insights:


Midrash Rabbah - Genesis LVIII:3 3. A HUNDRED AND SEVEN AND TWENTY YEARS. R. Akiba was once lecturing, and the congregation became drowsy. Wishing to arouse them, he remarked: Why did Esther deserve to reign over a hundred and twenty-seven provinces? The reason is this: Let Esther, the descendant of Sarah, who lived a hundred and twenty-seven years, come and reign over a hundred and twenty-seven provinces.


Midrash Rabbah - Leviticus XXVIII:6 A Roman lady addressed a question to R. Jose. She said to him: ‘How grieved that righteous man_ must have been! How many menservants and maidservants he had, yet they rejected his food and his drink!’ The answered her: ‘Why all this? To inform you that as long as Israel are in sorrow the righteous also suffer sorrow with them.’ R. Levi said: It was the same merit that stood them in good stead in the days of Haman. For R. Levi said: When Mordecai saw Haman coming towards him leading the horse in his hand, he remarked: ‘It appears to me that this villain comes for the sole purpose of slaying me.’ His disciples were sitting and learning in his presence. Said he to them: ‘ Rise and flee, lest you be scorched by my coal!’ They answered him: ‘Whether to be killed or to remain alive, we are with you, and will not desert you!’ What did he do? He enveloped himself in his talit and stood before the Holy One, blessed be He, in prayer, while his disciples sat and learned. Haman said to them: ‘What are you studying?’ They answered him: ‘The commandment of the sheaf which Israel used to offer in the Temple on this day.’ He asked them: ‘ What was this sheaf made of, gold or silver? ‘ They replied: ‘ Of barley.’ ‘And how much,’ he asked them, ‘was it worth? Ten centenaria?’ They replied: ‘Ten manehs were sufficient.’ He said to them: ‘Arise, for your ten manehs have conquered the ten thousand centenaria of silver!’ When Esther heard how matters stood she issued a proclamation throughout the province, saying: ‘Let no one open his shop in the market-place! Let all the people go out, for the chief of the Jews is about to be hanged!’ When Mordecai finished praying, Haman said to him: ‘Put on this royal robe, set this crown upon your head, and come and ride upon this horse.’ He answered him: ‘O you most foolish man in the world! Do you not know that I have just emerged from sackcloth and ashes? Would a person put on royal robes without bathing? Why do you wish to disgrace royalty? ‘ So he went for a bath-attendant but could not find one. What did he do? Putting on bathing apparel he went and mixed the water and cleansed the bath, then he bathed him. When he finished Mordecai donned the royal robe. Haman said to him: ‘Set this kingly crown on your head!’ Said he: ‘Would a person put the king’s crown on his head without a haircut? Why do you wish to disgrace royalty?’ He went in search of a barber and could not find one. What did he do? Producing barber’s tools he sat down and gave him a haircut. As he was sitting and cutting his hair Haman began sighing. ‘What ails you?’ Mordecai asked. ‘Woe to that man! ‘he replied, ‘What has come over him! He who used to appoint the Comes Privatarum, he who used to appoint the Comes Calator, he who used to appoint the Magister Palatii, is such a man to be made a bath-attendant and a barber?’ Said the other: ‘And did I not know the father of that man (may his bones be ground to dust!) at Kefar Kiryanos, who was a bath-attendant and a barber, and whose tools these are!’ When Haman finished cutting his hair, he said to Mordecai: ‘Mount and ride on this horse!’ He said to him: ‘I have no strength, for I am an old man. “ Said the other: ‘Am not I too an old man? ‘ ‘ But,’ the former retorted, ‘ have you not brought it all on yourself?’ Haman said: ‘Stand, I will bend my back for you so that you can step upon me and mount and ride upon this horse, to fulfill for you what your Scripture says: And thine enemies shall dwindle away before thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places’ (Deut. XXXIII, 29). As Mordecai rode on the horse he began to praise the Holy One, blessed be He, and said: ‘I will extol Thee, O Lord, for Thou hast raised me up... O Lord my God, I cried unto Thee, and Thou didst heal me; O Lord, Thou broughtest up my soul from the nether-world’ (Ps. XXX, 2 f). What did his disciples say? ‘ Sing praise unto the Lord, O ye His godly ones, and give thanks to His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment,’ etc. (ib. 5 f). What did the villain say? ‘Now I had said in my security: I shall never be moved. Thou hast established, O Lord, in Thy favour the mountain as a stronghold’ (ib. 7 f). What did Esther say? ‘ Unto Thee, O Lord, did I call... what profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise Thee? shall it declare Thy truth?’ (ib. 9 f). What did Israel say? ‘Hear, O Lord, and be gracious unto me;... Thou didst turn fear me my mourning into dancing’ (ib. 11 f). R. Phinehas said: Mordecai was then occupied with the reading of the Shema’ and he did not interrupt it, as may be inferred from the fact that it says, So that my glory may sing praise to Thee, and not be silent: O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto Thee for ever (ib. 13).


Midrash Rabbah - Esther I:3 ACHASHVEROSH. R. Levi and the Rabbis differed on this. R. Levi said: Achashverosh is the same as Artaxerxes; and why was he called Achashverosh? Because no one could mention him without feeling a headache. The Rabbis said: Artaxerxes was the same as Achashverosh; and why was he called Artaxerxes? Because he used to fall into a passion and then be sorry (martiah vehash). ACHASHVEROSH: THIS IS ACHASHVEROSH. R. Isaac and the Rabbis explained differently. R. Isaac said: [He was the] ACHASHVEROSH in whose days all trouble came, as it says, There was great mourning among the Jews (Est. IV, 3). THIS IS ACHASHVEROSH: in whose days all blessings came, as it says, The Jews had gladness and joy, a feast and a good day (ib. VIII, 17). The Rabbis say: ACHASHVEROSH, before Esther went in unto him; THIS IS ACHASHVEROSH; after Esther went in unto him he did not have intercourse with women in the period of separation.


Why was Vashti deposed?


Esther 1:10-12 On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him--Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Carcas-- To bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at. But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.


At the feast, Achashverosh asks Queen Vashti to parade “wearing the royal crown” (1:11). The Midrash derives from here that Vashti was to appear wearing the crown only – i.e. naked:


Midrash Rabbah - Esther III:13 13. TO BRING VASHTI THE QUEEN BEFORE THE KING WITH THE CROWN ROYAL (I, 11). R. Aibu said: What makes atonement for Israel is that when the Israelites eat and drink and make merry they bless and praise and extol the Holy One, blessed be He, whereas when the other nations eat and drink they turn to lewdness. So here, one said, ‘The Median women are more beautiful,’ and the other said, ‘The Persian women are more beautiful.’ Said that fool to them: ‘The vessel which I use is neither Median nor Persian, but Chaldean. Would you like to see it?’ They replied, ‘ Yes, but she must be naked.’ ‘ Very well,’ he said to them, ‘ let her be naked.’ R. Phinehas and R. Hama b. Guria in the name of Rab said: She asked permission to wear at least as much as a girdle, like a harlot, but they would not allow her. He said to her: ‘It must be naked.’ She said, ‘I will come in without a crown.’ [He said]: ‘ If so, they will say, ‘ ‘ She is a maidservant.”‘ Then she [a maidservant] might put on royal garments and enter? R. Huna said: A subject must not put on royal garments.


Who were the wise men who “knew the times“?


Esther 1:13 Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times


The Midrash answers this question:


Midrash Rabbah - Esther IV:1 1. THEN THE KING SAID TO THE WISE MEN, WHO KNEW THE TIMES (1, 13). Who were these? R. Simon said: These were the tribe of Issachar, as it says, And of the children of Issachar, men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do (I Chron. XI, 33). R. Tanhuma said: This means, for fixing the calendar: R. Jose b. Kazrath said: For intercalation. (‘To know what Israel ought to do’: they knew how to heal skin disease. The heads of them were two hundred (ib.): these are the two hundred presidents of the Sanhedrin which the tribe of Issachar produced. And all their brethren were at their commandment (ib.): they all accepted the Halakhah as pronounced by them as if it were the Halakhah of Moses at Sinai.) The wicked Achashverosh said to them: ‘Seeing that I ordered Vashti to appear before me naked and she refused, what is to be her punishment?’ They replied: ‘Your Majesty, when we were in our own land, we used to inquire of the Urim and Thummim, but now we are tossed about,’ and they quoted to him the verse, Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity; therefore his taste remaineth in him, and his scent is not changed (Jer. XLVIII, 11) He said to them: ‘Is any one of them here?’ They replied: ‘ Their near neighbours [are] ‘; and so it says, AND THE NEXT UNTO HIM WAS CARSHENA, SHETHAR, ADMETHA, TARSHISH, MERES, MARSENA, AND MEMUCAN (Memuchan was Haman; why was Haman called Memuchan? Because he was set aside for punishment (muchan l’puranos). (Megillah 12b)), THE SEVEN PRINCES OF PERSIA AND MEDIA, etc. (I, 14). The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead (Proverbs XI, 8). ‘The righteous is delivered out of trouble’: this is the tribe of Issachar. ‘And the wicked cometh in his stead’: these are the seven princes of Persia and Media.


An interesting change takes place in the King’s authority:


Esther 1:12-14 But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger. Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times And were closest to the king--Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena and Memuchan (Memuchan was Haman; why was Haman called Memuchan (Me-muchan)? Because he was set aside for punishment (muchan l’puranos). (Megillah 12b)), the seven nobles of Persia and Media who had special access to the king and were highest in the kingdom.


The King is furious, but, he still takes time to consult with his advisors. Later on we see this:


Esther 7:5-10 King Achashverosh asked Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is the man who has dared to do such a thing?” Esther said, “The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman.” Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life. Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining. The king exclaimed, “Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?” As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, “A gallows seventy-five feet high stands by Haman’s house. He had it made for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.” The king said, “Hang him on it!” So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided.


It appears as though the King did not consult his advisors this time. The sages understood that Haman had asked the King to stop doing this so that he could get his edict of annihilation signed. So, again we see the hand of HaShem meting out justice in-kind.


The Sages tell us that third day of Esther’s fast was the 15th of Nisan, the night of the Passover Seder. Because of the dire situation, the regular Seder could be forfeited. Still, Esther kept as much as she could and served Matzot at the banquets. Additionally, the banquets are called “Mishteh ha-yayin”, a wine feast (5:6, 7:2, 7:7), alluding to the four cups of wine drunk at the seder.


That night, following the first banquet, the King is unable to sleep (6:1). It could be that the Pesach food, particularly the matzot and excess wine, caused him heartburn.


Achashverosh figures that since Esther spent the whole evening telling national history (the Haggada - it is Passover after all.), he can review the history of his kingdom as well. So Achashverosh reviews his royal book, and for the first time becomes aware that Mordechai had saved the King’s life (6:2).


Why did Esther have seven maids?


Esther 2:9 The girl pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven maids selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her maids into the best place in the harem.


The Talmud explains that she had one maid for each day of the week so that no one would suspect that she was a Jew. She worked for six days and rested on the seventh day.[33]


Why 10,000 talents (Kikars):


Esther 3:8-9 Then Haman said to King Achashverosh, “There is a certain people dispersed and scattered among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom whose customs are different from those of all other people and who do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will put ten thousand talents of silver into the royal treasury for the men who carry out this business.”


Tosafot indicates that there were 600,000 males. These had a 50 Shekalim redemption value (Leviticus 27:3). So: 600,000 X 50 = 30,000,000 / 3,000 = 10,000 talents.


When Haman proposed to Achashverosh the annihilation of the Jews, he offered to pay 10,000 “kikars” for the right to do so (Esther 3:9). Since one kikar equals 3,000 shekels, Haman was in fact putting a price tag of 30 million shekels on the Jews.


Since there are 600,000 main souls in the Jewish nation (see Numbers 2:32), and 50 shekels is the donation value of an adult male (as specified in Leviticus 27:3), this amount multiplied times 600,000 souls equals thirty million.


The Chizkuni on our verse independently gives us a calculation of how Haman’s 10,000 “kikar” weights of silver equal the amount of half-Shekalim 600,000 Bnei Israel would give. On average, people live seventy years. The responsibility to give a half-shekel begins at the age of twenty. On average people give a half-shekel for fifty years. The type of half-shekel given is in the “shekel hakodesh” coin system, which has double the value of non-kodesh “Shekalim,” hence twenty-five shekelei kodesh given in a lifetime equal fifty standard Shekalim. Fifty “Shekalim” equal a hundred zuzim, given on average by each person. Sixty people would give 6,000 “zuzim,” equal to sixty “maneh”, the weight of a “kikar” of silver. Ten thousand times this amount was given by 600,000 people as sixty goes into 600,000 ten thousand times. Thus a total of 10,000 “kikar kesef,” a “kesef” equals a “zuz,” was given by these 600,000 people, and Haman offered an equal amount. The Ba”ch on the above Tosafot calculates exactly as the Chizkuni and says that this is the intention of the Tosafot.


Another idea was:


II Melachim (Kings) 24:13-14 As HaShem had declared, Nebuchadnezzar removed all the treasures from the temple of HaShem and from the royal palace, and took away all the gold articles that Solomon king of Israel had made for the temple of HaShem. He carried into exile all Jerusalem: all the officers and fighting men, and all the craftsmen and artisans--a total of ten thousand. Only the poorest people of the land were left.


Therefore there was a talent for each of the officers, fighting men, craftsman, and artisans.


One talent contains 3000 Shekalim (Exodus 35:24). A shekel contains approximately .80 ounces of silver. Thus a talent of silver is equal to about 2,400 ounces. The price Haman was ready to pay for the right to exterminate the Jews, 10,000 talents, was 24 million ounces, or 750 tons of silver! $5 X 24,000,000 = $120,000,000 at today’s price. in the 1870’s silver was worth 40 times as much! This yields $4,800,000,000. So, try to imagine what silver was worth in Mordechai’s day.


Another idea:


The Megillah[34] states that Haman offered to increase the King’s coffers by 10,000 kikar silver in exchange for the right to get rid of the Jews. Tosafot in Megillah 16a, indicates that this was a half Shekel for every Jewish person. On a metaphysical level the Hakhamim tell us that Haman was trying to negate the merit of the Jews annual half-Shekel contribution to the Temple’s upkeep. The Gemara[35] says that since HaShem knew that Haman would offer Shekels to Achashverosh to ‘purchase’ the right to destroy the Jews, HaShem pre-empted Haman’s contribution through the half-shekel. The merit of the Jews contributing the annual half-shekel protected them (in the future) against Haman’s evil designs.


There is an interpretation of this Gemara said in the name of the Yismach Yisrael. Haman’s potential for destroying the Jewish people was hinted at in his own description of the nation:


Esther 3:8 “There is a people that is dispersed and divided...”.


It is only because there is division and unjustified hatred within the Jewish nation that their enemies have the ability to harm them. When the Jews are divided, they represent only individuals, not a Klal, a communal entity. When that happens we have lost our strength.


Haman’s whole plot was based on the division of the nation. That is why HaShem insisted that each Jew should give exactly one half shekel. The symbolism of the half-shekel is that each Jew is only a fraction of the entity. He needs to combine with his fellow Jew to make a significant contribution. If we think we can be ‘an entire shekel unto ourselves’, that is not going to work. Our strength is through the recognition that we need each other, and the realization that we need to set aside our petty differences to come together to provide a complete shekel.


This silver, then, has several very significant implications. Now, lets see how this silver, and it’s evil decree will be handled.


The Sages say that Esther’s fast began the day that Haman ordered the decree to go out:


Esther 3:12 Then on the thirteenth day of the first month the royal secretaries were summoned. They wrote out in the script of each province and in the language of each people all Haman’s orders to the king’s satraps, the governors of the various provinces and the nobles of the various peoples. These were written in the name of King Achashverosh himself and sealed with his own ring.


The decree then went out on Nisan 13. So Esther and the Jews of Shushan fasted on Nisan 13, 14, and 15. The evening of the 14th was HaShem’s Passover feast:


Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:5 HaShem’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month.


The Midrash states that Mordechai protested the fast on Passover. Esther replied that if there are no Israelites, there will be no Passover!


The deliverance of the Israelites began:


Esther 5:1-2 On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.


The Talmud records an interesting thing about Esther’s appearance before the king:


Megillat 15b  “And it was so when the king saw Esther the queen. R. Johanan said: Three ministering angels were appointed to help her at that moment; one to make her head erect, a second to endow her with charm and a third to stretch the golden scepter.”


R’ Yehudah Prero interprets the Talmud for us: Three angels assisted Esther when she went before the king. One was there to help her raise her head, as she was so weak from fasting that she could not keep her head up without assistance. The second angel was there to assure that she would find favor in Achashverosh’s eyes, even though her beauty had diminished to the point that Achashverosh might be angered.


The usual gesture of the king that indicated approval of a visit and permission to enter the king’s chambers was his lifting of his scepter and extending it towards the person. In order to assure that Achashverosh would perform this necessary gesture even though he did not order the visit (making “illegal”), an angel (the third one discussed above) came and extended the scepter that Achashverosh was holding. With the assistance of the angels, Esther was admitted to Achashverosh’s court without suffering any dire consequences.


The first day of Passover, the same day that deliverance for the Israelites in Egypt began. It looks as though Haman died on the 17th of Nisan - the same day that Yeshua arose!


If you consider that the King was aware that Esther was willing to die in order to bring a request to him, then you can understand why he was willing to grant her request. He would know that it was a most serious request. Obviously this also accounts for him repeating his question at the two banquets. He knew that she would not have risked death to invite him to dinner.


Esther 9:22 As the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.


KJV renders it as:


Esther 9:22 As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.


sorrow is: 3015 yagown, yaw-gohn’; from 3013; affliction:-grief, sorrow.


joy is: 8057 simchah, sim-khaw’; from 8056; blithesomeness or glee, (religious or festival):-X exceeding (-        ly), gladness, joy (-fulness), mirth, pleasure, rejoice (-ing).


mourning is: 0060 ‘ebel, ay’-bel; from 56; lamentation:-mourning.


good day is: 2896 towb, tobe; from 2895; good (as an adj.) in the widest sense; used likewise as a noun, both in the masc. and the fem., the sing. and the plur. (good, a good or good thing, a good man or woman; the good, goods or good things, good men or women), also as an adv. (well):- beautiful, best, better, bountiful, cheerful, at ease, X fair (word), (be in) favor, fine, glad, good (deed, -lier, liest, -ly, -ness, -s), graciously, joyful, kindly, kindness, liketh (best), loving, merry, X most, pleasant, + pleaseth, pleasure, precious, prosperity, ready, sweet, wealth, welfare, (be) well ([-favoured]).


good day 3117 yowm, yome; from an unused root mean. to be hot; a day (as the warm hours) whether lit. (from sunrise to sunset, or from one sunset to the next), or fig. (a space of time defined by an associated term), [often used adv.]:-age, + always, + chronicles, continually (-ance), daily, ([birth-], each, to) day, (now a, two) days (agone), + elder, X end, + evening, + (for) ever (-lasting, more), X full, life, as (so) long as (... live), (even) now, + old, + outlived, + perpetually, presently,+ remaineth, X required, season, X since, space, then, (process of) time, + as at other times, + in trouble, weather, (as) when, (a, the, within a) while (that), X whole (+ age), (full) year (-ly), + younger.


This reminds me of:


Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 31:7-14 This is what HaShem says: “Sing with joy for Jacob; shout for the foremost of the nations. Make your praises heard, and say, ‘O HaShem, save your people, the remnant of Israel.’ See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labor; a great throng will return. They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son. “Hear the word of HaShem, O nations; proclaim it in distant coastlands: ‘He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.’ For HaShem will ransom Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they. They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of HaShem--the grain, the new wine and the oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more. Then maidens will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. I will satisfy the priests with abundance, and my people will be filled with my bounty,” declares HaShem.


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The term “Sefirah”, perhaps the most basic term within the lexicon of the Kabbalistic tradition, finds repeated expression in the Book of Esther. Of the names for the Sefirot, the emanations of Divine light and energy which are the basic forces of creation, all but one explicitly appear in the Book of Esther. No other Biblical text exhibits such a density of Kabbalistic terminology.


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XIV.  Pedigrees


Lets look at the pedigree of some of the players in the Purim story:


Esther 2:5-7 Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, Who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin king of Judah. Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This girl, who was also known as Esther, was lovely in form and features, and Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.


Sh’muel (II Samuel) 16:5-13 As King David approached Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul’s family came out from there. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out. He pelted David and all the king’s officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David’s right and left. As he cursed, Shimei said, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you scoundrel! HaShem has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. HaShem has handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a man of blood!” Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head.” But the king said, “What do you and I have in common, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because HaShem said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’“ David then said to Abishai and all his officials, “My son, who is of my own flesh, is trying to take my life. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for HaShem has told him to. It may be that HaShem will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today.” So David and his men continued along the road while Shimei was going along the hillside opposite him, cursing as he went and throwing stones at him and showering him with dirt.


Sh’muel (II Samuel) 19:15-23 Then the king returned and went as far as the Jordan. Now the men of Judah had come to Gilgal to go out and meet the king and bring him across the Jordan. Shimei son of Gera, the Benjamite from Bahurim, hurried down with the men of Judah to meet King David. With him were a thousand Benjamites, along with Ziba, the steward of Saul’s household, and his fifteen sons and twenty servants. They rushed to the Jordan, where the king was. They crossed at the ford to take the king’s household over and to do whatever he wished. When Shimei son of Gera crossed the Jordan, he fell prostrate before the king And said to him, “May my lord not hold me guilty. Do not remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem. May the king put it out of his mind. For I your servant know that I have sinned, but today I have come here as the first of the whole house of Joseph to come down and meet my lord the king.” Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said, “Shouldn’t Shimei be put to death for this? He cursed HaShem’s anointed.” David replied, “What do you and I have in common, you sons of Zeruiah? This day you have become my adversaries! Should anyone be put to death in Israel today? Do I not know that today I am king over Israel?” So the king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” And the king promised him on oath.


Megilah 12b There was a certain Jew in Shushan the castle, etc. a Benjamite.[36] What is the point of this verse? If it is to give the pedigree of Mordecai, it should trace it right back to Benjamin! [Why then were only these specified?] — A Tanna taught: All of them are designations [of Mordecai]. ‘The son of Jair’ means, the son who enlightened [he’ir] the eyes of Israel by his prayer. ‘The son of Shimei means, the son to whose prayer God hearkened [shama’]. ‘The son of Kish’ indicates that he knocked [hikkish] at the gates of mercy and they were opened to him. He is called ‘a Jew’ [Yehudi] which implies that he came from [the tribe of] Judah, and he is called ‘a Benjamite’, which implies that he came from Benjamin. [How is this]? — R. Nahman said: He was a man of distinguished character. Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said in the name of R. Joshua b. Levi: His father was from Benjamin and his mother from Judah. The Rabbis, however, said: The tribes competed with one another [for him]. The tribe of Judah said: I am responsible for the birth of Mordecai, because David did not kill Shimei the son of Gera, and the tribe of Benjamin said: He is actually descended from me. Raba said: The community of Israel explained [the two designations] in the opposite sense: ‘See what a Judean did to me and how a Benjamite repaid me!’ What a Judean did to meviz., that David did not kill Shimei from whom was descended Mordecai who provoked Haman. ‘And how a Benjamite repaid me’, viz., that Saul did not slay Agag from whom was descended Haman who oppressed Israel. R. Johanan said: He did indeed come from Benjamin. Why then was he called ‘a Jew’? Because he repudiated idolatry. For anyone who repudiates idolatry is called ‘a Jew’, as it is written, There are certain Jews etc.


King David spared Shimei, and Mordecai descended from him.


Mordechai and Esther were descendents of King Saul, whose error in keeping the Amalekite king Agag (Haman’s grandfather) alive for one night caused great suffering to the Jewish people. Therefore, Mordechai and Esther had to rectify this mistake of their ancestor.


Purim is celebrated in Adar and points plainly at Binyamin. Mordecai, a major participant in the story, was a Benjamite:


Esther 2:5 [Now] in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name [was] Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite;


Haman, the enemy of the Jews in the book of Esther, was the descendant of an Amalekite who was supposed to be slain by a Benjamite. His name was King Saul:


1 Shmuel (Samuel) 9:21 And Saul answered and said, [Am] not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?


1 Shmuel (Samuel) 15:7-8 And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah [until] thou comest to Shur, that [is] over against Egypt. And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.


Mordechai refused to bow down (he was from the tribe of Binyamin). In fact, he always stood.


Because Mordechai was always by the gate, he was constantly aware of the goings on by the palace. On one occasion, he overheard two of the king’s officers plotting to assassinate Achashverosh. These officers spoke in a language that they assumed Mordechai would not understand. However, because Mordechai was a member of the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish court, he knew seventy languages, including the one the officers spoke. He immediately informed Esther of the plot, who related the story in Mordechai’s name to the king. Achashverosh had the two officers executed, and Mordechai’s deed was recorded in the king’s book of chronicles.


The Talmud confirms this:


Megillat 13b In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh were wroth. R. Hiyya b. Abba said in the name of R. Johanan: The Holy One, blessed be He, [once] caused a master to be wroth with his servants in order to fulfill the desire of a righteous man, namely Joseph, as it says, And there was with us there a young man, a Hebrew, etc.; and servants with their master in order to perform a miracle for a righteous man, namely, Mordecai, as it is written, ‘And the thing was known to Mordecai etc. ‘R. Johanan said: Bigthan and Teresh were two Tarseans and conversed in the Tarsean language. They said: From the day this woman came we have been able to get no sleep. Come, let us put poison in the dish so that he will die. They did not know that Mordecai was one of those who had seats in the Chamber of Hewn Stone, and that he understood seventy languages. Said the other to him, But are not my post and your post different? He replied: I will keep guard at my post and at yours. So it is written, And when inquisition was made, he was found, that is to say, they were not [both] found at their posts.


Mordechai was truly the flower of Jewish culture - a member of the Sanhedrin, a polyglot, a noble descended from a line of kings (evidently he is from the family of King Saul). It also appears that he was the chief Rabbi of Shushan.


Let’s look at Haman’s pedigree:


Esther 3:1-2 After these events, King Achashverosh honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles. All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.


Sh’muel (I Samuel) 15:1-9 Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one HaShem sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from HaShem. This is what HaShem Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’“ So Saul summoned the men and mustered them at Telaim--two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand men from Judah. Saul went to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the ravine. Then he said to the Kenites, “Go away, leave the Amalekites so that I do not destroy you along with them; for you showed kindness to all the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites moved away from the Amalekites. Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, to the east of Egypt. He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs--everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.


So, king Saul spared Agag and now we have Haman. The Hakhamim believe that Agag fathered a son during the time he was Saul’s captive. Haman, of course, was a descendant of Esav.


The question: Why do we make noise every time Haman’s name is mentioned in the Megillah?


The answer: Haman was an Amalekite (The root of the “Amalek” is amal - labor.), from that people which embodies evil and which the Torah commands us to obliterate:


Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25:19 When HaShem your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in the land he is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!


By blotting out Haman’s name we are symbolically wiping out the Amalekites and evil.


I heard that the Vilna Gaon (Rav Eliyahu Kremer of Vilna, c. 1750), was asked, “Where is it hinted in the Torah that we should make noise when the name of Haman is mentioned during the reading of the Megillat Ester on Purim?” He answered, “It says in the Torah, ‘Vehaya Im Bin Hakot Harasha’ [if the evildoer deserves to be hit] (Devarim 25:2).”


Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25:1-3 When there will be a quarrel between men, they shall approach the justice, who will judge them. They will prove the righteousness of the one who is righteous and the evil of the one who is evil. And “if the evildoer deserves to be hit”, the judge shall throw him down and flog him as befits his wickedness. He shall be flogged forty times...


Said the Gaon, “The last letters of the first three Hebrew words in this verse spell out the name ‘Haman.’ The following two Hebrew words read as, ‘hit the evildoer!’ (This hints that when Haman is mentioned, we hit or bang on the nearest object in order to demonstrate our distaste for hearing the mention of his name.)” (Rav Tzvi Shlez, in “Nifloat Mitorat HaShem,” Warsaw 1879)


The verse that we have been discussing (“...if the evildoer deserves to be hit...”) that spells out Haman’s name, is exactly the eighteenth verse from the command to destroy Amalek at the end of the Parashah, counting backwards. According to the Targum, in Megillat Ester, Haman was exactly the eighteenth generation after Amalek[37]. Perhaps this verse is hinting that after eighteen generations, HaShem will cause Amalek’s plans to wipe out the Jewish people to be reversed (i.e. to backfire). As it says in Megillat Esther, “It was reversed, so that the Jews were the ones who had power over their enemies”[38]. In the Purim story the plans of Haman, Amalek’s descendant, were reversed. The day that Haman had set aside for the destruction of the Jews became instead the day the Jews saw victory against Haman. This is why the Torah hints at the downfall of Haman eighteen verses back from the verse that tells us to destroy Amalek!


There is another place in the Torah where the war between Amalek and the Jews who left Egypt is discussed. This passage is earlier in the Torah, in Parashat Beshalach (Shemot 18:16). Is there any hint to the destruction of Haman eighteen verses before the mention of the destruction of Amalek, there? Let us examine the verse that is exactly eighteen verses before that:


Shemot (Exodus) 16:35 And the Jews ate “HaMan” [= the Manna] forty years, until they reached settled land. They ate “HaMan” forty years, until they reached the edge of the land of Canaan.”


The verse not only hints to Haman, but it mentions his name twice in the verse itself! The verse suggests that Haman was eaten by the Jews. Being eaten is, of course, a metaphor for being consumed, or destroyed, as in Devarim 7:16, “You will eat all the nations [of Canaan] that HaShem delivers into your hands.” Similarly, the verse that discusses the Manna that the Jews ate in the wilderness, hints at the destruction (= eating) of Haman. The Jews devoured Haman, destroying him totally!


Rashi makes an interesting comment on the above verse in Shemot. He writes that there are two dates that are mentioned in the verse as marking the day upon which the Jews finished eating the Manna. These two dates, says Rashi, are the seventh day of Adar and the sixteenth day of Nisan. According to our new interpretation, that the verse hints at the destruction of Haman, the two dates are especially appropriate. As we shall see, it was HaShem’s reversal of Haman’s fortune on those very two dates, that turned Purim into a victory for the Jews.


Haman drew lots in order to decide which month would be best for his decree to kill the Jews (Esther 3:7). We learn from the Gemara[39] that when Haman saw that the lots chose the month of Adar he was tremendously happy.” He felt that since Adar was the month in which Moshe died (Moshe passed away on the seventh of Adar), Adar would be a successful month in which to exterminate the Jewish people. However, concludes the Gemara, Haman didn’t realize that although Moshe passed away on the seventh of Adar, that was also the date on which Moshe was born. (Therefore, instead of being a day of loss for the Jews, it was a month reserved for redemption and salvation.) The seventh of Adar was the day that originally encouraged Haman to bring about the destruction the Jews. But HaShem reversed the outcome of that day and made it into the opposite, into a sign of the triumph of the Jewish people over their enemies!


The second date referred to in the verse was the sixteenth of Nisan. According to the Gemara[40], the day that Haman built his gallows and came to tell the King to hang Mordechai (in Megillat Esther 6:4), was the sixteenth day of Nisan. Of course, at the end of that day it was not Mordechai who was hanged, but rather Haman himself was hanged from that very tree. The sixteenth of Nisan, too, marks the reversal of Haman’s evil plans.


As we learned above, that verse in Shemot 16:35, which is eighteen verses before the story of Amalek, hints at the reversal of Amalek’s fortune after eighteen generations (in the time of Mordechai and Haman). Now we see that the verse in Shemot not only hints at the destruction of Haman. It also refers to the two days that saw the reversal of his fortune!


Future Festivals


“All the festivals will be annulled in future time, except for Purim[41] The future revelation of Divinity will be so intense that the revelation currently evinced by the festivals will be as insignificant as a midday candle. Purim, however, will be the exception, because the Purim miracle was called forth by the year-long self-sacrifice of the Jewish people of that time. (They could have averted Haman’s decree by apostasy.) Their mesirus nefesh evoked a Divine reaction so sublime that even in the future time it will never be annulled.[42] 


XV.  Purim Customs


Sephardim (From The Ben Ish Chai):


The story of how our Holy Torah and the good therein triumphed over the forces of evil is recounted in the reading of the Megillah, on Purim.


When the wicked Haman, the seed of Amalek (may his name and memory be erased), sought to annihilate the Jewish people, the Jews realized that they had only one weapon, but it was a formidable one, their Torah.


Through his egotistical pride and hatred for Mordechai the Jew, Haman gave the order in the name of King Achashverosh to destroy every Jew, both young and old and women and children. Throughout one hundred and twenty-seven provinces from India to Ethiopia the order was received to exterminate them, on one day, on the thirteenth of Adar.


The Jewish People prayed and fasted for three days and nights in order to rectify the three types of wrongs they may have committed, by their actions, speech and thought. And in the end their prayers were answered. The evil are elevated to eminence to show how great their fall and this was the case with the wicked Haman. From being the most powerful man in the kingdom, second only to the king himself, he was hung in total disgrace, as were all his sons, on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordechai the Jew.


The Sabbath before Purim is known as Shabbat Zakhor (Shabbat ‘Remember’) as the portion “Remember what ‘Amalek did unto you” is read. It is important for all to hear this. It is customary, on this Shabbat as well as on Purim itself, to sing Shbahoth (songs of praise) such as “Simeni Rosh ‘Al Kol Oybai” (Place me above all my enemies).


The day before Purim is called the Fast of Esther, as we fast in memory of the three day fast of our forefathers. The fast is broken after the Megillah reading. When the Megillah is read on Motzi Shabbat (Saturday night after Shabbat) and Sunday morning, the fast is held on the preceding Thursday.





1) The fast begins at dawn (“Alot Hashachar”) and ends after nightfall (“Tzait Hakochavim”).


2) No eating or drinking is permitted. Though other aspects -- like wearing shoes and washing -- are permitted.


3) Since this is not a major fast, pregnant or nursing women are exempt from the fast, as are moderately ill people. If one is otherwise healthy but has a headache and finds it difficult to fast, he may eat, but is obligated to “make up” the fast another time. In all cases, a competent rabbi should be consulted.


4) If the 13th falls on Shabbat, we don’t fast that day, due to the honor of Shabbat. The fast is not even held on Friday, since this would adversely affect Shabbat preparations. Rather, we observe the fast on Thursday, the 11th of Adar.


5) It is customary to extend the fast until after the Megillah is read. (Except in walled cities, where the Megillah is read on the night of the 15th.)


6) During the afternoon Mincha prayers, the paragraph of Aneinu is added to the silent Amidah, during the blessing of Shema Koleinu. In both Shacharit and Mincha, the chazan inserts Aneinu as a separate blessing between Geulah and Refuah.


7) As on other public fasts, the Torah reading of Vayechal Moshe (Exodus 32:11-14, 34:1-10) is read both at Shacharit and Mincha.


8) If a Brit Milah falls on the Fast of Esther, the Seudat Mitzva should be postponed until the evening. The father, mother, and Sandek may even eat during the afternoon of the fast day, since it is considered like their “holiday.” (Sha’ar HaTziun 686:16)


9) Avinu Malkeinu is said only in Shacharit, but not in Mincha. (An exception is if Purim falls on Sunday and the fast is observed on Thursday, then Avinu Malkeinu is in fact said in Mincha.)


Both men and women are obligated to hear the Megillah reading. One who does not have a Kosher Megillah must hear every word read by the Chazzan. Prior to the reading, the Chazzan unfolds his Megillah like a letter, but the congregation read theirs like one would read a Sefer Torah. This is the most common custom among Sephardim.


The Minhag is to stand for the Berachoth of the Megillah reading at night include the blessing of Shehekeyanu, but in the morning it is omitted.


It is the custom in some communities for the children to dress up in special costumes. In many Sephardi communities, however, this custom was either never adopted or forgotten entirely.


The general noise making at every mention of Haman’s name throughout the reading poses problems in many synagogues, as we are obligated to hear every word of the reading. It is appropriate, therefore, to limit this to banging one’s foot at the first and last mention of Haman’s name and the names of his sons.


On Purim, everyone is obligated to give two gifts to at least two poor people. This should not be confused with the giving of the Mahasith Hasheqel (half Sheqel) prior to Purim.


During the day both men and women must send Mishloah Manoth – two types of food to one adult friend. Men should send to men and women to women. There is no need to send to all ones acquaintances. A mourner who is in his twelve months of mourning should only send to one person and others should not send to him.


Sephardim traditionally send delicacies such as Baqlawa, Sambusak and Halwah. It is the tradition among Ashkenazim to eat “‘Oznai Haman” (lit. Haman’s ears, Hamantaschen in Yiddish, on Purim. It is a Mitsvah to have a festive meal at which one eats and drinks well. It must be eaten during the day. If it is eaten at night, one has not fulfilled one’s obligations.


Sephardim eat this meal earlier than do Ashkenazim and must finish before sunset. If a Sephardi is eating in a home where the meal ends when it is no longer still day, he may not include the portion of ‘Al Hannisseem in the Birkath Hammazon.


It is good to eat foods containing Qitniyoth (pulses) on Purim in memory of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and ‘Azariah who, for reasons of Kashrut, ate only these in the palace of Babylon. And in memory too of Queen Esther who did the same.


And it is appropriate on this day, to refrain from work and to dress up in one’s Shabbat clothes: “Like those days whereon the Jews had rest from their enemies and the month was changed unto them from sorrow to joy and from mourning into a feast day; to make them days of entertainment and joy and sending portions one to the other and gifts for the needy”. (Esther 9:22).


Taken from the writings of Hakham Ya’aqov Menashe.


Laws of the Megillah Reading[43]


“A person is obligated to hear the reading of the Megillah once at night and again the next day.”


- Shulchan Arukh (Code of Jewish Law) 687:1


Of the forty-eight men and seven women who prophesied in Israel, none added to or detracted from any of the mitzvot in the Torah. The sole exception was the mitzva of reading the Megillah.


1)         Men, women, and children (who have reached the age of education – age 6) are required to hear the Megillah.


2)         The Megillah is so important that even Torah study is deferred to hear the reading.


3)         The Megillah is read twice – first at night, then the next day. The time for the night reading is from nightfall (“Tzais Hakochavim”) until dawn (“Alos Hashachar”). Some authorities permit, even in the case of a mild illness, to read the Megillah one and a quarter hours before night fall.


4)         The time for the daytime reading is from sunrise to sunset. Post facto, the daytime reading may be read even after sunset (as long as the reading is concluded before nightfall), though the blessings may not be recited.


5)         Because of the concept of “B’rov Am Hadras Melech” - with the multitude of the nation is the King honored (Mishlei - Proverbs 14:28) - it is preferable to hear the Megillah at a synagogue with a large number of people. If, however, there may be difficulty in properly hearing the Megillah because of the crowd, in that case it is preferable to attend a smaller synagogue.


6)         Immediately before the blessings are recited, an announcement should be made that the reader should have in mind to be motzie the congregation, and they should have in mind to be yotzai.


7)         Those listening to the Megillah can sit throughout. Though when read in public, the Baal Koreh (person actually reading the Megillah) must be standing. In private, the Baal Koreh may read either standing or sitting.


8)         The Megillah, which is called an “Iggeres” (a letter), is folded open before being read.


9)         We say three blessings before reading:

1) “al Mikra Megillah,”

2) “She’asa Nissim,” and

3) “Sheh-hecheyanu.”


If a woman reads the Megillah, she should say as the first blessing, “lishmo’ah Mikrah Megillah.” The blessings should be said standing, even when reading for an individual. If one accidentally omitted the blessings, he has still fulfilled his obligation to hear Megillah.


10)       When the “Sheh-hecheyanu” blessing is said in the daytime, one should have in mind that it includes the mitzvot of Matanot La’evyonim, Mishloach Manot, and Seudat Purim.


11)       The entire Megillah must be read from a kosher parchment, written with proper ink, markings (“sirtut”), etc. One who recites the Megillah by heart has not fulfilled his obligation.


12)       The custom is to make noise at the mention of Haman’s name, to comply with the command to wipe out the remembrance of Amalek[44]. Parents should be careful that children do not make so much noise that others are unable to properly hear the Megillah reading.


13)       If at all possible, every word of the reading should be from a kosher Megillah. Therefore, the reader should wait for the noise to subside after reading Haman’s name before continuing.


14)       Their are four verses of redemption, which the congregation traditionally reads aloud: “Ish Yehudi,” “Mordechai yatza,” “LaYehudim haysa ora,” and “Ki Mordechai HaYehudi.” Since every word of the reading should be from a kosher Megillah, the reader must repeat these verses after the congregation.


15)       The Pri Megadim says that where possible, it is preferable for those listening to have their own kosher Megillah to follow from.


16)       Unless one is following from a kosher Megillah, he may not read along with the reader but should listen quietly and follow in a printed book. Of course, it is forbidden to speak during the reading.


17)       Post facto, if a word or sentence is not heard, it may be read from a printed book or said by heart.


18)       The Talmud says that the names of all ten sons of Haman (and the following word, “aseres”) should be read audibly in one breath. The custom is also to include “500 ish” in the one breath, if possible. According to the Rogachaver Gaon (19th century Europe), each individual should read this verse in one breath, since the Baal Koreh cannot be motzi others in the requirement of “one breath.”


19)       The four phrases in which HaShem’s name is hidden should be read on a higher key, and emphasized: “levado avsa Vashti hamalka” (1:16), “he, vechol hanashim yitnu” (1:20), “yavo hamelech vahaman hayom” (5:4), “ze aynenu shoveh li” (5:13).


20)       When the reader reaches the verse “Nad’da shnas hamelech” (and the King’s sleep was interrupted (6:1), he should raise his voice since this essentially was the miracle. The reader should raise his voice as well for the verse 2:17, since this was the catalyst for the miracle.


21)       The following verses should be read with the tune of Eicha [Lamentations] (rather than the normal tune for Esther), to signify the sad or tragic implications of these verses: 2:6, 3:15, 4:1, the last half of 4:3, and 7:4.


22)       Some have the custom to shake the Megillah when saying the words “ha-iggeres hazot” (this letter).


23)       After the Megillah reading, we say the blessing “Harav es riveinu,” thanking HaShem for saving us. This blessing should only be said with a minyan. (If there is no minyan, it may be said without HaShem’s name.) After the night reading, we also say “Uva Li-Tzion,” “Aleynu,” “Kaddish,” and “Shoshanas Yaakov.” On Saturday night, we also say “Vee-hee Noam.”


24)       Someone who will be on a voyage, and will not have available a Megillah, may read as early as the 11th of Adar (and some say even from Rosh Chodesh Adar.)




1. The mitzva of sanctifying the festival (KEDUSHAH):


2. The custom of setting a festive table and holding special meals during the day as well as at night. PURIM SE’UDAH - Purim feast).


Feasting on Purim is considered a virtue. “Each family gathers and eats and drinks together” (Rashi, Esther IX:28). A man must rejoice on Purim and enjoy all kinds of drinks and delicacies. Generally it is the custom to spread a sumptuous feast, light candles and celebrate from late afternoon into the night. Only when Purim falls on Friday the celebration starts earlier in honor of the Sabbath.


Among the Jewish communities in the Arab countries and in Spain the feast started on the first night after the reading of the Megillat and the ending of the Fast of Esther and continued all night until daybreak. Then it started again and lasted until nightfall. The Jews of Yemen conducted a special Purim feast different from other holiday feasts. The Yemenites prepared a kind of feast of King Solomon. It was the one day of the year on which they served together all kinds of dishes of meat and fish with wine and arak. The Arabs of Yemen called Purim “Or Kraker”, which means “Feast of the Wine Cup”, because the Jews drank so much on that day. During the feast they sang all the songs of the other holidays, as well as a special Purim song. (The song “Shoshanat Yaacov“, “The Lily of Jacob rejoiced and was glad”, so well-known to the Jews of Europe, was not known in Yemen). At the feast they read the Megillat especially for the women who could not hear it in the synagogue.


During the Purim feast troupes of actors would visit the homes of the wealthy and present Purim plays. They were paid in money and in holiday goodies. In the Sephardic communities they sang “Complatim” (groups of songs) about Purim, recited ballads, parodies and jokes from the book “Allegory of Purim”. Several would dress up and present “The Wedding of Haman and Zeresh”.


3. The mitzva of hearing the readings of the Megillat (MEGILLAT ESTHER - the Book of Esther) and reciting the proper blessings (3).


Purim in the synagogue: The Book of Esther (the Megillat) is read with a special cantillation both on the Eve of Purim and on the holiday itself. This is the only time during the year when there is a reading from the Torah to the congregation in the evening. Before the reading three blessings are recited: “On the reading of the Megillat”, “Who performed miracles for our fathers”, and “Who has kept us alive”.


4. The mitzva of saying the SHEHECHIYANU blessing (1 of the 3).


5. The mitzva of reciting BIRKAT HAMAZON with the additional blessing AL HANISSIM (on the saving miracles of Purim).


6. Attend services on Shabbat ZACHOR (the Shabbat of Remembrance), one week prior to Purim, Remember the evil ones who sought to destroy the Jewish people. Contribute or work to stop anti-Semitism and in particular, neo-Nazism.


There are four basic things to do on Purim and they begin with “M”:






Hear every word from the book of Esther

The book of Esther is read twice, once in the evening and again in the morning.

Mishloah Maanot

Sending food to our friends

We send two different potions of food to our friends

Matanot Le’evyonim

Giving money to poor persons

We give charity to needy people


Having a good drinking party

We have a festive meal during the day, replete with great wine!





1) Mishloach Manot is fulfilled by sending two types of ready-to-eat food to at least one friend. This mitzva should be performed on Purim day itself.


We have the Mishloach Manot, those delightful packages of goodies. They range from a sandwich bag with raisins, cookies and a drink to a three-foot-high wicker basket filled with aged-wine and elegant treats. There are numerous differences in packaging, price and products, but, once again, all shalach manot have one thing in common: they foster unity. Unity not just because we feel good when we give and when we receive. But unity also because we customarily give the shalach manot through a messenger--we involve another person in the mitzva. When giving the shalach manot we connect not only with the person to whom we are giving, but to a third person as well. And the messenger can be anyone--young or old, friend or stranger, male or female.


The distributing of Purim gifts (“Mishloah Manot”) and presents to the paupers on the day of the celebration is an ancient custom in Israel. In the Book of Nehemiah it is written that on the first day of Tishrei Nehemiah said to the people, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink the sweet and send portions unto him for whom nothing is prepared”. Therefore, when the practice of celebrating Purim with a feast was established the ancient custom of sending gifts to the paupers was also practiced. The custom spread throughout the Diaspora, different versions developing and varying from community to community.


Our sages determined the expression as the “distributing of gifts” and “gift”. Therefore, at least two gifts should be sent to a person. Maimonides (the Rambam) wrote (Mishna Torah, Customs of the Megillat) “It is better for a man to increase gifts to the poor than to enlarge his feast and to increase gifts to his friends. For there is no greater and more wonderful joy than to make happy the hearts of the poor, the orphans, the widows and the strangers, for he who uplifts the hearts of the unfortunate is like unto the Divine Presence”.


For “Mishloah Manot” the women of Israel used to prepare pastries in the shape of different animals, percussion instruments for “beating Haman”, soldiers, heroes of the Megillat, etc. These were made of sweet dough and colored sugar. There were also cakes filled with poppy-seed, honey, fruit or meat, and of course, Hamantashen.



In the Ashkenazi communities it was the custom to put these presents on a large or deep dish and to cover it with a white napkin, the ends of which were folded under the dish and held by the messenger. They were careful to send a generous gift to the rabbi of the community, the other religious functionaries, and the teachers of the children. In many towns there were special men who were paid to carry the gifts from house to house as instructed.


There was a pleasant custom according to which bridegrooms sent gifts -- gold and silver jewelry, elaborate clothing, etc., -- to their brides; and the brides sent a Megillat written on parchment in a silver case, or a gold watch, spices, religious books, etc., to the groom. In the Sephardi communities the groom would send the jewels to his bride on a metal tray nicely arranged with “Pastorale” cakes and adorned with leaves of the aromatic herb rue -- which had been cast in the form of a hand with five fingers to bring good luck and ward off the evil eye. A woman acting as a special messenger would bring the present accompanied by another woman beating a drum and singing wedding songs to publicize the event. The bride and her friends, singing and dancing, would go out to meet them.


The custom of “Mishloah Manot” exists today in practically every Jewish community. In Israel it is observed in both the Sephardi and Ashkenazi communities. A very special kind of “Mishloah Manot” exists in many kibbutzim. In order to preserve full equality also in regard to Mishloah Manot there are special practices. Thus, for example, each family brings gifts to a designated place. There a number is attached to each offering. A lottery is conducted and according to the results the children distribute the gifts on the eve of Purim. In other cases a veteran family invites a young family or a single person, or the young invite the veterans (as determined in advance). Each prepares presents and these are exchanged when they get together for tea or coffee the day before Purim. In other places a lottery is conducted and slips are drawn on which are written the names of a family or single person in the kibbutz.[45]


2)         There is a custom to send Mishloach Manot through a third person, since the word “Mishloach” is related to the word for messenger, “Shaliach.”


3)         Matanot La’evyonim is fulfilled by giving money to at least two poor people on the day of Purim. The gift should at least equal the value of a fast-food meal.


4)         This is not a “family” obligation, but rather each person should perform the mitzva themselves.


5)         The money needn’t be given directly to a poor person, but can be given to a community representative - as long as the money is actually distributed to the poor on Purim day.


6)         Matanos La’evyonim is a special mitzva, not to be included in the amount of money a person sets aside for charity during the rest of the year.


7)         Maimonides writes that it is inappropriate to buy expensive Mishloach Manot, if this will come at the expense of larger gifts to the poor.


Laws of the Purim Feast


1)         The Purim Seudah (feast) is held during the daytime. It is also customary to extend the meal until after dark. (Even if the meal finishes after dark, we still include the paragraph of “Al HaNissim in Grace After Meals.)


2)         If Purim falls on Friday, the festive meal is held in the morning, so that the meal ends in plenty of time to finish preparations for Shabbat.


3)         It is also appropriate to have a “more festive than usual” dinner on Purim night. Some also have custom of eating a bread in the morning.


4)         If a person has limited funds, it is better to limit one’s spending on the Purim Seudah, and to increase one’s gifts to the poor.


The Fast of Esther


The custom of fasting on the day preceding Purim (TASANIT ESTHER - the Fast of Esther) to share in the heroic, but anguished, deed that Esther did for her people.


Every year, the “Fast of Esther” is held one of the days prior to Purim. What is the source of this fast?


In the Talmud[46], Esther agrees to see the King uninvited, and asks the Jewish People to fast for three days beforehand.


Why did she call for a fast? To lower the volume on our physical pursuits in order to focus more acutely on our spiritual selves. This facilitates the process of “teshuva” - literally “return.” We return to our essential state of purity. Esther called for a fast, knowing that through soul-searching the Jews would forge a spiritual connection necessary to make her mission successful. (And it paid off!)


This is not a fast of sadness. Rather, the purpose of the fast is elevation and inspiration.


Similarly, there was another fast during the Purim story: The Jews fasted and prayed on the 13th of Adar in preparation for their defense against Haman’s decree. The Torah prescribes that whenever a Jewish army goes to war, the soldiers should spend the previous day fasting. This is in stark contrast to a secular army which spends the day preparing weapons and armaments. A Jew’s best weapon is the recognition that strength and victory come only through HaShem.[47]


The fast before a war helps us to focus on the fact that our success or failure is in the hands of HaShem. Additionally, the fact that we are physically weakened when the battle begins, assures us that any victory cannot be attributed to our physical prowess. Mortals have limits, but HaShem can achieve the impossible. (Case in point: the Six Day War.) As Mark Twain wrote, “All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?” It is actually this pre-battle fast that we commemorate every year before Purim. In honor of the Purim heroine, the fast is called “Taanit Esther.”


The halachot (laws) of Taanit Esther:


1) The fast begins at dawn (“Alot Hashachar”) and ends after nightfall (“Tzais Hakochavim”).


2) No eating or drinking is permitted. Though other aspects - like wearing shoes and washing - are permitted.


3) Since this is not a major fast, pregnant or nursing women are exempt from the fast, as are moderately ill people. If one is otherwise healthy but has a headache and finds it difficult to fast, he may eat, but is obligated to “make up” the fast another time. In all cases, a competent Rabbi must be consulted.


4) If the 13th falls on Shabbat, we don’t fast that day, due to the honor of Shabbat. The fast is not even held on Friday, since this would adversely affect Shabbat preparations. Rather, we observe the fast on Thursday, the 11th of Adar.


5) It is customary to extend the fast until after the Megillah is read. (Except in walled cities, where the Megillah is read on the night of the 15th.)


6) During Mincha, the paragraph of “Aneinu” is added to the silent Amidah, during the blessing of “Shema Koleinu.” In both Shacharit and Mincha, the chazzan inserts “Aneinu” as a separate blessing between “Geulah” and “Refuah.”


7) As on other public fasts, the Torah reading of “Vayechal Moshe” (Exodus 32:11-14, 34:1-10) is read both at Shacharit and Mincha.


8) If a Brit Milah (circumcision) falls on Taanit Esther, all guests may eat from the Seudat Mitzva. The father, mother, and Sandek need not make up the fast, but other guests must make up the fast.


9) “Avinu Malkeinu” is said only in Shacharit, but not in Mincha. (An exception is if Purim falls on Sunday and the fast is observed on Thursday, then “Avinu Malkeinu” is in fact said in Mincha.)


The custom of wearing costumes.


The custom of wearing costumes is generally not observed among the Sephardim.


When someone is dressed up in a costume or mask, his identity is concealed. Rich or poor, smart or average, pretty or homely, we no longer perceive the physical, economic, or intellectual differences that often separate us. Yes, one costume is expensive, another more original, and there are hundreds of Queen Esthers. But it’s obvious that these are just externals. They aren’t the person inside the costume. On a very basic level, when we dress up on Purim our superficial differences are, for the moment, concealed. In the Megillat Esther, HaShem is concealed. The commentators point out that many Jews, though they attended Achashverosh’s feast, did so as only an exterior display of support for the King. They didn’t really endorse the “feast of Jewish defeat,” they just gave the appearance. As a measure-for-measure punishment, HaShem gave these Jews a tremendous scare through Haman’s plot. HaShem “didn’t really mean it,” He just gave the appearance. This is one of the reasons why we wear masks and costumes on Purim – in keeping with the theme of “external appearance.”


Drinking wine


One is obligated to drink until he can no longer distinguish between “Arur Haman” and “Baruch Mordechai.”


However, one should not become so drunk that he will be negligent in performing mitzvot – e.g. Netilat Yadayim (washing hands before bread), saying the blessings of “HaMotzi” and Grace After Meals, and praying Mincha and Maariv. It is improper to say Grace After Meals or pray if a person is so drunk that he is “unfit to stand before the King.”


In contrast to the approach taken by the Palestinian sources, the Talmud records the famous dictum of the noted sage Rava[48]: “A man is obligated to get drunk on Purim to the point where he can no longer distinguish between Cursed is Haman’ and `Blessed is Mordecai.’“


Later authorities had trouble accepting the ruling at face value. For an arch-rationalist like Maimonides it was unimaginable that the halachah could be condoning such actions; hence he reinterpreted the ruling to refer to drinking only enough to fall asleep. Some authorities understood that the statement was rejected by the Talmud, a view which it indicates by juxtaposing to it an incident wherein Rabbah slaughters Rabbi Zera while under the influence (Rabbah is able to revive his colleague, though the latter politely refuses an invitation to the next year’s festivities).[49]


L. Sending gifts to the poor (Matanos L’Evyonim)Another commandment incumbent upon us is Matanos L’Evyonim,” gifts to the poor. As by Shalach manot, this commandment has to be done on Purim day. This means that the money has to be distributed to the poor on Purim, and therefore, if one gives money to someone on or before Purim to distribute to the poor, they should be sure that the money will be distributed to the poor on Purim. Matanos L’Evyonim can be done with either money or food. The accepted minimum amount is the cost of one inexpensive meal (approx. US$2.00). One has to give to two poor people this amount. The Chafetz Chayim quotes the Rambam who says that it is better to give more gifts to the poor than it is to have a bigger Seudah or give more Shalach Manot. The reason for this is that the biggest joy on Purim is gladdening the hearts of the poor. There is beautiful a custom before reading the Megillah in shul, to contribute three half-dollar coins (or their equivalent) to charity. This symbolizes the half-shekel which every Jew used to give as dues to the Temple in Jerusalem[50]. The commentators ask: Why does the Torah specify a half-shekel instead of a whole? The answer is that by giving a half, each Jew realizes that he’ll never become a “complete” shekel unless he becomes part of the larger community. Furthermore, the halacha states that everyone – rich or poor – was to give no more and no less than a half-shekel. This is to teach that every Jew is equally important to our mission. Just as removing one letter invalidates a Torah Scroll, so too the loss of one Jew hinders our destiny. Sometimes it is through our enemies that we come to realize: Every Jew is precious and integral to the future of our nation. The Talmud says that the biggest problem of the Jewish People at the time of Mordechai and Esther was a lack of unity. It was the wicked Haman who reminded us that we stand together as one people: In plotting genocide, he referred to the Jewish People as “Am Echad” — and planned that they should literally “hang together.” In modern times as well, we’ve seen that the anti-Semite doesn’t distinguish between assimilated and Chasidic Jews. It is particularly meritorious to send to someone you need to make up with. Just as we would never consider distancing ourselves from a good friend based on our disagreements, so too we should never consider distancing ourselves from any Jew (or group of Jews) based on our differences. In fact, the Talmud says that the antithesis of evil in this world - Amalek - was born out of a Jewish refusal to accept others lovingly. Haman is a direct descendent and spiritual heir to Amalek. The Talmud says that “Kol Yisrael Araivim” - each Jew is responsible one for the other. If the boat is sinking, we’re all going down. But when there is love and unity amongst us, even the wrongdoers become righteous and our enemies cannot harm us! For this reason, on Purim we give charity to anyone who asks, without investigating the validity of their need. (In contrast to the rest of the year, when we are obligated to ensure that our Tzedakah money is being disbursed most properly.[51]) On Purim, every Jew is worthy without question. HaShem treats us as we treat others. On Purim, if we give others the “benefit of the doubt” and don’t check their worthiness, then HaShem doesn’t “check for worthiness” either. Purim, therefore, is an auspicious time to ask - for closeness, unity and a speedy redemption for the Jewish People.


XVI.  Purim Events


Before the outbreak of the Gulf War, the Rebbe stated, and repeated these statements throughout the war, that Israel is the safest place in the world based on HaShem’s promise that He is constantly watching the Holy Land. During and after the war, people everywhere agreed that the failed attempts of the SCUDs to destroy Jewish life was nothing less than miraculous. The war officially ended on Purim.


In the haggada, on the second night of Passover, we read of some Purim related events that occurred on the second night of Passover:


It came to pass at midnight


He who caroused from the holy vessels (Belshazzar) was slain on that same night.


From the lions’ den was rescued he who interpreted the meaning of the terrors of the night.


Haman bore hatred in his heart and wrote proscriptions at night.


In the Triennial Torah Lectionary


Torah:             Vayiqra (Lev.) 16:1-34

Ashlamatah:   Isaiah 6:1-8 + 8:10-11

Psalms:           Psalm 80:1-20


Our Torah portion speaks of Yom Kippurim and the service of the High Priest. Yom HaKipurrim, according to our sages, can be divided as Yom Ki Purim: A Day like Purim. We are reading this on Shushan Purim katan, in 5774. In the bimodal Torah readings, we read this on the first Sabbath after Yom Kipurim and the high Holy days. In a non-leap year we read this on the Shabbat closest to Purim. However, 5774 is a leap year[52] so we are reading it on Purim katan II. Our Ashlamata speaks of Yom Kipurim as it takes place in the ‘upper’ Temple in heaven. Thus we have connections between the time of the year and the Torah, the Ashlamata, and the Psalm.


XVII.  Purim Katan (Little Purim)


The day of Purim Katan (the 14th of Adar I) should be viewed as a precious guest. In the 19-year cycle of regular years and leap years we have 19 Purims, but only 7 Purim Katans, according to our calendar.


Purim Katan” is also called the “fourteenth of the first Adar” in the Gemara. Therefore, when we choose to use the term “Purim Katan,” we are emphasizing that it has an aspect in which it is “smaller” than Purim.


In the case of Purim the following day is Shushan Purim, and in the case of Purim Katan it is Shushan Purim Katan.


Purim Kattan is a microcosm of the larger Purim. It comes exactly 30 days before the “big” Purim and serves as an official reminder that it is time to begin preparing ourselves for the upcoming holiday. In essence, we have 30 extra days to put ourselves in the holiday spirit.


There is a strong connection between Purim and Purim Kattan. As the Mishna teaches:


Megillah 6b ‘There is no difference between the fourteenth of the first Adar and the fourteenth of the second Adar save in the matter of reading the Megillah and gifts to the poor’.


In all other matters it would appear that both Purims are the same, with Purim Katan retaining the quality of being first!


It is customary to recognize the 14th of Adar I as “Purim Katan“. This is done by making meals of a festive nature, not delivering eulogies and not fasting.


* * *


 “All prophetic books and the sacred writings will cease (to be recited) during the Messianic era, except the Book of Esther. It will continue to exist, just as the Five Books of the Torah and the Oral Torah that will never cease.” (Rambam, Megillah 2:18)


“All the holidays will cease except Purim, as it says: And its memory will not cease from their descendants” (Esther 9:28) (Midrash, Yalkut Shimoni, Mishlei 9)


* * *


This study was written by

Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David

(Greg Killian).

Comments may be submitted to:


Rabbi Dr. Greg Killian

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[1] Talmud - Berachoth 33b


[2] It would not be called cutting at all.

[3] Why then should it be repeated in the present Mishnah?

[4] Does he not accept the force of this argument?

[5] Not merely permitted.

[6] Deut. XVI, 8.

[7] Num. XXIX, 35.

[8] Rashi 5:1

[9] p. 155 sefer Bnei Issachar teachings of Rebbe Tzvi Elimeilech of Dinov.

[10] Ibid. III, 11. Heb. המן The first word can be read as Haman, and the second can refer to the tree or gallows upon which Haman was hanged; cf. Esther 7:10.

[11] Devarim (Deuteronomy) 31:18. The second word is very like the name Esther, both in spelling and in sound. The verse in general foretells the many evils and troubles that shall befall Israel when they forsake the ways of God, and this was the case at the time of Esther, cf. Meg. 12a.

[12] Shemot (Exodus) 30:23

[13] The aramaic translation of Onkelos renders the Hebrew by xxxx, which words both in spelling and in sound resemble: Mordecai.

[14] Chullin 139b

[15] Haman was an Agagite who was a descendant of Amalek.

[16] Bechorot 5b

[17] Rashi

[18] Bamidbar 21:1

[19] Rashi

[20] Shemot (Exodus) 30:23

[21] Megillat 10b

[22] Most of this study comes from “The ArtScroll Tanach Series”, “The Megillath - The Book of Esther

[23] The Nazarean Codicil is a more accurate way of describing the collection of oral Torah known commonly as the New Testament.

[24] Which he held in the reigns of Belshazar, Darius and Cyrus.

[25] Shabbat 88a

[26] Talmud, Megillah 15b

[27] Sanhedrin 20b

[28] See also Maimonides, Laws of the Temple 6:11

[29] From Mesorah Publications, Esther.

[30] Midrash Rabbah - Esther IX:2 Another explanation: NOW IT CAME TO PASS ON THE THIRD DAY, Israel are never left in dire distress more than three days. For so of Abraham it is written, On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off (ib. XXII, 4). Of Jacob’s sons we read, And he put them all together into ward three days (ib. XLII, 17). Of Jonah it says,  And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights (Jonah II, 1). The dead also will come to life only after three days,4 as it says,  On the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His presence (Hos. VI, 2). This miracle also [of Mordecai and Esther] was performed after three days of their fasting, as it is written, Now IT CAME TO PASS ON THE THIRD DAY, THAT ESTHER PUT ON HER ROYAL APPAREL, and she sent and invited Haman to the banquet on the fifteenth of Nisan.

Rashi also indicates that the third day of the fast was the first day of Pesach.

[31] From Luke 6:1

Strong’s number 1207 deuteroprotos, dyoo-ter-op’-ro-tos; from 1208 and 4413; second-first, i.e. (spec.) a designation of the Sabbath immediately after the Paschal week (being the second after Passover day, and the first of the seven Sabbaths intervening before Pentecost):-second...after the first.


[32] Ezekiel

[33] Yaaros Devash

[34] Esther 3:9

[35] Megillah 13b

[36] Esther. II, 5.

[37] Targum 5:1; Targum Sheni 3:1

[38] Megillat Ester 9:1

[39] Megillat 13b, Ester Rabba 7:14

[40] Megillah 16a, see Rashi s.v.

[41] Midrash Mishlei 9:2.

[42] Sefer HaMaamarim 5626, p. 34

[43] Aish HaTorah’s Calendar Series

[44] Devarim - Deuteronomy 25:17-19

[45] submitted by the Pedagogical Center, Kiryat Moriah, Department of Education, WZO.


[46] Megillah 4:16

[47] Exodus 17:10

[48] Megillat 7b

[49] Davidson, Parody in Jewish Literature, New York 1907.

[50] see Exodus 30:11-16

[51] See Jerusalem Talmud, Megillah 4:1

[52] In seven out of nineteen years we add an additional month as part of the month of Adar. This means that in a leap year Adar is 60 days long instead of the normal 29 and a half days. In a leap year, Purim is pushed to the second Adar so that it is always 30 days before Passover.