Parshas Vayakheil 5757 - 1997

Outline # 26

Chodshei Hashanah Following the Weekly Parsha

by Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein

Lessons from Megilas Esther

In Megilas Esther (the Scroll of Esther), Haman convinces the King to destroy the Jews. Finally, the beloved queen reveals that the decree involves herself and her own people; the king angrily turns against Haman.

The book Manos Halevi was written by the holy author of L'chah Dodi (recited before the Shabbos prayers). Manos Halevi cites other commentaries which declare that the king, Achashveros, did not know that his decree was meant for the Jews. Haman had only described a people, but did not mention the name of the people. When Esther revealed that the decree was against the Jews, her own people, he became angry. (The opinion of Akeidas Yitzchak)

The author of Manos Halevi disagreed with this explanation, and referred to numerous statements from the Medrash, which indicate that Achashveros agreed to destroy the Jews.

Still, the verses of the Megilah seem to imply the first explanation. When Esther pointed an accusing finger at Haman -- in the presence of the King -- why didn't Haman answer, "Your Majesty, the King himself agreed with the decree!" Since Haman did not answer in such a manner, the indication is that the king had been tricked into making a decree which he had not understood.

The Manos Halevi answered this argument, as well. The king's first wife, Vashti, had been executed. The advisor who suggested her execution was Memuchan, whom the Rabbis say was none other than Haman. Esther spoke to the king with wisdom: "Haman, who had Queen Vashti killed, now wants me, your new queen, killed as well!" This left Haman speechless.

Of course, Haman did not mean to kill Queen Esther, but the argument was a strong one. The truth of the statement -- that the result of Haman's decree would result in the queen's death -- is interesting. The irony is that Haman had a queen killed, and, in the end, was killed due to a queen.

Accusations Reversed

The Talmud states: No one knew how to slander like Haman (Megilah 13b). One who begins rumors is himself blemished. (Kidushin 70a)

As everyone probably knows, US President Richard Nixon fell from power after becoming embroiled in scandal. How many recall that he first rose to national prominence because of a scandal -- the Alger Hiss affair, during the McCarthy era? There are many similar examples that come to mind, in which the accuser becomes the accused...

The Rambam in Hilchos Deos (6:4) discusses how people should act in regard to others. Because we are commanded to love one another, we should only speak in praise of other people. One who makes himself great by shaming others has no share in the world to come...

We do not mean to say that justice should not be pursued; our world, however, has become so shallow, that scandal and sensationalism are the order of the day... every day. Recently, the Israeli Police, together with several other agencies, issued a plea. The request was made that the media, and the public, refrain from jumping to conclusions -- because people are innocent until proven guilty. That the police joined in such a request is amazing.

The Rabbis of the Talmud advise exercising caution when praising people; once someone is praised, accusers tend to speak up. That was in the Talmudic times. Today, the situation is such, that we cannot quote any contemporary by name, even to a private audience. The very mention of a name is likely to bring up some unpleasant comment. Quoting Torah in the name of the speaker -- says the Talmud -- brings redemption to the world (Avos 5:6). So often today, it will bring about a debate -- not regarding the topic, but as to whether the author of the quote had the credentials to state an opinion.

Chodshei Hashanah (Part Fifteen)

Adar Sheni -- The Second Month of Adar (Based on the work Chodesh B'chodsho, p. 116)

The Jewish Leap Year has thirteen months, while an ordinary year has twelve months. There is a hidden connection between the twelve months, and the twelve tribes -- the twelve sons of Yaakov/Yisrael (Jacob/Israel). If so, what is the significance of thirteen months?

Yoseif (Joseph) was of such vital importance to the family that he is sometimes thought of as a tribe, sometimes as one of the Fathers. The word "Yoseif" comes from the root "to add," "to be extra." Yaakov's blessing to Yoseif was that Yoseif's own sons would be counted as Yaakov's sons, as tribes themselves (Beraishis [Genesis] 48:5). Yoseif is the one who has added to the tribes, and he himself disappears, converting into a patriarch -- a father of tribes.

The two tribes emanating from Yoseif make thirteen. Thus, an ordinary year corresponds to the twelve original sons; the leap year, to thirteen tribes, counting the added sons of Yoseif. (Sefas Emes, Beis Yisrael).

Good fortune comes to the Jewish People during Adar (Talmud, Ta'anis 29b). Evil forces have no effect on someone born during the Second Month of Adar, for no sign of the zodiac corresponds to the thirteenth month. Thus, the Second of Adar is essential to Israel and its faith, for it is said: Ein Mazal B'yisrael -- Israel is not bound by the astrological signs (or by scientific laws of determinism). (Chidah)

The miracle of Purim occurred during the Second Adar (Talmud Yerushalmi Megilah, chapter 1, halachah five).

Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
PC Kollel
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Spring Valley, NY 10977
Phone: 914-425-3565
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Good Shabbos!

Text Copyright © 1997 Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein and Project Genesis, Inc.



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