Thursday, March 16, 2006

Purim Points to Ponder

Some random thoughts that occurred to me while listening to the megillah reading.

1. וּמַלְכוּתָהּ יִתֵּן הַמֶּלֶךְ, לִרְעוּתָהּ הַטּוֹבָה מִמֶּנָּה
Cool. Isn't that very similar to the words used by Shmuel to tell Shaul that he will be losing the kingship. I wonder what the significance of that is.

2. וְהַנַּעֲרָה יְפַת-תֹּאַר, וְטוֹבַת מַרְאֶה
How can the opinion that holds that Esther was really quite ugly possibly translate these words.

3. וְכָל-עַבְדֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲשֶׁר-בְּשַׁעַר הַמֶּלֶךְ, כֹּרְעִים וּמִשְׁתַּחֲוִים לְהָמָן--כִּי-כֵן, צִוָּה-לוֹ הַמֶּלֶךְ; וּמָרְדֳּכַי--לֹא יִכְרַע, וְלֹא יִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה.
Shouldn't Achashveirosh punish Mordechai for ignoring his decrees. Wasn't Vashti killed for ignoring the king's decree? Why was Haman the only one that was mad about this?

4. כִּי אִם-הַחֲרֵשׁ תַּחֲרִישִׁי, בָּעֵת הַזֹּאת--רֶוַח וְהַצָּלָה יַעֲמוֹד לַיְּהוּדִים מִמָּקוֹם אַחֵר, וְאַתְּ וּבֵית-אָבִיךְ תֹּאבֵדוּ
What was Mordechai trying to get at with his stress on וּבֵית-אָבִיךְ ? (more on this point later.)

5. וּבְכֵן אָבוֹא אֶל-הַמֶּלֶךְ, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-כַדָּת, וְכַאֲשֶׁר אָבַדְתִּי, אָבָדְתִּי.
I always recall, at this point, the pshat that I once saw regarding the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur davening. The four paragraphs that begin with the word וּבְכֵן are based on this pasuk, as if to say I know that I am not worthy of asking for all that I am asking for but I will still come before the King אֲשֶׁר לֹא-כַדָּת .

6. אִם-מָצָאתִי חֵן בְּעֵינֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ, וְאִם-עַל-הַמֶּלֶךְ טוֹב, לָתֵת אֶת-שְׁאֵלָתִי, וְלַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת-בַּקָּשָׁתִי--יָבוֹא הַמֶּלֶךְ וְהָמָן, אֶל-הַמִּשְׁתֶּה אֲשֶׁר אֶעֱשֶׂה לָהֶם, וּמָחָר אֶעֱשֶׂה, כִּדְבַר הַמֶּלֶךְ
Why didn't Esther speak her mind at this first party? Why did she wait until the next day? Ibn Ezra(I think) says that she was waiting to see some confirmation that this was the correct way to go. When she didn't, she chose to delay any action. The next day, after Haman was degraded by having to lead Mordechai through the city, Esther interpreted that as a message that the time was ripe to proceed.