This is a Dvar Torah that originally appeared a booklet full of Divrei Torah that my friend collated. She sends out a weekly Parsha Dvar Torah as well. If you’re interested in joining the email list, let me know.
The themes that stand out in this chapter are power and ambition and the Megillah guides us as to how we should act when wanting to increase and accept power.
Haman approaches King Achashverosh in the middle of the night to talk to him about the gallows he had made for Mordechai. However, Achashverosh asks him
, מַה-לַּעֲשׂוֹת בָּאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר הַמֶּלֶךְ חָפֵץ בִּיקָרוֹ;
What should be done to the man who the king wishes to honour
According to the Malbim, Achashversosh is intentionally vague and merely says “the man”, guessing that Haman would assume the King was referring to him. Achashverosh’s instinct was correct as the verse continues with Haman’s inner thoughts
וַיֹּאמֶר הָמָן, בְּלִבּוֹ, לְמִי יַחְפֹּץ הַמֶּלֶךְ לַעֲשׂוֹת יְקָר, יוֹתֵר מִמֶּנִּי
Now Haman said in his heart: ‘Whom would the king delight to honour besides myself?’—
Haman proceeds to divulge his deepest aspirations and desires. He wishes to wear the king’s clothing, ride the king’s horse, be paraded through the streets and even wear the King’s crown. According to the Targum Sheini, Haman’s proposal proves that Haman hoped that in the future he would become the king and as a result of that, Achashverosh decided to cut him down to size by making him organise Mordechai’s parade of honour.
After Mordeachai’s parade of honour, we are assured that the status quo is now just and fair. Mordechai is honoured and Haman is disgraced. The hero is recognised and the villain discredited.
וַיָּשָׁב מָרְדֳּכַי, אֶל-שַׁעַר הַמֶּלֶךְ; וְהָמָן נִדְחַף אֶל-בֵּיתוֹ, אָבֵל וַחֲפוּי רֹאשׁ
And Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman hurried to his house, mourning and having his head covered.
Malbim explains that Mordechai not only returned to the king’s gate, but to the position of honour he deserved, whereas Haman went home in disgrace. Haman’s disgrace is iterated by his wife Zeresh and his advisors who claim
וַיֹּאמְרוּ לוֹ חֲכָמָיו וְזֶרֶשׁ אִשְׁתּוֹ, אִם מִזֶּרַע הַיְּהוּדִים מָרְדֳּכַי אֲשֶׁר הַחִלּוֹתָ לִנְפֹּל לְפָנָיו לֹא-תוּכַל לוֹ—כִּי-נָפוֹל תִּפּוֹל, לְפָנָיו.
‘Since Mordechai is of Jewish descent, once you’re begun to fall before him, you’ll never over come him; but continue falling before him’
Haman’s downfall was not caused just because Mordechai was of Jewish descent, Haman’s pride and arrogant behaviour also contributed his downfall. The idea of arrogance causing destruction is found in Mishlei.
לִפְנֵי שֶׁבֶר גָּאוֹן וְלִפְנֵי כִשָּׁלוֹן גֹּבַהּ רוּחַ,:
Before destruction comes pride, and before stumbling [comes] a haughty spirit.
It was Haman’s haughtiness that caused him to hate the Jews and Mordechai, eventually leading to his own death. Haman could not simply accept that the Jews and Mordechai did not bow to him like all the other people in Shushan did. He could not accept the fact that the Jews looked to God as the ultimate authority, rather than man. Haman was not able to swallow his pride and accept beliefs different to his own. Rather, he was consumed by his hatred and became obsessed with plotting Mordechai’s death and the genocide of the Jews. It must be remembered that Haman was already second in command in Perisa, he had achieved greatness and accumulated power, but it was not enough for him. He wanted more. It was this attitude that led to his downfall.
In contrast to Haman is Mordechai, who is simply described as “Mordechai the Jew”. Not much is said about him in the text, but it appears that his aim in his life is to follow the word God. He does good where he can, saving the King from Bigtan and Teresh’s assassination plot and does not complain that he was not honoured or recognised for his efforts. When he is honoured he does not ask for more or reject it, he simply accepts it. It is Mordechai that eventually becomes the viceroy when Haman is hanged. He accepts the position and performs the job to the best of his ability, advocating his people along the way. In the closing of the Megillah we read
כִּי מָרְדֳּכַי הַיְּהוּדִי, מִשְׁנֶה לַמֶּלֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ, וְגָדוֹל לַיְּהוּדִים, וְרָצוּי לְרֹב אֶחָיו—דֹּרֵשׁ טוֹב לְעַמּוֹ, וְדֹבֵר שָׁלוֹם לְכָל-זַרְעוֹ.
For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren; seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his seed.
Mordechai continues to be addressed by the same title “Mordechai the Jew” throughout the entire Megillah. While Mordechai’s position may have changed, he remained the same person. He did not become arrogant as a result of his promotion and he continued to seek and speak peace.
Ambition is not bad. It is important to be motivated and to try and achieve a goal. However, we must ensure that we do not allow ourselves to be consumed by our pride and become arrogant along our path. Furthermore, when we are presented with opportunities we should not reject them, rather accept them with humility and grace. Like Shakespeare wrote in the Twelfth Night “be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em”. Mordechai proves that power is not an inherently corruptive force or something to be afraid of, we must try to emulate him and remain the same person we always were, accept our greatness and do not expect more.
This Parsha discusses the final 3 of the 10 plagues and the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. The Parsha also makes numerous references to the Land of Israel.
. וְהָיָה כִּי יְבִאֲךָ יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֶל אֶרֶץ הַכְּנַעֲנִי כַּאֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע לְךָ וְלַאֲבֹתֶיךָ וּנְתָנָהּ לָךְ:
And it will come…
bs”d i will rain fire upon the masses if i hear the term ‘torah jews’ to define certain groups of jews v. other jews one more time.
WE ALL FOLLOW THE TORAH JESUS FUCKING CHRIST
Some follow the whole Torah.
Some pick and chose the bits they like.
There is a difference.
Despite that, it doesn’t mean they’re less Jewish. Religious observance doesn’t really come into the picture of the who is a Jew debate. You’re either Jewish or you’re not.
Also let’s not judge people who aren’t completely shomer Torah umitzvot. None of us are perfect and we do not know other people’s challenges. That’s between them and Hashem.
Just thought the story on this plaque in the shule here was interesting.
וַיֵּשֶׁב יַעֲקֹב בְּאֶרֶץ מְגוּרֵי אָבִיו בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן:
Jacob dwelt in the land of his father’s sojournings, in the land of Canaan.
The first verse of this week’s Parsha uses two words to denote living arrangements - וַיֵּשֶׁב - and he dwelt, and …
Sorry it took me so long to get around to answering this.
I think the most practical definition of Zionism is “originally the re-establishment of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, now the development and protection of the State of Israel.
While this is the most pragmatic definition I don’t feel that it truly expressed my personal feelings towards Zionism and Israel.
I don’t think this definition is adequate in describing the Jewish yearning of 2,000 years to return to Zion. I don’t think it properly describes the significance of Israel in Judaism and to the Jewish people. It doesn’t adequately provide a contrast of how much was destroyed with the Roman Exile - and the amount of hope and belief Jews throughout the ages continued hold. It doesn’t adequately convey the heritage of our homeland, or its Divine nature.
While it is a practical definition - Zionism personally means so much more to me. Maybe it’s because such a concise sentence cannot project my emotions, passion or religious fervour… - maybe it’s not supposed to…
We’ve got a strong desire - Shlock Rock
All of Jewish History in 4 minutes
To my one of my favourite cousins in Jerusalem who gave birth to her third daughter on Friday.
The beautiful baby girl is named Rivkah and fits in perfectly with her two sisters - Rachel and Leah.
May they all grow up to be like the women they were named after.
ישימך אלוקים כשרה רבקה רחל ולאה
After the horrifying Toulouse Massacre that shocked the world earlier this year, senior students in Australia decided that they will not sit back and watch the victims slowly be forgotten. Instead, they initiated a project to ensure they will be remembered by the Jewish world forever. These students have decided the they want to donate a Sefer Torah to the Kotel in memory of the victims of the Toulouse shooting.
However, writing a Sefer Torah costs a lot of money. That’s, where YOU come in!
By pressing the link above, you have the ability to donate money to this project by either buying a letter in the Sefer Torah, buying an entire Parsha, or simply donating an amount of money of your choice. The money you donate will directly contribute to the writing of this special Sefer Torah.
Click the link below to view a video presentation launching this project.
Also, like, the Torah for Toulouse Facebook page, by clicking the link below!