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Today's Daf Yomi

July 23, 2014 | כ״ה בתמוז תשע״ד

  • This month's learning is dedicated by Debbie and Yossi Gevir to Rabbanit Michelle and the Hadran Zoom group for their kindness, support, and care during a medically challenging year.

Megillah 12

תניא נמי הכי ועוד שנה אחרת לבבל ועמד דריוש והשלימה

This is also taught in a baraita, as an indication that the years counted were only partial years: And when Belshazzar was killed, there was still another year left for Babylonia before the reckoning of the seventy years was completed. And then Darius arose and completed it. Although seventy years were previously counted according to Belshazzar’s count, from the exile of Jehoiakim, because the years were only partial, there was still one year left in order to complete those seventy years.

אמר רבא אף דניאל טעה בהאי חושבנא דכתיב בשנת אחת למלכו אני דניאל בינותי בספרים מדקאמר בינותי מכלל דטעה

Rava said: Daniel also erred in this calculation, as it is written: “In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, meditated in the books over the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish for the desolations of Jerusalem seventy years” (Daniel 9:2). From the fact that he said “I meditated,” a term indicating recounting and calculating, it can be inferred that he had previously erred.

מכל מקום קשו קראי אהדדי כתיב מלאות לבבל וכתיב לחרבות ירושלם

The Gemara comments: In any case, the verses contradict each other with regard to how the seventy years should be calculated. In one verse it is written: “After seventy years are accomplished for Babylonia I will remember [efkod] you, and perform My good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place” (Jeremiah 29:10), which indicates that the seventy years should be counted from the Babylonian exile. And in another verse it is written: “That he would accomplish for the desolations of Jerusalem seventy years” (Daniel 9:2), indicating that the seventy years are calculated from the destruction of Jerusalem.

אמר רבא לפקידה בעלמא והיינו דכתיב כה אמר כורש מלך פרס כל ממלכות הארץ נתן לי ה׳ אלהי השמים והוא פקד עלי לבנות לו בית בירושלם

Rava said in response: The seventy years that “are accomplished for Babylonia” were only for being remembered [lifekida], as mentioned in the verse, allowing the Jews to return to Eretz Yisrael but not to build the Temple. And this is as it is written with regard to Cyrus’s proclamation permitting the Jewish people’s return to Eretz Yisrael, in the seventieth year of the Babylonian exile: “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and He has charged [pakad] me to build Him a house in Jerusalem” (Ezra 1:2). The verse makes use of the same root, peh-kuf-dalet, heralding the return to Jerusalem to build the Temple, but not its actual completion.

דרש רב נחמן בר רב חסדא מאי דכתיב כה אמר ה׳ למשיחו לכורש אשר החזקתי בימינו וכי כורש משיח היה אלא אמר ליה הקדוש ברוך הוא למשיח קובל אני לך על כורש אני אמרתי הוא יבנה ביתי ויקבץ גליותי והוא אמר מי בכם מכל עמו ויעל

Apropos its mention of Cyrus, the Gemara states that Rav Naḥman bar Rav Ḥisda interpreted homiletically a verse concerning Cyrus: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Thus says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held” (Isaiah 45:1), which seemingly is referring to Cyrus as God’s anointed? Now was Cyrus God’s anointed one, i.e., the Messiah, that the verse should refer to him in this manner? Rather, the verse should be understood as God speaking to the Messiah with regard to Cyrus: The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to the Messiah: I am complaining to you about Cyrus, who is not acting in accordance with what he is intended to do. I had said: “He shall build My House and gather My exiles” (see Isaiah 45:13), but he did not carry this out. Rather, he said: “Whoever is among you of all His people…let him go up to Jerusalem” (Ezra 1:3). He gave permission to return to Israel, but he did no more than that.

חיל פרס ומדי הפרתמים וכתיב למלכי מדי ופרס אמר רבא אתנויי אתנו בהדדי אי מינן מלכי מינייכו איפרכי ואי מינייכו מלכי מינן איפרכי

§ The Gemara returns to its interpretations of verses in the Megilla. The Megilla mentions that among those invited to the king’s feast were: “The army of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces” (Esther 1:3), and it is written near the conclusion of the Megilla: “In the book of chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia” (Esther 10:2). Why is Persia mentioned first at the beginning of the Megilla, while later in the Megilla, Media is mentioned first? Rava said in response: These two peoples, the Persians and the Medes, stipulated with each other, saying: If the kings will come from us, the ministers will come from you; and if the kings will come from you, the ministers will come from us. Therefore, in reference to kings, Media is mentioned first, whereas in connection with nobles and princes, Persia is given priority.

בהראותו את עושר כבוד מלכותו אמר רבי יוסי בר חנינא מלמד שלבש בגדי כהונה כתיב הכא יקר תפארת גדולתו וכתיב התם לכבוד ולתפארת

The verse states: “When he showed the riches of his glorious [kevod] kingdom and the honor of his majestic [tiferet] greatness” (Esther 1:4). Rabbi Yosei bar Ḥanina said: This teaches that Ahasuerus wore the priestly vestments. Proof for this assertion may be adduced from the fact that the same terms are written with regard to the priestly vestments, as it is written here: “The riches of his glorious [kevod] kingdom and the honor of his majestic [tiferet] greatness.” And it is written there, with regard to the priestly garments: “For glory [kavod] and for majesty [tiferet]” (Exodus 28:2).

ובמלאות הימים האלה וגו׳ רב ושמואל חד אמר מלך פיקח היה וחד אמר מלך טיפש היה מאן דאמר מלך פיקח היה שפיר עבד דקריב רחיקא ברישא דבני מאתיה כל אימת דבעי מפייס להו ומאן דאמר טיפש היה דאיבעי ליה לקרובי בני מאתיה ברישא דאי מרדו ביה הנך הני הוו קיימי שאלו בהדיה

The verse states: “And when these days were fulfilled, the king made a feast for all the people that were present in Shushan the capital” (Esther 1:5). Rav and Shmuel disagreed as to whether this was a wise decision. One said: Ahasuerus arranged a feast for the residents of Shushan, the capital, after the feast for foreign dignitaries that preceded it, as mentioned in the earlier verses, indicating that he was a clever king. And the other one said: It is precisely this that indicates that he was a foolish king. The one who said that this proves that he was a clever king maintains that he acted well when he first brought close those more distant subjects by inviting them to the earlier celebration, as he could appease the residents of his own city whenever he wished. And the one who said that he was foolish maintains that he should have invited the residents of his city first, so that if those faraway subjects rebelled against him, these who lived close by would have stood with him.

שאלו תלמידיו את רבי שמעון בר יוחאי מפני מה נתחייבו שונאיהן של ישראל שבאותו הדור כליה אמר להם אמרו אתם אמרו לו מפני שנהנו מסעודתו של אותו רשע אם כן שבשושן יהרגו שבכל העולם כולו אל יהרגו אמרו לו אמור אתה אמר להם מפני שהשתחוו לצלם

The students of Rabbi Shimon bar Yoḥai asked him: For what reason were the enemies of Jewish people, a euphemism for the Jewish people themselves when exhibiting behavior that is not in their best interests, in that generation deserving of annihilation? He, Rabbi Shimon, said to them: Say the answer to your question yourselves. They said to him: It is because they partook of the feast of that wicked one, Ahasuerus, and they partook there of forbidden foods. Rabbi Shimon responded: If so, those in Shushan should have been killed as punishment, but those in the rest of the world, who did not participate in the feast, should not have been killed. They said to him: Then you say your response to our question. He said to them: It is because they prostrated before the idol that Nebuchadnezzar had made, as is recorded that the entire world bowed down before it, except for Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

אמרו לו וכי משוא פנים יש בדבר אמר להם הם לא עשו אלא לפנים אף הקדוש ברוך הוא לא עשה עמהן אלא לפנים והיינו דכתיב כי לא ענה מלבו

They said to him: But if it is true that they worshipped idols and therefore deserved to be destroyed, why was a miracle performed on their behalf? Is there favoritism expressed by God here? He said to them: They did not really worship the idol, but pretended to do so only for appearance, acting as if they were carrying out the king’s command to bow before the idol. So too, the Holy One, Blessed be He, did not destroy them but did act angry with them only for appearance. He too merely pretended to desire to destroy them, as all He did was issue a threat, but in the end the decree was annulled. And this is as it is written: “For He does not afflict from His heart willingly” (Lamentations 3:33), but only for appearances’ sake.

בחצר גנת ביתן המלך רב ושמואל חד אמר הראוי לחצר לחצר הראוי לגינה לגינה הראוי לביתן לביתן וחד אמר הושיבן בחצר ולא החזיקתן בגינה ולא החזיקתן עד שהכניסן לביתן והחזיקתן במתניתא תנא הושיבן בחצר ופתח להם שני פתחים אחד לגינה ואחד לביתן

The verse states: “In the court of the garden of the king’s palace” (Esther 1:5). Rav and Shmuel disagreed with regard to how to understand the relationship between these three places: Court, garden, and palace: One said: The guests were received in different places. One who, according to his stature, was fit for the courtyard was brought to the courtyard; one who was fit for the garden was brought to the garden; and one who was fit for the palace was brought to the palace. And the other one said: He first sat them in the courtyard, but it did not hold them, as they were too numerous. He then sat them in the garden, but it did not hold them either, until he brought them into the palace and it held them. A third understanding was taught in a baraita: He sat them in the courtyard and opened two entranceways for them, one to the garden and one to the palace.

חור כרפס ותכלת מאי חור רב אמר חרי חרי ושמואל אמר מילת לבנה הציע להם כרפס אמר רבי יוסי בר חנינא כרים של פסים

The verse states: “There were hangings of ḥur, karpas, and sky blue” (Esther 1:6). The Gemara asks: What is ḥur? Rav said: A fabric fashioned with many holes [ḥarei ḥarei], similar to lace. And Shmuel said: He spread out for them carpets of white wool, as the word ḥavar means white. And what is karpas? Rabbi Yosei bar Ḥanina said: Cushions [karim] of velvet [pasim].

על גלילי כסף ועמודי שש מטות זהב וכסף תניא רבי יהודה אומר הראוי לכסף לכסף הראוי לזהב לזהב אמר לו רבי נחמיה אם כן אתה מטיל קנאה בסעודה אלא הם של כסף ורגליהן של זהב

The verse states: “On silver rods and pillars of marble; the couches were of gold and silver” (Esther 1:6). It is taught in a baraita: Rabbi Yehuda says: Some couches were of gold and others of silver. One who, according to his stature, was fit for silver sat on a couch of silver, and one who was fit for gold sat on one of gold. Rabbi Neḥemya said to him: This was not done. If so, you would cast jealousy into the feast, for the guests would be envious of each other. Rather, the couches themselves were made of silver, and their feet were made of gold.

בהט ושש אמר רבי אסי אבנים שמתחוטטות על בעליהן וכן הוא אומר אבני נזר מתנוססות על אדמתו

The verse continues: “Upon a pavement of bahat and marble” (Esther 1:6). Rabbi Asi said with regard to the definition of bahat: These are stones that ingratiate themselves with their owners, as they are precious stones that people are willing to spend large amounts of money to acquire. And similarly, it states elsewhere that the Jewish people will be likened to precious stones: “And the Lord their God shall save them in that day as the flock of His people; for they shall be as “the stones of a crown, glittering over His land” (Zechariah 9:16).

ודר וסוחרת רב אמר דרי דרי ושמואל אמר אבן טובה יש בכרכי הים ודרה שמה הושיבה באמצע סעודה ומאירה להם כצהרים דבי רבי ישמעאל תנא שקרא דרור לכל בעלי סחורה

The verse concludes: “And dar and soḥaret” (Esther 1:6). Rav said: Dar means many rows [darei darei] around. Similarly, soḥaret is derived from seḥor seḥor, around and around, meaning that the floor was surrounded with numerous rows of bahat and marble stones. And Shmuel said: There is a precious stone in the seaports, and its name is dara, and Ahasuerus placed it in the center of the feast, and it illuminated the festivities for them as the sun illuminates the world at midday. He explains that the word soḥaret is derived from tzohar, a light. A scholar from the school of Rabbi Yishmael taught a baraita: This means that he proclaimed a remission for all the merchants, absolving them from paying their taxes, understanding that the word dar derives from deror, freedom, and soḥaret from soḥer, merchant.

והשקות בכלי זהב וכלים מכלים שונים משונים מיבעי ליה אמר רבא יצתה בת קול ואמרה להם ראשונים כלו מפני כלים ואתם שונים בהם ויין מלכות רב אמר רב מלמד שכל אחד ואחד השקהו יין שגדול הימנו בשנים

The verse states: “And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, the vessels being diverse [shonim] from one another” (Esther 1:7). The Gemara asks: Why does the verse use the term shonim to express that they are different? It should have said the more proper term meshunim. Rava said: A Divine Voice issued forth and said to them: The early ones, referring to Belshazzar and his people, were destroyed because they used these vessels, the vessels of the Temple, and yet you use them again [shonim]? The verse continues: “And royal wine in abundance [rav]” (Esther 1:7). Rav said: This teaches that each and every guest at the feast was poured well-aged wine that was older [rav] than himself in years.

והשתיה כדת (אין אונס) מאי כדת אמר רבי חנן משום רבי מאיר כדת של תורה מה דת של תורה אכילה מרובה משתיה אף סעודתו של אותו רשע אכילה מרובה משתיה

The verse states: “And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel” (Esther 1:8). The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of “according to the law”? Rabbi Ḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Meir: The drinking was according to the law of the Torah. Just as, according to the law of the Torah, with regard to offerings, the food sacrificed on the altar is greater in quantity than the drink, for the wine libation is quantitatively much smaller than the sacrificial offerings it accompanies, so too, at the feast of that wicked man, the food was greater in quantity than the drink.

אין אונס אמר רבי אלעזר מלמד שכל אחד ואחד השקהו מיין מדינתו לעשות כרצון איש ואיש אמר רבא לעשות כרצון מרדכי והמן מרדכי דכתיב איש יהודי המן איש צר ואויב

The verse states: “None did compel” (Esther 1:8). Rabbi Elazar said: This teaches that each and every guest at the feast was poured a drink from wine of his own country, so that he would feel entirely free, as if he were in his home country. The verse continues: “That they should do according to every man’s pleasure” (Esther 1:8). Rava commented on the literal meaning of the verse, which is referring to two men, a man and a man [ish va’ish], and said: The man and man whom they should follow indicates that they should do according to the wishes of Mordecai and Haman. The two of them served as butlers at the feast, and they were in charge of distributing the wine. Why is the verse interpreted in this way? Mordecai is called “man,” as it is written: “There was a certain Jewish man [ish] in Shushan the castle, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair” (Esther 2:5). And Haman is also called man, as it states: “A man [ish] who is an adversary and an enemy, this evil Haman” (Esther 7:6).

גם ושתי המלכה עשתה משתה נשים בית המלכות בית הנשים מיבעי ליה אמר רבא שניהן לדבר עבירה נתכוונו היינו דאמרי אינשי איהו בקרי ואתתיה

The verse states: “Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women, in the royal house, which belonged to King Ahasuerus” (Esther 1:9). The Gemara questions why she held the feast in the royal house, a place of men, rather than in the women’s house, where it should have been. Rava said in response: The two of them had sinful intentions. Ahasuerus wished to fornicate with the women, and Vashti wished to fornicate with the men. This explains the folk saying that people say: He with pumpkins and his wife

בבוציני

with zucchinis, indicating that often a man and his wife engage in similar actions.

ביום השביעי כטוב לב המלך ביין אטו עד השתא לא טב לביה בחמרא אמר רבא יום השביעי שבת היה שישראל אוכלין ושותין מתחילין בדברי תורה ובדברי תשבחות אבל אומות העולם שאוכלין ושותין אין מתחילין אלא בדברי תיפלות

The verse states: “On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine” (Esther 1:10). The Gemara asks: Is that to say that until now his heart was not merry with wine? Did it take seven days for him to achieve merriment? Rava said: The seventh day was Shabbat, when the difference between the Jewish people and the gentiles is most apparent. On Shabbat, when the Jewish people eat and drink, they begin by occupying themselves with words of Torah and words of praise for God. But the nations of the world, when they eat and drink, they begin only with words of licentiousness.

וכן בסעודתו של אותו רשע הללו אומרים מדיות נאות והללו אומרים פרסיות נאות אמר להם אחשורוש כלי שאני משתמש בו אינו לא מדיי ולא פרסי אלא כשדיי רצונכם לראותה אמרו לו אין ובלבד שתהא ערומה

The Gemara continues to detail what occurred at the feast. So too, at the feast of that wicked man, Ahasuerus, when the men began to converse, some said: The Median women are the most beautiful, while others said: The Persian women are the most beautiful. Ahasuerus said to them: The vessel that I use, i.e., my wife, is neither Median nor Persian, but rather Chaldean. Do you wish to see her? They said to him: Yes, provided that she be naked, for we wish to see her without any additional adornments.

שבמדה שאדם מודד בה מודדין לו מלמד שהיתה ושתי הרשעה מביאה בנות ישראל ומפשיטן ערומות ועושה בהן מלאכה בשבת היינו דכתיב אחר הדברים האלה כשוך חמת המלך אחשורוש זכר את ושתי ואת אשר עשתה ואת אשר נגזר עליה כשם שעשתה כך נגזר עליה

The Gemara comments: Vashti was punished in this humiliating way for it is with the measure that a man measures to others that he himself is measured. In other words, God punishes individuals in line with their transgressions, measure for measure. This teaches that the wicked Vashti would take the daughters of Israel, and strip them naked, and make them work on Shabbat. Therefore, it was decreed that she be brought before the king naked, on Shabbat. This is as it is written: “After these things, when the wrath of King Ahasuerus was appeased, he remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her” (Esther 2:1). That is to say, just as she had done with the young Jewish women, so it was decreed upon her.

ותמאן המלכה ושתי מכדי פריצתא הואי דאמר מר שניהן לדבר עבירה נתכוונו מאי טעמא לא אתאי אמר רבי יוסי בר חנינא מלמד שפרחה בה צרעת במתניתא תנא [בא גבריאל ועשה לה זנב]

The verse states: “But the queen Vashti refused to come” (Esther 1:12). The Gemara asks: Since she was immodest, as the Master said above: The two of them had sinful intentions, what is the reason that she did not come? Rabbi Yosei bar Ḥanina said: This teaches that she broke out in leprosy, and therefore she was embarrassed to expose herself publicly. An alternative reason for her embarrassment was taught in a baraita: The angel Gabriel came and fashioned her a tail.

ויקצף המלך מאד אמאי דלקה ביה כולי האי אמר רבא שלחה ליה בר אהורייריה דאבא אבא לקבל אלפא חמרא שתי ולא רוי וההוא גברא אשתטי בחמריה מיד וחמתו בערה בו

The verse continues: “Therefore the king was very wrathful, and his anger burned in him” (Esther 1:12). The Gemara asks: Why did his anger burn in him so greatly merely because she did not wish to come? Rava said: Vashti not only refused to come, but she also sent him a message by way of a messenger: You, son of my father’s stableman [ahuriyyarei]. Belshazzar, my father, drank wine against a thousand men and did not become inebriated, as the verse in Daniel (5:1) testifies about him: “Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand”; and that man, referring euphemistically to Ahasuerus himself, has become senseless from his wine. Due to her audacity, immediately “his anger burned in him” (Esther 1:12).

ויאמר המלך לחכמים מאן חכמים רבנן יודעי העתים שיודעין לעבר שנים ולקבוע חדשים אמר להו דיינוה לי אמרו היכי נעביד נימא ליה קטלה למחר פסיק ליה חמריה ובעי לה מינן נימא ליה שבקה קא מזלזלה במלכותא אמרו לו מיום שחרב בית המקדש וגלינו מארצנו ניטלה עצה ממנו ואין אנו יודעין לדון דיני נפשות זיל לגבי עמון ומואב דיתבי בדוכתייהו כחמרא דיתיב על דורדייה

The following verse states: “Then the king said to the wise men, who knew the times” (Esther 1:13). The Gemara asks: Who are these wise men? These wise men are the Sages of the Jewish people, who are referred to as those “who knew the times,” for they know how to intercalate years and fix the months of the Jewish calendar. Ahasuerus said to them: Judge her for me. The Sages said in their hearts: What should we do? If we say to him: Kill her, tomorrow he will become sober and then come and demand her from us. If we say to him: Let her be, she has scorned royalty, and that cannot be tolerated. Consequently, they decided not to judge the matter, and they said to him as follows: From the day that the Temple was destroyed and we have been exiled from our land, counsel and insight have been removed from us, and we do not know how to judge capital cases, as they are exceptionally difficult. Go to the people of Ammon and Moab, who have remained permanently settled in their places like wine that is settled on its lees, and so their minds are settled as well.

וטעמא אמרו ליה דכתיב שאנן מואב מנעוריו ושוקט הוא אל שמריו ולא הורק מכלי אל כלי ובגולה לא הלך על כן עמד טעמו בו וריחו לא נמר מיד והקרוב אליו כרשנא שתר אדמתא תרשיש

And they provided a good reason when they spoke to him, as they proved that one who is settled retains his reasoning: For it is written: “Moab has been at ease from his youth, and he has settled on his lees, and has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither has he gone into exile; therefore his taste has remained in him, and his scent is not changed” (Jeremiah 48:11). Ahasuerus immediately acted on their advice and asked his advisors, as it is written: “And next to him was Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan” (Esther 1:14).

אמר רבי לוי כל פסוק זה על שום קרבנות נאמר

Rabbi Levi said: This entire verse listing the names of the king’s advisors is stated on account of offerings. Each name alludes to an aspect of the sacrificial service that was unique to the Jewish people, which the ministering angels mentioned as merit for the Jewish people.

כרשנא אמרו מלאכי השרת לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבונו של עולם כלום הקריבו לפניך כרים בני שנה כדרך שהקריבו ישראל לפניך שתר כלום הקריבו לפניך שתי תורין אדמתא כלום בנו לפניך מזבח אדמה תרשיש כלום שימשו לפניך בבגדי כהונה דכתיב בהו תרשיש ושהם וישפה מרס כלום מירסו בדם לפניך מרסנא כלום מירסו במנחות לפניך ממוכן כלום הכינו שלחן לפניך

“Carshena”; the ministering angels said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, did the gentiles ever offer before You lambs [karim] of the first year [shana], as the Jewish people have offered before You? “Shethar”; have they ever offered before You two turtledoves [shetei torim]? “Admatha”; have they ever built before You an altar of earth [adama]? “Tarshish”; have they ever ministered before You in the priestly vestments, as it is written that on the fourth of the four rows of precious stones contained on the breastplate were: “A beryl [tarshish], an onyx, and a jasper” (Exodus 28:20). “Meres”; have they ever stirred [meirsu] the blood of the offerings before You? “Marsena”; have they ever stirred [meirsu] the meal-offering before You? “Memucan”; have they ever prepared [hekhinu] the table before You, on which the shewbread was placed?

ויאמר ממוכן תנא ממוכן זה המן ולמה נקרא שמו ממוכן שמוכן לפורענות אמר רב כהנא מכאן שההדיוט קופץ בראש

The verse states: “And Memucan said” (Esther 1:16). A Sage taught in a baraita: Memucan is Haman. And why is Haman referred to as Memucan? Because he was prepared [mukhan] to bring calamity upon the Jewish people. Rav Kahana said: From here we see that the common man jumps to the front and speaks first, for Memucan was mentioned last of the king’s seven advisors, and nevertheless he expressed his opinion first.

להיות כל איש שורר בביתו אמר רבא אלמלא אגרות הראשונות לא נשתייר משונאיהן של ישראל שריד ופליט

The king sent out letters to the people of all his provinces, in which it was written: “That every man shall wield authority in his own house and speak according to the language of his people” (Esther 1:22). Rava said: Were it not for the first letters sent by Ahasuerus, which everybody discounted, there would not have been left among the enemies of the Jewish people, a euphemism for the Jewish people themselves, a remnant or a refugee. Since these first letters were the subject of ridicule, people didn’t take the king seriously and did not immediately act upon the directive of the later letters, calling for the Jewish people’s destruction.

אמרי מאי האי דשדיר לן להיות כל איש שורר בביתו פשיטא אפילו קרחה בביתיה פרדשכא ליהוי

The Gemara continues. The reason that the first letters were not taken seriously is that they who received them would say: What is this that he has sent us: “That every man shall wield authority in his own house”? This is obvious; even a lowly weaver is commander [paredashekha] in his house. If so, why then did the king find it necessary to make such a proclamation?

ויפקד המלך פקידים אמר רבי מאי דכתיב כל ערום יעשה בדעת וכסיל יפרש אולת

The verse describes Ahasuerus’s search for a new wife by stating: “And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the castle” (Esther 2:3). Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “In everything a prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool unfolds his folly” (Proverbs 13:16)? The verse highlights the difference between two kings’ approaches to finding a wife.

כל ערום יעשה בדעת זה דוד דכתיב ויאמרו לו עבדיו יבקשו לאדני המלך נערה בתולה כל מאן דהוה ליה ברתא אייתה ניהליה וכסיל יפרוש אולת זה אחשורוש דכתיב ויפקד המלך פקידים כל מאן דהוה ליה ברתא איטמרה מיניה

“In everything a prudent man acts with knowledge”; this statement is referring to David, who also sought a wife for himself, as it is written: “And his servants said to him, Let there be sought for my lord the king a young virgin” (I Kings 1:2). Since he sought one maiden, whoever had a daughter brought her to him, for everyone wanted his daughter to be the king’s wife. With regard to the continuation of the verse: “But a fool unfolds his folly” (Proverbs 13:16), this statement is referring to Ahasuerus, as it is written: “And let the king appoint officers” to seek out many maidens. Since it became clear that the king would have relations with all of them, but in the end he would choose only one as his bride, whoever had a daughter hid her from him.

איש יהודי היה בשושן הבירה וגו׳ איש ימיני מאי קאמר אי ליחוסא קאתי ליחסיה ואזיל עד בנימין אלא מאי שנא הני

The verse that initially describes Mordecai states: “There was a certain Jew in Shushan the castle, whose name was Mordecai the son of Jair the son of Shimei the son of Kish, a Benjamite” (Esther 2:5). The Gemara asks: What is it conveying in the verse by saying the names of Mordecai’s ancestors? If the verse in fact comes to trace his ancestry, it should continue tracing his lineage back all the way to Benjamin, the founder of his tribe. Rather, what is different about these names that they deserve special mention?

תנא כולן על שמו נקראו בן יאיר בן שהאיר עיניהם של ישראל בתפלתו בן שמעי בן ששמע אל תפלתו בן קיש שהקיש על שערי רחמים ונפתחו לו

The Gemara answers: A Sage taught the following baraita: All of them are names by which Mordecai was called. He was called “the son of Jair” because he was the son who enlightened [heir] the eyes of all of the Jewish people with his prayers; “the son of Shimei” because he was the son whom God heard [shama] his prayers; “the son of Kish” because he knocked [hikish] on the gates of mercy and they were opened to him.

קרי ליה יהודי אלמא מיהודה קאתי וקרי ליה ימיני אלמא מבנימין קאתי אמר רב נחמן מרדכי מוכתר בנימוסו היה

The Gemara points out a contradiction: Mordecai is referred to as a “Jew [Yehudi],” apparently indicating that he came from the tribe of Judah, but in the continuation of the verse he is called “Benjamite” [Yemini], which indicates that he came from the tribe of Benjamin. Rav Naḥman said: Mordecai was crowned with honorary names. Yehudi is one such honorary epithet, due to its allusion to the royal tribe of Judah, but it is not referring to Mordecai’s tribal affiliation.

אמר רבה בר בר חנה אמר רבי יהושע בן לוי אביו מבנימין ואמו מיהודה ורבנן אמרי משפחות מתגרות זו בזו משפחת יהודה אומרת אנא גרים דמתיליד מרדכי דלא קטליה דוד לשמעי בן גרא ומשפחת בנימין אמרה מינאי קאתי

Rabba bar bar Ḥana said that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said an alternative explanation: Mordecai’s father was from the tribe of Benjamin, and his mother was from the tribe of Judah. Therefore, he was both a Yemini, a Benjamite, and a Yehudi, from the tribe of Judah. And the Rabbis say that the dual lineage is due to a dispute: The families competed with each other over which tribe could take credit for Mordecai. The family of Judah would say: I caused the birth of Mordecai, as only because David did not kill Shimei, the son of Gera, when he cursed him (see II Samuel 16) was it possible for Mordecai to be born later from his descendants. And the family of Benjamin said in response: In the end he came from me, as he in fact was from Benjamin’s tribe.

רבא אמר כנסת ישראל אמרה לאידך גיסא ראו מה עשה לי יהודי ומה שילם לי ימיני מה עשה לי יהודי

Rava said: The Congregation of Israel at the time said this from the opposite perspective, not as a boast, but as a complaint, remarking: See what a Judean has done to me and how a Benjamite has repaid me. What a Judean has done to me is referring to

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Megillah 12

תניא נמי הכי ועוד שנה אחרת לבבל ועמד דריוש והשלימה

This is also taught in a baraita, as an indication that the years counted were only partial years: And when Belshazzar was killed, there was still another year left for Babylonia before the reckoning of the seventy years was completed. And then Darius arose and completed it. Although seventy years were previously counted according to Belshazzar’s count, from the exile of Jehoiakim, because the years were only partial, there was still one year left in order to complete those seventy years.

אמר רבא אף דניאל טעה בהאי חושבנא דכתיב בשנת אחת למלכו אני דניאל בינותי בספרים מדקאמר בינותי מכלל דטעה

Rava said: Daniel also erred in this calculation, as it is written: “In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, meditated in the books over the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish for the desolations of Jerusalem seventy years” (Daniel 9:2). From the fact that he said “I meditated,” a term indicating recounting and calculating, it can be inferred that he had previously erred.

מכל מקום קשו קראי אהדדי כתיב מלאות לבבל וכתיב לחרבות ירושלם

The Gemara comments: In any case, the verses contradict each other with regard to how the seventy years should be calculated. In one verse it is written: “After seventy years are accomplished for Babylonia I will remember [efkod] you, and perform My good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place” (Jeremiah 29:10), which indicates that the seventy years should be counted from the Babylonian exile. And in another verse it is written: “That he would accomplish for the desolations of Jerusalem seventy years” (Daniel 9:2), indicating that the seventy years are calculated from the destruction of Jerusalem.

אמר רבא לפקידה בעלמא והיינו דכתיב כה אמר כורש מלך פרס כל ממלכות הארץ נתן לי ה׳ אלהי השמים והוא פקד עלי לבנות לו בית בירושלם

Rava said in response: The seventy years that “are accomplished for Babylonia” were only for being remembered [lifekida], as mentioned in the verse, allowing the Jews to return to Eretz Yisrael but not to build the Temple. And this is as it is written with regard to Cyrus’s proclamation permitting the Jewish people’s return to Eretz Yisrael, in the seventieth year of the Babylonian exile: “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and He has charged [pakad] me to build Him a house in Jerusalem” (Ezra 1:2). The verse makes use of the same root, peh-kuf-dalet, heralding the return to Jerusalem to build the Temple, but not its actual completion.

דרש רב נחמן בר רב חסדא מאי דכתיב כה אמר ה׳ למשיחו לכורש אשר החזקתי בימינו וכי כורש משיח היה אלא אמר ליה הקדוש ברוך הוא למשיח קובל אני לך על כורש אני אמרתי הוא יבנה ביתי ויקבץ גליותי והוא אמר מי בכם מכל עמו ויעל

Apropos its mention of Cyrus, the Gemara states that Rav Naḥman bar Rav Ḥisda interpreted homiletically a verse concerning Cyrus: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Thus says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held” (Isaiah 45:1), which seemingly is referring to Cyrus as God’s anointed? Now was Cyrus God’s anointed one, i.e., the Messiah, that the verse should refer to him in this manner? Rather, the verse should be understood as God speaking to the Messiah with regard to Cyrus: The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to the Messiah: I am complaining to you about Cyrus, who is not acting in accordance with what he is intended to do. I had said: “He shall build My House and gather My exiles” (see Isaiah 45:13), but he did not carry this out. Rather, he said: “Whoever is among you of all His people…let him go up to Jerusalem” (Ezra 1:3). He gave permission to return to Israel, but he did no more than that.

חיל פרס ומדי הפרתמים וכתיב למלכי מדי ופרס אמר רבא אתנויי אתנו בהדדי אי מינן מלכי מינייכו איפרכי ואי מינייכו מלכי מינן איפרכי

§ The Gemara returns to its interpretations of verses in the Megilla. The Megilla mentions that among those invited to the king’s feast were: “The army of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces” (Esther 1:3), and it is written near the conclusion of the Megilla: “In the book of chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia” (Esther 10:2). Why is Persia mentioned first at the beginning of the Megilla, while later in the Megilla, Media is mentioned first? Rava said in response: These two peoples, the Persians and the Medes, stipulated with each other, saying: If the kings will come from us, the ministers will come from you; and if the kings will come from you, the ministers will come from us. Therefore, in reference to kings, Media is mentioned first, whereas in connection with nobles and princes, Persia is given priority.

בהראותו את עושר כבוד מלכותו אמר רבי יוסי בר חנינא מלמד שלבש בגדי כהונה כתיב הכא יקר תפארת גדולתו וכתיב התם לכבוד ולתפארת

The verse states: “When he showed the riches of his glorious [kevod] kingdom and the honor of his majestic [tiferet] greatness” (Esther 1:4). Rabbi Yosei bar Ḥanina said: This teaches that Ahasuerus wore the priestly vestments. Proof for this assertion may be adduced from the fact that the same terms are written with regard to the priestly vestments, as it is written here: “The riches of his glorious [kevod] kingdom and the honor of his majestic [tiferet] greatness.” And it is written there, with regard to the priestly garments: “For glory [kavod] and for majesty [tiferet]” (Exodus 28:2).

ובמלאות הימים האלה וגו׳ רב ושמואל חד אמר מלך פיקח היה וחד אמר מלך טיפש היה מאן דאמר מלך פיקח היה שפיר עבד דקריב רחיקא ברישא דבני מאתיה כל אימת דבעי מפייס להו ומאן דאמר טיפש היה דאיבעי ליה לקרובי בני מאתיה ברישא דאי מרדו ביה הנך הני הוו קיימי שאלו בהדיה

The verse states: “And when these days were fulfilled, the king made a feast for all the people that were present in Shushan the capital” (Esther 1:5). Rav and Shmuel disagreed as to whether this was a wise decision. One said: Ahasuerus arranged a feast for the residents of Shushan, the capital, after the feast for foreign dignitaries that preceded it, as mentioned in the earlier verses, indicating that he was a clever king. And the other one said: It is precisely this that indicates that he was a foolish king. The one who said that this proves that he was a clever king maintains that he acted well when he first brought close those more distant subjects by inviting them to the earlier celebration, as he could appease the residents of his own city whenever he wished. And the one who said that he was foolish maintains that he should have invited the residents of his city first, so that if those faraway subjects rebelled against him, these who lived close by would have stood with him.

שאלו תלמידיו את רבי שמעון בר יוחאי מפני מה נתחייבו שונאיהן של ישראל שבאותו הדור כליה אמר להם אמרו אתם אמרו לו מפני שנהנו מסעודתו של אותו רשע אם כן שבשושן יהרגו שבכל העולם כולו אל יהרגו אמרו לו אמור אתה אמר להם מפני שהשתחוו לצלם

The students of Rabbi Shimon bar Yoḥai asked him: For what reason were the enemies of Jewish people, a euphemism for the Jewish people themselves when exhibiting behavior that is not in their best interests, in that generation deserving of annihilation? He, Rabbi Shimon, said to them: Say the answer to your question yourselves. They said to him: It is because they partook of the feast of that wicked one, Ahasuerus, and they partook there of forbidden foods. Rabbi Shimon responded: If so, those in Shushan should have been killed as punishment, but those in the rest of the world, who did not participate in the feast, should not have been killed. They said to him: Then you say your response to our question. He said to them: It is because they prostrated before the idol that Nebuchadnezzar had made, as is recorded that the entire world bowed down before it, except for Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

אמרו לו וכי משוא פנים יש בדבר אמר להם הם לא עשו אלא לפנים אף הקדוש ברוך הוא לא עשה עמהן אלא לפנים והיינו דכתיב כי לא ענה מלבו

They said to him: But if it is true that they worshipped idols and therefore deserved to be destroyed, why was a miracle performed on their behalf? Is there favoritism expressed by God here? He said to them: They did not really worship the idol, but pretended to do so only for appearance, acting as if they were carrying out the king’s command to bow before the idol. So too, the Holy One, Blessed be He, did not destroy them but did act angry with them only for appearance. He too merely pretended to desire to destroy them, as all He did was issue a threat, but in the end the decree was annulled. And this is as it is written: “For He does not afflict from His heart willingly” (Lamentations 3:33), but only for appearances’ sake.

בחצר גנת ביתן המלך רב ושמואל חד אמר הראוי לחצר לחצר הראוי לגינה לגינה הראוי לביתן לביתן וחד אמר הושיבן בחצר ולא החזיקתן בגינה ולא החזיקתן עד שהכניסן לביתן והחזיקתן במתניתא תנא הושיבן בחצר ופתח להם שני פתחים אחד לגינה ואחד לביתן

The verse states: “In the court of the garden of the king’s palace” (Esther 1:5). Rav and Shmuel disagreed with regard to how to understand the relationship between these three places: Court, garden, and palace: One said: The guests were received in different places. One who, according to his stature, was fit for the courtyard was brought to the courtyard; one who was fit for the garden was brought to the garden; and one who was fit for the palace was brought to the palace. And the other one said: He first sat them in the courtyard, but it did not hold them, as they were too numerous. He then sat them in the garden, but it did not hold them either, until he brought them into the palace and it held them. A third understanding was taught in a baraita: He sat them in the courtyard and opened two entranceways for them, one to the garden and one to the palace.

חור כרפס ותכלת מאי חור רב אמר חרי חרי ושמואל אמר מילת לבנה הציע להם כרפס אמר רבי יוסי בר חנינא כרים של פסים

The verse states: “There were hangings of ḥur, karpas, and sky blue” (Esther 1:6). The Gemara asks: What is ḥur? Rav said: A fabric fashioned with many holes [ḥarei ḥarei], similar to lace. And Shmuel said: He spread out for them carpets of white wool, as the word ḥavar means white. And what is karpas? Rabbi Yosei bar Ḥanina said: Cushions [karim] of velvet [pasim].

על גלילי כסף ועמודי שש מטות זהב וכסף תניא רבי יהודה אומר הראוי לכסף לכסף הראוי לזהב לזהב אמר לו רבי נחמיה אם כן אתה מטיל קנאה בסעודה אלא הם של כסף ורגליהן של זהב

The verse states: “On silver rods and pillars of marble; the couches were of gold and silver” (Esther 1:6). It is taught in a baraita: Rabbi Yehuda says: Some couches were of gold and others of silver. One who, according to his stature, was fit for silver sat on a couch of silver, and one who was fit for gold sat on one of gold. Rabbi Neḥemya said to him: This was not done. If so, you would cast jealousy into the feast, for the guests would be envious of each other. Rather, the couches themselves were made of silver, and their feet were made of gold.

בהט ושש אמר רבי אסי אבנים שמתחוטטות על בעליהן וכן הוא אומר אבני נזר מתנוססות על אדמתו

The verse continues: “Upon a pavement of bahat and marble” (Esther 1:6). Rabbi Asi said with regard to the definition of bahat: These are stones that ingratiate themselves with their owners, as they are precious stones that people are willing to spend large amounts of money to acquire. And similarly, it states elsewhere that the Jewish people will be likened to precious stones: “And the Lord their God shall save them in that day as the flock of His people; for they shall be as “the stones of a crown, glittering over His land” (Zechariah 9:16).

ודר וסוחרת רב אמר דרי דרי ושמואל אמר אבן טובה יש בכרכי הים ודרה שמה הושיבה באמצע סעודה ומאירה להם כצהרים דבי רבי ישמעאל תנא שקרא דרור לכל בעלי סחורה

The verse concludes: “And dar and soḥaret” (Esther 1:6). Rav said: Dar means many rows [darei darei] around. Similarly, soḥaret is derived from seḥor seḥor, around and around, meaning that the floor was surrounded with numerous rows of bahat and marble stones. And Shmuel said: There is a precious stone in the seaports, and its name is dara, and Ahasuerus placed it in the center of the feast, and it illuminated the festivities for them as the sun illuminates the world at midday. He explains that the word soḥaret is derived from tzohar, a light. A scholar from the school of Rabbi Yishmael taught a baraita: This means that he proclaimed a remission for all the merchants, absolving them from paying their taxes, understanding that the word dar derives from deror, freedom, and soḥaret from soḥer, merchant.

והשקות בכלי זהב וכלים מכלים שונים משונים מיבעי ליה אמר רבא יצתה בת קול ואמרה להם ראשונים כלו מפני כלים ואתם שונים בהם ויין מלכות רב אמר רב מלמד שכל אחד ואחד השקהו יין שגדול הימנו בשנים

The verse states: “And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, the vessels being diverse [shonim] from one another” (Esther 1:7). The Gemara asks: Why does the verse use the term shonim to express that they are different? It should have said the more proper term meshunim. Rava said: A Divine Voice issued forth and said to them: The early ones, referring to Belshazzar and his people, were destroyed because they used these vessels, the vessels of the Temple, and yet you use them again [shonim]? The verse continues: “And royal wine in abundance [rav]” (Esther 1:7). Rav said: This teaches that each and every guest at the feast was poured well-aged wine that was older [rav] than himself in years.

והשתיה כדת (אין אונס) מאי כדת אמר רבי חנן משום רבי מאיר כדת של תורה מה דת של תורה אכילה מרובה משתיה אף סעודתו של אותו רשע אכילה מרובה משתיה

The verse states: “And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel” (Esther 1:8). The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of “according to the law”? Rabbi Ḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Meir: The drinking was according to the law of the Torah. Just as, according to the law of the Torah, with regard to offerings, the food sacrificed on the altar is greater in quantity than the drink, for the wine libation is quantitatively much smaller than the sacrificial offerings it accompanies, so too, at the feast of that wicked man, the food was greater in quantity than the drink.

אין אונס אמר רבי אלעזר מלמד שכל אחד ואחד השקהו מיין מדינתו לעשות כרצון איש ואיש אמר רבא לעשות כרצון מרדכי והמן מרדכי דכתיב איש יהודי המן איש צר ואויב

The verse states: “None did compel” (Esther 1:8). Rabbi Elazar said: This teaches that each and every guest at the feast was poured a drink from wine of his own country, so that he would feel entirely free, as if he were in his home country. The verse continues: “That they should do according to every man’s pleasure” (Esther 1:8). Rava commented on the literal meaning of the verse, which is referring to two men, a man and a man [ish va’ish], and said: The man and man whom they should follow indicates that they should do according to the wishes of Mordecai and Haman. The two of them served as butlers at the feast, and they were in charge of distributing the wine. Why is the verse interpreted in this way? Mordecai is called “man,” as it is written: “There was a certain Jewish man [ish] in Shushan the castle, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair” (Esther 2:5). And Haman is also called man, as it states: “A man [ish] who is an adversary and an enemy, this evil Haman” (Esther 7:6).

גם ושתי המלכה עשתה משתה נשים בית המלכות בית הנשים מיבעי ליה אמר רבא שניהן לדבר עבירה נתכוונו היינו דאמרי אינשי איהו בקרי ואתתיה

The verse states: “Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women, in the royal house, which belonged to King Ahasuerus” (Esther 1:9). The Gemara questions why she held the feast in the royal house, a place of men, rather than in the women’s house, where it should have been. Rava said in response: The two of them had sinful intentions. Ahasuerus wished to fornicate with the women, and Vashti wished to fornicate with the men. This explains the folk saying that people say: He with pumpkins and his wife

בבוציני

with zucchinis, indicating that often a man and his wife engage in similar actions.

ביום השביעי כטוב לב המלך ביין אטו עד השתא לא טב לביה בחמרא אמר רבא יום השביעי שבת היה שישראל אוכלין ושותין מתחילין בדברי תורה ובדברי תשבחות אבל אומות העולם שאוכלין ושותין אין מתחילין אלא בדברי תיפלות

The verse states: “On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine” (Esther 1:10). The Gemara asks: Is that to say that until now his heart was not merry with wine? Did it take seven days for him to achieve merriment? Rava said: The seventh day was Shabbat, when the difference between the Jewish people and the gentiles is most apparent. On Shabbat, when the Jewish people eat and drink, they begin by occupying themselves with words of Torah and words of praise for God. But the nations of the world, when they eat and drink, they begin only with words of licentiousness.

וכן בסעודתו של אותו רשע הללו אומרים מדיות נאות והללו אומרים פרסיות נאות אמר להם אחשורוש כלי שאני משתמש בו אינו לא מדיי ולא פרסי אלא כשדיי רצונכם לראותה אמרו לו אין ובלבד שתהא ערומה

The Gemara continues to detail what occurred at the feast. So too, at the feast of that wicked man, Ahasuerus, when the men began to converse, some said: The Median women are the most beautiful, while others said: The Persian women are the most beautiful. Ahasuerus said to them: The vessel that I use, i.e., my wife, is neither Median nor Persian, but rather Chaldean. Do you wish to see her? They said to him: Yes, provided that she be naked, for we wish to see her without any additional adornments.

שבמדה שאדם מודד בה מודדין לו מלמד שהיתה ושתי הרשעה מביאה בנות ישראל ומפשיטן ערומות ועושה בהן מלאכה בשבת היינו דכתיב אחר הדברים האלה כשוך חמת המלך אחשורוש זכר את ושתי ואת אשר עשתה ואת אשר נגזר עליה כשם שעשתה כך נגזר עליה

The Gemara comments: Vashti was punished in this humiliating way for it is with the measure that a man measures to others that he himself is measured. In other words, God punishes individuals in line with their transgressions, measure for measure. This teaches that the wicked Vashti would take the daughters of Israel, and strip them naked, and make them work on Shabbat. Therefore, it was decreed that she be brought before the king naked, on Shabbat. This is as it is written: “After these things, when the wrath of King Ahasuerus was appeased, he remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her” (Esther 2:1). That is to say, just as she had done with the young Jewish women, so it was decreed upon her.

ותמאן המלכה ושתי מכדי פריצתא הואי דאמר מר שניהן לדבר עבירה נתכוונו מאי טעמא לא אתאי אמר רבי יוסי בר חנינא מלמד שפרחה בה צרעת במתניתא תנא [בא גבריאל ועשה לה זנב]

The verse states: “But the queen Vashti refused to come” (Esther 1:12). The Gemara asks: Since she was immodest, as the Master said above: The two of them had sinful intentions, what is the reason that she did not come? Rabbi Yosei bar Ḥanina said: This teaches that she broke out in leprosy, and therefore she was embarrassed to expose herself publicly. An alternative reason for her embarrassment was taught in a baraita: The angel Gabriel came and fashioned her a tail.

ויקצף המלך מאד אמאי דלקה ביה כולי האי אמר רבא שלחה ליה בר אהורייריה דאבא אבא לקבל אלפא חמרא שתי ולא רוי וההוא גברא אשתטי בחמריה מיד וחמתו בערה בו

The verse continues: “Therefore the king was very wrathful, and his anger burned in him” (Esther 1:12). The Gemara asks: Why did his anger burn in him so greatly merely because she did not wish to come? Rava said: Vashti not only refused to come, but she also sent him a message by way of a messenger: You, son of my father’s stableman [ahuriyyarei]. Belshazzar, my father, drank wine against a thousand men and did not become inebriated, as the verse in Daniel (5:1) testifies about him: “Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand”; and that man, referring euphemistically to Ahasuerus himself, has become senseless from his wine. Due to her audacity, immediately “his anger burned in him” (Esther 1:12).

ויאמר המלך לחכמים מאן חכמים רבנן יודעי העתים שיודעין לעבר שנים ולקבוע חדשים אמר להו דיינוה לי אמרו היכי נעביד נימא ליה קטלה למחר פסיק ליה חמריה ובעי לה מינן נימא ליה שבקה קא מזלזלה במלכותא אמרו לו מיום שחרב בית המקדש וגלינו מארצנו ניטלה עצה ממנו ואין אנו יודעין לדון דיני נפשות זיל לגבי עמון ומואב דיתבי בדוכתייהו כחמרא דיתיב על דורדייה

The following verse states: “Then the king said to the wise men, who knew the times” (Esther 1:13). The Gemara asks: Who are these wise men? These wise men are the Sages of the Jewish people, who are referred to as those “who knew the times,” for they know how to intercalate years and fix the months of the Jewish calendar. Ahasuerus said to them: Judge her for me. The Sages said in their hearts: What should we do? If we say to him: Kill her, tomorrow he will become sober and then come and demand her from us. If we say to him: Let her be, she has scorned royalty, and that cannot be tolerated. Consequently, they decided not to judge the matter, and they said to him as follows: From the day that the Temple was destroyed and we have been exiled from our land, counsel and insight have been removed from us, and we do not know how to judge capital cases, as they are exceptionally difficult. Go to the people of Ammon and Moab, who have remained permanently settled in their places like wine that is settled on its lees, and so their minds are settled as well.

וטעמא אמרו ליה דכתיב שאנן מואב מנעוריו ושוקט הוא אל שמריו ולא הורק מכלי אל כלי ובגולה לא הלך על כן עמד טעמו בו וריחו לא נמר מיד והקרוב אליו כרשנא שתר אדמתא תרשיש

And they provided a good reason when they spoke to him, as they proved that one who is settled retains his reasoning: For it is written: “Moab has been at ease from his youth, and he has settled on his lees, and has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither has he gone into exile; therefore his taste has remained in him, and his scent is not changed” (Jeremiah 48:11). Ahasuerus immediately acted on their advice and asked his advisors, as it is written: “And next to him was Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan” (Esther 1:14).

אמר רבי לוי כל פסוק זה על שום קרבנות נאמר

Rabbi Levi said: This entire verse listing the names of the king’s advisors is stated on account of offerings. Each name alludes to an aspect of the sacrificial service that was unique to the Jewish people, which the ministering angels mentioned as merit for the Jewish people.

כרשנא אמרו מלאכי השרת לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבונו של עולם כלום הקריבו לפניך כרים בני שנה כדרך שהקריבו ישראל לפניך שתר כלום הקריבו לפניך שתי תורין אדמתא כלום בנו לפניך מזבח אדמה תרשיש כלום שימשו לפניך בבגדי כהונה דכתיב בהו תרשיש ושהם וישפה מרס כלום מירסו בדם לפניך מרסנא כלום מירסו במנחות לפניך ממוכן כלום הכינו שלחן לפניך

“Carshena”; the ministering angels said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, did the gentiles ever offer before You lambs [karim] of the first year [shana], as the Jewish people have offered before You? “Shethar”; have they ever offered before You two turtledoves [shetei torim]? “Admatha”; have they ever built before You an altar of earth [adama]? “Tarshish”; have they ever ministered before You in the priestly vestments, as it is written that on the fourth of the four rows of precious stones contained on the breastplate were: “A beryl [tarshish], an onyx, and a jasper” (Exodus 28:20). “Meres”; have they ever stirred [meirsu] the blood of the offerings before You? “Marsena”; have they ever stirred [meirsu] the meal-offering before You? “Memucan”; have they ever prepared [hekhinu] the table before You, on which the shewbread was placed?

ויאמר ממוכן תנא ממוכן זה המן ולמה נקרא שמו ממוכן שמוכן לפורענות אמר רב כהנא מכאן שההדיוט קופץ בראש

The verse states: “And Memucan said” (Esther 1:16). A Sage taught in a baraita: Memucan is Haman. And why is Haman referred to as Memucan? Because he was prepared [mukhan] to bring calamity upon the Jewish people. Rav Kahana said: From here we see that the common man jumps to the front and speaks first, for Memucan was mentioned last of the king’s seven advisors, and nevertheless he expressed his opinion first.

להיות כל איש שורר בביתו אמר רבא אלמלא אגרות הראשונות לא נשתייר משונאיהן של ישראל שריד ופליט

The king sent out letters to the people of all his provinces, in which it was written: “That every man shall wield authority in his own house and speak according to the language of his people” (Esther 1:22). Rava said: Were it not for the first letters sent by Ahasuerus, which everybody discounted, there would not have been left among the enemies of the Jewish people, a euphemism for the Jewish people themselves, a remnant or a refugee. Since these first letters were the subject of ridicule, people didn’t take the king seriously and did not immediately act upon the directive of the later letters, calling for the Jewish people’s destruction.

אמרי מאי האי דשדיר לן להיות כל איש שורר בביתו פשיטא אפילו קרחה בביתיה פרדשכא ליהוי

The Gemara continues. The reason that the first letters were not taken seriously is that they who received them would say: What is this that he has sent us: “That every man shall wield authority in his own house”? This is obvious; even a lowly weaver is commander [paredashekha] in his house. If so, why then did the king find it necessary to make such a proclamation?

ויפקד המלך פקידים אמר רבי מאי דכתיב כל ערום יעשה בדעת וכסיל יפרש אולת

The verse describes Ahasuerus’s search for a new wife by stating: “And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the castle” (Esther 2:3). Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “In everything a prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool unfolds his folly” (Proverbs 13:16)? The verse highlights the difference between two kings’ approaches to finding a wife.

כל ערום יעשה בדעת זה דוד דכתיב ויאמרו לו עבדיו יבקשו לאדני המלך נערה בתולה כל מאן דהוה ליה ברתא אייתה ניהליה וכסיל יפרוש אולת זה אחשורוש דכתיב ויפקד המלך פקידים כל מאן דהוה ליה ברתא איטמרה מיניה

“In everything a prudent man acts with knowledge”; this statement is referring to David, who also sought a wife for himself, as it is written: “And his servants said to him, Let there be sought for my lord the king a young virgin” (I Kings 1:2). Since he sought one maiden, whoever had a daughter brought her to him, for everyone wanted his daughter to be the king’s wife. With regard to the continuation of the verse: “But a fool unfolds his folly” (Proverbs 13:16), this statement is referring to Ahasuerus, as it is written: “And let the king appoint officers” to seek out many maidens. Since it became clear that the king would have relations with all of them, but in the end he would choose only one as his bride, whoever had a daughter hid her from him.

איש יהודי היה בשושן הבירה וגו׳ איש ימיני מאי קאמר אי ליחוסא קאתי ליחסיה ואזיל עד בנימין אלא מאי שנא הני

The verse that initially describes Mordecai states: “There was a certain Jew in Shushan the castle, whose name was Mordecai the son of Jair the son of Shimei the son of Kish, a Benjamite” (Esther 2:5). The Gemara asks: What is it conveying in the verse by saying the names of Mordecai’s ancestors? If the verse in fact comes to trace his ancestry, it should continue tracing his lineage back all the way to Benjamin, the founder of his tribe. Rather, what is different about these names that they deserve special mention?

תנא כולן על שמו נקראו בן יאיר בן שהאיר עיניהם של ישראל בתפלתו בן שמעי בן ששמע אל תפלתו בן קיש שהקיש על שערי רחמים ונפתחו לו

The Gemara answers: A Sage taught the following baraita: All of them are names by which Mordecai was called. He was called “the son of Jair” because he was the son who enlightened [heir] the eyes of all of the Jewish people with his prayers; “the son of Shimei” because he was the son whom God heard [shama] his prayers; “the son of Kish” because he knocked [hikish] on the gates of mercy and they were opened to him.

קרי ליה יהודי אלמא מיהודה קאתי וקרי ליה ימיני אלמא מבנימין קאתי אמר רב נחמן מרדכי מוכתר בנימוסו היה

The Gemara points out a contradiction: Mordecai is referred to as a “Jew [Yehudi],” apparently indicating that he came from the tribe of Judah, but in the continuation of the verse he is called “Benjamite” [Yemini], which indicates that he came from the tribe of Benjamin. Rav Naḥman said: Mordecai was crowned with honorary names. Yehudi is one such honorary epithet, due to its allusion to the royal tribe of Judah, but it is not referring to Mordecai’s tribal affiliation.

אמר רבה בר בר חנה אמר רבי יהושע בן לוי אביו מבנימין ואמו מיהודה ורבנן אמרי משפחות מתגרות זו בזו משפחת יהודה אומרת אנא גרים דמתיליד מרדכי דלא קטליה דוד לשמעי בן גרא ומשפחת בנימין אמרה מינאי קאתי

Rabba bar bar Ḥana said that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said an alternative explanation: Mordecai’s father was from the tribe of Benjamin, and his mother was from the tribe of Judah. Therefore, he was both a Yemini, a Benjamite, and a Yehudi, from the tribe of Judah. And the Rabbis say that the dual lineage is due to a dispute: The families competed with each other over which tribe could take credit for Mordecai. The family of Judah would say: I caused the birth of Mordecai, as only because David did not kill Shimei, the son of Gera, when he cursed him (see II Samuel 16) was it possible for Mordecai to be born later from his descendants. And the family of Benjamin said in response: In the end he came from me, as he in fact was from Benjamin’s tribe.

רבא אמר כנסת ישראל אמרה לאידך גיסא ראו מה עשה לי יהודי ומה שילם לי ימיני מה עשה לי יהודי

Rava said: The Congregation of Israel at the time said this from the opposite perspective, not as a boast, but as a complaint, remarking: See what a Judean has done to me and how a Benjamite has repaid me. What a Judean has done to me is referring to

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