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Today's Daf Yomi

December 25, 2021 | כ״א בטבת תשפ״ב

This month's shiurim are dedicated by Jordana and Kalman Schoor on behalf of their daughter Daria who is learning Masechet Megilla for her bat mitzvah. 

This month's shiurim are dedicated by the Hadran Women of Minneapolis in memory of the father of their organizer Shira Krebs, Jerry Katz, Gershon Pinya ben Yitzchak Lev haCohen z”l who will be greatly missed.

  • 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 13 – Shabbat December 25

This is the daf for Shabbat. For Friday’s daf, click here.

Today’s daf is sponsored by Keren Sherrington on her birthday in loving memory of her grandfather Avraham and grandmothers Miriam and Chana. “I miss them and am honored that my daughters are named after them and keep their memories alive.”
Today’s daf is also sponsored by Susan Cashdan in loving memory of her father Yitzchak ben Moshe Chone.

Why is Mordechai called both Yehudi (presumably, from the tribe of Judah) and Yemini (from the tribe of Binyamin)? Several different explanations are brought. Yehudi could also refer to one who doesn’t worship idols, as can be proven from a verse in Chronicles 1 4:18 referring to Pharoah’s daughter. According to the verse, she was married to Caleb – what is similar about them on account of which they married each other? Why is Esther called Hadassah or why is Hadassah called Esther? What was her relationship with Mordechai? Why did she have seven young women serving her when she was preparing for the months leading up to her meeting Achashverosh? What type of special treatment did she get? What does it mean that she found favor in everyone’s eyes? Why was she brought to him in the month of Tevet? What different tactics did Achashverosh use to get Esther to tell him what nation she belonged to? Rachel and Shaul were rewarded for their tzniut – what did they do that showed their tzniut and what was their reward? Why did Bigtan and Teresh want to kill Achashverosh? To what other story does the Gemara compare it to? How did Mordechai know what they were plotting? Only after that story did Haman rise in stature – this teaches that God prepares the solution before bringing the bad decree upon us. However, with gentiles, it is the reverse. Why was Haman excited when the lottery fell on Adar? But why was he wrong? What were Haman’s arguments against the Jews by which he convinced Achashverosh to let him destroy them? They were classic anti-Semitic arguments. God commanded the Jews to give the half shekel for the Temple and this was traditionally announced on Rosh Chodesh Adar – this was God’s way of giving us a commandment to protect us from the money that Haman decreed that the Jews would need to pay.

דלא קטליה דוד לשמעי דאתיליד מיניה מרדכי דמיקני ביה המן ומה שילם לי ימיני דלא קטליה שאול לאגג דאתיליד מיניה המן דמצער לישראל

the responsibility of Judah, as David did not kill Shimei, although he was liable to the death penalty. The grave consequences of this failure included that Mordecai was born from him, and it was he against whom Haman was jealous, leading Haman to issue a decree against all of the Jewish people. And how a Benjamite has repaid me is referring to the fact that Saul, who was from the tribe of Benjamin, did not kill the Amalekite king Agag immediately, from whom Haman was later born, and he caused suffering to the Jewish people.

רבי יוחנן אמר לעולם מבנימן קאתי ואמאי קרי ליה יהודי על שום שכפר בעבודה זרה שכל הכופר בעבודה זרה נקרא יהודי כדכתיב איתי גוברין יהודאין וגו׳

Rabbi Yoḥanan said a different explanation of the verse: Actually, Mordecai came from the tribe of Benjamin. Why, then, was he referred to as Yehudi? On account of the fact that he repudiated idol worship, for anyone who repudiates idolatry is called Yehudi. It is understood here in the sense of yiḥudi, one who declares the oneness of God, as it is written: “There are certain Jews [Yehuda’in] whom thou hast appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylonia, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not regarded you: They serve not your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:12). These three individuals were in fact Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, who were not all from the tribe of Judah but are referred to as Yehuda’in because they repudiated idol worship.

רבי שמעון בן פזי כי הוה פתח בדברי הימים אמר הכי כל דבריך אחד הם ואנו יודעין לדורשן ואשתו היהודיה ילדה את ירד אבי גדור ואת חבר אבי שוכו ואת יקותיאל אבי זנוח ואלה בני בתיה בת פרעה אשר לקח מרד

§ Incidental to the exposition of the word Yehudi as one who repudiates idolatry, the Gemara relates that when Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi introduced his exposition of the book of Chronicles, he addressed the book of Chronicles and said as follows: All of your words are one, and we know how to expound them. This introduction made reference to the fact that the book of Chronicles cannot always be interpreted literally but requires exposition, as the same individual might be called by various different names, as in the following verse: “And his wife HaYehudiyya bore Jered the father of Gedor, and Heber the father of Soco, and Jekuthiel the father of Zanoah. And these are the sons of Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh, whom Mered took” (I Chronicles 4:18).

אמאי קרי לה יהודיה על שום שכפרה בעבודה זרה דכתיב ותרד בת פרעה לרחוץ על היאור ואמר רבי יוחנן שירדה לרחוץ מגילולי בית אביה

Why is she, who we are told at the end of the verse was Pharaoh’s daughter Bithiah, referred to as Yehudiyya? Because she repudiated idol worship, as it is written: “And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself in the river” (Exodus 2:5), and Rabbi Yoḥanan said: She went down to wash and purify herself from the idols of her father’s house.

ילדה והא רבויי רביתיה לומר לך שכל המגדל יתום ויתומה בתוך ביתו מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו ילדו

The Gemara understands that all the names referred to in the verse as children of Pharaoh’s daughter refer to Moses, as it will soon explain. The Gemara asks: Pharaoh’s daughter bore Moses? But didn’t she merely raise him? Rather, it is telling you that with regard to anyone who raises an orphan boy or girl in his house, the verse ascribes him credit as if he gave birth to him.

ירד זה משה ולמה נקרא שמו ירד שירד להם לישראל מן בימיו גדור שגדר פרצותיהן של ישראל חבר שחיבר את ישראל לאביהן שבשמים סוכו שנעשה להם לישראל כסוכה יקותיאל שקוו ישראל לאל בימיו זנוח שהזניח עונותיהן של ישראל

The Gemara explains how all the names in fact are referring to Moses: “Jered”; this is Moses, and why was he called Jered? Because manna came down [yarad] for the Jewish people in his days. He was also called “Gedor” because he fenced in [gadar] the breaches of the Jewish people. He was called “Heber” because he connected [ḥibber] the Jewish people to their Father in Heaven. He was called “Soco” because he was for the Jewish people like a shelter [sukka] and shield. He was called “Jekuthiel” because the Jewish people trusted in God [kivu laEl] in his days. Lastly, he was called “Zanoah” because he caused the iniquities of the Jewish people to be disregarded [hizniaḥ].

אבי אבי אבי אב בתורה אב בחכמה אב בנביאות

The Gemara notes that the words “father of” appear three times in that same verse: “And his wife Hajehudijah bore Jered the father of Gedor, and Heber the father of Soco, and Jekuthiel the father of Zanoah.” This teaches that Moses was a father to all of the Jewish people in three respects: A father in Torah, a father in wisdom, and a father in prophecy.

ואלה בני בתיה אשר לקח מרד וכי מרד שמו והלא כלב שמו אמר הקדוש ברוך הוא יבא כלב שמרד בעצת מרגלים וישא את בת פרעה שמרדה בגלולי בית אביה

The aforementioned verse stated: “And these are the sons of Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh, whom Mered took.” The Gemara asks: Was Bithiah’s husband’s name Mered? Wasn’t his name Caleb? Rather, the verse alludes to the reason that Caleb married Bithiah. The Holy One, Blessed be He, said: Let Caleb, who rebelled [marad] against the advice of the spies, come and marry the daughter of Pharaoh, who rebelled against the idols of her father’s home.

אשר הגלה מירושלים אמר רבא שגלה מעצמו

§ The Gemara resumes its explanation of the book of Esther. The verse states with regard to Mordecai: “Who had been exiled from Jerusalem” (Esther 2:6). Rava said: This language indicates that he went into exile on his own, not because he was forced to leave Jerusalem. He knew that he would be needed by those in exile, and therefore he consciously left Jerusalem to attend to the needs of his people.

ויהי אומן את הדסה קרי לה הדסה וקרי לה אסתר תניא רבי מאיר אומר אסתר שמה ולמה נקרא שמה הדסה על שם הצדיקים שנקראו הדסים וכן הוא אומר והוא עומד בין ההדסים

The verse states: “And he had brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther” (Esther 2:7). She is referred to as “Hadassah” and she is referred to as “Esther.” What was her real name? It is taught in a baraita that the Sages differed in their opinion as to which was in fact her name and which one was a description: Rabbi Meir says: Esther was her real name. Why then was she called Hadassah? On account of the righteous, who are called myrtles [hadassim], and so it states: “And he stood among the myrtles [hahadassim]” (Zechariah 1:8).

רבי יהודה אומר הדסה שמה ולמה נקראת שמה אסתר על שם שהיתה מסתרת דבריה שנאמר אין אסתר מגדת את עמה וגו׳

Rabbi Yehuda differs and says: Hadassah was her real name. Why then was she called Esther? Because she concealed [masteret] the truth about herself, as it is stated: “Esther had not yet made known her kindred nor her people” (Esther 2:20).

רבי נחמיה אומר הדסה שמה ולמה נקראת אסתר שהיו אומות העולם קורין אותה על שום אסתהר בן עזאי אומר אסתר לא ארוכה ולא קצרה היתה אלא בינונית כהדסה רבי יהושע בן קרחה אמר אסתר ירקרוקת היתה וחוט של חסד משוך עליה

Rabbi Neḥemya concurs and says: Hadassah was her real name. Why then was she called Esther? This was her non-Hebrew name, for owing to her beauty the nations of the world called her after Istahar, Venus. Ben Azzai says: Esther was neither tall nor short, but of average size like a myrtle tree, and therefore she was called Hadassah, the Hebrew name resembling that myrtle tree. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥa said: Esther was called Hadassah because she was greenish, having a pale complexion like a myrtle, but a cord of Divine grace was strung around her, endowing her with a beautiful appearance.

כי אין לה אב ואם ובמות אביה ואמה למה לי אמר רב אחא עיברתה מת אביה ילדתה מתה אמה

The verse initially states with regard to Esther: “For she had neither father nor mother” (Esther 2:7). Why do I need to be told in the continuation of the verse: “And when her father and mother were dead, Mordecai took her for his own daughter”? Rav Aḥa said: This repetition indicates that when her mother became pregnant with her, her father died, and when she gave birth to her, her mother died, so that she did not have a mother or a father for even a single day.

ובמות אביה ואמה לקחה מרדכי לו לבת תנא משום רבי מאיר אל תקרי לבת אלא לבית וכן הוא אומר ולרש אין כל כי אם כבשה אחת קטנה אשר קנה ויחיה ותגדל עמו ועם בניו יחדו מפתו תאכל ומכוסו תשתה ובחיקו תשכב ותהי לו כבת משום דבחיקו תשכב הוות ליה (לבת) אלא (לבית) הכי נמי לבית

The verse states: “And when her father and mother were dead, Mordecai took her for his own daughter” (Esther 2:7). A tanna taught a baraita in the name of Rabbi Meir: Do not read the verse literally as for a daughter [bat], but rather read it as for a home [bayit]. This indicates that Mordecai took Esther to be his wife. And so it states: “But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and reared: And it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his bread, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was like a daughter [kevat] to him” (II Samuel 12:3). The Gemara questions: Because it lay in his bosom, it “was like a daughter to him”? Rather, the parable in II Samuel referenced the illicit taking of another’s wife, and the phrase should be read: Like a home [bayit] to him, i.e., a wife. So too, here, Mordecai took her for a home, i.e., a wife.

ואת שבע הנערות וגו׳ אמר רבא שהיתה מונה בהן ימי שבת וישנה ואת נערותיה וגו׳ אמר רב שהאכילה מאכל יהודי

The verse states: “And the seven maids chosen to be given her out of the king’s house” (Esther 2:9). Rava said: She would have a separate maid attend her each day, and she would count the days of the week by them, so she was always aware when Shabbat was. The verse continues: “And he advanced her and her maids to the best place in the house of the women.” Rav said: The advancement in the verse signals that he fed her food of Jews, i.e., kosher food.

ושמואל אמר שהאכילה קדלי דחזירי

And Shmuel said an alternative understanding: The advancement was a well-intentioned act in that he fed her pig hinds, thinking she would view it as a delicacy, although in fact they were not kosher.

ורבי יוחנן אמר זרעונים וכן הוא אומר ויהי המלצר נושא את פת בגם ונותן להם זרעונים

And Rabbi Yoḥanan said a third understanding: He gave her vegetables, which did not pose a problem with regard to the kosher laws. And so it states with regard to the kindness done for Daniel and his associates: “So the steward took away their food and the wine that they should drink; and gave them vegetables” (Daniel 1:16).

ששה חדשים בשמן המור מאי שמן המור רבי חייא בר אבא אמר סטכת רב הונא אמר שמן זית שלא הביא שליש תניא רבי יהודה אומר אנפקינון שמן זית שלא הביא שליש ולמה סכין אותו שמשיר את השיער ומעדן את הבשר

The verse states: “Six months with oil of myrrh” (Esther 2:12). The Gemara asks: What is “oil of myrrh”? Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba said: It is the aromatic oil called setakt. Rav Huna said: It is a cosmetic oil derived from olives that have not yet reached one-third of their growth. It is similarly taught in a baraita: Rabbi Yehuda says: Anpakinon is the oil of olives that have not reached one-third of their growth. And why is it smeared on the body? Because it removes the hair and softens the skin.

בערב היא באה ובבקר היא שבה אמר רבי יוחנן מגנותו של אותו רשע למדנו שבחו שלא היה משמש מטתו ביום

The verse states: “In the evening she went, and in the morning she returned” (Esther 2:14). Rabbi Yoḥanan said: From the implicit criticism of that wicked man, Ahasuerus, who cohabited with many women, we have incidentally learned his praise as well, that he would not engage in sexual relations during the day, but in a more modest fashion at night.

ותהי אסתר נשאת חן אמר רבי אלעזר מלמד שלכל אחד ואחד נדמתה לו כאומתו ותלקח אסתר אל המלך אחשורוש אל בית מלכותו בחדש העשירי הוא חדש טבת ירח שנהנה גוף מן הגוף

The verse states: “And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all those who looked upon her” (Esther 2:15). Rabbi Elazar said: This teaches that she appeared to each and every one as if she were a member of his own nation, and therefore she obtained favor in the eyes of all. The next verse states: “So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus into his royal house in the tenth month, which is the month Tevet” (Esther 2:16). It was by act of divine providence that Esther was taken to Ahasuerus in a cold winter month, in which the body takes pleasure in the warmth of another body, and therefore she found favor in his eyes.

ויאהב המלך את אסתר מכל הנשים ותשא חן וחסד לפניו מכל הבתולות אמר רב ביקש לטעום טעם בתולה טעם טעם בעולה טעם

The verse states: “And the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins” (Esther 2:17). Rav said: This double language indicates that if he wanted to taste in her the taste of a virgin during intercourse, he tasted it, and if he wanted to experience the taste of a non-virgin, he tasted it, and therefore he loved her more than all the other women.

ויעש המלך משתה גדול עבד משתיא ולא גליא ליה דלי כרגא ולא גליא ליה שדר פרדישני ולא גליא ליה

The verse states: “Then the king made a great feast for all his princes and his servants, even Esther’s feast” (Esther 2:18). The Gemara explains that this was part of an attempt to have Esther reveal her true identity. He made a great feast in her honor, but she did not reveal her identity to him. He lowered the taxes [karga] in her name, but still she did not reveal it to him. He sent gifts [pardishenei] to the ministers in her name, but even so she did not reveal it to him.

ובהקבץ בתולות שנית וגו׳ אזיל שקל עצה ממרדכי אמר אין אשה מתקנאה אלא בירך חבירתה ואפילו הכי לא גליא ליה דכתיב אין אסתר מגדת מולדתה וגו׳

The verse states: “And when the virgins were gathered together the second time and Mordecai sat in the king’s gate” (Esther 2:19). The Gemara explains: The reason Ahasuerus gathered the women together was that he went and took advice from Mordecai as to what he should do to get Esther to reveal her identity. Mordecai said to him: As a rule, a woman is jealous only of the thigh of another woman. Therefore, you should take for yourself additional women. But even so she did not reveal her origins to him, as it is written: “Esther had not yet made known her kindred nor her people” (Esther 2:20).

אמר רבי אלעזר מאי דכתיב

§ Rabbi Elazar said: What is the meaning of that which is written:

לא יגרע מצדיק עיניו בשכר צניעות שהיתה בה ברחל זכתה ויצא ממנה שאול ובשכר צניעות שהיה בו בשאול זכה ויצאת ממנו אסתר

“He withdraws not His eyes from the righteous; but with kings upon the throne He establishes them forever, and they are exalted” (Job 36:7)? This teaches that in reward for the modesty shown by Rachel she merited that Saul, who was also modest, should descend from her, and in reward for the modesty shown by Saul, he merited that Esther should descend from him.

ומאי צניעות היתה בה ברחל דכתיב ויגד יעקב לרחל כי אחי אביה הוא וכי אחי אביה הוא והלא בן אחות אביה הוא

The Gemara explains: What was the modesty shown by Rachel? It is as it is written: “And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s brother, and that he was Rebecca’s son” (Genesis 29:12). It may be asked: Was he, Jacob, in fact her father’s brother? But wasn’t he the son of her father’s sister?

אלא אמר לה מינסבא לי אמרה ליה אין מיהו אבא רמאה הוא ולא יכלת ליה אמר לה אחיו אנא ברמאות אמרה ליה ומי שרי לצדיקי לסגויי ברמיותא אמר לה אין עם נבר תתבר ועם עקש תתפל

Rather, it must be understood that when Jacob met Rachel, he said to her: Will you marry me? She said to him: Yes, but my father, Laban, is a swindler, and you will not be able to outwit him. Jacob alleviated her fears, as he said to her that he is her father’s brother, referring not to their familial affiliation but rather to his ability to deal with her father on his level, as if to say: I am his brother in deception. She said to him: But is it really permitted for the righteous to be involved in deception? He said to her: Yes, it is permitted when dealing with deceptive individuals, as the verse states: “With the pure you will show yourself pure, and with the perverse you will show yourself subtle” (II Samuel 22:27), indicating that one should deal with others in the manner appropriate for their personality.

אמר לה ומאי רמיותא אמרה ליה אית לי אחתא דקשישא מינאי ולא מנסיב לי מקמה מסר לה סימנים

Jacob then said to her: What is the deception that he will plan to carry out and I should be prepared for? Rachel said to him: I have a sister who is older than I, and he will not marry me off before her, and will try to give you her in my place. So Jacob gave her certain distinguishing signs that she should use to indicate to him that she was actually Rachel and not her sister.

כי מטא ליליא אמרה השתא מיכספא אחתאי מסרתינהו ניהלה והיינו דכתיב ויהי בבקר והנה היא לאה מכלל דעד השתא לאו לאה היא אלא מתוך סימנין שמסרה רחל ללאה לא הוה ידע עד השתא לפיכך זכתה ויצא ממנה שאול

When the wedding night arrived, and Laban planned to switch the sisters, Rachel said to herself: Now my sister will be embarassed, for Jacob will ask her for the signs and she will not know them. So she gave them to her. And this is as it is written: “And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah” (Genesis 29:25). Does this imply by inference that until now she was not Leah? Rather, due to the distinguishing signs that Rachel had given to Leah, he did not know until now, when it was light outside, that she was Leah. Therefore, Rachel merited that Saul should descend from her, due to her act of modesty in not revealing to Jacob that she had shown the signs to Leah.

ומה צניעות היתה בשאול דכתיב ואת דבר המלוכה לא הגיד לו אשר אמר שמואל זכה ויצאת ממנו אסתר ואמר רבי אלעזר כשהקדוש ברוך הוא פוסק גדולה לאדם פוסק לבניו ולבני בניו עד סוף כל הדורות שנאמר ויושיבם לנצח ויגבהו (וגו׳) ואם הגיס דעתו הקדוש ברוך הוא משפילו שנאמר ואם אסורים בזקים וגו׳

And what was the modesty shown by Saul? As it is written: “But of the matter of the kingdom, of which Samuel spoke, he did not tell him” (I Samuel 10:16). Saul expressed his modesty by not revealing Samuel’s promise that he would be king, and thereby merited that Esther would descend from him. Similarly, Rabbi Elazar said: When the Holy One, Blessed be He, assigns greatness to a person, He assigns it to his sons and to his son’s sons for all generations, as it is stated: “He withdraws not his eyes from the righteous; but with kings upon the throne He establishes them forever, and they are exalted” (Job 36:7). And if he becomes arrogant due to this, the Holy One, Blessed be He, lowers him in order to humble him, as it is stated in the next verse: “And if they are bound in chains, and are held in cords of affliction, then He declares unto them their work, and their transgressions, that they have behaved proudly” (Job 36:8–9).

ואת מאמר מרדכי אסתר עושה אמר רבי ירמיה שהיתה מראה דם נדה לחכמים כאשר היתה באמנה אתו אמר רבה בר לימא (משמיה דרב) שהיתה עומדת מחיקו של אחשורוש וטובלת ויושבת בחיקו של מרדכי

§ The Gemara returns to its exposition of the Megilla. The verse states: “For Esther adhered to the words of Mordecai, as she did when she was brought up with him” (Esther 2:20). Rabbi Yirmeya said: This teaches that she would show discharges of her menstrual blood to the Sages to inquire whether she was pure or impure. The verse continues: “As she did when she was brought up with him” (Esther 2:20). Rabba bar Lima said in the name of Rav: This means that she maintained a relationship with Mordecai, as she would arise from the lap of Ahasuerus, immerse herself in a ritual bath, and sit in the lap of Mordecai.

בימים ההם ומרדכי יושב בשער המלך קצף בגתן ותרש אמר רבי חייא בר אבא אמר רבי יוחנן הקציף הקדוש ברוך הוא אדון על עבדיו לעשות רצון צדיק ומנו יוסף שנאמר ושם אתנו נער עברי וגו׳

The Megilla continues: “In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king’s gate, two of the king’s chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, of those that guarded the doors, became angry, and sought to lay hands on the king Ahasuerus” (Esther 2:21). Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: The Holy One, Blessed be He, caused a master to become angry with his servants in order to fulfill the will of a righteous man. And who is this? It is Joseph, as it is stated in the chief butler’s account of how Pharaoh had become angry with him and with the chief baker and sent them to jail: “And there was with us there a young man, a Hebrew” (Genesis 41:12).

עבדים על אדוניהן לעשות נס לצדיק ומנו מרדכי דכתיב ויודע הדבר למרדכי וגו׳

Similarly, the Holy One, Blessed be He, also caused servants to become angry with their master in order to perform a miracle for another righteous man. And who is he? It is Mordecai, as with regard to the plot to kill the king it is written: “And the matter became known to Mordecai” (Esther 2:22).

אמר רבי יוחנן בגתן ותרש שני טרסיים הוו והיו מספרין בלשון טורסי ואומרים מיום שבאת זו לא ראינו שינה בעינינו בא ונטיל ארס בספל כדי שימות והן לא היו יודעין כי מרדכי מיושבי לשכת הגזית היה והיה יודע בשבעים לשון

The Gemara explains how the matter became known to him. Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Bigthan and Teresh were two Tarsians, and they would talk with one another in the Tarsian language. They said: From the day that Esther arrived we have not slept, as Ahasuerus has been with Esther all night, and he has been busying us with his demands. Come, let us cast poison in the goblet from which he drinks so that he will die. But they did not know that Mordecai was one of those who sat on the Sanhedrin, which convened in the Chamber of Hewn Stone, and that he knew seventy languages, a necessity for members of the Sanhedrin.

אמר לו והלא אין משמרתי ומשמרתך שוה אמר לו אני אשמור משמרתי ומשמרתך והיינו דכתיב ויבקש הדבר וימצא שלא נמצאו במשמרתן

While planning their plot, one of them said to the other: But my post and your post are not identical. How then can one of us leave our position to succeed in our plot to poison the king? The other one said to him: I will guard both my post and your post. And this is as it is written with regard to the king’s verifying Mordecai’s revelation of the plan to kill the king: “And when inquiry was made of the matter, it was found to be so” (Esther 2:23); it was discovered that they were not both found at their posts.

אחר הדברים האלה (אחר מאי) אמר רבא אחר שברא הקדוש ברוך הוא רפואה למכה

The verse describes when the rest of the events of the Megilla occurred: “After these events did King Ahasuerus promote Haman” (Esther 3:1). The Gemara asks: After what particular events? Rava said: Only after the Holy One, Blessed be He, created a remedy for the blow and set in place the chain of events that would lead to the miraculous salvation was Haman appointed, setting the stage for the decree against the Jews to be issued.

דאמר ריש לקיש אין הקדוש ברוך הוא מכה את ישראל אלא אם כן בורא להם רפואה תחילה שנאמר כרפאי לישראל ונגלה עון אפרים אבל אומות העולם אינו כן מכה אותן ואחר כך בורא להם רפואה שנאמר ונגף ה׳ את מצרים נגוף ורפוא

Rava explains: As Reish Lakish said: The Holy One, Blessed be He, does not strike at the Jewish people unless He has already created a remedy for them beforehand, as it is stated: “When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was uncovered” (Hosea 7:1). But this is not so with regard to the nations of the world. With them, God first strikes them and only afterward does He create a remedy, as it is stated: “And the Lord shall smite Egypt, smiting and healing” (Isaiah 19:22).

ויבז בעיניו לשלוח יד במרדכי לבדו אמר רבא בתחילה במרדכי לבדו ולבסוף בעם מרדכי ומנו רבנן ולבסוף בכל היהודים

The verse states: “But it seemed contemptible in his eyes to lay his hand on Mordecai alone; for they had made known to him the people of Mordecai; wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai” (Esther 3:6). Rava said: At first he wanted to lay his hands on Mordecai alone, and in the end on the people of Mordecai. And who were the people of Mordecai? They were the Sages, i.e., Mordecai’s special people. And ultimately he sought to bring harm on all the Jews.

הפיל פור הוא הגורל תנא כיון שנפל פור בחודש אדר שמח שמחה גדולה אמר נפל לי פור בירח שמת בו משה ולא היה יודע שבשבעה באדר מת ובשבעה באדר נולד

The verse states: “They cast pur, that is, the lot” (Esther 3:7). A Sage taught the following baraita: Once the lot fell on the month of Adar, he, Haman, greatly rejoiced, for he saw this as a favorable omen for the execution of his plans. He said: The lot has fallen for me in the month that Moses died, which is consequently a time of calamity for the Jewish people. But he did not know that not only did Moses die on the seventh of Adar, but he was also born on the seventh of Adar, and therefore it is also a time of rejoicing for the Jewish people.

ישנו עם אחד אמר רבא ליכא דידע לישנא בישא כהמן אמר ליה תא ניכלינהו אמר ליה מסתפינא מאלהיו דלא ליעביד בי כדעבד בקמאי אמר ליה ישנו מן המצות

Haman said to Ahasuerus: “There is [yeshno] one people scattered abroad [mefuzar] and dispersed [meforad] among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; and their laws are diverse from those of every people; nor do they keep the king’s laws; therefore it does not profit the king to tolerate them” (Esther 3:8). Rava said: There was none who knew how to slander like Haman, as in his request to the king he included responses to all the reasons Ahasuerus might be reluctant to destroy the Jewish people. He said to Ahasuerus: Let us destroy them. Ahasuerus said to him: I am afraid of their God, lest He do to me as He did to those who stood against them before me. Haman said to him: They have been asleep [yashnu] with respect to the mitzvot, having ceased to observe the mitzvot, and, therefore there is no reason to fear.

אמר ליה אית בהו רבנן אמר ליה עם אחד הן

Ahasuerus said to him: There are the Sages among them who observe the mitzvot. Haman said to him: They are one people, i.e., they are all the same; nobody observes the mitzvot.

שמא תאמר קרחה אני עושה במלכותך מפוזרין הם בין העמים שמא תאמר אית הנאה מינייהו מפורד כפרידה זו שאינה עושה פירות ושמא תאמר איכא מדינתא מינייהו תלמוד לומר בכל מדינות מלכותך

Haman continued with his next response as expressed in the verse: Perhaps you will say that I am making a bald spot in your kingdom, i.e., you fear that if an entire nation is wiped out there will be a desolate area within the kingdom. There is no need to worry, though, as they are scattered [mefuzarin] among the peoples, and eradicating them will not result in the creation of an unpopulated zone in the area where they had once lived. Furthermore, perhaps you will say that there is benefit from them; but this nation is meforad, like this barren mule [pereida] that cannot bear offspring, and there is no benefit to be gained from them. And perhaps you will say that there is at least a province that is filled with them. Therefore the verse states that they are scattered “in all the provinces of your kingdom” (Esther 3:8), and they do not inhabit one place.

ודתיהם שונות מכל עם דלא אכלי מינן ולא נסבי מינן ולא מנסבי לן ואת דתי המלך אינם עושים דמפקי לכולא שתא בשהי פהי ולמלך אין שוה להניחם דאכלו ושתו ומבזו ליה למלכות ואפילו נופל זבוב בכוסו של אחד מהן זורקו ושותהו ואם אדוני המלך נוגע בכוסו של אחד מהן חובטו בקרקע ואינו שותהו

Haman continued: “And their laws are diverse from those of every people” (Esther 3:8), as they do not eat from our food, nor do they marry from our women, nor do they marry off their women to us. “Nor do they keep the king’s laws” (Esther 3:8). They spend the entire year in idleness, as they are constantly saying: Shehi pehi, an acronym for: It is Shabbat today [Shabbat hayom]; it is Passover today [Pesaḥ hayom]. The verse continues: “Therefore it does not profit the king to tolerate them,” as they eat and drink and scorn the throne. And a proof of this is that even if a fly falls into the cup of one of them, he will throw the fly out and drink the wine it fell into, but if my master the king were to touch the glass of one of them, he would throw it to the ground, and would not drink it, since it is prohibited to drink wine that was touched by a gentile.

אם על המלך טוב יכתב לאבדם ועשרת אלפים ככר כסף וגו׳ אמר ריש לקיש גלוי וידוע לפני מי שאמר והיה העולם שעתיד המן לשקול שקלים על ישראל לפיכך הקדים שקליהן לשקליו

Therefore, Haman concluded: “If it please the king, let it be written that they be destroyed, and I will weigh out ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king’s treasuries” (Esther 3:9). Reish Lakish said: It is revealed and known in advance to the One Who spoke and the world came into being, that in the future Haman was going to weigh out shekels against the Jewish people; therefore, He arranged that the Jewish people’s shekels that were given to the Temple preceded Haman’s shekels.

והיינו דתנן באחד באדר משמיעין על השקלים ועל הכלאים

And this is as we learned in a mishna (Shekalim 2a): On the first of Adar the court makes a public announcement about the contribution to the Temple of half-shekels that will soon be due, and about the need to uproot forbidden mixtures of diverse kinds of seeds from the fields now that they have begun to sprout. Therefore, it turns out that the Jewish people give the shekels on the first of Adar, preceding the date of Haman’s planned destruction of the Jewish people and his own collecting of shekels.

ויאמר המלך להמן הכסף נתון לך והעם לעשות בו כטוב בעיניך אמר רבי אבא

Ahasuerus responded to Haman’s request: “And the king said to Haman: The silver is given to you; the people also, to do with them as it seems good to you” (Esther 3:11). Rabbi Abba said:

This month's shiurim are dedicated by Jordana and Kalman Schoor on behalf of their daughter Daria who is learning Masechet Megilla for her bat mitzvah. Mazal tov Daria!

This month's shiurim are dedicated by the Hadran Women of Minneapolis in memory of the father of their organizer Shira Krebs, Jerry Katz, Gershon Pinya ben Yitzchak Lev haCohen z”l who will be greatly missed.

  • 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.

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Megillah 13 – Shabbat December 25

דלא קטליה דוד לשמעי דאתיליד מיניה מרדכי דמיקני ביה המן ומה שילם לי ימיני דלא קטליה שאול לאגג דאתיליד מיניה המן דמצער לישראל

the responsibility of Judah, as David did not kill Shimei, although he was liable to the death penalty. The grave consequences of this failure included that Mordecai was born from him, and it was he against whom Haman was jealous, leading Haman to issue a decree against all of the Jewish people. And how a Benjamite has repaid me is referring to the fact that Saul, who was from the tribe of Benjamin, did not kill the Amalekite king Agag immediately, from whom Haman was later born, and he caused suffering to the Jewish people.

רבי יוחנן אמר לעולם מבנימן קאתי ואמאי קרי ליה יהודי על שום שכפר בעבודה זרה שכל הכופר בעבודה זרה נקרא יהודי כדכתיב איתי גוברין יהודאין וגו׳

Rabbi Yoḥanan said a different explanation of the verse: Actually, Mordecai came from the tribe of Benjamin. Why, then, was he referred to as Yehudi? On account of the fact that he repudiated idol worship, for anyone who repudiates idolatry is called Yehudi. It is understood here in the sense of yiḥudi, one who declares the oneness of God, as it is written: “There are certain Jews [Yehuda’in] whom thou hast appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylonia, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not regarded you: They serve not your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:12). These three individuals were in fact Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, who were not all from the tribe of Judah but are referred to as Yehuda’in because they repudiated idol worship.

רבי שמעון בן פזי כי הוה פתח בדברי הימים אמר הכי כל דבריך אחד הם ואנו יודעין לדורשן ואשתו היהודיה ילדה את ירד אבי גדור ואת חבר אבי שוכו ואת יקותיאל אבי זנוח ואלה בני בתיה בת פרעה אשר לקח מרד

§ Incidental to the exposition of the word Yehudi as one who repudiates idolatry, the Gemara relates that when Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi introduced his exposition of the book of Chronicles, he addressed the book of Chronicles and said as follows: All of your words are one, and we know how to expound them. This introduction made reference to the fact that the book of Chronicles cannot always be interpreted literally but requires exposition, as the same individual might be called by various different names, as in the following verse: “And his wife HaYehudiyya bore Jered the father of Gedor, and Heber the father of Soco, and Jekuthiel the father of Zanoah. And these are the sons of Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh, whom Mered took” (I Chronicles 4:18).

אמאי קרי לה יהודיה על שום שכפרה בעבודה זרה דכתיב ותרד בת פרעה לרחוץ על היאור ואמר רבי יוחנן שירדה לרחוץ מגילולי בית אביה

Why is she, who we are told at the end of the verse was Pharaoh’s daughter Bithiah, referred to as Yehudiyya? Because she repudiated idol worship, as it is written: “And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself in the river” (Exodus 2:5), and Rabbi Yoḥanan said: She went down to wash and purify herself from the idols of her father’s house.

ילדה והא רבויי רביתיה לומר לך שכל המגדל יתום ויתומה בתוך ביתו מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו ילדו

The Gemara understands that all the names referred to in the verse as children of Pharaoh’s daughter refer to Moses, as it will soon explain. The Gemara asks: Pharaoh’s daughter bore Moses? But didn’t she merely raise him? Rather, it is telling you that with regard to anyone who raises an orphan boy or girl in his house, the verse ascribes him credit as if he gave birth to him.

ירד זה משה ולמה נקרא שמו ירד שירד להם לישראל מן בימיו גדור שגדר פרצותיהן של ישראל חבר שחיבר את ישראל לאביהן שבשמים סוכו שנעשה להם לישראל כסוכה יקותיאל שקוו ישראל לאל בימיו זנוח שהזניח עונותיהן של ישראל

The Gemara explains how all the names in fact are referring to Moses: “Jered”; this is Moses, and why was he called Jered? Because manna came down [yarad] for the Jewish people in his days. He was also called “Gedor” because he fenced in [gadar] the breaches of the Jewish people. He was called “Heber” because he connected [ḥibber] the Jewish people to their Father in Heaven. He was called “Soco” because he was for the Jewish people like a shelter [sukka] and shield. He was called “Jekuthiel” because the Jewish people trusted in God [kivu laEl] in his days. Lastly, he was called “Zanoah” because he caused the iniquities of the Jewish people to be disregarded [hizniaḥ].

אבי אבי אבי אב בתורה אב בחכמה אב בנביאות

The Gemara notes that the words “father of” appear three times in that same verse: “And his wife Hajehudijah bore Jered the father of Gedor, and Heber the father of Soco, and Jekuthiel the father of Zanoah.” This teaches that Moses was a father to all of the Jewish people in three respects: A father in Torah, a father in wisdom, and a father in prophecy.

ואלה בני בתיה אשר לקח מרד וכי מרד שמו והלא כלב שמו אמר הקדוש ברוך הוא יבא כלב שמרד בעצת מרגלים וישא את בת פרעה שמרדה בגלולי בית אביה

The aforementioned verse stated: “And these are the sons of Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh, whom Mered took.” The Gemara asks: Was Bithiah’s husband’s name Mered? Wasn’t his name Caleb? Rather, the verse alludes to the reason that Caleb married Bithiah. The Holy One, Blessed be He, said: Let Caleb, who rebelled [marad] against the advice of the spies, come and marry the daughter of Pharaoh, who rebelled against the idols of her father’s home.

אשר הגלה מירושלים אמר רבא שגלה מעצמו

§ The Gemara resumes its explanation of the book of Esther. The verse states with regard to Mordecai: “Who had been exiled from Jerusalem” (Esther 2:6). Rava said: This language indicates that he went into exile on his own, not because he was forced to leave Jerusalem. He knew that he would be needed by those in exile, and therefore he consciously left Jerusalem to attend to the needs of his people.

ויהי אומן את הדסה קרי לה הדסה וקרי לה אסתר תניא רבי מאיר אומר אסתר שמה ולמה נקרא שמה הדסה על שם הצדיקים שנקראו הדסים וכן הוא אומר והוא עומד בין ההדסים

The verse states: “And he had brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther” (Esther 2:7). She is referred to as “Hadassah” and she is referred to as “Esther.” What was her real name? It is taught in a baraita that the Sages differed in their opinion as to which was in fact her name and which one was a description: Rabbi Meir says: Esther was her real name. Why then was she called Hadassah? On account of the righteous, who are called myrtles [hadassim], and so it states: “And he stood among the myrtles [hahadassim]” (Zechariah 1:8).

רבי יהודה אומר הדסה שמה ולמה נקראת שמה אסתר על שם שהיתה מסתרת דבריה שנאמר אין אסתר מגדת את עמה וגו׳

Rabbi Yehuda differs and says: Hadassah was her real name. Why then was she called Esther? Because she concealed [masteret] the truth about herself, as it is stated: “Esther had not yet made known her kindred nor her people” (Esther 2:20).

רבי נחמיה אומר הדסה שמה ולמה נקראת אסתר שהיו אומות העולם קורין אותה על שום אסתהר בן עזאי אומר אסתר לא ארוכה ולא קצרה היתה אלא בינונית כהדסה רבי יהושע בן קרחה אמר אסתר ירקרוקת היתה וחוט של חסד משוך עליה

Rabbi Neḥemya concurs and says: Hadassah was her real name. Why then was she called Esther? This was her non-Hebrew name, for owing to her beauty the nations of the world called her after Istahar, Venus. Ben Azzai says: Esther was neither tall nor short, but of average size like a myrtle tree, and therefore she was called Hadassah, the Hebrew name resembling that myrtle tree. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥa said: Esther was called Hadassah because she was greenish, having a pale complexion like a myrtle, but a cord of Divine grace was strung around her, endowing her with a beautiful appearance.

כי אין לה אב ואם ובמות אביה ואמה למה לי אמר רב אחא עיברתה מת אביה ילדתה מתה אמה

The verse initially states with regard to Esther: “For she had neither father nor mother” (Esther 2:7). Why do I need to be told in the continuation of the verse: “And when her father and mother were dead, Mordecai took her for his own daughter”? Rav Aḥa said: This repetition indicates that when her mother became pregnant with her, her father died, and when she gave birth to her, her mother died, so that she did not have a mother or a father for even a single day.

ובמות אביה ואמה לקחה מרדכי לו לבת תנא משום רבי מאיר אל תקרי לבת אלא לבית וכן הוא אומר ולרש אין כל כי אם כבשה אחת קטנה אשר קנה ויחיה ותגדל עמו ועם בניו יחדו מפתו תאכל ומכוסו תשתה ובחיקו תשכב ותהי לו כבת משום דבחיקו תשכב הוות ליה (לבת) אלא (לבית) הכי נמי לבית

The verse states: “And when her father and mother were dead, Mordecai took her for his own daughter” (Esther 2:7). A tanna taught a baraita in the name of Rabbi Meir: Do not read the verse literally as for a daughter [bat], but rather read it as for a home [bayit]. This indicates that Mordecai took Esther to be his wife. And so it states: “But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and reared: And it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his bread, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was like a daughter [kevat] to him” (II Samuel 12:3). The Gemara questions: Because it lay in his bosom, it “was like a daughter to him”? Rather, the parable in II Samuel referenced the illicit taking of another’s wife, and the phrase should be read: Like a home [bayit] to him, i.e., a wife. So too, here, Mordecai took her for a home, i.e., a wife.

ואת שבע הנערות וגו׳ אמר רבא שהיתה מונה בהן ימי שבת וישנה ואת נערותיה וגו׳ אמר רב שהאכילה מאכל יהודי

The verse states: “And the seven maids chosen to be given her out of the king’s house” (Esther 2:9). Rava said: She would have a separate maid attend her each day, and she would count the days of the week by them, so she was always aware when Shabbat was. The verse continues: “And he advanced her and her maids to the best place in the house of the women.” Rav said: The advancement in the verse signals that he fed her food of Jews, i.e., kosher food.

ושמואל אמר שהאכילה קדלי דחזירי

And Shmuel said an alternative understanding: The advancement was a well-intentioned act in that he fed her pig hinds, thinking she would view it as a delicacy, although in fact they were not kosher.

ורבי יוחנן אמר זרעונים וכן הוא אומר ויהי המלצר נושא את פת בגם ונותן להם זרעונים

And Rabbi Yoḥanan said a third understanding: He gave her vegetables, which did not pose a problem with regard to the kosher laws. And so it states with regard to the kindness done for Daniel and his associates: “So the steward took away their food and the wine that they should drink; and gave them vegetables” (Daniel 1:16).

ששה חדשים בשמן המור מאי שמן המור רבי חייא בר אבא אמר סטכת רב הונא אמר שמן זית שלא הביא שליש תניא רבי יהודה אומר אנפקינון שמן זית שלא הביא שליש ולמה סכין אותו שמשיר את השיער ומעדן את הבשר

The verse states: “Six months with oil of myrrh” (Esther 2:12). The Gemara asks: What is “oil of myrrh”? Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba said: It is the aromatic oil called setakt. Rav Huna said: It is a cosmetic oil derived from olives that have not yet reached one-third of their growth. It is similarly taught in a baraita: Rabbi Yehuda says: Anpakinon is the oil of olives that have not reached one-third of their growth. And why is it smeared on the body? Because it removes the hair and softens the skin.

בערב היא באה ובבקר היא שבה אמר רבי יוחנן מגנותו של אותו רשע למדנו שבחו שלא היה משמש מטתו ביום

The verse states: “In the evening she went, and in the morning she returned” (Esther 2:14). Rabbi Yoḥanan said: From the implicit criticism of that wicked man, Ahasuerus, who cohabited with many women, we have incidentally learned his praise as well, that he would not engage in sexual relations during the day, but in a more modest fashion at night.

ותהי אסתר נשאת חן אמר רבי אלעזר מלמד שלכל אחד ואחד נדמתה לו כאומתו ותלקח אסתר אל המלך אחשורוש אל בית מלכותו בחדש העשירי הוא חדש טבת ירח שנהנה גוף מן הגוף

The verse states: “And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all those who looked upon her” (Esther 2:15). Rabbi Elazar said: This teaches that she appeared to each and every one as if she were a member of his own nation, and therefore she obtained favor in the eyes of all. The next verse states: “So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus into his royal house in the tenth month, which is the month Tevet” (Esther 2:16). It was by act of divine providence that Esther was taken to Ahasuerus in a cold winter month, in which the body takes pleasure in the warmth of another body, and therefore she found favor in his eyes.

ויאהב המלך את אסתר מכל הנשים ותשא חן וחסד לפניו מכל הבתולות אמר רב ביקש לטעום טעם בתולה טעם טעם בעולה טעם

The verse states: “And the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins” (Esther 2:17). Rav said: This double language indicates that if he wanted to taste in her the taste of a virgin during intercourse, he tasted it, and if he wanted to experience the taste of a non-virgin, he tasted it, and therefore he loved her more than all the other women.

ויעש המלך משתה גדול עבד משתיא ולא גליא ליה דלי כרגא ולא גליא ליה שדר פרדישני ולא גליא ליה

The verse states: “Then the king made a great feast for all his princes and his servants, even Esther’s feast” (Esther 2:18). The Gemara explains that this was part of an attempt to have Esther reveal her true identity. He made a great feast in her honor, but she did not reveal her identity to him. He lowered the taxes [karga] in her name, but still she did not reveal it to him. He sent gifts [pardishenei] to the ministers in her name, but even so she did not reveal it to him.

ובהקבץ בתולות שנית וגו׳ אזיל שקל עצה ממרדכי אמר אין אשה מתקנאה אלא בירך חבירתה ואפילו הכי לא גליא ליה דכתיב אין אסתר מגדת מולדתה וגו׳

The verse states: “And when the virgins were gathered together the second time and Mordecai sat in the king’s gate” (Esther 2:19). The Gemara explains: The reason Ahasuerus gathered the women together was that he went and took advice from Mordecai as to what he should do to get Esther to reveal her identity. Mordecai said to him: As a rule, a woman is jealous only of the thigh of another woman. Therefore, you should take for yourself additional women. But even so she did not reveal her origins to him, as it is written: “Esther had not yet made known her kindred nor her people” (Esther 2:20).

אמר רבי אלעזר מאי דכתיב

§ Rabbi Elazar said: What is the meaning of that which is written:

לא יגרע מצדיק עיניו בשכר צניעות שהיתה בה ברחל זכתה ויצא ממנה שאול ובשכר צניעות שהיה בו בשאול זכה ויצאת ממנו אסתר

“He withdraws not His eyes from the righteous; but with kings upon the throne He establishes them forever, and they are exalted” (Job 36:7)? This teaches that in reward for the modesty shown by Rachel she merited that Saul, who was also modest, should descend from her, and in reward for the modesty shown by Saul, he merited that Esther should descend from him.

ומאי צניעות היתה בה ברחל דכתיב ויגד יעקב לרחל כי אחי אביה הוא וכי אחי אביה הוא והלא בן אחות אביה הוא

The Gemara explains: What was the modesty shown by Rachel? It is as it is written: “And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s brother, and that he was Rebecca’s son” (Genesis 29:12). It may be asked: Was he, Jacob, in fact her father’s brother? But wasn’t he the son of her father’s sister?

אלא אמר לה מינסבא לי אמרה ליה אין מיהו אבא רמאה הוא ולא יכלת ליה אמר לה אחיו אנא ברמאות אמרה ליה ומי שרי לצדיקי לסגויי ברמיותא אמר לה אין עם נבר תתבר ועם עקש תתפל

Rather, it must be understood that when Jacob met Rachel, he said to her: Will you marry me? She said to him: Yes, but my father, Laban, is a swindler, and you will not be able to outwit him. Jacob alleviated her fears, as he said to her that he is her father’s brother, referring not to their familial affiliation but rather to his ability to deal with her father on his level, as if to say: I am his brother in deception. She said to him: But is it really permitted for the righteous to be involved in deception? He said to her: Yes, it is permitted when dealing with deceptive individuals, as the verse states: “With the pure you will show yourself pure, and with the perverse you will show yourself subtle” (II Samuel 22:27), indicating that one should deal with others in the manner appropriate for their personality.

אמר לה ומאי רמיותא אמרה ליה אית לי אחתא דקשישא מינאי ולא מנסיב לי מקמה מסר לה סימנים

Jacob then said to her: What is the deception that he will plan to carry out and I should be prepared for? Rachel said to him: I have a sister who is older than I, and he will not marry me off before her, and will try to give you her in my place. So Jacob gave her certain distinguishing signs that she should use to indicate to him that she was actually Rachel and not her sister.

כי מטא ליליא אמרה השתא מיכספא אחתאי מסרתינהו ניהלה והיינו דכתיב ויהי בבקר והנה היא לאה מכלל דעד השתא לאו לאה היא אלא מתוך סימנין שמסרה רחל ללאה לא הוה ידע עד השתא לפיכך זכתה ויצא ממנה שאול

When the wedding night arrived, and Laban planned to switch the sisters, Rachel said to herself: Now my sister will be embarassed, for Jacob will ask her for the signs and she will not know them. So she gave them to her. And this is as it is written: “And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah” (Genesis 29:25). Does this imply by inference that until now she was not Leah? Rather, due to the distinguishing signs that Rachel had given to Leah, he did not know until now, when it was light outside, that she was Leah. Therefore, Rachel merited that Saul should descend from her, due to her act of modesty in not revealing to Jacob that she had shown the signs to Leah.

ומה צניעות היתה בשאול דכתיב ואת דבר המלוכה לא הגיד לו אשר אמר שמואל זכה ויצאת ממנו אסתר ואמר רבי אלעזר כשהקדוש ברוך הוא פוסק גדולה לאדם פוסק לבניו ולבני בניו עד סוף כל הדורות שנאמר ויושיבם לנצח ויגבהו (וגו׳) ואם הגיס דעתו הקדוש ברוך הוא משפילו שנאמר ואם אסורים בזקים וגו׳

And what was the modesty shown by Saul? As it is written: “But of the matter of the kingdom, of which Samuel spoke, he did not tell him” (I Samuel 10:16). Saul expressed his modesty by not revealing Samuel’s promise that he would be king, and thereby merited that Esther would descend from him. Similarly, Rabbi Elazar said: When the Holy One, Blessed be He, assigns greatness to a person, He assigns it to his sons and to his son’s sons for all generations, as it is stated: “He withdraws not his eyes from the righteous; but with kings upon the throne He establishes them forever, and they are exalted” (Job 36:7). And if he becomes arrogant due to this, the Holy One, Blessed be He, lowers him in order to humble him, as it is stated in the next verse: “And if they are bound in chains, and are held in cords of affliction, then He declares unto them their work, and their transgressions, that they have behaved proudly” (Job 36:8–9).

ואת מאמר מרדכי אסתר עושה אמר רבי ירמיה שהיתה מראה דם נדה לחכמים כאשר היתה באמנה אתו אמר רבה בר לימא (משמיה דרב) שהיתה עומדת מחיקו של אחשורוש וטובלת ויושבת בחיקו של מרדכי

§ The Gemara returns to its exposition of the Megilla. The verse states: “For Esther adhered to the words of Mordecai, as she did when she was brought up with him” (Esther 2:20). Rabbi Yirmeya said: This teaches that she would show discharges of her menstrual blood to the Sages to inquire whether she was pure or impure. The verse continues: “As she did when she was brought up with him” (Esther 2:20). Rabba bar Lima said in the name of Rav: This means that she maintained a relationship with Mordecai, as she would arise from the lap of Ahasuerus, immerse herself in a ritual bath, and sit in the lap of Mordecai.

בימים ההם ומרדכי יושב בשער המלך קצף בגתן ותרש אמר רבי חייא בר אבא אמר רבי יוחנן הקציף הקדוש ברוך הוא אדון על עבדיו לעשות רצון צדיק ומנו יוסף שנאמר ושם אתנו נער עברי וגו׳

The Megilla continues: “In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king’s gate, two of the king’s chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, of those that guarded the doors, became angry, and sought to lay hands on the king Ahasuerus” (Esther 2:21). Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: The Holy One, Blessed be He, caused a master to become angry with his servants in order to fulfill the will of a righteous man. And who is this? It is Joseph, as it is stated in the chief butler’s account of how Pharaoh had become angry with him and with the chief baker and sent them to jail: “And there was with us there a young man, a Hebrew” (Genesis 41:12).

עבדים על אדוניהן לעשות נס לצדיק ומנו מרדכי דכתיב ויודע הדבר למרדכי וגו׳

Similarly, the Holy One, Blessed be He, also caused servants to become angry with their master in order to perform a miracle for another righteous man. And who is he? It is Mordecai, as with regard to the plot to kill the king it is written: “And the matter became known to Mordecai” (Esther 2:22).

אמר רבי יוחנן בגתן ותרש שני טרסיים הוו והיו מספרין בלשון טורסי ואומרים מיום שבאת זו לא ראינו שינה בעינינו בא ונטיל ארס בספל כדי שימות והן לא היו יודעין כי מרדכי מיושבי לשכת הגזית היה והיה יודע בשבעים לשון

The Gemara explains how the matter became known to him. Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Bigthan and Teresh were two Tarsians, and they would talk with one another in the Tarsian language. They said: From the day that Esther arrived we have not slept, as Ahasuerus has been with Esther all night, and he has been busying us with his demands. Come, let us cast poison in the goblet from which he drinks so that he will die. But they did not know that Mordecai was one of those who sat on the Sanhedrin, which convened in the Chamber of Hewn Stone, and that he knew seventy languages, a necessity for members of the Sanhedrin.

אמר לו והלא אין משמרתי ומשמרתך שוה אמר לו אני אשמור משמרתי ומשמרתך והיינו דכתיב ויבקש הדבר וימצא שלא נמצאו במשמרתן

While planning their plot, one of them said to the other: But my post and your post are not identical. How then can one of us leave our position to succeed in our plot to poison the king? The other one said to him: I will guard both my post and your post. And this is as it is written with regard to the king’s verifying Mordecai’s revelation of the plan to kill the king: “And when inquiry was made of the matter, it was found to be so” (Esther 2:23); it was discovered that they were not both found at their posts.

אחר הדברים האלה (אחר מאי) אמר רבא אחר שברא הקדוש ברוך הוא רפואה למכה

The verse describes when the rest of the events of the Megilla occurred: “After these events did King Ahasuerus promote Haman” (Esther 3:1). The Gemara asks: After what particular events? Rava said: Only after the Holy One, Blessed be He, created a remedy for the blow and set in place the chain of events that would lead to the miraculous salvation was Haman appointed, setting the stage for the decree against the Jews to be issued.

דאמר ריש לקיש אין הקדוש ברוך הוא מכה את ישראל אלא אם כן בורא להם רפואה תחילה שנאמר כרפאי לישראל ונגלה עון אפרים אבל אומות העולם אינו כן מכה אותן ואחר כך בורא להם רפואה שנאמר ונגף ה׳ את מצרים נגוף ורפוא

Rava explains: As Reish Lakish said: The Holy One, Blessed be He, does not strike at the Jewish people unless He has already created a remedy for them beforehand, as it is stated: “When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was uncovered” (Hosea 7:1). But this is not so with regard to the nations of the world. With them, God first strikes them and only afterward does He create a remedy, as it is stated: “And the Lord shall smite Egypt, smiting and healing” (Isaiah 19:22).

ויבז בעיניו לשלוח יד במרדכי לבדו אמר רבא בתחילה במרדכי לבדו ולבסוף בעם מרדכי ומנו רבנן ולבסוף בכל היהודים

The verse states: “But it seemed contemptible in his eyes to lay his hand on Mordecai alone; for they had made known to him the people of Mordecai; wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai” (Esther 3:6). Rava said: At first he wanted to lay his hands on Mordecai alone, and in the end on the people of Mordecai. And who were the people of Mordecai? They were the Sages, i.e., Mordecai’s special people. And ultimately he sought to bring harm on all the Jews.

הפיל פור הוא הגורל תנא כיון שנפל פור בחודש אדר שמח שמחה גדולה אמר נפל לי פור בירח שמת בו משה ולא היה יודע שבשבעה באדר מת ובשבעה באדר נולד

The verse states: “They cast pur, that is, the lot” (Esther 3:7). A Sage taught the following baraita: Once the lot fell on the month of Adar, he, Haman, greatly rejoiced, for he saw this as a favorable omen for the execution of his plans. He said: The lot has fallen for me in the month that Moses died, which is consequently a time of calamity for the Jewish people. But he did not know that not only did Moses die on the seventh of Adar, but he was also born on the seventh of Adar, and therefore it is also a time of rejoicing for the Jewish people.

ישנו עם אחד אמר רבא ליכא דידע לישנא בישא כהמן אמר ליה תא ניכלינהו אמר ליה מסתפינא מאלהיו דלא ליעביד בי כדעבד בקמאי אמר ליה ישנו מן המצות

Haman said to Ahasuerus: “There is [yeshno] one people scattered abroad [mefuzar] and dispersed [meforad] among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; and their laws are diverse from those of every people; nor do they keep the king’s laws; therefore it does not profit the king to tolerate them” (Esther 3:8). Rava said: There was none who knew how to slander like Haman, as in his request to the king he included responses to all the reasons Ahasuerus might be reluctant to destroy the Jewish people. He said to Ahasuerus: Let us destroy them. Ahasuerus said to him: I am afraid of their God, lest He do to me as He did to those who stood against them before me. Haman said to him: They have been asleep [yashnu] with respect to the mitzvot, having ceased to observe the mitzvot, and, therefore there is no reason to fear.

אמר ליה אית בהו רבנן אמר ליה עם אחד הן

Ahasuerus said to him: There are the Sages among them who observe the mitzvot. Haman said to him: They are one people, i.e., they are all the same; nobody observes the mitzvot.

שמא תאמר קרחה אני עושה במלכותך מפוזרין הם בין העמים שמא תאמר אית הנאה מינייהו מפורד כפרידה זו שאינה עושה פירות ושמא תאמר איכא מדינתא מינייהו תלמוד לומר בכל מדינות מלכותך

Haman continued with his next response as expressed in the verse: Perhaps you will say that I am making a bald spot in your kingdom, i.e., you fear that if an entire nation is wiped out there will be a desolate area within the kingdom. There is no need to worry, though, as they are scattered [mefuzarin] among the peoples, and eradicating them will not result in the creation of an unpopulated zone in the area where they had once lived. Furthermore, perhaps you will say that there is benefit from them; but this nation is meforad, like this barren mule [pereida] that cannot bear offspring, and there is no benefit to be gained from them. And perhaps you will say that there is at least a province that is filled with them. Therefore the verse states that they are scattered “in all the provinces of your kingdom” (Esther 3:8), and they do not inhabit one place.

ודתיהם שונות מכל עם דלא אכלי מינן ולא נסבי מינן ולא מנסבי לן ואת דתי המלך אינם עושים דמפקי לכולא שתא בשהי פהי ולמלך אין שוה להניחם דאכלו ושתו ומבזו ליה למלכות ואפילו נופל זבוב בכוסו של אחד מהן זורקו ושותהו ואם אדוני המלך נוגע בכוסו של אחד מהן חובטו בקרקע ואינו שותהו

Haman continued: “And their laws are diverse from those of every people” (Esther 3:8), as they do not eat from our food, nor do they marry from our women, nor do they marry off their women to us. “Nor do they keep the king’s laws” (Esther 3:8). They spend the entire year in idleness, as they are constantly saying: Shehi pehi, an acronym for: It is Shabbat today [Shabbat hayom]; it is Passover today [Pesaḥ hayom]. The verse continues: “Therefore it does not profit the king to tolerate them,” as they eat and drink and scorn the throne. And a proof of this is that even if a fly falls into the cup of one of them, he will throw the fly out and drink the wine it fell into, but if my master the king were to touch the glass of one of them, he would throw it to the ground, and would not drink it, since it is prohibited to drink wine that was touched by a gentile.

אם על המלך טוב יכתב לאבדם ועשרת אלפים ככר כסף וגו׳ אמר ריש לקיש גלוי וידוע לפני מי שאמר והיה העולם שעתיד המן לשקול שקלים על ישראל לפיכך הקדים שקליהן לשקליו

Therefore, Haman concluded: “If it please the king, let it be written that they be destroyed, and I will weigh out ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king’s treasuries” (Esther 3:9). Reish Lakish said: It is revealed and known in advance to the One Who spoke and the world came into being, that in the future Haman was going to weigh out shekels against the Jewish people; therefore, He arranged that the Jewish people’s shekels that were given to the Temple preceded Haman’s shekels.

והיינו דתנן באחד באדר משמיעין על השקלים ועל הכלאים

And this is as we learned in a mishna (Shekalim 2a): On the first of Adar the court makes a public announcement about the contribution to the Temple of half-shekels that will soon be due, and about the need to uproot forbidden mixtures of diverse kinds of seeds from the fields now that they have begun to sprout. Therefore, it turns out that the Jewish people give the shekels on the first of Adar, preceding the date of Haman’s planned destruction of the Jewish people and his own collecting of shekels.

ויאמר המלך להמן הכסף נתון לך והעם לעשות בו כטוב בעיניך אמר רבי אבא

Ahasuerus responded to Haman’s request: “And the king said to Haman: The silver is given to you; the people also, to do with them as it seems good to you” (Esther 3:11). Rabbi Abba said:

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