תמלול אירוע Role Reversals and Reunions שהתקיים בתאריך 19/02/2020
Unmasking Purim - First Meeting
Shalom, Erev Tov, firstly apology for the voice, secondly, which should be the first apology, I’m late, a last minute delay, but for good reason, my daughter is in labor, Baruch Hashem. A good time, our month, to discuss Megilat Esther. Last year we discussed how the Megila. It is one of the latest books of the Tanach, the authors have all the books of the Tanach, to create allusions. We will explore over the next couple of weeks, certain allusions, we will expose the textual-literary perspective, what the subtle messages are, and perhaps the most important messages, which we sometimes ignore. Allusions will be rampant in the Megila, what is the motive of the author to draw these? The various assertions that have been espoused by various modern scholars, Goffman, and others, maintain that allusions have several purposes – a trope, and a theme. Not just a play of words, but highlighting an ideological them. For instance, filial themes referring to the book of Genesis, highlights this ideology. A second purpose is to allude to a wide array of texts, an author may thereby save depth of space. Certain stars in our history, the canonized ones, an allusion to Abraham, not merely a character, who is going to be monotheistic, revolutionary, who is going to establish an ideology. Allusions to such a character gives us a greater sense of the present character. The rest of the reasons, or goals of allusions, is for us to appreciate some sources, even if the references are sporadic. They can help us appreciate the contrast. Grossman calls this dynamic allusion. Parallels not just with one characters, but several, some of them antithetical. We find in the story of Esther and Mordechai, parallels with Aaron and Moshe, they have similar letters, and a similar arch of redemption, but Mordechai is going to resemble Aaron more, and sometimes Moshe. We will begin by looking on how Esther and Mordechai are going to write the Sefer, comparing themselves not only with Moshe, but also Yosef HaTzadik and Daniel, prominent members of the community who succeed in the diaspora. Perhaps more than heroes like David, we will find that members of the dynasty of Saul. We need to put the Sefer back to its canonical context, but also a historical context. Hazal explain, that the story happens sometime before 530 BCE, which allows the Jews exiled by the Babylonians to return to their country, and Achashverosh comes later, and then Daryevesh, so the classical, majority view of Hazal, there are only 4 Persian kings. So the story is between the time when the Jews can return to Israel, but before the temple is allowed to be rebuilt. In history, there are 14 Persian kings, this refers to the 140 missing years of Jewish history. Sanderius, coming after Koresh, allows the temple to be rebuilt. Koresh allows Jews to return, only a drop in a bucket return, a minority of Judeans living among Sumerians, and Bnei Efraim. The tribe of Binyamin, they are going to return as well, for they were exiled together with the Judeans, now they find themselves there too. Some of the northern Bejamites are resisting the Judeans in the north. Jews try to establish an autonomy, to appoint a satrap of their own over the area of Yehuda. Many Jews, Yehudim, who have not yet returned. Achashverosh lives after Daryevesh, though Jews achieved a pseudo-autonomy, and a temple rebuilt, Jews still live abroad, Mordechai and Esther, and many Benjamites also, living outside Eretz Israel. Esther and her forefather, Shaul, we will look at the establishment of the monarchy, trying to see the establishment of Benjamite leadership. The Jews are upset with the members of their own tribe living abroad, and what of Benjamin? Benjamin owns part of Jerusalem, but still they are the tribe of Saul, they are upset that they don’t return, one is heir of the other. There will be parallels between Mordechai, Esther and Shaul. How does Shaul and Esther rise to monarchy, these are the only king-queen in the tribes of Binyamin, who rise to public monarchy, among the general populace. Vashti refuses the king’s request for her to appear before him, to exhibit her beauty. To banish Vashti to the harem, he should look for ‘reuta’ who is better than her. This refers to Samuel 1, the almost sin, iniquity of Shaul as he doesn’t listen to the edict of Shmuel and God to completely eradicate Amalek, placing all in a state of Harem, the animals even. What happens as a result, Samuel has to explain to Saul – God is tearing the kingship from you, and giving it to your ‘ree’, your neighbor who is better than thou. We know that in the subsequent chapter, who is he? None other than David the king, the ’rea’ who is going to take over, assume the monarchy, not only from Saul, but is going to establish his own dynasty, lasting to eschatological times as well, for all time. We open the Megila, we find an immediate allusion to the Davidic story, but the irony, who is going to be the ‘rea’ that will assume the monarchy from the previous king? A woman, not a man, and not someone even from the tribe of Yehuda. It is Esther, from the tribe of Binyamin. The authors are telling us – don’t worry, David is going to inherit the monarchy from Saul, but Esther will get it back. Is there a competition, a deep-written animosity between Binyamin and Yehuda? Let’s unpack the messages within these verses. It begins – Mordechai is clearly from the tribe of Binyamin, how should he be qualified at the beginning of the verse? Not ‘Yehudi,’ but ‘Yemini.’ The author says – we don’t have any animosity, Esther is not reclaiming the malchut from David, but is reclaiming the lost monarchy. She says – we can live up to the standards of Yehuda. She says – we are the ones who feel a greater relation to Jerusalem, we are not only outside of Israel, but also outside of Jerusalem. We understand your feelings, don’t see us as an antagonistic population, we are there to help you out, we really feel the same sentiments as you. As a matter of fact, wait and hear our story? Mordechai is the godfather of Hadasa, he raises his cousin, we’ve heard that Esther is his cousin, related to him through the paternal side of the family, clarifying that she is also a Benjamite, she is unmarried, a virgin, and beautiful. The verses interpret this in a positive or negative way, but still, we have a lot of blood from gorgeous Rachel, and also – a dynasty related to Saul, him being selected to monarch, we find a similar description, Kish, related to a Saul, therefore Mordechai and Esther too. Benjamites are ‘bnei hail,’ and Esther’s forefather, Avihail, refers to this. Saul himself is described as a ‘ben,’ the story doesn’t begin with an exposition of Saul, but rather, Kish, who takes care of his son Saul. Esther and Mordechai are introduced in a similar manner, Mordechai takes care of Esther. Mordechai is a tall, later on – tall dark and handsome. She says – we are related, both related to Rachel, both taken care of by respected ‘heroes’ in the family, and even our appointments to positions of monarchy are described in the same way. We hear that after Saul was anointed in the private sphere of Samuel, there will be a private ceremony, Saul is quite reluctant, he doesn’t want this position as monarch over Israel, but what can you do? He is selected, he stands out, he is head and shoulders above everyone else. The people see him - long live the king. Samuel stands out with his physical features. Esther also stands out because of her beauty. In the Saul story, his uncle is there. Just like Saul, she is reticent and reluctant, not going to do anything active to be selected as queen, just like Saul she is going to follow he who is in charge of her, and stand out too. As Saul is taken almost against his will, he never wanted to be king, he is certainly not going to place himself in this position, also – and Esther is taken, against her will, in the month of Tevet, the 10th month. Let’s corroborate this story, do you remember how Saul makes his way to Shmuel? His father lost his donkeys, sends Saul to look for them, he is obedient, he follows his father’s orders until they are fulfilled. He goes through the Yemini land and does not find them, he goes to Shmuel, the seer, to ask him, you didn’t want to serve as king, but to find your father’s donkeys, and indeed, by the time you leave this area, near to Rachel’s grave, you will meet people who will tell you the donkeys are father. Your father is worried about you, he is wondering what happened to you. Mordechai and Esther write the story in an almost identical manner – Mordechai advises her to do this. In a very docile manner she is going to follow through with everything Mordechai commands upon her, that’s how she ends up in a position of Malchut. Even when she is in a position of monarchy, she still sees herself as obedient to her cousin Mordechai, even when anointed, he sees himself as obedient to his father, the position is not going to arouse any sense of hubris at all. Esther is the obedient younger cousin, what’s gonna happen to Esther? A similar idea, when Esther does become queen, she is going to make sure that Mordechai is going to be given a particular position, she will place Mordechai on the house of Aman, she gives her cousin a position as the head of Aman’s household. So too, Saul, when he is going to be in a significant position as king, he puts his cousin, Avner Ben Ner is placed as general. Esther then is compared to Saul in many ways, but this is a little ironic, Aviner is positioned to watch over the king, he helped Saul in wars, not doing a good job protecting his cousin, David with Bnei Tzruya are close to this as well. Don’t worry, they tell us, Mordechai does a better job than Aviner. If you’re worried about nepotism, look – cousins don’t always do a very good job. Esther says –don’t worry, Mordechai is capable, and Esther will be there to fix some of the mistakes of Mordechai and his family. Even in regard to mitzvoth between people, we encounter a well scene, and we remember – Od Yishama Be Harei Yehuda, the women always wait by the well. A wife in many cases, stories, is found in this way. Saul comes to the well, and there are many potential young women, they see themselves as such. They are going to be flirtatious with Saul, but Saul is completely disinterested in all these women, he has no interest in flirting, in taking advantage of his position by the well, of proposing to any of them. In the case of Esther, she doesn’t ask for anything, she like Saul is going to remain reticent, she doesn’t speak much – to Higay, Hashgaz, or her suiter, who will save her life, Achashverosh, this trait of reticence, which we find also in Samuel 1, 2, Saul tells about the donkeys to his uncle, but he doesn’t say more – that he's been appointed king! And also Esther, doesn’t say anything, the exact term, repeated, just like Saul. She is very similar to Saul, but this is actually a trait of Rachel. Leah teaches us gratitude, Esther explains the midrash in Bereshit Raba, the trait of silence is taught here. Her children are going to be reticent, Binyamin even calls one of his children, Yashpe – he has a mouth, doesn’t necessary use it. Reticent about Yosef. Saul, and Esther too – she doesn’t divulge the history of her people. This is an expression of Tzniut, of decency, Rachel doesn’t tell her father that Leah is taking her place, for that – she has Saul. Esther too, due to Saul’s reticence, is begotten of him. Here too – Esther has all the good qualities, she understands that she deserves to be in this position, redeeming and reminding us to the positive aspects of Saul’s monarchy. Samuel tells Saul – don’t worry about the donkeys that were lost three days ago, you have something greater on your mind – the kingship, but even when Saul is invested, he is mocked by the Bnai Blial, and he is silent – he says, I’m not going to let this get to me, in addition to three days of not worrying about the donkeys, Samuel says – get the donkeys out of your mind, don’t think about your personal concerns, but national concerns, when it comes to monarchy, Saul is silent. Esther says – don’t worry, I know how to be silent, and how to be concerned for three days. But Esther says – I’m not going to be silent about the welfare of the Jews. She says to Mordechai, I haven’t been invited before the king for 30 days, I can’t appear before him, he will kill me. Mordechai says – you’ve reached monarchy, you must think of the life of the people. She says –yes, gather the Jews, let them fast for three days, I will think of the survival of the Judeas, not just the Benjamites, I am not the parochial monarch, I am not disenfranchised from the totality of the people. More than that she says – let the Jews participate, Mordechai is criticizing his own ancestor, Saul – what should he have done, when people mock him, you put them in their place. If you are silence, the Jews will not be saved, you and your father Esther don’t matter right now, but the dynasty, the Malchut, Saul is willing to compromise on the national name, if you miss the opportunity to redeem the line of Saul, you lose it forever. No one is as similar to Saul like you, go and show what it means to be a good monarch. Who knows if for this very reason, you a Benjamite, the minority of the remaining population of Judeans. You’re Saul take 2. This segways to the next part of our Song. The Return of the Jedi, you are going to be the one who will show people how to do it right, you will fix the mistakes of Saul, you’ll show the people not just of Persia, but of Judea, how to do it right. You are so much like Saul, show that you can always be like David. On the next page you’ll see a table provided by Prof. Berger, also a friend, which lists the allusions, the comparisons. The next one is – an exhortation to care. What happens to Saul when he is anointed? He comes to Givat, and a spirit of prophecy falls upon him. His monarchy is divine, it comes with a divine spirit. But with the closing of his monarchy, we find the same phrases. Samuel anoints David with the same oil, now that the spirit lies on David, the spirit is removed from Saul, the spirit with which he was first inspired, what is left in the vacuum – a really bad spirit. He has a bad spirit. In Megilat Esther, we begin with a bad taste in our mouth, Saul’s story closes with a bad spirit. When we find that Saul is about to lose his monarchy, after not totally destroying Amalek, he does a partially good job, he strikes them, but he keeps the king Agag alive, and Boaz allows the people to have pity on the flock and the cattle. The story of Amalek is responsible for that bad spirit of Saul. You know where I’m going with this. Who is going to take his place? David, his spirit also divinely inspired, while Saul is going to be killed by the Plishtim for not killing Amalek, David is going to kill the same Amalek in the Negev. They are camped in Tziklag, and they find that the Amalekites have pillaged the area, have taken the wives of the people, their flock. They don’t know where they ran, but they find an Egyptian, they feed him, ‘his spirit return,’ David fasts for three days, but he says to the Egyptian, I’m going to feed you, take care of you. The Egyptian says – I am a servant of Amalek, but he was abandoned because I have been sick for three days. Still, he says – we raided, we are the ones who destroyed your camp. David says – are you willing to sacrifice yourself, after being sick, fasting for three days, I’ll help you, will you help me kill the Amalekites? The Egyptian says – as long as you promise that you won’t kill me, won’t give me over to the Amalekites, I’ll help you. And David finds the Amalekites, fights them from morning till eve, he rescues all that was pillaged, and his two wives. Esther and Mordechai write the story of how she saves the people from an Amalakite, Aman ha-Agagi, not like Saul, who didn’t do a good job and lost his Ruach. She is going to save the people rather like David. Esther is very sick, like the Amalakite Egyptian who helps David wipe out Amalek. She is that spy, infiltrator, but I am not just the Amalekite, but also David. If I am the Amalekite, who will kill his Amalekites, I too must fast for three days, and she says, don’t worry, then I will infiltrate the Amalekite camp, called Aman, I will be provided for then, we will have a feast, I will be fed, then I will provide ‘Revach ve Hatzala,’ gain and rescue. Which is like what David saved, ‘Ruach,’ I am the continuation of David, but thereby I am redeeming my ancestor Saul. That is why it had to come from a Benjamite, you would expect someone from Yehuda, the stronger majority of the people. Harambam says – it had to be a Banjamite, someone who is going to finish off the job, because the original commands of God were towards Saul, for he didn’t finish Agag, Haman, a descendent of himsurvives, and therefore Esther has to root out the core problem. I am not going to do it the Saul way, but the David way. She says I’m also going to do it differently, Saul and his army took spoils they were not supposed to take, she says – they did not partake of the spoils. I killed out Amalek, I finished what Saul was supposed to do, but I didn’t mess up like Saul. I learnt from him, but more so even from David. Maybe that’s why we find that Esther’s victory against Amalek is going to be manifested not only in wiping out Aman, but also his ten sons. When David wipes out Amalek, Saul killed for not doing this, we find that Saul is killed together with three of his sons, David later on, to compensate for Saul’s murder of the Givonim, he gives up seven of Saul’s sons. Ten sons. Esther says – I am going to finish what Saul didn’t start. We find parallels not only to the positives, but also the admonitions. Esther doesn’t separate from the Jews, saws herself as part of them. The Jews are threatened by the Amalekites, the latter are betrayed by her own, Esther doesn’t betray her own, allows the Jews to win over Amalek. Still, it's David and Saul combined who inspire her to save all the Jews, this can be seen in the story of the feast of Saul. Only in the case of Saul and Esther we find two royal feasts one day after the other. Does Saul really want to kill David? The second day of the feast, Yonatan realizes his father’s murderous intentions. Esther says – I’m Saul’s descendent, I am going to arrange two parties too, to arouse the anger of the king, to convict the one who is really guilty, but here the enemy is not David, but Amalek, who should have been the enemy of Saul. She says – I am going to fix my ancestor’s anger towards David, and point it towards Amalek. The royal feast of Esther parallels that of Saul. A queen who seeks to save the Jews, a first and unimportant feast, a second, in both cases – were successful, the king becoming enraged, Yonatan getting angry at his father’s anger. Haman too realizes, the kill really wants to kill me. Yonatan then goes out to warn David. Esther also goes out to save the Jews in their defenseless state. In p. 13 we see there even is a greater allusion, Esther says –I am not just deserving to serve as monarch, and therefore a Tikkun for Saul, I really am more like David, I can bring that ‘gain and rescue,’ that other spirit, from being a Judean queen, not just a Benjamite queen. A savior queen, like Avigail. The next page – associates of Avigail and Esther. Avigail is the wife of Naval HaKarmeli, who is supposed to defend what is entrusted in him. Naval did not pay him for all his dues, for sacrificing his life to defend Naval. David is angry and is going to kill Naval’s household. Esther knows the Jews are going to be killed. Avigail stops David from murdering her husband, begs David, falling at his feet, Esther does the same. Naval dies in a feast, from drink. A similar salvation is provided to Esther, they all are enjoined to wait to the next day. Avigail enjoins David to wait, then Naval dies of the hands of God. With Esther it is the same. David says – you helped me save my kingship, Avigail, through God being the one to kill Naval. Esther allows in the same way the survival of the Jews. She is not just the improved version of Saul, not just going to finally wipe out Amalek. She is even the new and improved David. David was able to save his kingdom and family, and she – saved the entire Jewish people. Esther is going to teach us how her monarchy is coming to fix Saul, to fix or rather to continue David, even repair something missing in the Kingdom of Judea. Something is missing? Divrei Hayamin, Yehuda is perfect, pristine, to rule in Eretz Israel. But when we hear at the end of David’s life, that his own son rebels to take his position. David will have to say to Shlomo – you’re the heir, Shlomo says – there is something I didn’t do a hundred percent right, I didn’t secure the kingdom against Yoav, but I’ll leave it to you, to take care of all that needs to be taken care of, because I am leaving you some friends of mine, though I have some enemies. Esther – I am not going to live the Jewish people in peril, in abeyance, she says – Mordechai and Esther leave a legacy of peace. You don’t have to worry, everything is already secure. Shlomo had to kill members of his own family. Not here – there is going to be Shalom, I am going to take the best of David and Saul. This is not just about role reversal – I am more like David than Saul, I am going to bring out the glory of Binyamin, showing you we can be like Yehuda. It’s not that. Nor is it about retribution, but a reunion –not just a combining of Judea and Binyamin, I will go back to the original conflict between them, there is a little bit of a conflict. Joseph becomes the viceroy of Egypt, giving preferential treatment to his full brother Binyamin, there is some schism, though he does not mistreat them. There is a schism, even with Yehuda. Dad said – not to seek revenge against us, Yosef says – I want a reunion, I don’t want any tensions. In Bereshit, Yehuda has to convince Yaakov, please, give me responsibility for Binyamin. Otherwise we are not going to have any food, we are not going to survive. Binyamin and I, when I considered, ‘shakolti,’ Esther says – go gather all the Jews, it’s not about preferential treatment of Binyamin, then Esther could have said – I want to show preferential treatment of Binyamin, he says – I am concerned for all the Jews, I am putting an end to this tension between Bnei Lea, Bnei Rachel, the David-Saul divide, I am going to make sure it’s going to be one. I should really call this the kingdom of Binyamin, but no – I see myself as part of the Jewish community even in Judea, I will protect all the Jews, and if I am lost, I am lost. But we should read – if the Jews die, I die. We are finally going to reach a state of equilibrium, Ahdut, we will show that we stand with Yehuda, have an outstanding debt to them. Yehuda took responsibility and said – how can I go back to my father? Yehuda risks his life for Binyamin. Esther says – now it’s my turn to risk my life for all of Yehuda, for how can I see my dynasty begin with loss? She finally ends the schism between Shaul and Yehuda. She provides peace not only for her generation, but between Binyamin who takes care of Yehuda, and Yehuda of Binyamin. This is her word to us as we rebuilt the community both in Judea and in the Diaspora. Shavua Tov.
Divulging Messages in disguise