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9 Adar, 5783 - March 2, 2023 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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The Miracles of Purim

by HaRav Shlomo Brevda zt"l


In honor of Purim, we present these translations and excerpts from HaRav Brevda's world-famous shiurim on Purim, and his best-selling sefer on Megillas Esther and Purim — Kiymu Vekiblu — which was reprinted more than four times. They provide a deep insight into the underlying lessons of Purim. This was first published in the print edition in 1995.

The following commentaries are based, in part, upon the peirush of the Vilna Gaon zt'l on Megillas Esther, and Yosef Lekach, a peirush on the Megilla by R. Eliezer Ashkenazi, zt'l, written four hundred years ago.

Part II

The first part appeared two years ago. Click here to see the first part.

Two Problems

We now face two problems. Esther must become the queen, because the salvation of Klal Yisroel is going to take place through her. In order to accomplish this, we must get rid of Vashti. Any rational calculation would take into account two things: Number one, Achashverosh will never get rid of Vashti (as previously explained). Number two, even if she died, Achashverosh would never marry a Jewish woman. Never! This is very clear.

How is Hashem yisborach going to get rid of Vashti — how will He bring Achashverosh to a situation where he will actually agree to get rid of her? And how is He going to make Achashverosh accept Esther — a Jewish woman — as his wife and queen?

So the screw turns again. Achashverosh has decided that he has become great (in his own eyes). But he now desires to become great in the eyes of the ministers of all 127 countries. How will he do that?

In his generation money talked. As we know, that is how he became king. Money talked very loudly indeed. Therefore, he will invite all of the ministers and important officers of the 127 countries to Shushan. He will build hotels, etc. — whatever he needs for this — and he will wine and dine them for 180 days. It is going to be some party!

Why 180 days? There is a good reason for that. He wanted to show off his wealth. Was he very wealthy? He was indeed. He inherited, by becoming King of Paras, one thousand and eighty royal treasures, as we shall explain.

Hidden Treasure

Nevukhadnezzar was an extremely jealous and vicious person. He could not bear the fact that another king existed in the world. Upon capturing country after country, he abducted their kings to Bovel and abused them, day after day. He plundered every country not just of its wealth, but of its royal treasures.

A treasure is not just a sack of gold. A treasure means museum pieces. He plundered 1080 treasures according to the Medrash. He brought them all to Bovel so that no other nation in the world would ever have any pleasure from these treasures. That was his way of living.

He once had a very philosophical thought: he may die one day. His first thought was about the treasures.

"Should my son inherit these treasures upon my death? No!"

So he hired special coppersmiths to build huge ships of solid copper. Have you ever seen a ship like that float? No. They built them on land.

Once they were finished, he had them bring the 1080 treasures, fill up these ships and seal them completely. Then he built something we can compare to the Suez Canal, to that spot from the Euphrates (Pras) River. That was the great river near Bovel. He diverted the waters to the spot where those copper vessels were, and caused an ocean of water to flood the entire area. Naturally, everything sank to the bottom. It was such a flood that no one could ever find these treasures.

The day came when he was killed. He left this world happily, knowing that no one would have the treasures. Years later when the Persian empire took over from Bovel, one of the Persian kings, Koresh, allowed the Yidden to go and build the Second Beis Hamikdash. Said Hashem yisborach, "I reward every good deed."

Koresh suddenly had an inspiration about where to search for those treasures, and he found them. Thus, the kings of Paras and Madai had 1080 treasures. They could thank Nevukhadnezzar for that.

Displaying the Treasures

When Achashverosh became king of Paras, he had all of these treasures. The Medrash says that one could view no more than six of these extensive treasures in one day. Six times 180 is 1080. That is why it took him 180 days to show off his riches. Between one treasure and the other, he wined and dined them.

Naturally, by the end of the 180 days, they were thoroughly impressed by his unbelievable wealth. He was considered a very great king, indeed. No one would ever dream that he had been a stable boy. He was more royal than royalty by then, and he was very happy with himself. His own self-pride was rising, moment by moment.

Vashti, who was a true granddaughter of Nevukhadnezzar — not much less vicious and jealous than he, in her middos — was becoming a bit fed up with him. Why?

Until now he had always realized his humble origin, and he looked up to her, as HaMalka Vashti. Suddenly, his manner toward her began to change, as if to say to her, "Call me `Your Highness.' I am a king! My authority has been accepted universally."

She was getting tired of it, but what could she do about it? Achashverosh decided, at the end of the 180 days, to make another seven days of extravagant banquets. What was this for? This was exclusively for the residents of Shushan.

Achashverosh was an extremely serious individual. He was constantly concerned about his position in the world. The man was also quite brilliant in the way he went about organizing diplomatic functions: He did new things which no king had ever dreamt of doing. On the other hand, he had a few screws which were being tightened by Hashem yisborach, more and more, as time went on.

Even though Achashverosh had the respect and fear of 127 countries of the world, he still needed something else. It was essential that he have the "loyalty and love" of the residents of Shushan, the capital city. Any potential uprising would likely focus on the capital city, and then the only ones who could save him would be his neighbors. To ensure their loyalty and love it was not enough to show them his wealth. Wealth gains prestige. Kindness and love gain loyalty and admiration. No king had ever shown this before Achashverosh. He was the first of the great politicians. Pay attention to what he did.

He proclaimed seven days of parties, just for Shushan. This was his first innovation. No king had ever invited, to a royal simcha, the very poor people and the very simple people, the very young and the old. Generally a king only invites the cream of high society. Achashverosh put up signs all over Shushan that he was inviting to his mishte everyone in Shushan — beggars, unemployed, vagrants — everyone is invited. He was the first liberal democratic king.

Who wouldn't be happy to go to the royal palace? But that was not enough. Achashverosh made another innovation.

Generally there were very strict rules pertaining to Royal banquets. All of the guests had to dress according to a certain code. Everyone had to rise at the same time to toast the life of the king. They drank the same type of wine, and they had to drink it all up. Even if you despised that type of wine, you were forced to drink. There were no exceptions. That is what the law was.

The Reforms of Achashverosh

But Achashverosh was a "democrat." He declared that at his feast you can do whatever you want: drink if you want, don't drink if you don't want. Whatever you are offered, you can say no or yes, and you will be told "Thank you" no matter what you answer. "Achashverosh the kindhearted. Achashverosh the benevolent. The man of the people!"

On the wall there was a huge motto — "Every man's requests and desires shall be fulfilled."

The Gaon comments that even the lowest of the low was catered to. On the one hand the guests were not forced to do anything. On the other hand, the royal palace was forced to serve whatever was requested. It was unbelievable. Achashverosh was going off his mind, slowly but surely, since no one could realistically accomplish such a feat.

The Medrash tells us that Hashem yisborach commented that it cannot be done. You cannot satisfy everyone in this world, because one wants it black and another wants it white — at the same time. If you try, Achashverosh, you will end up by hanging this one to satisfy that one, and hanging that one to satisfy this one.

Why did Achashverosh do this? To gain the love and loyalty of the residents of Shushan. Now it was the seventh day, the climax of all the festivities. Vashti suddenly made a party for women.

All this time she had not made any parties for anyone. Why? She had no need for parties. Achashverosh made all these parties to make himself into a king, since he was not of royal lineage. Vashti really was a queen, and she had no need for lavish parties to prove it. However, she could not bear his blossoming conceit any longer. She came in, day after day, and the people were honoring and glorifying Achashverosh. It was going to his head, and getting on her nerves.

"I will teach him a lesson," she said. She waited until the last day and decided to become a "teacher." She decided to make a party for women.

Where to make it? The Megilla says that it was in Beis Hamalchus asher laMelech Achashverosh. Naturally it was in the palace of Achashverosh. The Gaon and Yosef Lekach explain that in every palace there are many halls and chambers, but there is always one hall that is reserved for the private use of the King, exclusively. No one else ever uses that place. That hall was called Beis Hamalchus asher laMelech Achashverosh.

Vashti decided that she was going to make the party in that hall. Only the King goes into that room. But she wanted to show that she was the King. She and her female guests.

Look at what Hashem yisborach is doing! Various screws are turning at the same time. Achashverosh is approaching a peak of pride, on the seventh day of the Shushan party, coming on the heels of 180 days of banquets, festivals, and exhibitions. He will certainly be super-sensitive and react violently to any attack upon his pride. At the same time, Vashti had decided to assert herself. If he asks her for a cup of tea, she will give him a cup of coffee. Whatever he asks for, she will do the opposite. The Gaon says that Hashem was clearly preparing them for a head-on collision.

Continued ...


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