Halacha for Thursday 14 Adar II 5779 March 21 2019

The Salvation of the Jewish Nation on Purim

The verse in Megillat Esther (Chapter 3) states: “And Haman said to King Achashverosh: There is a certain nation scattered and dispersed among the nations in all the provinces of your kingdom and their laws are diverse from those of every nation and neither do they keep the king’s laws; it therefore does not profit the king to allow them to remain. If it pleases the king, let it be written that they be destroyed and I will pay ten-thousand talents of silver by the hands of those who do business to bring it into the king’s treasuries.”

It seems that when Haman suggested his request to annihilate all of the Jews to the king, he felt that this would cause a setback to the kingdom’s economy since the Jews paid taxes to the king. He therefore offered to pay the king ten-thousand silver talents to the king in return for killing the Jews.

Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l posed the following question: What is the connection between these ten-thousand silver talents and “those in charge of the king’s business” which refers to owners and laborers of various factories in that generation?

Maran zt”l explained that the wicked Haman was not known as an especially wealthy man. Nevertheless, in that generation, the Persian factory owners would produce garments for sale in the capital city of Shushan in addition to producing fabric for suits and dresses. In their shrewd and intelligent fashion, the Jews would compete with them and when Jews would open factories that produced garments and fabrics of much more superior quality in beautiful and eye-catching colors, customers would flock to the Jewish establishments which caused the Persian marketplace to be empty of customers and eventually, rampant unemployment.

Haman then took advantage of this predicament and turned to the Persian factory owners and workforce and he exclaimed as follows: “Give me a one-time donation to be brought to the king’s treasuries and we will then decree annihilation upon the entire Jewish nation, from young to old, and you will then surely be able to sell your merchandise without fear of competition!” He was therefore successful in collecting a respectable sum of ten-thousand silver talents. He therefore told the king, “I will pay by the hands of those who do business,” so that if the king asked him where he obtained such a large amount of money from, he would reply that it was donated by the Persian businessmen.

Immediately thereafter, the verse states, “And the king removed his ring from his finger and he gave it to Haman, son of Hamedata, the Agagite, oppressor of the Jews. The king told Haman, ‘The money is given to you and so is the nation so that you may do to them whatever is fitting in your eyes.’” Our Sages derived from this verse that Achashverosh was a greater Jew-hater than the wicked Haman, for even before he got anything in his hands from Haman, he already transferred his ring to Haman in order to obliterate the Jewish nation.

Hagaon Rabbeinu Yehonatan Eibeschitz zt”l explains that the reason why Achashverosh hated the Jews so much was because the kings in those days were usually curious to know who would rule after them. Achashverosh consulted his astrologers about this matter and he was told that a Jew would sit on his throne after him. Achashverosh was astounded and thought to himself, “How will a Jew possibly continue my legacy?” At that point he did not yet know that Esther was a Jew and therefore, any children she bore would be Jews as well. From that point on, Achashverosh began hating the Jews because he believed that they would rebel against him in the middle of his reign and begin a revolution that would overthrow his kingdom. It is for this reason that his hatred for the Jewish nation raged on throughout his life and when Haman came along with his suggestion, he was overjoyed for he had been waiting for such an opportunity to destroy the Jews in order to avoid the possibility of a revolution.

However, when Queen Esther came before him and told him, “For me and my nation have been sold to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish,” Achashverosh understood that Esther was a Jew and that the Jew that would eventually reign after him and sit on his throne was her son, Daryavesh (Darius). He was then able to calm down and his hatred for the Jewish nation dissipated. At that point, he turned all of his wrath and hatred toward the wicked Haman at which point he decreed, “Hang him on it!”

“The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor”

We wish the entire Jewish nation a joyous and festive Purim!

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