A Major Player
By Rabbi Label Lam
Why did Esther invite Haman, of all people to dine with her and King
Achashverosh at the party? Here she had one silver bullet to save the
entire Jewish People. She had risked her life to approach the king. The
entire Jewish Nation had been fasting on her behalf for three days. Then
she invited Haman the wicked oppressor of the Jews as the chaperone to her
party? Would you or I have done such a thing?
Amongst the many reasons the Talmud tells us she had in mind is so “the
Jewish People should not say that we have a daughter in the house of the
king and their minds will become diverted from seeking mercy!” What does
We learn about the original battle with Amalek that when Moshe’s hands
were raised that they were effective in their war efforts. However, when
Moshe’s hands were down, then the battle with Amalek began to fail. The
Mishne in Rosh HaShana asks if we are to believe that the hands of Moshe
were the determining factor in success or failure? No! When Moshe’s hands
were raised, though, the eyes of the Jewish People were vaulted to the
heavens and their swords became disproportionately more powerful. When his
hands were down then each was left to the limited power their sword alone
and they began to falter.
Esther was concerned lest the people who had fasted so long on her behalf
rely upon her. When they would get word that she had successfully reached
the King, they might become prematurely jubilant. She understood that she
had only been able to pass that giant hurdle because she was representing
the fervent hopes of an entire nation. As an individual and under normal
circumstances she should have been rejected entirely if not executed. Now
she appeared in a weakened state after having fasted for three days
herself. For sure she must have been having a bad a hair day and still she
outshone all the wannobees. Miraculously she found grace in the eyes of
This could only have happened in the merit of all that prayer. The
greatest danger now would be if she would be abandoned, to be alone
without her people’s prayer. She would be as ineffective as one of those
swords with the hands of Moshe down. What would prop up the hands of
She therefore sought to portray herself as having betrayed them in the
end. When they would perceive that she was consulting with Haman they
would assume that she’s cutting a deal to save herself. Then the
desperation of their outcry would grant the final burst of heavenly energy
necessary to vanquish the beast.
The Chovos Levavos states in his introduction to the Gates of Trust a
three part principle that may help crystallize the dynamic at play here.
1) It is impossible for a person to be free from worry unless he or she
relies on HASHEM because 2) Someone who does not rely on HASHEM is by
definition relying on something or someone else and 3) HASHEM leaves the
person in the hands of that on which they are relying.
What does it mean to rely on something? Didn’t the Jewish people use real
swords versus Amalek? Didn’t they send Esther to do their bidding? Perhaps
we can draw a standard from the laws of prayer where we are told that one
should not lean on anything when praying, not even a lectern. What is
considered leaning on something? One should estimate if that thing would
suddenly be removed, would he become destabilized?
Esther understood that if they would lean upon her too heavily then, since
we are left in the hands of whatever we trust, she was fearful not to
spare her reputation but rather her nation. A sword alone is just a
sword, and even the most articulate lobbyist may be just another solo
voice ignored. However, with the prayers of a nation blowing wind in her
sails, a delicate agent may yet become a major player.
Text Copyright © 2005 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.