The Game is Over
By Rabbi Label Lam
And when Haman saw that Mordechai did not bow and prostrate to him he
became filled with anger. It was despicable in his eyes to send his hand
against Mordechai alone, because they told him the nationality of
Mordechai and therefore he sought to destroy all the Jews that were in the
entire kingdom of Achashveiros, the nation of Mordechai. (Esther 3:5-6)
And Haman told them about his wealth, and his honor, and his abundance of
children, and that the king had elevated him above all the other princes
and servants of the king. Haman said, “Esther the Queen had invited none
other than I to be at a party with the king, and also tomorrow I am
summoned to her with the king, and all this is worthless to me every time
I see Mordechai the Jew sitting in the gate. (Esther 6:11-13)
Man alive! What is his problem? Is it just a bruised and/or inflated ego?
Why does he jump from hating Mordechai to attacking all Jews? How could
all of his wealth and status be considered worthless because one
individual who refused to show obeisance? Was so drunk with power that he
could not tolerate a single dissenting opinion? Is there some other hidden
reason at play that we have yet to discover?
The verse tells us in this week’s portion, Pekudei, “And Moshe saw all
the work and they did it, as HASHEM commanded so they did and Moshe
blessed them." (Shemos 39:43) In which way did Moshe bless them? Rashi
writes, “He said to them, “It should be that the Divine Presence should
rest on the work of you hands!” What’s so great about that blessing?
Years back I would drive out on a regular basis with an Israeli buddy who
was in charge of organizing classes. Yossi had a peculiarity related to
buying gas. Many times we traveled with the tank below “E”, just so we
could fill up later in New Jersey where the prices are reliably less.
One of those fateful evenings heading home we crossed the George
Washington Bridge into New Jersey, just in time, and at the place where
the sign read “no U turn” he made a U turn and we pulled up to the pump.
In New Jersey there is no self-service and therefore at that early hour in
the morning and into the frigid weather strode a man, let us say, more
acclimated to warmer weather, wearing his wool cap and gloves.
To employ a human touch I suggested to Yossi, “I’m gonna make his day!”
Yossi looked at me in horror. “Don’t give’m a tip, we came here to save
money!” I assured him I had another plan and that was just to engage him
in some meaningful conversation. I stepped out of the car with two Snapple
bottles and asked him as he stood by the pump, “Do you recycle these or do
they go into this garbage can?” With a shiver in his voice he
answered, “They all go in the same place.” I nodded in agreement and
began, “We’re all coming from the same place and going to the same place.”
He looked at me with an understanding eye and so I continued, “We all come
from and go back to G-d. If you understand that you understand everything
and if you don’t understand that then you don’t understand anything.” He
seemed to understand well so I went on. “If you have that you have
everything even if you have nothing else but if you don’t have that then
even if you have everything else you have nothing.” He nodded. We paid for
the gas and sped into the night but I think we both had a treat in the
The greatest blessing Moshe could offer is that G-d should settle in the
midst of your work. If you have that you have everything. If not, all just
may be a bunch of nothing. When confronting Mordechai the Jew, Haman was
reminded of and tortured by the notion that, like a-kid counting Monopoly
money, ultimately his piles of currency and real estate holdings are only
valuable until the game is over.
DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.