On the third day of fasting, Esther prepared herself for her unscheduled meeting with the king. Her beautiful appearance was greatly diminished because of her prolonged fast. However, because of her total dedication to prayer and the service of G-d over the three day period, she was imbued with the spirit of G-d. In addition, the Gemora in the tractate of Megilla tells us that three angels assisted Esther when she went before the king. One was there to help her raise her head, as she was so weak from fasting that she could not keep her head up without assistance. The second angel was there to assure that she would find favor in Achashverosh’s eyes, even though her beauty had diminished to the point that Achashverosh might be angered. (We will discuss the role of the third angel a little later.) All these miracles occurred because of the fasting and prayers of Mordechai, Esther, and the entire city of Shushan.
Achashverosh usually kept court in the place where he heard and decided judicial matters. However, on this day, G-d caused Achashverosh to decide to sit in his throne room in the palace. This change of location benefited Esther: From the throne room, Achashverosh was able to see those who were coming to see him immediately, while that was not the case with the usual location of Achashverosh’s court. As Esther approached, Achashverosh saw Esther. The usual gesture of the king that indicated approval of a visit and permission to enter the king’s chambers was his lifting of his scepter and extending it towards the person. In order to assure that Achashverosh would perform this necessary gesture even though he did not order the visit (making “illegal”), an angel (the third one discussed above) came and extended the scepter that Achashverosh was holding. With the assistance of the angels, Esther was admitted to Achashverosh’s court without suffering any dire consequences.
Achashverosh asked Esther what she wanted. Esther requested that the king and Haman appear at a private banquet that she was hosting that day. She invited Haman in order to inspire the Jews to increase their prayers. The Jews would hear that Esther finally had an audience with the king and that Haman was there as well. They would assume that as Haman was there, Esther found it difficult to ask the king to abolish his decree. Esther hoped that the Jews would then conclude that they could not rely on Esther for their salvation, and they would therefore increase their prayers to the One that could save them – G-d. Achashverosh immediately ordered that Haman be brought to the banquet. Both Haman and Achashverosh arrived at the banquet. During this feast, Achashverosh again asked Esther what she wanted. Esther wanted to be absolutely sure that her actions to save the Jews were what G-d wanted. She therefore postponed any request of salvation from Achashverosh until the next day. Esther hoped that by then, she would see some sign that what she was doing was on the right track, and that G-d was happy with her and her efforts. She told Achashverosh that her request was that the king and Haman appear at a private banquet that she would be hosting on the next day. The private banquet ended, and Haman left a very happy man.
Haman left the party in a joyful and exuberant mood. He was clearly in good standing with the queen, because he was to be at two private parties hosted by the queen on two consecutive days. He could not ask for more honor. Haman remained happy until he arrived at the gate, and saw Mordechai. As always, Mordechai refused to bow to Haman. This slight at a time when Haman was on top of the world infuriated Haman. He arrived at home and started a bragging session. He spoke of his wealth, his large family (10 sons), his honor, his royal position, and finally of the day’s events – the private banquet and subsequent invitation. He then related how all of this meant nothing to him as long as he kept on seeing Mordechai at the gate. Zeresh, Haman’s wife, gave him some advice. She told him to erect a high gallows upon which Mordechai would be hung. He should then, early the next morning, when no one would be around to defend Mordechai, go to Achashverosh and request that Mordechai be hung. Mordechai would then be hung on the high gallows, so that all would see what happens to the person who slights the honor of Haman. Then, once in good spirits, Haman should accompany the king to the banquet. Haman liked this idea and had the gallows erected right away.
|Part VI: Part VI – The Decree to Kill the Jews||Part VIII – Mordechai is Rewarded|
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For questions, comments, and topic requests, please write to Rabbi Yehudah Prero.