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Megillas Esther

Part VI - The Decree to Kill the Jews

by Rabbi Yehudah Prero

Haman knew that what ever scheme he wanted to carry out had to meet the king's approval. One of the best ways of getting that approval was by contributing to the king's coffers. He first presented the reason for his plan to Achashverosh: There is a nation dispersed throughout the empire who abides by different laws than everyone else. They do not respect the law of the king, and it is therefore fitting for the king to rid himself of these infidels. Haman continued that if the king liked this idea, it should be recorded, and that he would deposit 10,000 silver talents into the king's treasury. Achashverosh took his signet ring off, gave it to Haman, and told Haman that he could do as he saw fit. On the 13th day of Nissan, Haman had the decree written up, and it was sent out to every province in its respective language. The decree said that all Jews, young, old, children and women, were to be exterminated on one day, the 13th of Adar, and their possessions were to be plundered. The edict was sent out immediately. Haman wanted this edict publicized right away, even though it was eleven months before the execution of the decree, because Haman feared that Achashverosh would change his mind. Once the decree was out, the fate of the Jews was sealed.

When Mordechai heard of the terrible decree, he tore his garments, clothed himself in sackcloth, and went out into the streets of Shushan. He hoped that when the Jews of Shushan saw his mourning, they would all realize that now was the time for prayer and repentance. Word got back to Esther that Mordechai was acting in this way, and as she had not heard about the decree, she became very disturbed. In order for a person to enter the palace complex, one had to be dressed appropriately. Mordechai was not permitted to enter the way he was dressed. Esther wanted to hear from Mordechai what had happened, and she thought that Mordechai would not want to send a messenger to relay the information. She sent him a change of clothes so that he would be able to meet with her in the palace complex. However, Mordechai did not want to stop his mourning even for an instant, and he refused the change of clothes. Esther then sent a messenger who she hoped Mordechai would trust with the information. Mordechai related all of the events to the messenger. He gave him a text of the decree, and told him to tell Esther that she should plead before the king for the salvation of her nation. He returned to Esther and related all that Mordechai said.

Esther was in a quandary. In order to convince the king to save the Jews, she had to find favor in the king's eyes. However, Achashverosh had not summoned Esther before him in the past 30 days, and no one, even the queen, was permitted to enter the king's chambers without being summoned by the king. If she went to the king immediately without being summoned, chances were that not only would the king not find favor in her, but he would be very angry with her. On the other hand, as she had not been summoned in 30 days, chances were that Achashverosh would summon her soon, and perhaps she should just wait until being summoned instead of going without being summoned and angering the king. She sent a message to Mordechai expressing her concerns.

Mordechai responded strongly to Esther. He told her that she was not needed for the salvation of the Jews. If she was not willing to put her life on the line for the behalf of the entire Jewish nation, G-d would cause the salvation to come through other means, and she and her father's house would perish. Furthermore, he said that it could be that Esther was chosen to be queen precisely for this task: to save her nation.

Esther heard what Mordechai said, and agreed to go to the king. She told Mordechai to assemble all the Jews of Shushan. She and her maids would fast for three days, and that is what all of Shushan should do as well. After those three days, she would appear before the king, even though the appearance would be illegal. Mordechai did all that Esther asked.

BackPart V: A New Queen, A Foiled Assassination, & Haman's Wrath     Part VII: The Plans of Esther and HamanNext
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For questions, comments, and topic requests, please write to Rabbi Yehudah Prero.


 

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