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Megillas Esther

Part VIII - Mordechai is Rewarded

by Rabbi Yehudah Prero

On the night after the first party, Achashverosh had trouble sleeping. He was troubled by the days events. Achashverosh figured that if Esther was willing to risk her life to speak to him, she must want something very big from him. Achashverosh also figured that she probably was not asking for something that she personally needed, because she was queen and had all that she could possibly want. As far as Achashverosh knew, Esther did not know who her relatives were (as she never mentioned them) and therefore would not be requesting anything for them. The only one who he could think of that had any connection with Esther was Mordechai. He knew that Mordechai had raised Esther after her parents died, and they therefore had a close relationship. However, Achashverosh knew that there was no way that Esther could ask for a favor for Mordechai unless Mordechai had first done something to benefit the king. He therefore ordered his servants to bring the book of chronicles before him. That way, he would be able to tell Esther that he had already repaid Mordechai for whatever it was that he did, and he would not have to grant her request.

The kings officers brought the book before Achashverosh. These officers, who were the king's personal servants, hated Haman. They were constantly forced to respect him and flatter him, and because of this they despised him. They knew how much Haman hated Mordechai. If an opportunity to insult Haman arose, they would take advantage of it. The king asked the officers to read to him those parts of the book concerning Mordechai. They read the part which told of how Mordechai put a halt to the plan to assassinate the king by informing the king of the plan via Esther. When Achashverosh then asked what reward Mordechai received for this deed, they willingly revealed that Mordechai, Haman's enemy, had received no reward. Achashverosh wanted to take care of rewarding Mordechai immediately, before the banquet with Esther later that day. He knew that Mordechai deserved a huge reward for his actions, and that if the reward was not given, Esther would have solid grounds for requesting a large favor for Mordechai. If Achashverosh took care of the reward immediately, he would be able to decline any request Esther would make on behalf of Mordechai at the banquet. However, he was not sure what he should do to reward Mordechai.

At this very time, Haman was near the king's chambers, because he had listened to the advice of his wife about speaking to the king early in the morning about hanging Mordechai. Achashverosh asked his officers who was outside. He was hoping it was one of his advisors, who he could consult with to determine Mordechai's reward. Ordinarily, anyone who knew Haman would realize that now was not a good time for him to speak to the king, because the king was now planning to reward Mordechai. They would try to hint to Haman that he should leave the area. However, because these officers hated Haman, they willingly revealed to Achashverosh that Haman, Achashverosh's chief advisor, was outside. Achashverosh was thrilled that Haman was the advisor outside. Achashverosh figured that Haman must be in with Esther on whatever she was planning to request for Mordechai, because Haman was invited to the banquets with Achashverosh. Therefore, Haman was the perfect person to ask what the reward should be. That way, come time for the banquet, Achashverosh would be able to say that Mordechai was already rewarded as per Haman's advice.

Haman was brought in before the king. Achashverosh did not want Haman to know who he was talking about, because he thought if Haman knew that it was Mordechai, he might request more reward than Mordechai deserved. Achashverosh asked Haman "What should be done for the man the king wants to honor?" Hashem caused Achashverosh to phrase the question in this way. If Achashverosh had mentioned any monetary reward, Haman would know that Achashverosh could not be referring to him, because he was so wealthy that he had no need for additional money. Haman might then ask the king who this question was referring to, and if Haman found out it was Mordechai, Haman would then have the opportunity to slander Mordechai and ask for his hanging. Since the king only asked about honor, Haman thought that the king had to be referring to Haman, as who else would the king want to honor? Once Haman started thinking about his honor, he forgot why he came to speak to the king, and started crafting his idea of honor for the king. He told the king that the one the king wishes to honor should be dressed by royal servants in royal clothes, and led around the city on the king's horse wearing the king's crown, with someone proclaiming before the person "This is what is done to a man who the king wants to honor!" Achashverosh liked the idea, because it really did not amount to that much effort or money being expended by the king . Because this had to be done before the banquet, it needed to be done now.

Achashverosh told Haman that he should do as he just described (sans the crown) to Mordechai immediately, without leaving out a single detail. Because Achashverosh commanded Haman to do everything immediately, Haman had no opportunity to speak to Achashverosh about his plans for Mordechai. Haman did all that the king commanded.

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For questions, comments, and topic requests, please write to Rabbi Yehudah Prero.


 






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