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Megillas Esther

Part IX - Haman's Downfall

by Rabbi Yehudah Prero

After Haman paraded Mordechai around the city, Mordechai returned to his vigil by the gate of the king. Haman went home a despondent man. He told his family and friends what had happened. They asked him if he had been in any dispute with friends of Mordechai before the king, for which the king found in Mordechai's favor and granted him this honor as the judgment . He told them that there was no dispute, and that the king on his own decided to honor Mordechai. Once they heard that the king bestowed this honor on Mordechai without any push to do so, they told Haman that what had happened was the work of the G-d of the Jews. Once the Jew started to rise, their enemies would start to fall. They told Haman that Mordechai's reward was not just a coincidence, but a bad omen, indicating that Haman's downfall might be starting. They advised him to take down the gallows he had erected for the purpose of hanging Mordechai, as they feared that his plan might backfire and that he would end up on the gallows. Haman would hear nothing of this. He was convinced that the honor given to Mordechai was a fluke, and there was nothing to worry about. He refused to take down the gallows.

While Haman's family was attempting to convince Haman to reconsider his decision not to take down the gallows, the king's messengers came to take Haman to the banquet Esther was hosting. He was rushed to the banquet. Esther was now prepared to confront Haman. She had gotten the sign that she was looking for that indicated that now was the time she was to try and save the Jews: Mordechai's honor at the expense of Haman's. When Achashverosh asked Esther what she wanted, she told him. She said that her nation has been sold for destruction, to be killed and annihilated. Achashverosh asked Esther who is the one who dared to do this. As she was about to say that Haman was the person, an angel had to come and move her hand, which was pointed at Achashverosh. Because she was intently concentrating on her prayers to Hashem that she find favor in Achashverosh's eyes, she was thinking about Achashverosh. When the words describing Haman, "an adversary and enemy," started coming from her mouth, she still had Achashverosh on her mind, and therefore pointed at him. At this final moment in which the Jews' salvation depended on Esther presenting her case before the king, Esther did something which could have gotten her killed. If it was not for the miracle of an angel coming to redirect Esther's hand so it would point at Haman, Esther and the entire Jewish nation could have been killed. It was truly because of the prayers and repentance of the people of Shushan that Esther succeeded in her mission.

When Haman heard the accusation made against him, he trembled with fear. Achashverosh was greatly angered that Haman would try to do such a thing. He went up into the palace garden to cool down his anger. He did not really want to kill Haman, and he hoped that by cooling down his anger, he could come up with something else. However, when he was in the garden, he saw some men cutting down his trees. He asked these men (who were in reality angels) who told them they could cut down the tress, and they answered that Haman told them to do it. Achashverosh's anger with Haman flared up once again, and he came back inside the palace to confront Haman.

While Achashverosh was outside, Haman fell in front of the couch on which Esther was resting, begging for forgiveness. When Haman heard the king returning, he tried to stand back up, but an angel held him down on the couch where Esther was sitting. Achashverosh was stunned: Haman was trying to assault the queen in his presence! Achashverosh had still not decided to kill Haman. However, Charvonah, an attendant of the king (who the Medrash says was actually the prophet Eliyahu) pointed out to Achashverosh the tall gallows that Haman had erected for hanging Mordechai. Achashverosh misunderstood what Charvonah said. He thought that Charvonah told him "There is the gallows that Haman erected for Mordechai which he talked about, and is good for the king." When Achashverosh heard that Haman wanted to kill him as well, he ordered that Haman be hung on the very gallows which he built. What Charvonah actually said was "There is the gallows that Haman erected for Mordechai, who spoke good about the king." Due to this lack of communication(a result of the hand of G-d), Haman's fate was sealed.

Haman caused his own downfall. First, he convinced the king to change the rule about judging matters that were relevant to himself. If the king had not had the power to judge matters in which he was an interested party, Haman's case would have gone to a tribunal, and he would not have been killed. However, because Haman convinced Achashverosh that Achashverosh should have the power to decide these matters, Haman had no recourse once his death sentence was pronounced by the king. In addition, if he had not erected an inordinately tall gallows, Charvonah would not have been able to point it out to Achashverosh, and Haman's death sentence might not have happened so swiftly, leaving him no time to beg for mercy. It was only because Haman wanted the whole city to see Mordechai hanging that Charvonah saw the gallows from afar and pointed it out to Achashverosh. Lastly, if Haman had only listened to his wife's request to take down the gallows, the gallows would not have been there for Charvonah to see. Haman's obstinacy caused him to leave the gallows up, and caused his downfall.

BackPart VIII - Mordechai is Rewarded      Part X - The Jews are Saved Next
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For questions, comments, and topic requests, please write to Rabbi Yehudah Prero.


 






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