And the King said to her, “What is it for you, Queen Esther? And what is your petition? Even if it be half the kingdom, it shall be granted you!” Esther said, “If it pleases the King, let the King and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him.” ( Megillas Esther 5:3-4)
What did Esther see that she invited Haman? … So that Israel should not say, “We have a daughter in the house of the King.” And then they would divert their minds from the mercy. (Tractate Megilla 15B)
Would you or I ever have thought to invite Haman? The Jewish People had one last good chance to avoid decimation and Esther makes what looks like a risky move. Actually, the Talmud offers many good reasons why she did what she did and after a while we might even begin to appreciate her great wisdom in doing so. For example, we are told that: 1) Esther wanted to know where Haman was at all times. 2) She tried to disarm him from being suspicious. 3) She aimed to arouse the jealousy of the King. 4) She hoped Haman would become overconfident. These were all wonderfully effective strategies and they worked. What was her intention not to have Israel say, “We have a daughter in the house of the King.”? What’s that one about?
A poor man who had to make a wedding for his daughter came to the Kotzker Rebbe for help. The Rebbe gave him a letter of introduction to Rabbi Moshe Chaim Rothenberg of Chentshin (brother of the Chidushei Harim). In the letter he requested that Reb Moshe Chaim help this poor man financially as best as he could. The man traveled for many days until he reached the city of Chentshin and found his way to the home of Reb Moshe Chaim. He presented Reb Moshe Chaim with the letter from the Kotzker Rebbe, confident that he would receive the full sum of his requests. After reading the letter carefully, Moshe Chaim took out a single ruble and handed it to him. The poor man was shocked. His travel expenses exceeded the amount he had just been handed.
He left the house of Moshe Chaim broken hearted. However, a short while later the poor man was met along the road where he had been walking dejectedly by a huge wagon loaded up with all the needs for his daughter’s wedding. Who was leading the wagon? It was none other than Reb Moshe Chaim. He presented the poor man with the generous gift which he accepted.
The poor man asked Reb Moshe Chaim, “If you intended to give me all these goods then why did you let me leave with a single ruble and a sack full of worries? Reb Moshe Chaim said to him, “Let me explain my thinking. When you came to me with a letter from the Holy Kotzker Rebbe, I’ll bet you thought that that all your financial woes were solved. It could even be that you forgot entirely about G-d Almighty Who provides for your needs. However, when you left my house feeling dejected I presumed that you once again turned your heart to Heaven. I wanted you to know where all these things really come from. I am only an agent of HASHEM!”
Now we can return our attention to Esther’s brilliant strategy. When she entered the realm of the King to beg for mercy for the Jewish People it was after three days of fasting. Not only was Esther fasting but she had requested of Mordechai to demand that all the Jews should fast and pray for three days so that she might find grace in the eyes of the King once again. When the King set his eyes upon her, miraculously he was enchanted despite her having fasted so long. Esther understood that she had only made it that far because of the feverish prayers of the entire Jewish People. She knew that she would continue to need their help to finish her mission. Her next concern was that when the people would hear that she had gained the full attention of the King they would shift to relying on Esther’s guile alone. Therefore she invited the wicked Haman to give a false impression to the People of Israel that she was going to use this magic moment to save herself. When the people heard the bad news they intensified their prayerful efforts turning back to HASHEM. Now, only with HASHEM’s help did Esther succeed! DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.