(VaYehi B’Yamei …) And it was in the days of Achashvuerosh — he was the Ahasuerus who reigned from Hodu to Cush, one hundred twenty-seven provinces. In those days, when King Achashvuerosh sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the capital. (Megillas Esther 1:1-2)
This is how the Megillah of Esther begins. These are its opening words, “VaYehi B’Yamei Achashvuerosh… It was in the days of Achashvuerosh…”. The Talmud postulates that every time a verse begins with “VaYehi” – “ “and it was”, that is an introduction to an impending doom. That premise in challenged and defeated based on a number of verse from the beginning of creation. The Talmud reasserts the notion that each of the five times in TANACH a verse starts with these words, “VaYehi B’Yamei …” it was in the days of …Achashverosh or “it was in the days of Amrafel…”, like in the time when Avraham was pulled into the war of the four kings and the five kings. So, the intro to the Megilla in a foreshadowing of rugged times ahead.
Now we have the question of why “VaYehi B’Yamei” – “It was in the days of…” in an introduction to tragedy. It could be that when a certain individual or a large personality is aggrandizing himself and standing tall on the historical stage that is a dangerous sign of the times. It was in the days of Stalin Yimach Shmo. Some giant ego is trying to dominate the world and project his global power. That is a scary time.
The Megillah begins with Achashverosh making a huge party to consolidate his empire consisting of 127 provinces, that is the known world, and to celebrate that the Jewish People, according to his mistaken account, were lost in history and forgotten about by G-d! Now it is his turn to fill the void.
What is one to do? The Jewish People were living in exile, becoming more and more alienated from Torah and HASHEM and each other and themselves. They were drawn into honoring Achashverosh’s celebration. They were dealing practically with the political realities on the ground. How could they not participate but it turns out that they actually indulged themselves and took pleasure in that feast.
The world was hanging by a thread. “There was a Yehudi man in Shushan the capital, whose name was Mordecai the son of Yair the son of Shimi the son of Kish, a Benjamite (Megillas Esther 2:5) Mordechai was the last man standing. He was the Ish Yehudi. That Talmud tells us that the expression Yehudi is for someone who denies idolatry. He understands with clarity that there are no forces in the universe independent of HASHEM. There is no separate world of politics, or economics, or weather. We are one on one with HASHEM. He doesn’t waste his time fighting with and blaming the messenger. He gets the message. Mordechai understood the “The One Principle” and he would be the great unifier.
Now, the Mishne in the 6th Perek of Pirke Avos spells out 48 ways to acquire Torah wisdom. The very last one, the 48th is expressed as follows; “One who says a thing in the name of the one who said it… From here you learn that everyone who says a thing in the name of him who said it, brings salvation into the world, as it is said: “And Esther told the king in Mordechai’s name” (Esther 2:22). The Maharal asks how we learn from this event that every time someone says a thing, even a police report, in the name of the one they heard it from, they bring redemption to the world. It happened to have worked out that way here. Maybe this is a unique situation.
He explains that by the final redemption the world will possess a mindset of “knowing HASHEM”. HASHEM’s presence will be dominant and obvious. When someone gives credit to others rather than promoting himself and projecting his ego, that act, that attitude opens a small window to let HASHEM’s light shine into the world.
When the Purim event came to its grand and dramatic conclusion, it was clear that neither Mordechai or Esther could have orchestrated this play or written such a script; it could only have been directed by the hidden hand of HASHEM.
In the beginning it was Ish Yehudi. In the end, it was “LaYehudim…”. Everyone came to understand what Mordechai alone had understood and instead of King Achashverosh looming large on the stage of history, HASHEM was rightfully restored and crowned as HaMelech – The King.