Vol 36.26 - Purim 1 Spanish French Audio Video
(5750) The doubt of Ahashverus "what shall be done to Queen Vashti, inasmuch as she did not comply with the order of the king etc (Esther 1:15);
Explanation of Rashi (Esther 1:8) s.v "for so had the king ordained" and s.v "upon every steward of his house".
The special innovation of this feast according to Rashi (the simple understanding of the verse)
1. The beginning of the Megillah, it tells that on seventh day of the feast that Achashverosh made “for all the people in Shushan the capital, nobleman and commoner alike”, that he commanded that they
“Bring Queen Vashti before the king etc. But Queen Vashti refused to appear by the king's order etc. and the king grew furious. The king asked his wise men, those knowledgeable of the times etc. "By law, what should be done with Queen Vashti for failing to obey the order of the King etc.?"
The reason that Achashverosh put the case before his wise men is because: “this was the king's custom, to (bring such matters) before those who were versed in every law and statute”
(As Rashi states: “for such is the custom of kings to put such matters before all those who are versed in law and statute”)
From this it appears that he was in doubt concerning the law regarding Vashti.
However, this is puzzling:
The conduct of Vashti (who “refused to appear by the king's order”) was treason against the king- therefore what doubt was there?
For even according to Torah laws, which are merciful (תורת חסד), someone who refuses to carry out a king’s command, is liable to death at the king’s will (from the law of treason (מרידה במלכות)).
From this it is understood that the same was regarding the kings of other nations – that one who commits treason against a king is subject to the “death penalty”
And even more puzzling is the reply of Memuchan, one of those advisors who was “versed in every law and statute”, who said:
"It is not against the King alone that Queen Vashti has sinned, but against all the ministers and all the nations etc. For word of the queen's deed will reach all the women and it will belittle their husbands in their eyes etc.”
In other words, the underlying reason that Vashti was deserving of death,
(As it states: “let a royal edict be issued by him”,
(A royal edict of vengeance that commanded that she be put to death. Rashi),
that “Queen Vashti may never again appear” (and therefore she was killed. Rashi), “before the king etc.”)
was not because of the sin of treason against King Achashverosh, but rather because she transgressed against “all the ministers . . and all the nations . . and it will belittle their husbands in their eyes !”
Many commentators noticed this and answered in different ways. Yet one must examine this, for it is a fundamental question in the simple understanding of the verses, yet it is not cited or even alluded to in Rashi’s commentary on the Megillah!
2. One could explain this by prefacing that which is written in the previous verses (regarding this feast):
It states: “and the drinking was by the law, without force, for so had the king ordered all the stewards of his household, to comply with each man's wish.”
For the wording: “for so had the king ordered/Yeesod” is seemingly, not understandable. And particularly since it is not language that fits the flow of the verses: “for so had the king ordered all the stewards of his household”.
And even though Rashi explains the word “Yeesod” as: “a phrase of founding, in other words like rectifying and commanding” – one must examine why the word “Yeesod” is used.
(so much that Rashi is required to state “in other words (k’lomar)” :
which has a very precise meaning (in Rashi’s terminology).
“in other words like rectifying and commanding”)
and not the normal phrase “For so commanded the king” (And this is phrase is actually used (later) in the Megillah: “For so commanded the king” ?
Another, albeit lesser question is Rashi’s explanation of the words: “all the majority of his household” in which he explains: “all the stewards of the feast, the baking steward, the meat steward (tabachim) and the wine steward”-
The verse is explaining why the “drinking was by the law etc. which was namely because “so had the king ordered”. If so, what do the baking steward and the meat steward have to do with it here?
And even though, from the wording of verse states “All the majority of his household”, which implies that he gave this command to more than one steward – this
(besides this, even if one were to say that he also commanded the baking steward and the meat steward, Rashi should have listed the “wine steward” first, because the subject is drinking wine.)
does not prove that the intent of the verse was to include the baking steward and particularly the meat steward, for according to the simple understanding, the meat steward was not present at the feast.
(Whereas the wine and baking stewards were present for they brought the bread and wine to the feast.)
Therefore it is logical to explain simply that the intent of “all” of his household refers to all the servants and caterers of the feast.
(For this was to insure that the drinking was in a manner of “without force” but rather “according to every man's wish “).
But what relevance does the baking and meat stewards have here?!
3. One could answer that Rashi’s intent is to explain why the verse used the lengthy phrase:
“So had the king ordered all the stewards of his household, to comply with each man's wish”,
and did not just suffice with the concise words: “The drinking was by the law, without force, for so had the king ordered”?
But even this is not understood.
Why indeed, does the Megillah indeed elaborate on all these particulars?
And even make the distinction that the drinking was without coercion – that even this was a praise of the arrangement of the feast?
So much so that Rashi learns from this that, the fact that the drinking was in a manner of “(by law and) without coercion”, was not due to a specific command of the king regarding drinking per se, but rather a result of the king having “founded” (Yeesod) and enacted the general format of this feast in a specific manner – namely that all the stewards of the feast were commanded by the king, “to comply with each man's wish”
Therefore Rashi explains: “all the majority of his household” – means “all the stewards of the feast, the baking steward, the meat steward and the wine steward”. For the ruling of the king was regarding all aspects of the feast,
(that it: “comply with each man's wish”)
which included all types of food and drink.
And since “all the majority of his household” included “all the stewards of the feast” which were “the baking steward, the meat steward and the wine steward”, and since a general feast is called “Lechem”, since the main aspect is “eating”, whereas drinking is secondary to it. That is why Rashi lists them in the order: “baking steward, the meat steward and the wine steward”.
Accordingly, the phrase “to comply (la’asot) with each man's wish“ is precise:
For the intent of this is not (just) the negation of coercion, but rather, also complying (positive action). For the main ruling and command of the king (also regarding the drinking of wine) was not (just) a negative (shlilah) (“without force”) but also a positive (“to comply with each man's wish”). Namely that the stewards of the feast organize it in a manner that each of the guests eat and drink according to their wish. And this is the reason for the lengthiness of the verse. For the reason that the “drinking was without coercion” was because “for so had the king ordered etc. to comply with each man's wish” which was a result of the general aspect that the king ordered and enacted for this feast.
4. Yet one must still examine this:
Since the main innovation of this feast was “for so had the king ordained upon every steward of his house, to do according to every man's wish” –
Why was this said as a reason that the “And the drinking was according to the law without coercion”, and not as an independent aspect?
What is the verse coming to tell us, by prefacing that the “And the drinking was . . without coercion”– something that is understood automatically from the immediate concluding words: “for so had the king ordained . . , to do according to every man’s wish”?
If “every steward of his house” was required to fulfill the desire of each person, in all aspects of this feast, it is simple to understand that there was no coercion in this – there was no coercion and forcing to drink!
And even the precise wording of the verse: “for so had the king ordained” (יסד), is still not completely resolved – for even though this is relevant to the general feast, nevertheless, it would have been sufficient, seemingly, to say that “for so had the king commanded (צוה) upon every steward of his house” (on all the stewards of the feast) to do according to every man’s wish.”
One could say, that with this aspect of “for so had the king ordained . . to do according to every man’s wish”, comes as a reason for “And the drinking was according to the law without coercion”, it emphasizes , even more, the innovation of this feast, that it was “according to every man’s wish.”
5. The explanation of this is:
On the verse “And the drinking was according to the law without coercion,” , Rashi explains:
“According to the law: Because there are feasts in which they coerce those seated to drink (the contents) of a large vessel, and some can drink it only with difficulty, but here, no one coerced (anyone).”
The necessity for Rashi (according to the simple understanding of the verse) to explain this, is understood simply – both from the subject of the verse,
for seemingly, why would one think that they would be forced to drink, so much so that it required a special command (and frim the king himself – “for so had the king”) that “the drinking was . . without coercion”?
As well as from the wording of the verse – for what is the meaning of the word “according to the law” (״כדת״)? It should have said: “and the drinking was without coercion”?
Therefore Rashi explains “Because there are feasts in which they coerce those seated to drink (the contents) of a large vessel”.
And since there are feasts where “their law” (״דתך) (their custom) obligates the forcing of drinking, it is logical to say that, that for the feast of the king, in this case, where it was all “according to the bounty of the king (כיד המלך),
(In all of its particulars, and especially with regard to the wine, as it states “and royal wine was plentiful according to the bounty of the king”)
certainly this “law” was in effect there. Therefore the verse comes to tell us that – here - it was in a manner of “And the drinking was . . without coercion, for so had the king ordained”, meaning that the king himself commanded that there be no coercion, contrary to the law.
However, one must examine this:
For the reason of the custom in a “law” such as this (to force drinking in a large cup) is, to show the greatness of the host, namely that his feast is with abundance – therefore they specifically drink from large cups. Therefore, in our case, where it speaks of the feast of the king, how could one compromise on this “law”? This conduct (to deviate from the “law” and not to force the drinking in a large cup) is contrary to honoring the king?
This question is answered by the precise wording of the verse “for so had the king ordained (יסד) . . , to do according to every man’s wish” – namely, that this feast was different. For its entire foundation (יסודה) and importance, from the beginning was that it specifically be for the will of the people.
In other words, there are feasts, where the purpose is to increase the honor of the person making the feast, similar to the first feast that Achashverosh made, where it states: “for all his princes and his servants . . when he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom, and the splendor of his excellent majesty”. For a feast such as this, the honor of the king demands that one conduct oneself according to the “law”, to specifically drink from a large cup.
However, the feast that Achashverosh made afterward: “for all the people present in Shushan the capital” -was for a different purpose – not to show the greatness of the king and to increase in his honor , but that it be “according to every man’s wish”, specifically according to the will of the people.
(As Rashi states: to do . . for each one his desire.).
And since “for so had the king ordained” this feast, from the onset, it is understood that this feast was not like the other feasts,
(like the precise wording of Rashi: “Because there are feasts in which they coerce”, for this is not with all feasts)
that they forced one to specifically drink from a large cup - for this was contrary to the purpose of this feast.
(And this is also the reason that the v is precise in telling regarding the “And the drinking was according to the law without coercion”. For with this it is emphasized how much this feast had to be “according to every man’s wish”,
(The desire and pleasure of the people, specifically)
so much so that because of this, they we able to nullify the “the drinking according to the law” (contrary to the honor of the king) since the purpose of this feast was “to do according to every man’s wish.” , as aforementioned.
6. According to the aforementioned, the aforementioned puzzlement (in Par. 1), regarding Vashti is resolved, simply (so much so that Rashi does not need to explain it in his commentary):
Since the entire purpose of this feast was “to do according to every man’s wish”, and it is simple that there was no “coercion” in everything related to this feast (“for so had the king ordained and this was his honor ) - there is room to say that Vashti was not obligated to come “before the king . . to show the peoples and the princes her beauty”, by force (and that her refusal was not treason, but on the contrary, in accordance with the desire of the king that “to do according to every man’s wish.”
However, it is understood that there is also room say the opposite.
(And because of many reasons:
1. One could say that bringing Vashti before the princes was not a detail and part of the feast, and that the command of “to do according to every man’s wish” - did not apply.
2. The command “to do according to every man’s wish.” was in general. However, here, there was an explicit command from the king.
3. “to do according to every man’s wish.” was said with regard to “all the people present in Shushan the capital” –that Achashverosh wanted to give them pleasure etc. – however the queen was not included in this) -
Therefore Achashverosh consulted with ‘his wise men, those knowledgeable of the times”, and they found it necessary to add an additional reason "It is not against the King alone that Queen Vashti has sinned etc.
7. The saying of the Sages that every mention of the word “king” in Megillat Esther refers to G-d, is known.
From this it is understood, that even in our verse, “for so had the king ordained . . , to do according to every man’s wish” – that this verse alludes to the conduct of G-d with regard to His people Yisroel.
And one could say that this verse alludes to the virtue and innovation that was accomplished by the Mesirat Nefesh of Yisroel, in the time of Purim.
For the Sages state, that at the time of Matan Torah,
“G-d overturned the mountain upon them like an (inverted) cask etc., this furnishes a strong protest against the Torah.
(For if they are taken to court to answer why ‘you did not fulfill what you accepted’, they can reply that they were forced to accept it),
Yet even so, they re-accepted it in the days of Ahasuerus, for it is written, they confirmed, and took upon them (קיימו וקבלו היהודים, קיימו מה שקיבלו כבר) meaning that they confirmed what they had accepted long before”.
And this is also the allusion in our verse – regarding the feast that the king made “for all the people present in Shushan the capital” – for this refers to Yisroel who are “His close nation” (עם קרובו)
(and who are found in the capital of the King of Kings – G-d) –
that G-d invites them to the feast, which is Torah study and Mitzvot - for this is the feast and pleasure of a Jewish person. And G-d gives the person free-choice (בחירה חפשית,) “without coercion”. And on the contrary “to do according to every man’s wish.”
And this is the virtue of the days of Purim, that “they confirmed what they had accepted long before”, not because of coercion but specifically out of free-choice.
Therefore the happiness of Purim is greater than all measure and boundary, so much so that “A person is obligated to drink on Purim until he does not know
(the difference between "cursed be Haman" and "blessed be Mordechai")
, and as Rashi explains: ‘to drink” means “with wine”.
For one could say that this is an aspect of “v'nahafoch/ it was turned about" (״ונהפוך״)– that instead of the “wine” that Achashverosh gave at his feast, in the manner of “and royal wine was plentiful (רב) according to the bounty of the king,” which is not in a positive manner (שלא למעליותא) -it becomes “wine . . plentiful” (״יין . . רב״) of holiness -the happiness of Purim which is above measure and boundary.
So much so that, even when all the festivals will be annulled,
(Meaning that the happiness of the festivals will not possess the importance that is regarding the happiness that will be with the happiness of Geulah)
the happiness will be above measure and boundary, so much so that it will be “joy of days (meaning everlasting happiness) (of yore shall be) upon their heads” (שמחת עולם על ראשם)– that "these days of Purim will not pass from among the Jews, nor will their remembrance cease from their seed".
mSichas Purim 5727
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