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Megillah Q&A


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

The Megillah


 Chapter 2 Chapter 4

Chapter 3

"They told Haman, to see whether Mordechai's words would avail; for he had told them that he was a Jew." (3:4)


What words of Mordechai did they convey to Haman?


Achashveirosh was once at war with another country. He selected two armies and placed one under the command of Mordechai and the other under the command of Haman. He gave each army a supply of food which was to last for the duration of the war. When Haman mismanaged his allotment and quickly ran out of food, his soldiers became very angry and planned a mutiny against him. Helpless, he ran to Mordechai and begged for food for his troops. Mordechai agreed to give him food on the condition that Haman become his slave.

According to halacha, when a Jew acquires a Gentile as a slave, he is required to put him through a ritual in which he is converted to be a quasi-Jew, and he becomes required to fulfill some mitzvot.

When the people questioned Mordechai's violation of the King's edict to bow down to Haman, he answered, "Asher hu Yehudi" -- that Haman, by becoming his slave, was really a Jew. As his master, he could not be expected to bow down to him. The people were surprised to hear this and conveyed these words to Haman to see whether Mordechai's words would avail. Haman, knowing this to be true, was embarrassed and filled with rage.

"It seemed contemptible to him to lay hands on Mordechai alone, for they had made known to him the people of Mordechai. So Haman sought to destroy all the Jews." (3:6)


What did Haman hear about Mordechai's people that made him decide to kill the entire nation and not just Mordechai alone?


Mordechai's refusal to bow upset Haman immensely. He considered this a great chutzpah and wanted to kill him. When he discussed it with his advisors, they told him, "You do not know who and what the Jewish people are. It is important for you to realize that Mordechai is not unique.

The Jewish people are 'Am Mordechai'-- a nation consisting of many Mordechais. Killing Mordechai will not accomplish anything because immediately a new leader with the same ideals as Mordechai will take over. He therefore decided to get rid of the entire people and, thus, there would no longer, G-d forbid, be any Mordechais to contend with.

"Haman the son of Hamdata the Jews enemy." (3:10)


Haman is described with many adjectives, how did he acquire the title "Tzoreir haYehudim"?


When Haman maligned the Jewish people, he told the King, "Yeshno am echad mefuzar umeforad" -- "There is one nation, scattered and separated" (3:8). Commentators explain this to mean that they were in total disharmony. To counteract this, Esther felt that unity was the call of the hour and therefore instructed Mordechai, "Leich kenos et kal haYehudim" -- "Go gather together all the Jews" (4:16).

In Hebrew, the word "tzoreir" means to bind and tie together. Haman, through vicious plots against the Jewish people, united and bound them together.

"And the King said to Haman: The silver is given to you, the people also, to do with it as it seems good in your eyes." (3:11)


The Gemara (Megillah 14a) portrays the feelings of Haman and Achashveirosh towards the Jewish people with the following parable: There were once two farmers; one had a mountain of earth in his field while the other had a deep pit. The owner of the earth thought, "I would happily pay this man to permit me to dump my earth in his pit." On the other hand, the owner of the pit thought to himself, "I would unhesitatingly pay this man to fill my pit with his earth."

Meeting personally, the owner of the pit offered to pay for the earth, and the owner of the earth responded immediately, "It is all yours, take it without cost and fill up your pit."

A parable is necessary to explain something difficult to understand; why was a parable needed to describe their hatred?


Undoubtedly, Achashveirosh and Haman both hated the Jewish people with a passion. However, they differed as to what was the best way to destroy them. The intent of the parable is to reveal the profound ideological differences between Achashveirosh and Haman as to how to destroy the Jewish people.

Achashveirosh took the "mountain" philosophy. He elevated the Jews to important government positions and invited them to festive non-kosher meals. Surely they would assimilate and relinquish their Jewish identity.

Haman pursued the "pit philosophy": The Jews should be broken physically, degraded, oppressed, and killed. Thus, they would cease to exist. To bring his plan to fruition, he offered the King money to physically kill every member of the Jewish people. Achashveirosh told him, "They are yours 'for free'; do with them as you wish."

 Chapter 2 Chapter 4

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