Parshas Vayakheil 5757 - 1997
Outline # 26
Chodshei Hashanah Following the Weekly Parsha
by Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
Lessons from Megilas Esther
In Megilas Esther (the Scroll of Esther), Haman convinces the King to
destroy the Jews. Finally, the beloved queen reveals that the decree involves
herself and her own people; the king angrily turns against Haman.
The book Manos Halevi was written by the holy author of L'chah Dodi (recited
before the Shabbos prayers). Manos Halevi cites other commentaries which
declare that the king, Achashveros, did not know that his decree was meant
for the Jews. Haman had only described a people, but did not mention the
name of the people. When Esther revealed that the decree was against the
Jews, her own people, he became angry. (The opinion of Akeidas Yitzchak)
The author of Manos Halevi disagreed with this explanation, and referred
to numerous statements from the Medrash, which indicate that Achashveros
agreed to destroy the Jews.
Still, the verses of the Megilah seem to imply the first explanation.
When Esther pointed an accusing finger at Haman -- in the presence of the
King -- why didn't Haman answer, "Your Majesty, the King himself agreed with
the decree!" Since Haman did not answer in such a manner, the indication
is that the king had been tricked into making a decree which he had not
The Manos Halevi answered this argument, as well. The king's first wife,
Vashti, had been executed. The advisor who suggested her execution was Memuchan,
whom the Rabbis say was none other than Haman. Esther spoke to the king with
wisdom: "Haman, who had Queen Vashti killed, now wants me, your new queen,
killed as well!" This left Haman speechless.
Of course, Haman did not mean to kill Queen Esther, but the argument was
a strong one. The truth of the statement -- that the result of Haman's decree
would result in the queen's death -- is interesting. The irony is that Haman
had a queen killed, and, in the end, was killed due to a queen.
The Talmud states: No one knew how to slander like Haman (Megilah 13b).
One who begins rumors is himself blemished. (Kidushin 70a)
As everyone probably knows, US President Richard Nixon fell from power
after becoming embroiled in scandal. How many recall that he first rose to
national prominence because of a scandal -- the Alger Hiss affair, during
the McCarthy era? There are many similar examples that come to mind, in which
the accuser becomes the accused...
The Rambam in Hilchos Deos (6:4) discusses how people should act in regard
to others. Because we are commanded to love one another, we should only speak
in praise of other people. One who makes himself great by shaming others
has no share in the world to come...
We do not mean to say that justice should not be pursued; our world, however,
has become so shallow, that scandal and sensationalism are the order of the
day... every day. Recently, the Israeli Police, together with several other
agencies, issued a plea. The request was made that the media, and the public,
refrain from jumping to conclusions -- because people are innocent until
proven guilty. That the police joined in such a request is amazing.
The Rabbis of the Talmud advise exercising caution when praising people;
once someone is praised, accusers tend to speak up. That was in the Talmudic
times. Today, the situation is such, that we cannot quote any contemporary
by name, even to a private audience. The very mention of a name is likely
to bring up some unpleasant comment. Quoting Torah in the name of the speaker
-- says the Talmud -- brings redemption to the world (Avos 5:6). So often
today, it will bring about a debate -- not regarding the topic, but as to
whether the author of the quote had the credentials to state an opinion.
Chodshei Hashanah (Part Fifteen)
Adar Sheni -- The Second Month of Adar (Based on the work Chodesh B'chodsho,
The Jewish Leap Year has thirteen months, while an ordinary year has twelve
months. There is a hidden connection between the twelve months, and the twelve
tribes -- the twelve sons of Yaakov/Yisrael (Jacob/Israel). If so, what is
the significance of thirteen months?
Yoseif (Joseph) was of such vital importance to the family that he is
sometimes thought of as a tribe, sometimes as one of the Fathers. The word
"Yoseif" comes from the root "to add," "to be extra." Yaakov's blessing to
Yoseif was that Yoseif's own sons would be counted as Yaakov's sons, as tribes
themselves (Beraishis [Genesis] 48:5). Yoseif is the one who has added to
the tribes, and he himself disappears, converting into a patriarch -- a father
The two tribes emanating from Yoseif make thirteen. Thus, an ordinary
year corresponds to the twelve original sons; the leap year, to thirteen
tribes, counting the added sons of Yoseif. (Sefas Emes, Beis Yisrael).
Good fortune comes to the Jewish People during Adar (Talmud, Ta'anis 29b).
Evil forces have no effect on someone born during the Second Month of Adar,
for no sign of the zodiac corresponds to the thirteenth month. Thus, the
Second of Adar is essential to Israel and its faith, for it is said: Ein
Mazal B'yisrael -- Israel is not bound by the astrological signs (or by
scientific laws of determinism). (Chidah)
The miracle of Purim occurred during the Second Adar (Talmud Yerushalmi
Megilah, chapter 1, halachah five).
Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
1 Babbin Court
Text Copyright © 1997
Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
and Project Genesis, Inc.