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Megillas Esther

Part X - The Jews are Saved

by Rabbi Yehudah Prero

On the same day that Haman was killed, Achashverosh gave over Haman's entire estate to Esther. Now that Esther had revealed her lineage, she was able to fully explain to Achashverosh her connection to Mordechai. Esther placed Haman's estate under Mordechai's charge, and Achashverosh replaced Haman with Mordechai, giving Mordechai the wealth, honor, and power that Haman had. However, all was still not well. Haman's decree still stood and the death sentence over the Jews was still in effect.

Esther, while praying to G-d that Achashverosh should reverse the decree, fell in front of the king and cried. She begged Achashverosh to avert Haman's decree. She had a plan as to how to do this. Esther wanted to be sure that Achashverosh would accept her idea, and therefore she carefully worded her request. First, she had to be sure that Achashverosh would be willing to go along with her plan, and therefore she prefaced her plan with "If the king wants...." She then wanted to be sure that she was in good standing with Achashverosh at that moment, so that he would be agreeable to her idea. Lastly, she knew that her idea had to be something that Achashverosh would consider feasible, and therefore not objectionable. The law was that once an edict was issued by the king and sealed with his signet ring, it could not be reversed or revoked. Esther knew that, and she therefore asked for the issuance of another edict, to countermand Haman's. Achashverosh agreed to the edict and he said that he would seal it with his signet, so it as well could not be revoked.

The edict was issued immediately, and rushed to the far reaches of the empire, so that the Jews would not have to worry longer than necessary. The edict said that the day on which the Jews were to be attacked, the 13th day of the month of Adar, the Jews were permitted to organize and defend themselves. They were also permitted to conduct an offensive attack, and to kill any threatening person, along with the women and children, and they were permitted to plunder the possessions of their enemies. In reality, all that was needed was permission for the Jews to defend themselves. The Jews did not need nor want to kill the children and women, nor plunder. However, these grants were placed in the edict so that Haman's edict was effectively annulled in all respects.

Mordechai no longer wore his clothes of mourning. He left the palace wearing royal clothes, with his Tallis (prayer shawl) and Teffilin (phylacteries) on as well. The Jews in Shushan and throughout the entire empire rejoiced upon hearing the news of the new edict. The celebrated the news with feasting and a renewed commitment to the Torah and its study. Many of the non-Jewish citizens now feared for their lives, and they therefore converted to Judaism.

On the 13th day of Adar, the Jews, in organized groups throughout the empire, attacked those who sought to harm them. The opposition to the Jews was minimal, for two reasons. With the issuance of the second edict, people had begun to fear the Jews. In addition, the fame of Mordechai the Jew, now a top advisor to the king, had spread, and people feared his power. 75,000 of the Jew's enemies were killed. The spoils were not plundered by the Jews, so that everyone would see that the Jews did not wage this war in order to increase their wealth, but rather to fulfill the edict of the king.

Achashverosh received a report on the 13th of Adar that 500 men were killed in Shushan. Achashverosh figured that the Jews in Shushan stopped on the 13th (thereby allowing him to receive a report) and did not wage their battles the entire day because the king was in the city, and they did not want to "overdo" it in the presence of the king. Achashverosh's intention when issuing the later edict was that the Jews should do as they pleased, and Achashverosh was under the impression that the Jews in Shushan did not do as they pleased because he was there. Achashverosh therefore asked Esther if she had any further request. Esther asked that the Jews in Shushan be permitted to wage their battle for another day, on the 14th of Adar, so they could finish up the "job" and truly do what they pleased. In addition, she asked that the 10 sons of Haman, who had been killed in the battle, be hanged. This way, all would see what happens to those who discriminate and plan the destruction of an entire nation. Achashverosh agreed, a decree was issued, and the sons of Haman were hanged.

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