Purim

Esther Achieves Closure for Her Family

Mordecai told Esther: Now it is possible to correct Saul’s omission, but if you do not take advantage of this opportunity — you will not rectify the sin of your ancestor. Esther and Mordechai go on to complete Saul's mission by wiping out Amalek

| 10.12.14 | 10:02
Esther Achieves Closure for Her Family

On the Shabbat before Purim, we recite Parshat Zachor for the Haftara reading, since Haman was a descendant of the nation of Amalek who we are ordered to wipe out. As it says at the end of the Torah portion of Beshalach, "For there is a hand against G-d’s throne, G-d will battle with Amalek from generation to generation."

The Haftarah deals with a rare opportunity that was missed to destroy Amalek. After Saul was crowned the first king of Israel, Samuel commanded Saul in G-d’s name to wipe out Amalek, from man to woman, from young to old, from ox to sheep and from camel to ass.

210,000 Jewish soldiers join the war and they won. But then Saul faltered. He did not kill Agag, the king of Amalek. Saul and the people spared Agag, as well as the sheep and cattle. Their display of mercy was a sin. The Creator of the universe is a merciful Father, and if He orders to kill, should one show pity against His Will? The tragic result was that G-d rejected Saul as king. When Samuel asked Saul, "What is the sound of sheep and cattle that I hear?", Saul blamed the people for showing pity. Samuel then denounced him and told that he had lost his kingdom and another person better than him will get it instead.

The price that the Jews paid for leaving Agag alive was high. The Midrash explains that that night, a maid was lowered to the dungeon where Agag was imprisoned and conceived from him, and as a result, Haman was born to a descendant of Agag. Haman wanted to kill all the Jewish people, including women and children, in one day. His antagonists were Mordecai, the son of Yair the son of Shimei the son of Kish (who was the father of King Saul), from the tribe of Benjamin, and Esther, the daughter of Avichayil.

When Esther felt trepidation to go without permission to Ahasuerus, Mordecai told her, "If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arrive for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish — and who knows if you attained royalty for this moment." Mordecai told Esther: Now it is possible to correct Saul’s omission, but if you do not take advantage of this opportunity — you will not rectify the sin of your ancestor. Who knows if you have been selected queen from all the women of the kingdom because heaven wanted you to rectify Saul's sin.” Indeed, Esther and Mordechai were prepared to sacrifice themselves but fortunately the Jewish people were saved and Haman was hanged.

While salvation is not yet nigh, we hope that in our days we will achieve the wiping out of Amalek’s “agenda”. Its numerical value in Hebrew is equal to the word safek — "doubt" because they are the nation that symbolizes heresy against G-d. May all people on earth recognize and acknowledge that only before G-d should “one bow the knee and every tongue should swear”. “Then all peoples will uniformly call in the name of G-d and work together", as Zephaniah prophesied, may it happen soon in our days, Amen.

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