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Megillah, Daf Yod Aleph, Part 1

 

Introduction

This week’s daf continues with midrashic discourse related to Megillat Esther.

 

רבי חנינא בר פפא פתח לה פתחא להא פרשתא מהכא: +תהלים סו+ הרכבת אנוש לראשנו באנו באש ובמים. באשבימי נבוכדנצר הרשע, ובמיםבימי פרעה, ותוציאנו לרויהבימי המן.

 

R. Hanina b. Papa began his discourse on this section with the following text: "You have caused men to ride over our heads, we went through fire and through water" (Psalms 66:12). Through fire in the days of the wicked Nebuchadnezzar, and through water in the days of Pharaoh. "But you did bring us out into abundance," in the days of Haman.

 

Each element of the verse from Psalms is interpreted as referring to a case where God cast the Jews, or some Jews, into something. "Fire" refers to the casting of Hananyah, Mishael and Azaryah into the furnace (see Daniel 3). "Water" refers to male children being cast into the Nile. "Abundance" refers to the feasts through which Israel was saved during the time of Esther.

 

רבי יוחנן פתח לה פתחא להא פרשתא מהכא: +תהלים צח+ זכר חסדו ואמונתו לבית ישראל ראו כל אפסי ארץ את ישועת אלהינו, אימתי ראו כל אפסי ארץ את ישועת אלהינובימי מרדכי ואסתר.

 

R. Yohanan began his discourse on this section with the following text: "He has remembered his mercy and his faithfulness to the house of Israel, all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our Lord" (Psalms 98:3). When did all the ends of the earth see the salvation of our Lord? In the days of Mordecai and Esther.

 

There may be two reasons why R. Yohanan assumes that in the days of Mordecai and Esther the word of God’s salvation reached all the ends of the earth. Either because letters were sent out to all of the ends of the earth, or because Ahashverosh ruled over all of the known parts of civilization.

 

ריש לקיש פתח לה פתחא להא פרשתא מהכא: +משלי כ"ח+ ארי נהם ודב שוקק מושל רשע על עם דל. ארי נהםזה נבוכדנצר הרשע, דכתיב ביה +ירמיהו ד‘+ עלה אריה מסבכו, דב שוקקזה אחשורוש, דכתיב ביה +דניאל ז‘+ וארו חיוה אחרי תנינה דמיה לדב. ותני רב יוסף: אלו פרסיים, שאוכלין ושותין כדוב, ומסורבלין בשר כדוב, ומגדלין שער כדוב, ואין להם מנוחה כדוב. מושל רשעזה המן, על עם דלאלו ישראל, שהם דלים מן המצות.

 

Resh Lakish began his discourse on this section with the following text: "As a roaring lion and a ravenous bear, so is a wicked ruler over a poor people" (Proverbs 4:7). "A roaring lion": this is the wicked Nebuchadnezzar, of whom it is written, "A lion is gone up from his thicket" (Jeremiah 4:7). "A ravenous bear": this is Ahashverosh, of whom it is written, "And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear," (Daniel 7:5), and R. Joseph taught: These are the Persians, who eat and drink like bears, and are coated with flesh like bears, and are hairy like bears, and have no rest like bears. "A wicked ruler": this is Haman. "Over a poor people": this is Israel, who are poor in [the observance of] mitzvot.

 

Resh Lakish interprets the verse in Proverbs as referring to various enemies of Israel. They rule over the "poor people" Israel as a punishment for Israel not observing the commandments.

 

רבי אלעזר פתח לה פתחא להא פרשתא מהכא: +קהלת י+ בעצלתים ימך המקרה ובשפלות ידים ידלף הבית, בשביל עצלות שהיה להם לישראל שלא עסקו בתורה, נעשה שונאו של הקדוש ברוך הוא מך. ואין מך אלא עני שנאמר +ויקרא כ"ז+ ואם מך הוא מערכך, ואין מקרה אלא הקדוש ברוך הוא, שנאמר +תהלים ק"ד+ המקרה במים עליותיו.

 

R. Elazar began his discourse on this with the following text: "By laziness he that lays beams (mekoreh) becomes poor [yimak], and through idleness of the hands the house leaks" (Ecclesiastes 10:18). Through Israel’s laziness in not occupying themselves with Torah, the enemy of the Holy One, blessed be He, became poor. The meaning of "makh" is poor, as it says, "And if he is too makh for your evaluation" (Leviticus 27:8), and mekoreh means only the Holy One, blessed be He, as it says, "Who lays the beams [ha-mekareh] of Your upper chambers in the waters" (Psalms 104:3).

 

R. Elazar uses the verse from Ecclesiastes to teach that through Israel’s "laziness," i.e. their neglect of Torah study, God Himself became poor. "The enemy of the Holy One" refers to God the editor did not want to even say that God was damaged, so he euphemistically added in "the enemy of "

 

רב נחמן בר יצחק פתח לה פתחא להא פרשתא מהכא: +תהלים קכ"ד+ שיר המעלות לולי השהיה לנו יאמר נא ישראל לולי השהיה לנו בקום עלינו אדם, – אדם ולא מלך.

 

R. Nahman b. Isaac began his discourse on this section with the following text: "A Song of Ascents: If it had not been for the Lord who was for us let Israel now say, If it had not been the Lord who was for us when a man rose up against us" (Psalms 124:1-2) "a man" and not a king.

 

The "man" referred to in the verse is Haman, who was most certainly not a king.

 

רבא פתח לה פתחא להא פרשתא מהכא: +משלי כ"ט+ ברבות צדיקים ישמח העם ובמשל רשע יאנח עם, ברבות צדיקים ישמח העםזה מרדכי ואסתר, דכתיב והעיר שושן צהלה ושמחה, ובמשל רשע יאנח עםזה המן, דכתיב והעיר שושן נבוכה.

 

Rava began his discourse on this section from here: "When the righteous are increased the people rejoice, but when the wicked rules the people sigh" (Proverbs 29:2). "When the righteous are increased the people rejoice" this is Mordecai and Esther, as it is written, "And the city of Shushan shouted and was glad" (Esther 8:15).

"But when the wicked rules the people sigh" this is Haman, as it is written, "But the city of Shushan was perplexed" (Esther 3:15).

 

Rava notes the contrast between the victory of Mordecai and Esther which caused the people to rejoice and the (temporary) ascent of Haman, which caused the people of Shushan to be perplexed (or ashamed).

רב מתנה אמר מהכא: +דברים ד‘+ כי מי גוי גדול אשר לו אלהים קרבים אליו.

רב אשי אמר מהכא: +דברים ד‘+ או הנסה אלהים וגו‘.

 

R. Matanah made his introduction from this verse: "For what great nation is there that has God so near to them" (Deuteronomy 4:7).

R. Ashi made it from here: "Or has God attempted to [take one nation from the midst of another nation] (Deuteronomy 4:34).

 

Both of these seem to be abbreviated openings of derashot, without the usual continuation of the interpretation. Somehow each amora connects his verse to the characters and stories of Megillat Esther. .