Megillah, Daf Yod, Part 5



The Talmud now cites a series of "openings" to derashot that rabbis would deliver before they would offer their main derashot (sermons which expound upon verses) on the book or topic at hand. These "openings" relate in some way to Megillat Esther.

רבי יונתן פתח לה פיתחא להאי פרשתא מהכא: +ישעיהו י"ד+ וקמתי עליהם וגו" והכרתי לבבל שם ושאר ונין ונכד נאם ה". שםזה הכתב, שארזה לשון, ניןזה מלכות, ונכדזו ושתי.


R. Jonathan opened his discourse on this section from here, "And I will rise against them, says the Lord, and cut off from Babylon name and remnant, and offshoot and offspring, says the Lord" (Isaiah 54:22), "Name" means script; "remnant" is language; "offshoot" is kingdom, and "offspring" is Vashti.


R. Yonatan starts from Isaiah 54:22, a prophecy against Babylon. He reads the downfall of Vashti into the verse, who according to the rabbis was Nebuchadnezzar’s granddaughter.


רבי שמואל בר נחמני פתח לה פיתחא להאי פרשתא מהכא: +ישעיהו נ"ה+ תחת הנעצוץ יעלה ברוש ותחת הסרפד יעלה הדס. תחת הנעצוץתחת המן הרשע שעשה עצמו עבודה זרה, דכתיב +ישעיהו ז"+ ובכל הנעצוצים ובכל הנהללים, יעלה ברושזה מרדכי שנקרא ראש לכל הבשמים, שנאמר +שמות ל"+ ואתה קח לך בשמים ראש מר דרור ומתרגמינן: מרי דכי. תחת הסרפדתחת ושתי הרשעה בת בנו של נבוכדנצר הרשע, ששרף רפידת בית ה", דכתיב +שיר השירים ג"+ רפידתו זהב, יעלה הדסזו אסתר הצדקת, שנקראת הדסה, שנאמר +אסתר ב"+ ויהי אמן את הדסה. והיה לה" לשםזו מקרא מגילה, לאות עולם לא יכרתאלו ימי פורים.



R. Samuel b. Nahmani opened his discourse on this section from here: "Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle" (Isaiah 55:13): "Instead of the thorn": instead of the wicked Haman who put himself up as an object of worship, as it is written, "And upon all thorns and upon all brambles" (Isaiah 7:19) "shall come up the cypress": this is Mordecai who was called the chief of all spices, as it is said, "And you shall take for yourself the chief spices, flowing myrrh (mor)" (Exodus 30:23), which we translate [in Aramaic], "mare deki." "Instead of the brier": instead of the wicked Vashti, the daughter of the wicked Nebuchadnezzar who burned the ceiling of the house of the Lord; as it is written, "Its top was gold" (Song of Songs 3:10), "the myrtle shall come up": this is the virtuous Esther who is called Hadassah, as it is said, "And he brought up Hadassah" (Esther 2:7).

"And it shall be to the Lord for a name": this is the reading of the Megillah; "and for an everlasting sign which shall not be cut off" (Isaiah 54:13: these are the days of Purim.


R. Shmuel b. Nahmani begins his derashah with a different verse from Isaiah. The thorn is Haman, who is a thorn because he demanded to be worshipped. [The connection with the verse quoted is not clear]. Mordecai is the cypress, a fragrant tree. This is because the spice "myrrh" is translated into Aramaic as "mare deki" which sounds like Mordecai.

The brier is Vashti, a bush used in burning. Vashti is the granddaughter of Nebuchadnezzar and is therefore associated with the burning of the Temple. There is a pun here that is lost in the English based on the word "brier (סרפד)" and "its top (רפידתו)."

Esther is the willow due to the other name she is given in the Megillah itself, Hadassah, which is similar to the Hebrew word for willow, hadas.

Finally, the end of the verse is interpreted in the context of the reading of the Megillah and the celebration of Purim. There is also a connection here between this verse and Esther 9:28 which says that these days of Purim will never pass.