(Torah Portion Tzav) Boomerang!
The world is closely watching the tense situation in the Ukraine. Now is the time to take a moment and consider the underlining reasons behind national conflicts. They certainly are power struggles between one country and its people against another. Espionage and gathering security secrets and information is vital in order to succeed in such conflicts.
The Purim episode and Haman’s wish to annihilate the Jewish people differs from typical national conflicts. The Jews at the time did not have a country, for the Jews were exiled from the Land of Israel as a result of the Babylonians destroying the Temple in Jerusalem. They also did not possess any military intelligence. So what was Haman’s problem with the Jews?
Haman’s problem was the Jews themselves; whether they had a land or not. Haman being a descendant of the hateful nation of Amalek followed the model of his ancestors.
The nation of Amalek attacked the Jews just after they were miraculously redeemed from Egypt. The Jews were in the midst of traveling in the desert with no land of their own. The conflict was religious in nature. Amalek couldn’t stand having a nation in the world that had belief in and regard towards G-d. Their intention was to wipe the Jews from the face of the earth.
The ‘intelligence’ that Haman had about the Jews was their laws and traditions, and if they were loyal to them or not.
When Haman presented his plan to kill all the Jews to King Achashvairosh, he assured the king that G-d would not retaliate on their behalf, for the Jews were ‘asleep’ and are not paying attention to G-d’s laws and were therefore vulnerable.
Achashvairosh was still afraid to take responsibility and personally sign Haman’s plan, fearing that the Jews might reconnect to G-d and He would then protect the Jews and retaliate against him. He therefore gave this task over to Haman giving him carte blanche to do whatever he wished to the Jews. However, Haman in his extreme hatred towards the Jews didn’t worry about G-d’s reaction.
Not only was Haman aware of the laws of the Jews, he and his wife Zeresh were well versed in the history of the Jews as well. When Haman wished to kill Mordechai the Jew because of his defiance of the order to bow down to Haman, Haman consulted with his wife which type of death would be suitable for Mordechai.
The Targum on the Book of Megilla relates a fascinating conversation between Zeresh and Haman. Zeresh said, “If Mordechai is indeed a Tzadik – a righteous person – we, in all probability will not succeed in killing him. For what type of death would be effective?
If we try to stone him to death, we will be unsuccessful for David already killed Goliath with a stone. If we try to drown him, the Jews were saved from the waters of the Red Sea when G-d split it for them. If we try to throw him in a fiery furnace; the prophets Chanania, Mishael and Azaria were spared when they were cast into the furnace. If we try to throw him into a lion’s den, the prophet Daniel was spared from that as well. If we try to have him thrown to the dogs, the vicious dogs in Egypt were silent when the Jews left Egypt. If we try to have him starve and wither in a desert, his ancestors already survived there for forty years. If we try to lock him up in jail, Yosef was incarcerated and emerged as viceroy over Egypt. If we try to slaughter him with a sword, Yitzchok was spared from being slaughtered when he was bound on the Altar. If we try to blind him; well, Samson was blinded yet he killed the Philistines; and I fear that we too will get killed as well.
The only death they could find that was not yet tried upon the righteous was hanging.
Zeresh suggested that Haman get permission from Achashvairosh to hang Mordechai publicly.
Before Haman went to Achashvairosh, he already hired workers and they began working on constructing a100ft gallows.
Haman went to Achashvairosh the night before he was set to go to a second special meal in attendance with just the king and Queen Esther. At this time the Jews were beginning their third day of fasting, praying and devoting themselves to the Almighty. G-d was listening and was stirred with feelings of sympathy and compassion for the Jews.
The change of events happened very quickly. By the next day, Haman was hung on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordechai!
Haman was gone from the picture and eventually the Jews were permitted to defend themselves. They defended themselves successfully, and our Sages instituted the festive Holiday of Purim to commemorate the turn of events and our victory.
What happened to Haman’s wife Zeresh? After all, she was an instigator in plotting against the Jews! The Megilla does not mention her being punished.
Perhaps Zeresh’s life was spared so that she would live and suffer seeing her vile plan boomerang against her husband and children. She also would endure witnessing the Jews’ salvation from Haman’s decree and few years later seeing the Jews return to the Land of Israel and rebuild the Second Temple in Jerusalem.
During the Holocaust six million were murdered by the Amalek – minded Nazi’s – just because they were Jews. Their holy martyred souls ascended to the highest levels of Heavenly attachment and eternity.
The awesome survivors were met with overwhelming and daunting challenges to get their lives back on track. With phenomenal resolve they accomplished the miraculous. As years went by, they were blessed with the good fortune to take part and see the revitalization and proliferation of vibrant Jewish communities across the entire globe; certainly bringing them a sense of Nachas, hope, and pleasure witnessing our perpetual survival.
Let us celebrate on Purim our nation’s miraculous and amazing survival and appreciate the boundless courageous spirit that G-d bequeathed each and every one of us!
Wishing you a restful, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
A festive and joyous Purim!
Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks and family