Talmud Tips

For the week ending 19 July 2014 / 21 Tammuz 5774

Megillah 9 - 15

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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“Greater was the effect of the king removing his ring (Ahashverosh empowering Haman) than the effect of the forty-eight prophets and the seven prophetesses who had prophesied for Israel — because the rebuke from the prophets did not return the Jewish People to repent for the good, whereas the ‘removal of the ring’ succeeded in helping them repent for the good.”

Rabbi Aba ben Kahana teaches this in our gemara and bases it on what we read in the third chapter of the Book of Esther. There we learn that King Achashveroshremoved his signet ring and gave it to Haman to write an edict for the destruction of the entire Jewish People, and to have it sealed with the king's signet ring. "And as for the money," said the king, "keep it!" Letters were sent out by courier to every province.

The Maharsha cites a Midrash to give us a greater depth of understanding why the removal of the ring was so effective in shaking up the people to return to G-d. Normally a buyer gives an item of value to the seller, states the Midrash, as a sign of his commitment to keep his word in the transaction. Here the buyer is Haman and seller is Achashverosh, who is selling the Jews to Haman. The king’s enormous degree of hatred of the Jewish People is clearly revealed here when he gave his ring to Haman the buyer, instead of the other way around. When the Jewish People realized the extent of his hatred for them, they returned to G-d in repentance.

  • Megilla 14a

“Whoever reports a saying in the name of the one who said it brings geula (redemption) to the world as it states. ‘And Esther said to the king in the name of Mordechai (Esther 2:22)’.”

Rabbi Elazar in the name of Rabbi Chanina teaches this important and seemingly easy way to “save the world” on our daf. It is also taught in Pirkei Avot (6:6). Its basis is in the Purim story, in which Esther reported to the king the traitorous plan of Bigtan and Teresh that she had heard from Mordechai.

The Maharal explains that a person who credits the source knows how to “give credit where credit is due” and does not seek to give himself credit undeservedly. Only such a person — who recognizes and reveals the true source — will merit bringing geula and Kiddush Hashem. Only such a person credits the geula as the work of G-d and will declare the geula “in the name of the Redeemer”. So was it with Esther, and so it is with each geula, including the final geula shleima.

  • Megilla 15a

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