Megillah 16a:11מגילה ט״ז א
The William Davidson Talmudתלמוד מהדורת ויליאם דוידסון
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16aט״ז א

ששמשי מוחק וגבריאל כותב אמר רבי אסי דרש ר' שילא איש כפר תמרתא ומה כתב שלמטה שלזכותן של ישראל אינו נמחק כתב שלמעלה לא כל שכן

that Shimshai, the king’s scribe who hated the Jews (see Ezra 4:17), was erasing the description of Mordecai’s saving the king, and the angel Gavriel was writing it again. Therefore, it was indeed being written in the present. Rabbi Asi said: Rabbi Sheila, a man of the village of Timarta, taught: If something written down below in this world that is for the benefit of the Jewish people cannot be erased, is it not all the more so the case that something written up above in Heaven cannot be erased?

(אסתר ו, ג) לא נעשה עמו דבר אמר רבא לא מפני שאוהבין את מרדכי אלא מפני ששונאים את המן

The verse states that Ahasuerus was told with regard to Mordecai: “Nothing has been done for him” (Esther 6:3). Rava said: It is not because they love Mordecai that the king’s servants said this, but rather because they hate Haman.

(אסתר ו, ד) הכין לו תנא לו הכין

The verse states: “Now Haman had come into the outer court of the king’s house, to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him” (Esther 6:4). A Sage taught in a baraita: This should be understood to mean: On the gallows that he had prepared for himself.

ועשה כן למרדכי אמר ליה מנו מרדכי אמר ליה (אסתר ו, י) היהודי אמר ליה טובא מרדכי איכא ביהודאי אמר ליה (אסתר ו, י) היושב בשער המלך

The verse relates that Ahasuerus ordered Haman to fulfill his idea of the proper way to honor one who the king desires to glorify by parading him around on the king’s horse while wearing the royal garments: “And do so to Mordecai the Jew who sits at the king’s gate, let nothing fail of all that you have spoken” (Esther 6:10). The Gemara explains that when Ahasuerus said to Haman: “And do so to Mordecai,” Haman said to him in an attempt to evade the order: Who is Mordecai? Ahasuerus said to him: “The Jew.” Haman then said to him: There are several men named Mordecai among the Jews. Ahasuerus then said to him: I refer to the one “who sits at the king’s gate.”

אמר ליה סגי ליה בחד דיסקרתא אי נמי בחד נהרא אמר ליה הא נמי הב ליה אל תפל דבר מכל אשר דברת

Haman said to him: Why award him such a great honor? It would certainly be enough for him to receive one village [disekarta] as an estate, or one river for the levy of taxes. Ahasuerus said to him: This too you must give him. “Let nothing fail of all that you have spoken,” i.e., provide him with all that you proposed and spoke about in addition to what I had said.

ויקח המן את הלבוש ואת הסוס אזל אשכחיה דיתבי רבנן קמיה ומחוי להו הלכות קמיצה לרבנן כיון דחזייה מרדכי דאפיק לקבליה וסוסיה מיחד בידיה מירתת אמר להו לרבנן האי רשיעא למיקטל נפשי קא אתי זילו מקמיה די לא תכוו בגחלתו בההיא שעתא נתעטף מרדכי וקם ליה לצלותא אתא המן ויתיב ליה קמייהו ואוריך עד דסליק מרדכי לצלותיה

The Gemara describes what occurred as Haman went to follow the king’s orders, as the verse states: “Then Haman took the apparel and the horse” (Esther 6:11). When he went, he found Mordecai as the Sages were sitting before him, and he was demonstrating to them the halakhot of the handful, i.e., the scooping out of a handful of flour from the meal-offering in order to burn it on the altar. Once Mordecai saw him coming toward him with his horse’s reins held in his hands, he became frightened, and he said to the Sages: This evil man has come to kill me. Go away from him so that you should not get burnt from his coals, i.e., that you should not suffer harm as well. At that moment Mordecai wrapped himself in his prayer shawl and stood up to pray. Haman came over to where they were and sat down before them and waited until Mordecai finished his prayer.

אמר להו במאי עסקיתו אמרו ליה בזמן שבית המקדש קיים מאן דמנדב מנחה מייתי מלי קומציה דסולתא ומתכפר ליה אמר להו אתא מלי קומצי קמחא דידכו ודחי עשרה אלפי ככרי כספא דידי אמר ליה רשע עבד שקנה נכסים עבד למי ונכסים למי

In the interim, as he waited, Haman said to the other Sages: With what were you occupied? They said to him: When the Temple is standing, one who pledges a meal-offering would bring a handful of fine flour and achieve atonement with it. He said to them: Your handful of fine flour has come and cast aside my ten thousand pieces of silver, which I had pledged toward the destruction of the Jewish people. When Mordecai finished praying, he said to Haman: Wicked man, when a slave buys property, to whom belongs the slave and to whom belongs the property? As I once bought you as a slave, what silver can be yours?

אמר ליה קום לבוש הני מאני ורכוב האי סוסיא דבעי לך מלכא אמר ליה לא יכילנא עד דעיילנא לבי בני ואשקול למזייא דלאו אורח ארעא לאשתמושי במאני דמלכא הכי

Haman said to him: Stand up, put on these garments and ride on this horse, for the king wants you to do so. Mordecai said to him: I cannot do so until I enter the bathhouse [bei vanei] and trim my hair, for it is not proper conduct to use the king’s garments in this state that I am in now.

שדרה אסתר ואסרתינהו לכולהו בי בני ולכולהו אומני עייליה איהו לבי בני ואסחיה ואזיל ואייתי זוזא מביתיה וקא שקיל ביה מזייה בהדי דקא שקיל ליה אינגד ואיתנח אמר ליה אמאי קא מיתנחת אמר ליה גברא דהוה חשיב ליה למלכא מכולהו רברבנוהי השתא לישוייה בלאני וספר אמר ליה רשע ולאו ספר של כפר קרצום היית תנא המן ספר של כפר קרצום היה עשרים ושתים שנה

In the meantime, Esther sent messengers and closed all the bathhouses and all the shops of the craftsmen, including the bloodletters and barbers. When Haman saw that there was nobody else to do the work, he himself took Mordecai into the bathhouse and washed him, and then he went and brought scissors [zuza] from his house and trimmed his hair. While he was trimming his hair he injured himself and sighed. Mordecai said to him: Why do you sigh? Haman said to him: The man whom the king had once regarded above all his other ministers is now made a bathhouse attendant [balanei] and a barber. Mordecai said to him: Wicked man, were you not once the barber of the village of Kartzum? If so, why do you sigh? You have merely returned to the occupation of your youth. It was taught in a baraita: Haman was the barber of the village of Kartzum for twenty-two years.

בתר דשקלינהו למזייה לבשינהו למאניה אמר ליה סק ורכב אמר ליה לא יכילנא דכחישא חילאי מימי תעניתא גחין וסליק כי סליק בעט ביה אמר ליה לא כתיב לכו (משלי כד, יז) בנפל אויבך אל תשמח אמר ליה הני מילי בישראל אבל בדידכו כתיב (דברים לג, כט) ואתה על במותימו תדרוך

After Haman trimmed his hair, Haman dressed Mordecai in the royal garments. Haman then said to him: Mount the horse and ride. Mordecai said to him: I am unable, as my strength has waned from the days of fasting that I observed. Haman then stooped down before him and Mordecai ascended on him. As he was ascending the horse, Mordecai gave Haman a kick. Haman said to him: Is it not written for you: “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls” (Proverbs 24:17)? Mordecai said to him: This statement applies only to Jews, but with regard to you it is written: “And you shall tread upon their high places” (Deuteronomy 33:29).

(אסתר ו, יא) ויקרא לפניו ככה יעשה לאיש אשר המלך חפץ ביקרו כי הוה נקיט ואזיל בשבילא דבי המן חזיתיה ברתיה דקיימא אאיגרא סברה האי דרכיב אבוה והאי דמסגי קמיה מרדכי שקלה עציצא דבית הכסא ושדיתיה ארישא דאבוה דלי עיניה וחזת דאבוה הוא נפלה מאיגרא לארעא ומתה

The verse states: “And he proclaimed before him: Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor” (Esther 6:11). As Haman was taking Mordecai along the street of Haman’s house, Haman’s daughter was standing on the roof and saw the spectacle. She thought to herself that the one who is riding on the horse must be her father, and the one walking before him must be Mordecai. She then took a chamber pot full of feces and cast its contents onto the head of her father, whom she mistakenly took as Mordecai. When Haman raised his eyes in disgust afterward, and looked up at his daughter, she saw that he was her father. In her distress, she fell from the roof to the ground and died.

והיינו דכתיב וישב מרדכי אל שער המלך אמר רב ששת ששב לשקו ולתעניתו והמן נדחף אל ביתו אבל וחפוי ראש אבל על בתו וחפוי ראש על שאירע לו

And this is as it is written: “And Mordecai returned to the king’s gate” (Esther 6:12). Rav Sheshet said: This means that he returned to his sackcloth and his fasting over the troubles of the Jewish people. Simultaneously, “but Haman hastened to his house, mourning, and having his head covered” (Esther 6:12). “Mourning”; over the death of his daughter. “And having his head covered”; due to what had happened to him, as his head was full of filth.

ויספר המן לזרש אשתו ולכל אוהביו וגו' קרי להו אוהביו וקרי להו חכמיו אמר רבי יוחנן כל האומר דבר חכמה אפילו באומות העולם נקרא חכם

The following verse states: “And Haman recounted to Zeresh his wife and to all his friends everything that had befallen him. Then his wise men and Zeresh his wife said to him: If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, be of the seed of the Jews, then you will not prevail over him, but you shall fall before him” (Esther 6:13). The Gemara comments: At the beginning of the verse it calls them “his friends,” and in the continuation of the verse it calls them “his wise men.” Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Whoever says something wise, even if he is from the nations of the world, is called a wise man.

אם מזרע היהודים מרדכי וגו' אמרו ליה אי משאר שבטים קאתי יכלת ליה ואי משבט יהודה ובנימין ואפרים ומנשה לא יכלת ליה יהודה דכתיב (בראשית מט, ח) ידך בערף אויביך אינך דכתיב בהו (תהלים פ, ג) לפני אפרים ובנימין ומנשה עוררה את גבורתך

The Gemara explains that their wise remark, which earned them their distinction, is contained in their advice: “If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews [Yehudim], then you will not prevail over him” (Esther 6:13). The word Yehudim can also refer to people from the tribe of Judah. Haman’s wise men thereby said to him: If he descends from the other tribes, you can still prevail over him, but if he descends from the tribe of either Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, or Manasseh, you cannot prevail over him. With regard to Judah, the proof of this is as it is written: “Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies” (Genesis 49:8), indicating that Judah will emerge victorious over his enemies. And the proof that Haman cannot prevail over the others that were mentioned is as it is written with regard to them: “Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up Your might” (Psalms 80:3).

(אסתר ו, יג) כי נפל תפול לפניו דרש ר' יהודה בר אלעאי שתי נפילות הללו למה אמרו לו אומה זו משולה לעפר ומשולה לכוכבים כשהן יורדין יורדין עד עפר וכשהן עולין עולין עד לכוכבים

The wise men continued: “But you shall fall [nafol tippol] before him” (Esther 6:13). Rabbi Yehuda bar Ilai interpreted a verse homiletically: Why are these two fallings, nafol and tippol, mentioned here? The wise men said to Haman: This Jewish nation is compared in the Bible to the dust of the earth and it is also compared to the stars in heaven. This teaches you that when they descend, they descend to the dust, and when they rise, they rise to the stars. Accordingly, when Mordecai is on the rise, you will be utterly incapable of prevailing over him.

(אסתר ו, יד) וסריסי המלך הגיעו ויבהילו מלמד שהביאוהו בבהלה

The next verse states: “The king’s chamberlains came, and they hastened [vayavhilu] to bring Haman” (Esther 6:14). This teaches that they brought him in disarray [behala], not even giving him a chance to wash himself from the filth.

כי נמכרנו אני ועמי וגו' אין הצר שוה בנזק המלך אמרה לו צר זה אינו שוה בנזק של מלך איקני בה בושתי וקטלה השתא איקני בדידי ומבעי למקטלי

During the banquet Esther said to Ahasuerus: “For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to be annihilated. But if we had been sold merely for bondmen and bondwomen, I would have held my tongue, since the affliction [tzar] would not have been worth [eino shoveh] the damage to the king” (Esther 7:4). The Gemara explains that she said to him: This adversary [tzar] is not concerned [eino shoveh] about the damage that he is constantly causing to the king. First he was jealous of Vashti and killed her, as it has been explained that Memucan, who suggesting killing Vashti, was Haman; now he is jealous of me and desires to kill me.

ויאמר המלך אחשורוש ויאמר לאסתר המלכה ויאמר ויאמר למה לי אמר רבי אבהו בתחלה על ידי תורגמן כיון דאמרה ליה מדבית שאול קאתינא מיד ויאמר לאסתר המלכה:

The verse states: “Then said the king Ahasuerus and said to Esther the queen” (Esther 7:5). The Gemara asks: Why do I need it to say “said” and again “said”? Rabbi Abbahu said: At first he spoke to her through the translator, who would interpret on his behalf, because he thought that she was a common woman of lowly ancestry. Once she told him that she came from the house of Saul, immediately it says: “And said to Esther the queen.” Ahasuerus himself spoke to her, as if she had royal lineage, she was a woman befitting his status.

ותאמר אסתר איש צר ואויב המן הרע הזה אמר ר' אלעזר מלמד שהיתה מחווה כלפי אחשורוש ובא מלאך וסטר ידה כלפי המן:

The next verse states: “And Esther said: An adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman” (Esther 7:6). Rabbi Elazar said: This teaches that she was in fact pointing toward Ahasuerus, indicating that in fact he was an adversary and enemy, and an angel came and pushed her hand toward Haman.

והמלך קם בחמתו וגו' והמלך שב מגנת הביתן מקיש שיבה לקימה מה קימה בחימה אף שיבה בחימה דאזל ואשכח למלאכי השרת דאידמו ליה כגברי וקא עקרי לאילני דבוסתני ואמר להו מאי עובדייכו אמרו ליה דפקדינן המן

The verse states: “And the king arose from the banquet of wine in his wrath and went into the palace garden” (Esther 7:7), and the next verse states: “Then the king returned out of the palace garden to the place of the wine drinking” (Esther 7:8). The Gemara comments: The verses here compare his returning to his arising: Just as his arising was in wrath, so too, his returning was in wrath. And why did he return in wrath? For when he went out he found ministering angels who appeared to him as people and they were uprooting trees from the garden, and he said to them: What are you doing? They said to him: Haman commanded us to do this.

אתא לביתיה והמן נופל על המטה נופל נפל מיבעי ליה אמר רבי אלעזר מלמד שבא מלאך והפילו עליה אמר ויי מביתא ויי מברא ויאמר המלך הגם לכבוש את המלכה עמי בבית

And when he entered his house he saw that “Haman was falling upon the bed” (Esther 7:8). The Gemara asks: Why does it say “was falling” [nofel] in the present tense, implying that he was currently falling? It should have said “fell” [nafal] in the past tense. Rabbi Elazar said: This teaches that an angel came and pushed him down on it, and every time he would try to stand up, the angel would push him down again. Ahasuerus said: Woe unto me in the house and woe unto me outside, as the verse continues: “Then the king said: Will he even force the queen before me in the house?” (Esther 7:8).

ויאמר חרבונה וגו' אמר רבי אלעזר אף חרבונה רשע באותה עצה היה כיון שראה שלא נתקיימה עצתו מיד ברח והיינו דכתיב (איוב כז, כב) וישלך עליו ולא יחמול מידו ברוח יברח

“And Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman has made for Mordecai, who spoke good for the king, stands in the house of Haman” (Esther 7:9). Rabbi Elazar said: Harbonah was also wicked and involved in that plot, as he too wanted Mordecai executed. Once he saw that his plot had not succeeded, he immediately fled and joined Mordecai’s side. And this is the meaning of that which is written: “It hurls itself at him, and does not spare; he would fain flee out of its hand” (Job 27:22), indicating that when God sends calamity upon a wicked person, his friends immediately flee from him.

וחמת המלך שככה שתי שכיכות הללו למה אחת של מלכו של עולם ואחת של אחשורוש ואמרי לה אחת של אסתר ואחת של ושתי

The verse states: “Then the king’s wrath was assuaged [shakhakha]” (Esther 7:10). The Gemara asks: Why are there two assuagings here? The term shakhakha is used rather than shaka and indicates doubled wrath. There was one assuaging of the wrath of the King of the universe, and one of the wrath of Ahasuerus. And some say: Ahasuerus’s wrath burned within him for two reasons; one due to Haman’s involvement with Esther, and one due to his involvement with Vashti, and now they were both assuaged.

(בראשית מה, כב) לכלם נתן לאיש חליפות שמלות ולבנימן נתן חמש חליפות אפשר דבר שנצטער בו אותו צדיק

Before continuing its midrashic interpretation of the rest of the book of Esther, the Gemara expounds a verse concerning Joseph that relates to the Megilla: “To all of them he gave each man changes of clothing, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver, and five changes of clothing” (Genesis 45:22). The Gemara asks: Is it possible that in the very thing from which that righteous man Joseph had suffered, as his father’s show of favoritism toward him aroused the enmity of his brothers,