Megillah 16bמגילה ט״ז ב
The William Davidson Talmudתלמוד מהדורת ויליאם דוידסון
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16bט״ז ב

יכשל בו דאמר רבא בר מחסיא אמר רב חמא בר גוריא אמר רב בשביל משקל שני סלעים מילת שהוסיף יעקב ליוסף משאר אחיו נתגלגל הדבר וירדו אבותינו למצרים אמר רבי בנימן בר יפת רמז רמז לו שעתיד בן לצאת ממנו שיצא מלפני המלך בחמשה לבושי מלכות שנאמר ומרדכי יצא בלבוש מלכות תכלת וגו'

he himself should stumble by showing favoritism to Benjamin? As Rava bar Meḥaseyya said that Rav Ḥama bar Gurya said that Rav said: Due to the weight of two sela of fine wool that Jacob gave to Joseph, which he added to what he gave Joseph beyond what he gave the rest of his brothers, as he made him his special coat, the story progressed and our forefathers went down to Egypt. How then could Joseph have displayed similar favoritism toward Benjamin? Rabbi Binyamin bar Yefet said: He was not showing favoritism. Rather, he intimated to him that a descendant was destined to issue from him who would go out from the presence of the king wearing five royal garments, as it is stated: “And Mordecai went forth from the presence of the king in royal apparel of sky blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a wrap of fine linen and purple” (Esther 8:15).

(בראשית מה, יד) ויפול על צוארי בנימן אחיו כמה צוארין הוו ליה לבנימין אמר רבי אלעזר בכה על שני מקדשים שעתידין להיות בחלקו של בנימין ועתידין ליחרב ובנימין בכה על צואריו בכה על משכן שילה שעתיד להיות בחלקו של יוסף ועתיד ליחרב

The Gemara elaborates on certain elements in the story of Joseph and his brothers. The verse states with regard to Joseph: “And he fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck [tzavarei] and wept” (Genesis 45:14). The wording of the verse gives rise to a question, as the word tzavarei is plural, meaning necks: How many necks did Benjamin have, such that the verse should use the plural tzavarei rather than the singular tzavar? Rabbi Elazar said: This intimates that Joseph cried over the two Temples that were destined to be in the tribal territory of Benjamin and were destined to be destroyed. The same verse continues: “And Benjamin wept on his neck” (Genesis 45:14); he cried over the tabernacle of Shiloh that was destined to be in the tribal territory of Joseph and was destined to be destroyed.

(בראשית מה, יב) והנה עיניכם רואות ועיני אחי בנימין אמר רבי אלעזר אמר להם כשם שאין בלבי על בנימין אחי שלא היה במכירתי כך אין בלבי עליכם כי פי המדבר אליכם כפי כן לבי

The verse states: “And behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin” (Genesis 45:12). Rabbi Elazar said: Joseph said to his brothers as follows: Just as I certainly harbor no resentment in my heart toward my brother Benjamin, for he was not even present when I was sold, so too, I harbor no resentment toward you. The verse continues: “That it is my mouth [ki fi] that speaks to you” (Genesis 45:12), i.e., As my mouth [kefi] is, so is my heart.

(בראשית מה, כג) ולאביו שלח כזאת עשרה חמורים נושאים מטוב מצרים מאי מטוב מצרים אמר ר' בנימין בר יפת אמר רבי אלעזר שלח לו יין [ישן] שדעת זקנים נוחה הימנו

The verse states: “And to his father he sent after this manner ten donkeys laden with the good things of Egypt” (Genesis 45:23). The Gemara asks: What are “the good things of Egypt” that are mentioned but not specified here? Rabbi Binyamin bar Yefet said that Rabbi Elazar said: He sent him aged wine, which the elderly find pleasing.

(בראשית נ, יח) וילכו גם אחיו ויפלו לפניו אמר רבי בנימין בר יפת אמר רבי אלעזר היינו דאמרי אינשי תעלא בעידניה סגיד ליה

Following Jacob’s death, it states concerning Joseph: “And his brothers even went and fell down before him” (Genesis 50:18). Rabbi Binyamin bar Yefet said that Rabbi Elazar said: This explains the folk saying that people say: When the fox is in its hour, bow down to it, i.e., if a fox is appointed king, one must bow down before and submit oneself to it.

תעלא מאי בצירותיה מאחווה אלא אי איתמר הכי איתמר (בראשית מז, לא) וישתחו ישראל על ראש המטה אמר רבי בנימין בר יפת אמר רבי אלעזר תעלא בעידניה סגיד ליה

The Gemara expresses astonishment at the use of this parable: Are you calling Joseph a fox? What, was he inferior to his brothers such that in relation to them you call him a fox? Rather, if such a statement was stated, it was stated as follows, not in connection with this verse, but rather in connection with a different verse. The verse states: “And Israel bowed himself upon the head of the bed” (Genesis 47:31). With regard to this, Rabbi Binyamin bar Yefet said that Rabbi Elazar said: When the fox is in its hour, bow down to it, as Jacob had to bow down before his son Joseph, who had reached greatness.

(בראשית נ, כא) וינחם אותם וידבר על לבם אמר רבי בנימין בר יפת אמר רבי אלעזר מלמד שאמר להם דברים שמתקבלין על הלב ומה עשרה נרות לא יכלו לכבות נר אחד נר אחד היאך יכול לכבות עשרה נרות

It says with regard to Joseph’s remarks to his brothers: “And he comforted them and spoke to their hearts” (Genesis 50:21). Rabbi Binyamin bar Yefet said that Rabbi Elazar said: This teaches that he spoke to them words that are acceptable to the heart, and alleviated their fears. This is what he said: If ten lights could not put out one light, as all of you were unable to do me harm, how can one light put out ten lights?

(אסתר ח, טז) ליהודים היתה אורה ושמחה וששון ויקר אמר רב יהודה אורה זו תורה וכן הוא אומר (משלי ו, כג) כי נר מצוה ותורה אור שמחה זה יום טוב וכן הוא אומר (דברים טז, יד) ושמחת בחגך ששון זו מילה וכן הוא אומר (תהלים קיט, קסב) שש אנכי על אמרתך

§ The Gemara returns to its explanation of the Megilla. The verse states: “The Jews had light and gladness, and joy and honor” (Esther 8:16). Rav Yehuda said: “Light”; this is referring to the Torah that they once again studied. And similarly it says: “For the mitzva is a lamp and the Torah is light” (Proverbs 6:23). “Gladness” [simḥa]; this is referring to the Festivals that they once again observed. And similarly it says: “And you shall be glad [vesamakhta] on your Festival” (Deuteronomy 16:14). “Joy” [sasson]; this is referring to circumcision, as they once again circumcised their sons. And similarly it says: “I rejoice [sas] at Your word” (Psalms 119:162), which the Sages understood as referring to David’s rejoicing over the mitzva of circumcision.

ויקר אלו תפלין וכן הוא אומר (דברים כח, י) וראו כל עמי הארץ כי שם ה' נקרא עליך ויראו ממך ותניא רבי אליעזר הגדול אומר אלו תפלין שבראש

“Honor”; this is referring to phylacteries, which they once again donned. And similarly it says: “And all peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord; and they will be afraid of you” (Deuteronomy 28:10). And it was taught in a baraita: Rabbi Eliezer the Great said: This is referring to the phylacteries worn on the head. Haman had banned the fulfillment of all the mitzvot mentioned, but upon Haman’s demise the Jews returned to their observance.

ואת פרשנדתא וגו' עשרת בני המן אמר רב אדא דמן יפו עשרת בני המן ועשרת צריך לממרינהו בנשימה אחת מאי טעמא כולהו בהדי הדדי נפקו נשמתייהו אמר רבי יוחנן ויו דויזתא צריך למימתחה בזקיפא כמורדיא דלברות מאי טעמא כולהו בחד זקיפא אזדקיפו

The verse states: “And in Shushan the capital the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men. And Parshandatha…and Vaizatha, the ten sons of Haman” (Esther 9:6–10). Rav Adda from Jaffa said: When reading the Megilla, the names of the ten sons of Haman and the word “ten” must be said in one breath. What is the reason for this? It is that their souls all departed together. Rabbi Yoḥanan said: The letter vav in the name “Vaizatha” is a lengthened vav and must be elongated as a pole, like a steering oar of a ship [liberot]. What is the reason for this? To indicate that they were all hanged on one pole.

אמר רבי חנינא בר פפא דרש ר' שילא איש כפר תמרתא כל השירות כולן נכתבות אריח על גבי לבינה ולבינה על גבי אריח

Rabbi Ḥanina bar Pappa said that Rabbi Sheila, a man of the village of Timarta, interpreted a verse homiletically: All of the songs in the Bible are written in the form of a half brick arranged upon a whole brick and a whole brick arranged upon a half brick, i.e., each line of the song is divided into a stitch of text, referred to as a half brick, which is separated by a blank space, referred to as a whole brick, from the concluding stitch of that line of text.

חוץ משירה זו ומלכי כנען שאריח על גבי אריח ולבינה על גבי לבינה מ"ט שלא תהא תקומה למפלתן

The next line of the song inverts the sequence. This is the principle for all songs in the Bible except for this song, referring to the list of Haman’s sons, and the song listing the kings of Canaan who were defeated by Joshua. These two songs are written in the form of a half brick arranged upon a half brick and a whole brick arranged upon a whole brick, i.e., one stitch of text over another, and one blank space over another. What is the reason that these two songs are written in this anomalous fashion? So that they should never rise from their downfall. Just as a wall that is built in this manner will not stand, so too, these individuals should have no resurgence.

ויאמר המלך לאסתר המלכה בשושן הבירה הרגו היהודים אמר רבי אבהו מלמד שבא מלאך וסטרו על פיו

The verse states: “And the king said to Esther the queen: The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the capital, and also the ten sons of Haman; what have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition and it shall be granted to you; and what more do you request, and it shall be done” (Esther 9:12). Rabbi Abbahu said: This teaches that an angel came and slapped him on his mouth, so that he was unable to finish what he was saying; he started with a complaint about what the Jews were doing, but ended on an entirely different note.

ובבאה לפני המלך אמר עם הספר אמר אמרה מיבעי ליה אמר רבי יוחנן אמרה לו יאמר בפה מה שכתוב בספר

The verse states: “But when she came before the king, he said with a letter” (Esther 9:25). Why does it say: “He said”? It should have said: “She said,” as it was Esther who changed the decree. Rabbi Yoḥanan said: She said to Ahasuerus: Let it be said by word of mouth, indicating that that which is written in the letter should also be ordered verbally.

דברי שלום ואמת אמר רבי תנחום ואמרי לה אמר רבי אסי מלמד שצריכה שרטוט כאמיתה של תורה

With regard to what is stated: “Words of peace and truth” (Esther 9:30), Rabbi Tanḥum said, and some say that Rabbi Asi said: This teaches that a Megilla scroll requires scoring, i.e., that the lines for the text must be scored onto the parchment, as the Torah itself, i.e., as is done in a Torah scroll.

ומאמר אסתר קיים מאמר אסתר אין דברי הצומות לא אמר רבי יוחנן דברי הצומות ומאמר אסתר קיים (את ימי) הפורים האלה

The verses say: “The matters of the fasts and their cry. And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim” (Esther 9:31–32). The Gemara asks: Should we say that “the decree of Esther” indeed confirmed these matters of Purim, but “the matters of the fasts” did not? But didn’t the fasts also contribute to the miracle? Rabbi Yoḥanan said: These two verses, “The matters of the fasts and their cry. And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim,” should be read as one.

כי מרדכי היהודי משנה למלך אחשורוש וגדול ליהודים ורצוי לרוב אחיו לרוב אחיו ולא לכל אחיו מלמד שפירשו ממנו מקצת סנהדרין

The verse states: “For Mordecai the Jew was second to the king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted by the majority of his brethren” (Esther 10:3). The Gemara comments: The verse indicates that Mordecai was accepted only “By the majority of his brethren,” but not by all his brethren. This teaches that some members of the Sanhedrin parted from him, because he occupied himself with community needs, and was therefore compelled to neglect his Torah study. They felt that this was a mistake and that he should have remained active on the Sanhedrin.

אמר רב יוסף גדול ת"ת יותר מהצלת נפשות דמעיקרא חשיב ליה למרדכי בתר ד' ולבסוף בתר חמשה מעיקרא כתיב (עזרא ב, ב) אשר באו עם זרובבל ישוע נחמיה שריה רעליה מרדכי בלשן ולבסוף כתיב (נחמיה ז, ז) הבאים עם זרובבל ישוע נחמיה עזריה רעמיה נחמני מרדכי בלשן

Rav Yosef said: Studying Torah is greater than saving lives, as initially, when listing the Jewish leaders who came to Eretz Yisrael, Mordecai was mentioned after four other people, but at the end he was listed after five. This is taken to indicate that his involvement in governmental affairs instead of in Torah study lowered his stature one notch. The Gemara proves this: At first it is written: “Who came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan” (Ezra 2:2); but in the end in a later list it is written: “Who came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahmani, Mordecai, Bilshan” (Nehemiah 7:7).

אמר רב ואיתימא רב שמואל בר מרתא גדול תלמוד תורה יותר מבנין בית המקדש שכל זמן שברוך בן נריה קיים לא הניחו עזרא ועלה

Rav said, and some say that Rav Shmuel bar Marta said: Studying Torah is greater and more important that building the Temple. A proof of this is that for as long as Baruch ben Neriah was alive in Babylonia, Ezra, who was his disciple, did not leave him and go up to Eretz Yisrael to build the Temple.

אמר רבה אמר רב יצחק בר שמואל בר מרתא גדול תלמוד תורה יותר מכבוד אב ואם שכל אותן שנים שהיה יעקב אבינו בבית עבר לא נענש דאמר מר

Rabba said that Rav Yitzḥak bar Shmuel bar Marta said: Studying Torah is greater and more important than honoring one’s father and mother, and a proof of this is that for all those years that our father Jacob spent in the house of Eber and studied Torah there he was not punished for having neglected to fulfill the mitzva of honoring one’s parents. As the Master said: