יִכָּשֵׁל בּוֹ? דְּאָמַר רָבָא בַּר מַחְסֵיָא אָמַר רַב חָמָא בַּר גּוּרְיָא, אָמַר רַב: בִּשְׁבִיל מִשְׁקַל שְׁנֵי סְלָעִים מֵילָת שֶׁהוֹסִיף יַעֲקֹב לְיוֹסֵף מִשְּׁאָר אֶחָיו נִתְגַּלְגֵּל הַדָּבָר וְיָרְדוּ אֲבוֹתֵינוּ לְמִצְרַיִם. אָמַר רַבִּי בִּנְיָמִן בַּר יֶפֶת: רֶמֶז רָמַז לוֹ, שֶׁעָתִיד בֵּן לָצֵאת מִמֶּנּוּ, שֶׁיֵּצֵא מִלִּפְנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ בַּחֲמִשָּׁה לְבוּשֵׁי מַלְכוּת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וּמׇרְדֳּכַי יָצָא בִּלְבוּשׁ מַלְכוּת תְּכֵלֶת וְגוֹ׳״. 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).
״וַיִּפּוֹל עַל צַוְּארֵי בִנְיָמִן אָחִיו״. כַּמָּה צַוָּארִין הֲווֹ לֵיהּ לְבִנְיָמִין? אָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר: בָּכָה עַל שְׁנֵי מִקְדָּשִׁים שֶׁעֲתִידִין לִהְיוֹת בְּחֶלְקוֹ שֶׁל בִּנְיָמִין וַעֲתִידִין לֵיחָרֵב. ״וּבִנְיָמִין בָּכָה עַל צַוָּארָיו״ — בָּכָה עַל מִשְׁכַּן שִׁילֹה, שֶׁעָתִיד לִהְיוֹת בְּחֶלְקוֹ שֶׁל יוֹסֵף וְעָתִיד לֵיחָרֵב. 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.
״וְהִנֵּה עֵינֵיכֶם רוֹאוֹת וְעֵינֵי אָחִי בִנְיָמִין״. אָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר, אָמַר לָהֶם: כְּשֵׁם שֶׁאֵין בְּלִבִּי עַל בִּנְיָמִין אָחִי, שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה בִּמְכִירָתִי, כָּךְ אֵין בְּלִבִּי עֲלֵיכֶם. ״כִּי פִי הַמְדַבֵּר אֲלֵיכֶם״. כְּפִי — כֵּן לִבִּי. 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.
״וּלְאָבִיו שָׁלַח כְּזֹאת עֲשָׂרָה חֲמוֹרִים נוֹשְׂאִים מִטּוּב מִצְרָיִם״. מַאי ״מִטּוּב מִצְרָיִם״? אָמַר רַבִּי בִּנְיָמִין בַּר יֶפֶת אָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר: שָׁלַח לוֹ יַיִן [יָשָׁן], שֶׁדַּעַת זְקֵנִים נוֹחָה הֵימֶנּוּ. 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.
״וַיֵּלְכוּ גַּם אֶחָיו וַיִּפְּלוּ לְפָנָיו״. אָמַר רַבִּי בִּנְיָמִין בַּר יֶפֶת אָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר, הַיְינוּ דְּאָמְרִי אִינָשֵׁי: תַּעֲלָא בְּעִידָּנֵיהּ סְגֵיד לֵיהּ. 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.
תַּעֲלָא? מַאי בְּצִירוּתֵיהּ מֵאֲחווֹהַּ? אֶלָּא, אִי אִיתְּמַר הָכִי אִיתְּמַר: ״וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל עַל רֹאשׁ הַמִּטָּה״, אָמַר רַבִּי בִּנְיָמִין בַּר יֶפֶת אָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר: תַּעֲלָא בְּעִידָּנֵיהּ סְגֵיד לֵיהּ. 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.
״וַיְנַחֵם אוֹתָם וַיְדַבֵּר עַל לִבָּם״. אָמַר רַבִּי בִּנְיָמִין בַּר יֶפֶת אָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר: מְלַמֵּד שֶׁאָמַר לָהֶם דְּבָרִים שֶׁמִּתְקַבְּלִין עַל הַלֵּב: וּמָה עֲשָׂרָה נֵרוֹת לֹא יָכְלוּ לְכַבּוֹת נֵר אֶחָד, נֵר אֶחָד הֵיאַךְ יָכוֹל לְכַבּוֹת עֲשָׂרָה נֵרוֹת? 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?
״לַיְּהוּדִים הָיְתָה אוֹרָה וְשִׂמְחָה וְשָׂשׂוֹן וִיקָר״. אָמַר רַב יְהוּדָה: ״אוֹרָה״ — זוֹ תּוֹרָה, וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר: ״כִּי נֵר מִצְוָה וְתוֹרָה אוֹר״. ״שִׂמְחָה״ — זֶה יוֹם טוֹב, וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר: ״וְשָׂמַחְתָּ בְּחַגֶּךָ״. ״שָׂשׂוֹן״ — זוֹ מִילָה, וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר: ״שָׂשׂ אָנֹכִי עַל אִמְרָתֶךָ״. § 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.
״וִיקָר״ — אֵלּוּ תְּפִלִּין, וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר: ״וְרָאוּ כׇּל עַמֵּי הָאָרֶץ כִּי שֵׁם ה׳ נִקְרָא עָלֶיךָ וְיָרְאוּ מִמֶּךָּ״, וְתַנְיָא, רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר הַגָּדוֹל אוֹמֵר: אֵלּוּ תְּפִלִּין שֶׁבָּרֹאשׁ. “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.
״וְאֵת פַּרְשַׁנְדָּתָא וְגוֹ׳ עֲשֶׂרֶת בְּנֵי הָמָן״. אָמַר רַב אַדָּא דְּמִן יָפוֹ: ״עֲשֶׂרֶת בְּנֵי הָמָן״ וַ״עֲשֶׂרֶת״ צָרִיךְ לְמֵמְרִינְהוּ בִּנְשִׁימָה אַחַת, מַאי טַעְמָא — כּוּלְּהוּ בַּהֲדֵי הֲדָדֵי נְפַקוּ נִשְׁמְתַיְיהוּ. אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן: וָיו דְּ״וַיְזָתָא״ צָרִיךְ לְמִימְתְּחַהּ בִּזְקִיפָא כְּמוּרְדְּיָא דְלִבְרוּת. מַאי טַעְמָא — כּוּלְּהוּ בְּחַד זְקִיפָא אִזְדְּקִיפוּ. 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.
אָמַר רַבִּי חֲנִינָא בַּר פָּפָּא, דָּרֵשׁ רַבִּי שֵׁילָא אִישׁ כְּפַר תְּמַרְתָּא: כׇּל הַשִּׁירוֹת כּוּלָּן נִכְתָּבוֹת אָרִיחַ עַל גַּבֵּי לְבֵינָה וּלְבֵינָה עַל גַּבֵּי אָרִיחַ — 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.
חוּץ מִשִּׁירָה זוֹ וּמַלְכֵי כְנַעַן, שֶׁאָרִיחַ עַל גַּבֵּי אָרִיחַ וּלְבֵינָה עַל גַּבֵּי לְבֵינָה. מַאי טַעְמָא — שֶׁלֹּא תְּהֵא תְּקוּמָה לְמַפַּלְתָּן. 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.
״וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ לְאֶסְתֵּר הַמַּלְכָּה בְּשׁוּשַׁן הַבִּירָה הָרְגוּ הַיְּהוּדִים״. אָמַר רַבִּי אֲבָהוּ: מְלַמֵּד שֶׁבָּא מַלְאָךְ וּסְטָרוֹ עַל פִּיו. 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.
״וּבְבֹאָהּ לִפְנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ אָמַר עִם הַסֵּפֶר״. ״אָמַר״ — ״אָמְרָה״ מִיבְּעֵי לֵיהּ! אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן, אָמְרָה לוֹ: יֵאָמֵר בַּפֶּה מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בַּסֵּפֶר. 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.
״דִּבְרֵי שָׁלוֹם וֶאֱמֶת״. אָמַר רַבִּי תַּנְחוּם, וְאָמְרִי לַהּ אָמַר רַבִּי אַסִּי: מְלַמֵּד שֶׁצְּרִיכָה שִׂרְטוּט כַּאֲמִיתָּה שֶׁל תּוֹרָה. 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.
״וּמַאֲמַר אֶסְתֵּר קִיַּים״. ״מַאֲמַר אֶסְתֵּר״ — אִין, ״דִּבְרֵי הַצּוֹמוֹת״ — לָא?! אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן: ״דִּבְרֵי הַצּוֹמוֹת ... וּמַאֲמַר אֶסְתֵּר קִיַּים (אֵת יְמֵי) הַפּוּרִים הָאֵלֶּה״. 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.
״כִּי מׇרְדֳּכַי הַיְּהוּדִי מִשְׁנֶה לַמֶּלֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ וְגָדוֹל לַיְּהוּדִים וְרָצוּי לְרוֹב אֶחָיו״. ״לְרוֹב אֶחָיו״, וְלֹא לְכׇל אֶחָיו. מְלַמֵּד שֶׁפֵּירְשׁוּ מִמֶּנּוּ מִקְצָת סַנְהֶדְרִין. 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.
אָמַר רַב יוֹסֵף: גָּדוֹל תַּלְמוּד תּוֹרָה יוֹתֵר מֵהַצָּלַת נְפָשׁוֹת, דְּמֵעִיקָּרָא חָשֵׁיב לֵיהּ לְמׇרְדֳּכַי בָּתַר אַרְבְּעָה, וּלְבַסּוֹף בָּתַר חַמְשָׁה. מֵעִיקָּרָא כְּתִיב: ״אֲשֶׁר בָּאוּ עִם זְרוּבָּבֶל יֵשׁוּעַ נְחֶמְיָה שְׂרָיָה רְעֵלָיָה מׇרְדֳּכַי בִּלְשָׁן״, וּלְבַסּוֹף כְּתִיב: ״הַבָּאִים עִם זְרוּבָּבֶל יֵשׁוּעַ נְחֶמְיָה עֲזַרְיָה רַעַמְיָה נַחֲמָנִי מׇרְדֳּכַי בִּלְשָׁן״. 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).
אָמַר רַב וְאִיתֵּימָא רַב שְׁמוּאֵל בַּר מָרְתָּא: גָּדוֹל תַּלְמוּד תּוֹרָה יוֹתֵר מִבִּנְיַן בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ, שֶׁכׇּל זְמַן שֶׁבָּרוּךְ בֶּן נֵרִיָּה קַיָּים — לֹא הִנִּיחוֹ עֶזְרָא וְעָלָה. Rav said, and some say that Rav Shmuel bar Marta said: Studying Torah is greater and more important than 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.
אָמַר רַבָּה אָמַר רַב יִצְחָק בַּר שְׁמוּאֵל בַּר מָרְתָּא: גָּדוֹל תַּלְמוּד תּוֹרָה יוֹתֵר מִכִּבּוּד אָב וָאֵם, שֶׁכׇּל אוֹתָן שָׁנִים שֶׁהָיָה יַעֲקֹב אָבִינוּ בְּבֵית עֵבֶר לֹא נֶעֱנַשׁ, דְּאָמַר מָר: 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: