Purim Dvar Torah

Va'yar Haman...Va'yimoleh Haman Cheymah

And Haman saw that Mordechai would not bow and prostrate himself before him and Haman was filled with anger. (Esther, 3:5)

Note that the Megillah describes Haman as "filled with anger" because Mordechai would not bow to him but wihtout indicating here that his anger was directed at Mordechai. Later, after Haman departs from the frirst of the two feasts that Esther held, we are told that when Haman encounters a defiant Mordechai and he is "filled with anger towards Mordechai" (5:9). Why is Haman's anger only now portrayed as directed at Mordechai, but not in the first instance?

The Avnei Nezer, R' Avraham of Socetchov, explains what changed from the time that Haman's anger first flares and the second instance, after Haman has dined with Esther and Achashverosh. Haman, haughty as he is, becomes angry when he sees that his lust to be worshipped by all is unrealized. Nonetheless, he recognizes that Mordechai is a holy person. For all his bravado, he also realizes that he lacks the spirituality of Mordechai. Accordingly, while he's upset that he hasn't achieved his heart's desire, his rage is not directed at Mordechai, who could not really be expected to bow to the likes of Haman.

However, after Haman has shared a meal with Esther, he feels imbued with a sense of holiness. The pasuk tells us that Haman emerged from Esther's first feast "happy and good of heart" ("sameach v'tov lev"). The word "simcha" is denotes happiness rooted in kedushah; it is defined as "a spiritual experience that comes with deliberation and after much contemplation" (see Shem MiShmuel, Sukkos, 5672, in the name of his father, the Avnei Nezer). Once Haman achieved some measure of kedusha by joining the tzadekes Esther at her feast, his outlook changed. He considered himself worthy of Mordechai's esteem; he demanded anew that Mordechai bow to him. Denied, the Avnei Nezer tells us, he feels justified in channeling his anger towards Mordechai - va'yimoleh Haman cheymah al Mordechai.

Consider that if the evil Haman could perceive himself to have gained a bit of holiness from sharing a meal with Esther (to warrant a change in the relative view of himself vis-a-vis Mordechai), how much more holiness can we impart to our fellow Jews by sharing our tables with them? Just wondering. Maybe it's the Purim wine kicking in early.

"[Esther ] sent garments to clothe Mordechai and replace his sackcloth." (Esther 4:4)

Many commentators wonder about Esther's concern for Mordechai's appearance; did Esther believe that Mordechai wore sackcloth simply because he lacked clothing?

The Avnei Nezer asks, why did Haman choose to kill Mordechai by hanging? Further, he asks, what is the reason for the custom, held by many, to wear shabbos garments on Purim? One may assert it is because Purim is a Yom Tov; however, it is not a Yom Tov, per se, since it is permissible to perform malachah (regarding the issue of Purim as "Yom Tov" see Megillah (7a).

In Babba Metziah (84a), the Gemorrah states that the likeness of Yaakov Avinu was akin to Adam HaRishon. Further, the Midrash tells us that Adam HaRishon's appearance was closest to Hashem's since Adam's Tzelem Elokim was "complete" (which makes sense, since he was created directly by Hashem Yisborach). Now, Adam's clothing was also created by Hashem (see Bereishis, 3:21) [as opposed to ours, created by an eight-year old Malaysian kid] and thus was the ultimate garment, ensconcing Adam in honor and holiness. As such, Adam's physical appearance (his body and the clothing surrounding it) had a perfection that no other person ever achieved.

Yaakov had inherited the physical appearance of Adam but his brother, Esav, inherited Adam's clothes (see Maharal, in Netzach Yisroel). Esav was jealous of his brother's inheritance and the "kavod" honor inherent in Yaakov's physical appearance. His descendant, Haman, thus sought to strip the honor from Yaakov's descendant by hanging him. Hanging, the Torah tells us, is a completely dishonorable (an "abomination," Devarim 21:23). However, once the Jews gained the upper hand and Haman was hanged, the honor of Haman enured to Mordechai - Esther gave him control of Haman's estate, including the honor embedded in the inheritance of Esav's clothing. As the Megillah states, "And Mordechai departed from before the king in kingly garments" (8:15).

The Avnei Nezer thus explains: Shabbos is "me'eyn Olam Ha'boh" (a place of perfection) and since on Purim we merited an elevated state of honor (moving an incremental step closer to perfection), we don the garments of Shabbos on Purim. Further, that is why Esther found Mordechai's poor appearance so distasteful. She sensed that the struggle with Haman would result in a removal of Esav's honor (that of the clothing of Adam) and a transfer of that honor to Mordechai. She did not want Mordechai to appear to concede the struggle by clothing himslef in lowly sackcloth, perhaps even giving Esav / Haman stregnth by doing so. She therefore sent him clothing suitable to the task at hand.

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