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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Zachor 5768

This Shabbat we read Parashat Zachor, - remembering what Amalek did to our forefathers after they left Egypt. We read Zachor on the Shabbat before Purim. In honor of Purim we offer the following Rashi-comment on Megillas Esther

Rashi points out a pattern in Jewish history . A deeper insight is gained by closely examining his Dibbur Hamaschil

Esther 3:1

After these things King Achashveirosh elevated Haman the son of Hamdasa the Aggagite and he raised him up and placed his thrown above all the his other officers.

After these things: Rashi: That this cure was created to be a salvation for Israel.

The king elevated etc. Haman: Rashi: For The Holy One, blessed be He, creates the cure for Israel's wounds before He brings the wound upon them.

Rashi's two comments are related.

What would you ask?

Your Question:


A Question: Why must Rashi comment at all, the meaning of this verse seems quite clear. What prompted his comment?

Your Answer:


An Answer: The Megillah begins this chapter with the words "After these things." This implies a connection to the previous section. That would mean a connection between Haman's ascension to power (this verse) and the last words of the previous section. Rashi's comment is relating to the connecting link between these two sections. He seeks to explain its meaning.

Rashi refers to a "cure" and a "wound". What is he referring to?

He finds the connection between the two. What is it?

Your Answer:


An Answer: The last words of the previous chapter are "and it was written in the book of chronicles which was before the king." This refers to Mordecai's discovery, reporting and thwarting of, the assassination plot against the king. This was the "cure."

Haman's rise to power, described at the beginning of this chapter, on the other hand, is the "wound" Rashi mentions.

How is Mordecai's act, when he saved the king's life, which was recorded in the king's chronicles, a "cure" of the "wound" of Haman's political elevation in Achashveirosh's cabinet ?

Your Answer:


An Answer: The "wound" of course was the destructive power Haman wielded in Achashveirosh's government. He used this power to obtain the king's consent to eradicate the Jewish Nation. If we look at verses 3:8 ff we see what Rashi is referring to. The cure, on the other hand, was Mordecai's selfless act to save the king's life and the fact that it was recorded and remembered by the king. This happened before Haman's rise to power. Mordecai's elevated stature in the king's eyes and Haman's deflated stature ( illustrated by Haman's leading the royally robed Mordecai through the streets of Shushan ) was the beginning of the end for Haman and his sinister plot.

A HIDDEN MESSAGE in the Dibbur Hamaschil

Look closely at the second of Rashi's Dibbur Hamaschil (Lead Words) in Hebrew Gadal hamelech etc., Haman.

Do you see anything unusual about it?

What is it?

Your Answer:

Did you notice that Rashi uses an abbreviation, "etc." Rashi will sometimes do this in his Dibbur Hamaschil when he skips over several words in the verse in order to save space. But in our verse he skips over only one solitary word. This is not much of a space-saver; Rashi's skipping just one word here doesn't look necessary.

Which word did he skip over? And why did he ?

Your Answer:

UNDERSTANDING Rashi's Dibbur Hamaschil

An Answer: Rashi has left out the word - "Achashveirosh." Rashi has written "King" and left out Achashveirosh's name. Does this mean anything to you?

Remember the Midrash had said that any time the word "king" appears alone in the Megillah, it refers to Hashem. But our verse says "the king Achashveirosh."

When we look at Rashi's comment we see that his first words are "For The Holy One, blessed be He, creates the cure for Israel's wounds " By quoting in his Dibbur Hamashchil, the word "king" without the name "Achashveirosh, Rashi is subtly implying that the King of kings, the Holy One, was behind the "wound" of Haman's rise to power, just as He was behind the "cure." Granted it was Achashveirosh who actually elevated Haman to power, but behind his act, was the King, Hashem, who prompted Achashveirosh to act as he did.


Even Rashi's Lead Words need close inspection, to see what he has in mind.

Shabbat Shalom and a Purim Somayach
Avigdor Bonchek

What's Bothering Rashi?" is a production of "The Institute for the Study of Rashi."

Look for "What's Bothering Rashi? on Megillas Esther" at your book store. Enjoy a deeper understanding of the Megillah, of Rashi and of the midrashim on the Megillah.

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