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Purim: How Thin Is The Line Between Esther and Haman?
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So, last week I left you with one last little puzzle to puzzle with over this week; and it was the yibum connections between the Megillah, apparently, and Sefer Devarim. We talked a little bit about the language of the Megillah and the language of yibum. We saw a number of correspondences and I want to come back to that here. You can see it up on your screen, on the left hand side of your screen - you've got the Book of Esther; on the right hand side of the screen, you've got Devarim. If you are listening to this on the Internet, and you don't see any screens, you can actually do this in real life with a book. So, just open up Sefer Devarim, the Book of Deuteronomy and the Book of Esther and I'm looking right now at Devarim perek chaf-hey, 25:5 and we are comparing that to basically Esther - where are we at Esther? Perek vav, Chapter 6, say Verse 6, or so.
Okay, so here's what I want to do. Just to refresh our memory here, I'm actually going to read through the Parshah of yibum here and what I want to do - that's the right hand side of the screen. And whenever that reminds you of something on the left hand side of the screen, I want you to kind of raise your hand, jump up on your chairs and start screaming and that kind of a thing. Okay? So, let's go. We're just going to read on the right hand side of the screen.
Ki yeshvu achim yachdav - When brothers sit together; umet achad mehem - and one of them dies; uven ein lo - and he doesn't have a child; lo tihyeh eshet hamet hachutzah le’ish zar - the wife of the deceased should not go and marry some other guy, some strange man; rather yevamah - her yavam, which is to say, the brother of the deceased; yavo aleiha ulekachah lo le’ishah - should marry her; v’yibmah - perform yibum with her and try to have a child. Hayah habechor asher teled - the bechor, the oldest child, that she would give birth to from the brother; yakum al shem achiv hamet - will be called after the name of the brother who died. V’lo yimacheh shemo miyisrael - and his name should not be erased." Whose name? The name of the deceased brother. lo yimacheh shemo miyisrael should not be blotted out from amongst the people."
Right there, by the way, we have the first, sort of, a hint at a connection to the Megillah story. What does lo yimacheh shemo miyisrael remind you of - that particular language? Lo yimacheh shemo miyisrael - that, his name should not be erased, his name should not be blotted out from Israel. Where in the Torah, else, do we have the notion of blotting out someone's name?
Timcheh et zecher Amalek - you should blot out the memory of Amalek"; of course, the Megillah is one of those times when we encounter Amalek. So, there seems to be a little bit of connection there. Now, let's continue with v’im lo yachpotz haish lakachat et-yevimto. Now, if the brother does not want to take his yivamah, v’altah yevimto hasharah el hazekenim v’amrah me’en yevami lehakim le’achiv shem beYisrael - so then, what happens is, she then goes to the gates, to the zekenim, and she appeals to beit din. She appeals to the elders and she says, me’en yevami lehakim le’achiv shem beYisrael - My yavam is withholding himself to uphold the name of his brother in Israel. Lo avah yabmi - He doesn't want to do it." V’karu lo ziknei iro - at that point, the ziknei iro call on him, v’dibru elav. And they appeal to him and they plead with him; v’amad v’amar - but he insists. And he says, lo chafatzti lekachtah - I do not want to take her. So, there is this back and forth where he is trying to - and if you look, by the way, this back and forth, what's - in this case of chalitzah - what is the brother's position, as described by the woman?
Now, if we go back to her language, her language here in pasuk zayin is: me’en yevami lehakim le’achiv shem beYisrael." What is that language - me’en yevami mean?What?
Right. So me’en is a particular kind of refusal. What's it's connotations in the Torah? Where do we have the language of me’en? Me’en is the language of refusal, but it's a sort of withdrawal; it's a passive withdrawal. So, me’en yevami, he has withdrawn himself, in halachah you have this notion of miyun, right, which is a woman is various kinds of cases of kiddushin ketanah. So, that's drabanam. The girl has the ability to withhold herself from the marriage. She doesn't actually need a get, she can withdraw from the marriage. It's only a rabbinic marriage. In the Torah, where else do we have the language of miyun?
Right. We have it, for example, with Jacob - vayimaen lehisnachem. So, when Jacob withhelds himself from being comforted. Where else do you have it? You have it with Joseph, when Joseph withhelds himself from engaging with eshet Potifar. You have, later on, with Joseph and Jacob again, when Jacob is crossing his arms, right? And Joseph says that it's not the right way to do it. Don't we have it there, also?
We have it with Bilam too, right, when he crosses his hands and Jacob withholds himself, "No, this isn't the right way to do it. You have it with Bilam when me’en Bilam… letiti lahaloch imachem. Bilam is actually a particularly good example. So, what happens? I mean, I don't want to get too involved in the Bilam story, but in the Bilam story, you have to wonder who's side is Bilam on, exactly, as you go through it. Bilam's position is very ambiguous. On one hand, he says, "Look, I can't - "
Let me see if I can call up the Bilam story for you for one second. Let me see if I can get on the screen. Let's actually do a little search for me and then I'll come up. Here it is. So, here's Bilam. This is actually an excellent example; let's read this.
Okay, so vayelchu ziknei moav v’ziknei midyan ukesmim beyadam vayavou el bilam vaydabru elav divrei balak - So, along comes these zekenim from Moab and Midian; and they want Bilam's services. Bilam's name is an interesting name - Balaam, right? 'Bal' - without nation, right? Because he is the ultimate mercenary; he has no allegiances. He is a man without nation; he is - what do they call it - he's a hired guy. He is a bounty hunter. But he is a spiritual bounty hunter. So, anyway, these people come to him and vayomer aleihem - and he says to them, linu poh halaylah vahashivoti etchem davar caasher yedber Hashem elai. So, he says, "Why don't you stay here and we'll see tonight, what God wants." So, they told him that they want to curse the Jews, and "we know whoever you bless, bless and whoever you curse, curse." So, he says, "Okay. Let's see what God says to me."
Vayeshvu sarei-moav im Bilam - So the sarei-moav go and stay with Bilam. Now, here's the deal. Like, if you are Bilam and if you are only a bounty hunter - this is why Bilam is a kind of a complex character - so if Bilam is a bounty hunter, what's he doing, saying, "Let's wait and see what God sees"? Right? If I have some sort of magical power to curse people, so I'm not going to ask god if there's money to be made. I'm game! Right? So, what's he doing?
Evidently, Bilam doesn't think of himself as a powerful bounty hunter; Bilam thinks of himself as a royal servant of God. He wants to know what God says, okay? So, there may be a difference between Bilam's self-perception and what's actually the case with Bilam. But Bilam anyway, says, "I want to hear what god says." So, what happens next? Vayavo Elokim el Bilam - So God, in fact, comes to Bilam. What Does God say?Vayomer mi haanashim haeleh imach." Now, what's the deal with that? How Come God is asking "Who are these people"? Right? What's the theological problem here? God doesn't know? What's the deal with that? mi haanashim haeleh imach - who are these guys? So, why is God asking that question?
So, the answer is: God knows the answer; He wants to hear what Bilam has to say. So, it's kind of like, in the 'Tree of Knowledge,' good and evil. When God comes out and says, "Where are you?" And so, "I know where you are." It's a conversation starter; "I want to hear what it is that the person comes back with. So, let's hear what Bilam comes back with, when I ask him who are these people." So, what does Bilam say? vayomer Bilam el-haElokim Balak ben Tzipor melech Moav shalach elai- So, the King of Moab has come to me; hineh haam hayotze miMitzrayim vaychas et ein haaretz atah...' - There's this people that are really threatening; atah lechah kavah li oto ulai uchal lehilachem bo v’geroshtiv - I'd like to try kick them out of the land if I can, and go to war against them." Okay, now let's look at God's response. Vayomer Elokim el Bilam lo telech imahem lo taor et haam ki baruch hu - You shall not go with them! You shall not curse the people! Ki baruch hu' - Because they are blessed."
Now, did that seem sort of equivocal, or pretty straight forward? That's about as straight forward as it gets, right? Don't go; do not curse them; they are blessed! End of story; conversation over. Now, what's strange about this is later on, when Bilam asks God, 'what should I do?' so, what's God's response? Later on, vayavo Elokim el Bilam laylah - God comes to Bilam in the night again; vayomer lo - and God says - I'm reading from the bottom of the screen now; im likro lecha bau haanashim kum lech itam v’ach et hadavar asher adaber eleicha oto taaseh." So, He says, "If the people are coming to you, so go with them. Just whatever I tell you to say, you should say." Now, what's the theological problem, now?
So, one second, God. Like, which is it? First you say, "Do not go. Don't curse them; they're blessed." End of the story! So, what happened to that? So, all of a sudden, it's like, "Go with them." What do you mean - 'go with them'? Why change your mind? It's not so bad to go with them? So, the first time, say, "Go with them." What's that? If it was okay to go, just say what I tell you to say; why is God changing His mind?
So, let's see what happens in between the two speeches with God. So, I'm… between these two speeches of God. We have - so, God says to Bilam the first time: lo telech imahem lo taor et haam ki baruch hu. We say, that was rather unequivocal; pretty straight forward. Now, let's look at yud-gimel: vayakam Bilam baboker - Bilam wakes up in the morning; vayomer el sarei Balak - and tells sarei Balak." Now, if you are Bilam, what should you say to these guys? "God said, no! Really loved to help, but I told you I would have to wait to hear what God said. God said no." Let's look at what Bilam actually says, vayakam Bilam baboker vayomer el sarei Balak lechu el artzechem - Go back to your land; this isn't going to work;ki me’en Hashem letiti lahaloch imachem." Now, has Bilam said no? Has Bilam accurately conveyed what happened? So, on one hand he'd say 'yes', because he told them to go back; he's insinuated that this whole thing is not going to work, that God said 'no'. But if you look very carefully at what he said, he doesn't quite say the same thing that God said. God said, very unequivocally, three things: a) don't go; b)don't curse them; c) they're blessed. At every level, the answer is no, no, no!
Along comes Bilam and Bilam does not say that; instead, he says, me’en Hashem letiti lahaloch imachem." There's that word - me’en. What does me’en mean? 'Withheld himself'. God has withheld Himself from allowing me to go with you. Now, I am Balak; what do I think now?
Right? So, like God irrationally withheld Himself. You know what I mean? Like, God is saying 'no'; but does that sound like - why did God say 'no'? God explained why He said 'no'. "You shall not curse the people." Why? "Because they are blessed." It's just what they are; they're blessed. So, this is not going to work; this whole thing is not going to work. Bilam does not reveal that; he doesn't reveal that the nature of the people is that they're blessed and therefore, you can't curse them. Instead, it's "God doesn't want me to go with you. God is withholding Himself." So then, of course, if you are Balak, you are thinking: "Well, maybe you can convince Him, or something." But look at the next thing that happens.
So, Bilam said, me’en Hashem letiti lahaloch imachem. Look at yud-dalet. Vayakumu sarei Moav - So, the messengers from Moab got off; Vayavou el-Balak - and they come back to Balak to report on what Bilam actually said. Vayomru - and what did they say? Me’en Bilam haloch imanu. Now, was that accurate? Bilam has withheld himself from coming with us. that's not accurate either! Right? Because according to Bilm, Bilam did not withhold himself in coming to you. What did Bilam say? "God's withholding Himself from coming to you." But you see this little game of telephone going on? Nobody is reporting accurately what's actually happening. Bilam didn't accurately report what God said; and now, the messengers are not accurately reporting what Bilam said. But in a certain strange way, they are accurately reporting what Bilam said. Because, what did Bilam say? Bilam actually changed the truth. The truth was: God said 'no'. Bilam changed that to 'God doesn't let'. Now, why would bilam have a motivation to change 'no' to 'God doesn't let'?
Because if I am really Balam, if I'm really a mercenary, but I see myself as a God-fearing person anyway - I have a certain interest here, right? There's a difference between not saying 'no' and God not letting. Because if God doesn't let, then there's always the opening that maybe things will change. Who knows? And so in essence, what has Bilam communicated? Bilam has actually communicated between the lines, exactly what it is that the sarei-Moav told Balak. Which is, Bilam is withholding himself. If Bilam wanted to go, he would find a way to go. It must be - we didn't pay him enough. Let's go back and pay him a little more and see what happens, which is exactly what happens. They pay him a little bit more and then Bilam comes back and says to God, "Look God! I got all this. How will I say no? I mean, there's millions of dollars on the line over here." And that point, God comes back and says, "Look! If you want to go with them, go."
What happens is that, Bilam has changed and, therefore, God changes. God is changing His response to Bilam. So me’en, as you see in this story and elsewhere, me’en is a very sneaky word. It's a 'withholding yourself' word. It's not a 'no'; it's 'I'm withdrawing into myself'. And now, taken into context with yivamah- let's go back to our little Parsha.
So, what's the guy's response to this yibum? As she puts it: me’en yevami lehakim le’achiv shem beYisrael. It's a very sneaky thing that's happening. What's he doing, this guy? He's not saying 'no', he is saying 'no'. But he is portraying himself as saying 'no'. He didn't come out and say 'no'; what did he do? He just didn't do yibum. He's withholding himself from doing yibum. Can you understand? It's very passive. It's actually - give me one second - it's actually passive aggressive.
Think what's happening. He's withholding himself from doing yibum. Along comes the zekenim, the zekenim plead with him and say, "Please, you don’t understand how important this is." And then, amar lo chafatzti lekachtah - No! It doesn't really sit with me. I don't want to take her." Okay, so you don't want to take her. But there's something really on the line here - the name of your brother. What about that? What's Really going on? What's going on is actually something kind of similar to Bilam, which is - mixed motivations and you're not really getting to what's really at the source. Yeah, you are withholding yourself; but what's really going on?
What's really going on is that you're being passive-aggressive. Ki yeshvu achim yachdav. Where does this thing start? It starts with brothers sitting together. When brothers sit together - okay, what's the deal with brothers? Brothers are complicated relationships. You either love them, or you hate them. Either it works, or there is rivalry. But the problem is, when there is rivalry, no one likes to say, "I hate my brother." It doesn't work well in polite company. So, if you really have issues with your brother, what do you end up doing? You don't actually come out and like - what do you do? What you do is what this yavam is doing. Here, what this perspective yavam is doing, what this choletz is doing - and this is the great evil in a certain way of the choletz. Which is that, it's being passive aggressive. What's really going on?
What's really going on is - he's kind of happy. You have a situation where his brother's name - if he doesn't act - his brother's name dissipates. If I have issues with my brother, maybe that's okay for me. So, I withhold myself. Now, the beauty of withholding myself is that I don't really have to take a stance. I don't have to actually own my disavowal of my brother. I don't even have to actually say 'no'. And when I do say 'no', when the zekenim call me on it, it's not like "No, I don't want to uphold the name of my brother" - which is the way the yevamah puts it. me’en yevami - he's withholding himself from upholding my brother; lo chafatzti lekachtah, she's not pretty enough for me; I don't like her eyes." Something like that. He's not getting to the actual point; he's avoiding passive-aggressively, without really saying 'no'. Because it suits him. If I can hurt you without having to own hurting you, without having to own the responsibility; if I could hurt you passively - that's the definition of passive aggressive - then that really suits me.
So, let's continue. V’nigshah yevimto elav le’einei hazekenim - at that point, basically, the Torah doesn't let him get away with it. So, the woman, in front of the zekenim, the zekenim are witnesses. This is somebody else; this is not just a family dynamic we are playing out. There's a third party; there's the zekenim'. They see it, and what they do, is they engineer the following situation. Chaltzah naalo meal raglo - She takes off his shoe; v’yarkah bepanav - spits on his face; v’antah v’amrah kachah yeaseh laish asher lo yivneh et beit achiv - and she says, "This is what's done to the man who passively does not build up the name of his brother." What's that? You're not building up his name; you're passive. This is what we do to you. This is the greatest degradation in the world.
V’nikra shemo b’Yisrael beit chalutz hanaal - his name is called beit chalutz hanaal. If you think about it, what was he doing? He was not building up the name of his brother, right? In return, his name is sullied. By being called the beit chalutz hanaal. It's interesting, by the way, that if you look at the very next words - I don't want to get into this in detail but it's just kind of interesting - that the very next words in the Torah are, ki yinatzu anashim yachdav ish v’achiv. It's very interesting; isn't that a similar sort of situation? Right? Where you have two people fighting. Who are the two people? A man and his brother. And what happens? The wife of one of them gets involved to try to save her husband. That's actually the last story too.
In the last story, that was also a man and his brother who were fighting. That's the backstory of this; there were issues between a man and his brother, and a woman came between them because there was a women who's the brother of one of them, who's trying to save her husband. It's just in the last case, the husband was already dead and she was trying to save his legacy. It's like the Torah is retelling the same story with a slightly different focus now. One more time, there's a man and his brother; one more time, they're fighting. One more time, there's a woman who's trying to somehow make peace out of this and save her husband.
Okay, what does all of this have to do with the Megillah. It turns out, a lot of it has to do with the Megillah; the language of the Megillah borrows from all of this. What language? What about this language over here? Im lo yachpotz haish lakachat et-yevimto. Where's that show up... I said the main language is over here? Kachah yeaseh laish, right? This is the only other kachah yeaseh laish in all of Tanakh is in the Megillah. Those are the words that Haman comes up with that should be said by the cryer before the man on the horse. Kachah yeaseh laish asher hamelech chafetz bikaro, right?
So, it's not just kachah yeaseh laish; it's also this word. Im lo yachpotz haish lakachat et-yevimto - Remember, he comes along and says, lo chafatzti lekachtah - I don't want to take her; lo yachpotz." Where do we have that language in the Megillah? There it is, right? Lemi yachpotz hamelech laasot yekar yoter mimeni - who would the King want to?" The same language, yachpotz. Wonder how many yachpotz’s there are in Tanakh? We can look the other one up too. Shall we? I'm never going to be able to figure out where tzaddi sofit is on this keyboard. Where is it? Im totally never going to be able to figure it up. Oh, there it is. Come on guys! Where’s the tzaddi sofit. Was that it? The period button. So, okay.
So, the first one in Tanakh is there. All right. So, it does come up in tehillim. And then, we have it in Esther over there. Interesting! So, the first one in Tanakh, actually is in devarim. Right? In the story of the yivamah and the last one in Tanach is Esther.
Anyway, so the book ends. So you have the lehachpotz connection. And then, any of the other very intriguing connection, which is, exactly what it is that she says. If we look at that language of kachah yeaseh laish of the yivamah, so it's right over here. V’yarkah bepanav v’antah v’amrah kachah yeaseh laish, right? So, the v’yarkah bepanav kachah yeaseh laish becomes, in the Megillah, vayikra lepanav kachah yease laish. Right? Kachah yeaseh laish asher hamelech chafetz bikaro. So, if you look at the two bookends of kachah yeaseh laish, on the right hand side, you have vayikra lepanav; on the left hand side, you have bikaro. Yikaro and yikare are both - do you understand? Yikaro means glory - his glory. Kachah yeaseh laish asher hamelech chafetz bikaro means the man who the king wants to glorify; vayikra lepanav - we should call before him. Both those words are a play-off of the v’yarkah bepanav, which means that she spits in him. V’yarkah bepanav becomes vayikra lepanav - the same bepanav, lepanav. Except in one place, call before him; kachah yeaseh laish.
Okay, now the question is: what do we make of these similarities? So, in order to figure out what we make of these similarities, what we need to keep in mind is - and I think that I began to mention this last week - is that despite all the similarities in language, if you think broadly about what's happened in the Parsha of yibum and Devarim and what's happening in the Parsha of the Megillah - they're not the same at all. The relationship between them is actually of the opposite. Because, all of the language which we are hearing is the language of chalitzah; and not just the language of chalitzah - what's happening in the chalitzah? Chalitzah is meant as a degrading kind of thing. We mentioned to you last week, even in terms of the 'undressing' and 'dressing'. In chalitzah, you have the undressing of the lowest part of the person - the shoe; in this story, in the Megillah, you have the dressing up of the person and all of his fine clothes, capped by the crown of the king. They're opposite stories. In one case, you have spit yarkah bepanav; in the other case, spit turns into chafetz bikaro. What is yikaro? It is the exact opposite of spit. The opposite of spit is glory. Right?
So, what's happening is, is that chalitzah - all of these language has been taken from the chalitzah which the torah views as the most degrading thing in the world. In the Megillah - or at least, in Haman's mind, because this is Haman's idea - has turned into the most glorified thing in the world. What do we make out of that? In other words, what's happening is that the Balam Megillah is using the language of chalitzah and putting it in Haman's mouth. Just so we understand what's happening, right? Remember the context: the king says, "What should we do?" The King says, "I've got somebody I want to honor. What should we do with the person the men wants honor?" And along comes Haman and starts using the language of chalitzah. Lemi yachpotz hamelech - Who would the king want?" - that's already chalitzah language, "Who would the king want to honor more than me? Who would he want to give yakar to?" - That's also chalitzah language, a play-off of spit. "Who would he want to give glory more than me?" And he says, "Dress him up," - the opposite of chalitzah and let him say, kachah yeaseh," with glory, hear these words of chalitzah which are kachah yeaseh laish. Instead of kachah yeaseh laish asher lo yivneh et beit achiv, it's kachah yeaseh laish asher hamelech chafetz bikaro.
How do we understand the meaning of that if we just do the math? The math would say, that kachah yeaseh laish asher lo yivneh et beit achiv. That's the way it ends in Devarim. So now, take that and substitute it into the Megillah. Kachah yeaseh laish asher hamelech chafetz bikaro. It gives you an insight, perhaps, into why Haman thinks Person X should be honored. Why should the king want to honor Person X? Kachah yeaseh laish - Thus we should do the man; asher hamelech chafetz bikaro - Why should we all honor him?" We should want to honor him because let's look at Devarim. Kachah yeaseh laish - this is what you do to a man. Now, instead of asher hamelech chafetz bikaro - what do we have in Devarim? Asher lo yivneh et beit achiv. We do the math. The king would want to honor someone who doesn't build up the house of his brother.
What I want to suggest is, what the Megillah is doing is that it is giving you an insight into why Haman thinks that the king would want to honor him. Haman cannot imagine that the King would want to honor anyone but him. Why? In Haman's own twisted mind. Normally, we would say, it's just a functional narcissism. Haman is so blind, he's such an idiot, that he cannot even imagine - it does not even strike him as possible - that the King would want to honor anyone other than him. That's normally the way you say it. I think the Megillah is giving you an extra insight. It's saying that in Haman's twisted mind, there is a certain logic to why Haman thinks that he is the one that the king would want to honor. It's him.
What is Haman's claim to fame?What is Haman trying to do? Why is he throwing pebbles at the king's door in the middle of the night right now - when he is on a mission? What's his mission? To kill Mordecai. That's his mission. His mind is full of that mission; he can't get out of it.He's obsessed with that mission. How do you know he's obsessed? Because Zeresh gave him that idea, right? Zeresh said - but what was Zeresh's idea? If you go back to Zeresh's idea, Zeresh said - let's go back a little more just to read this little piece.
So, here's Haman. So, vayimale Haman al-Mordachai chemah - he's very angry at Mordecai; vayitapak Haman." So, he holds himself back, he comes back and he sees Zeresh. Vayesaper lahem Haman et cevod ashro - So Haman tells everyone. Who is everyone? Everyone is Zeresh, his family - v’chol haohavav, all of his closest friends. So, here's Haman; he says to all of his closest friends, et-kevod ashro - how rich he is; v’rov banav - and how many children he has; v’et kol asher gidlo hamelech - and how the king has lifted him up." You've got to feel sorry for this guy, do you know what I mean? Who is he talking to? He is talking to his closest circle of people; who knows better than them all of this stuff? They don't know how rich he is? They know how rich he is! They don't know how honored he is in the king's court? They know how honored he is! They don't know how many kids he has? They know - he's talking to his kids; they know how many kids he has.
Haman - he can't help himself. He's got to validate himself in front of them. So, he goes again, like "I really am on top of the world, I am on top of the world, I am on top of the world." And he is telling his close friends who don't need to be convinced how on top of the world. And then he says something truly sad. He says - you gotta feel sorry for sorry for this guy - that, v’et asher niso al hasarim v’avdei hamelech - how he is higher than everybody else"; and then he says, vayomer Haman af lo heviah ester hamalkah im hamelech el hamishteh asher asatah ki im oti - I am so in the pinnacle of my greatness that Esther has invited me to this sudah and no one else but me. That is how wonderful I am." Little does he know that that's going to be his downfall. And then, he says, v’gam lemachar ani karu lah - and tomorrow I’m also invited with her; v’chol zeh eineinu shoveh li - but I have to tell you guys, none of this means anything to me. b’chol-et asher ani roeh et-Mordachai haYehudi yoshev beshaar hamelech - everytime I see Mordecai, not bowing to me - it all means nothing to me."
You've got to feel sorry for this guy. Here's a guy, literally at the top of the world, but there's one thing he doesn't have. There's this guy who doesn't bow to him and nothing else matters. It destroys everything, right? So, at that point, what is Zeresh's response? Zeresh has a choice running now. One choice would be: that you can kind of call Haman on this, and you can say, "Look, come on! You're so great in all of these ways. Don't you think it's maybe a personal failing on your part that you can't take it, that someone bows to you. Maybe we should get over that." But Zeresh, like a good wife - or, she thinks she is a good wife - doesn't do that. What she does? She is an enabler. So, what's her response? Her response is: "You know what? yaasu-etz gavoha chamishim amah, look, why don't you make your going to the king -" What's her desire? Her desire is like: here's my husband, he's so depressed. Okay, he's a little crazy. But he's going to the king's party tomorrow. It's the height of his career. He should go depressed to the party. Etz gavoha chamishim. Let's make - in our backyard - let's make a gallows for Mordecai. It's going to make you so much better, building those gallows. It's going to be like taking Tylenol and Advi and Codeine l all at once; it's the best thing. It's the best thing for your headache. U’vo-im-hamelech - We're all doing this just to get you into the mood, just to bring a little bit of happiness in your life. So, take these two gallows and call me in the morning - that's what its all about. Vayitav hadavar lifnei Haman- so, Haman takes this as a splendid idea; vayaas haetz - he gets to work on the gallows.
Now, does he follow her advice? Remember her advice is go to the king and ask for permission to hang Mordecai. So, it sounds like, of course, he follows her advice. But if you look very carefully at the text, you will see that he does not follow her advice. Because, what was her advice? 'Wait for the morning'. Baboker, in the morning, go to the king and ask permission to - now, what happens? Balaylah hahu - that night, the king can't sleep. So what is it? It's obviously sleepy time; so, it's 1.30 in the morning. The king just can't sleep. Finally, he's tossing and turning. Finally, 1.32 in the morning, he calls for his stewards to start reading him the most boring thing in the world - the book of Persian Records. Right? So, that's what he is doing, and all of a sudden, as he is reading this, and he gets to the part about Mordecai, whatever happened. So, he says, mi bechatzer - Lo and behold!" There is Haman throwing pebbles at the window at 1.30 in the morning to see if the king is still up.
Is he mad? Haman has no way of knowing that the king has insomnia. Let's say the King didn't have insomnia; what was going to happen? He was going to wake the king up. Is the king going to be happy with that? What's happening? Haman is so obsessed with Mordecai, with this plan of his, that he cannot get it out of his head. He can't even wait till the morning. So, he has really lost his marbles. He has lost all sense of anything around him. He's actually not - at this point - almost not narcissistically focused on himself. What he is actually focused on, is Mordecai. What's obsessing him, what's filling his mind, is Mordecai.
Now, if you are in Haman's shoes, what's filling your mind is Mordecai, and then, all of a sudden, the King says, "What should we do, with the man that the King wants to honor?" And then, Haman says, "Who would the King want to honor more than me?"
Now again, one way of reading that is, that the reason that Haman is saying, "Who would the king want to honor more than me?" is because he is a narcissist. You saw that he is a narcissist before; he was just focused on himself. So, he is back to focus on himself. But maybe a more subtle way of reading is, no! If you really follow Haman's train of thought, what's occupying Haman right now is not his narcissism. If anything, his narcissism is being eclipsed by something else. Which is, his vast, incredible hatred of Mordecai. That there is this guy, who I just can't get out of my head, that is just destroying everything for me. And it is Mordecai - it is Mordecai that he is obsessed about. It is Mordecai's refusal to bow to him that's the reason he's come home to complain to his wife. It's Mordecai's refusal to bow that he has spend all night making the gallows; it is Mordecai's refusal to bow that he's there 1.30 in the morning, talking to the King. And all of a sudden, the King says, "I want to honor somebody." And Haman thinks, "It's got to be me."
I want to argue he thinks that 'it's got to be me' not because he's a general narcissist; but because he has logic behind him of why he thinks he is the most honorable person in the world. He thinks he is the most honorable person in the world because - what's on his mind? Killing Mordecai. What's on his mind is killing Mordecai and it's a direct segway into "That's why, I'm the most honorable person in the world! My mission now, is the reason I am the most honorable person in the world. It's because I'm riding the world of Mordecai" - that's why.
Why should he think that's what entitles him to honor? And now he starts quoting, or at least, the Bal HaMegillah puts in his mouth, the words of chalitzah. As if it to tell you, kachah yeaseh laish - this is what you should do; asher hamelech chafetz bikaro - with someone the man wants to honor." Why would the king want to honor someone? Why would the king want to honor me? Take the words from the Devarim: kachah yeaseh laish asher lo yivneh et beit achiv - I am the man, I am the choletz; I am the one who won't build up the house of my brother. I am the brother that hates another brother, and will do anything to make sure that his house does not survive."
Why is he the brother? Because, who is Haman, and where does he come from? And who is Mordecai? That brings us back to what we talked about last week.
They're brothers; its a family feud. There's no hatred like family feuds. Family feuds are the real hatred that keeps on going for centuries and centuries. You think you put it under the rug. Who is Haman? Haman is the remnant of Esau that will not forget, the one little part of Esau. The rest of Esau, we made peace with, more of less. But this one little part of Esau that says, "No! I swear eternal enmity against my brother." Why? And it goes back to what we said before.
There was a first part of the story and there was a second part of the story. Amalek will not remember the second part of the story; Amalek will not remember the reconciliation between Jacob and Esau. The only thing that Amalek will remember is the trickery of Jacob to Esau. So, for example, why do you think Amalek would attack the Jews when they are ayef veyagea?
Ah! Isn't that interesting? The Jews are ayef - the Jews are tired, and that's when Amalek attacks. When did Jacob take advantage of Esau? When Esau came back from this field v’hu ayef. That's the first ayef in the Torah; the second ayef in the Torah is when the Jews are ayef veyagea. It's tit for tat. I remember the trickery; what I will not remember is the reconciliation. The memory of Amalek is faulty. Amalek's view is that, "I will do anything to destroy my brother. I live for destroying my brother."
That becomes the raison d'être of Amalek; Amalek will throw themselves - as Rashi says - into the fire. "I'm going to lose? It doesn't make a difference that I am going to lose! I'm going to throw myself into the fire." This hatred, right? "I'll do anything!" In Amalek's mind - if you would crawl into the mind of Amalek, if you crawl into the mind of Hitler, if you crawl into the mind of the ultimate anti-Semitism - coming from the twisted memories of Jacob and Esau, what is the rationale for that anti-Semitism? What is the rationale in the antiSemites mind, in the Amalek's mind? The rationale is that I am the true Esau. Everyone else sold out. Esau sold out, because he gave into that reconciliation, and he forgot. But I shall never forget. I remember; I remember what our battle is with: timche et - wipeout the zecher Amalek- the memory of amalek. Right?
Amalek prides themselves on their memory: "I shall never forget. I will never forget the deception. I will never forget all of that. And therefore, I wear my hatred; my brother is my testament to my ability to remember the truth of what happened between me and my brother. And therefore, it is a badge of honor that I, alone, am the one that is willing to stand up and do what is necessary to get rid of my brother forever. I am the one; asher lo yivneh et beit achiv - I will not build up the house."
So, in his mind - I believe - that is his claim to fame. And it's a very insidious claim to fame. Because hatred - if you think about that - is a very strong motivator. And hatred is a nasty kind of word; nobody thinks that hatred is good. But Amalek wouldn't see it as hatred. Amalek would just see it as standing up for Esau. "I am the royal one who remembers Esau. I am the one who will not allow my great-grandfather's memory to be trodden down by his brother. I'm going to do that by not building up the name of my brother." This is the energy of chalitzah. The energy of chalitzah is hatred of one brother towards another. "I will not remember! There might have been good things that happened between us, there might have been bad things that happened between us - there was unfinished business." But the choletz remembers the bad, has a skewed memory. Therefore, he sees - in his mind - the spit that's rolling down his face. In chalitzah, in his rationalised mind, is the greatest badge of honor. This is Amalek; Amalek looks at that spit, and says, "That's the greatest badge of honor that I could possibly imagine - that I could be the one to not build up the name of my brother."
What do you think, that - that's Amalek, and Amalek's evil? And that has nothing to do with you and me? As I mentioned last week, I believe that, that is the same belief that Esther has; that is exactly what Mordecai is telling Esther when Mordecai tells Esther, im hacharesh tacharishi baet hazo revach v’hatzalah yaamod layehudim mimakom acher. He's telling her, "You have a choice. What is your choice? Your choice is silence. You're looking at the fate of the other side of the family." In both cases, Amalek is looking back to the story of Jacob and Esau - Amalek's grandfather. Esther is looking back to her grandfather, or her great-grandfather. Her parents - it's Rachel's side of the family. She's from Binyamin; she's from the house of Rachel. She's looking back to mechirat Joseph, to what the other side of the family did.
These are both these 'goats and coats' stories, and it's always the same question. The story starts badly - mechirat Joseph starts badly; it ends with reconciliation. Amalek's story - Jacob and Esau - it starts badly; it ends with reconciliation. Mordecai tells her, "You know what, Esther? You are in the same shoes as Amalek is. You have exactly the same battle with him. Your issue is: are you going to be passive aggressive, too?" What's the best way to be passive aggressive? When you could save the Jews, when you could save the other side of the family, all you have got to do is: lehacharish - keep silent. Lehacharish is, as I mentioned in, I think, last week is a passive-aggressive kind of word; it comes from the word deafness - to make yourself deaf. All you do is you put your hands in your ears and make yourself deaf.
Here's the most interesting thing. You know the self-destructive tendency of Amalek, Amalek's willingness to go down? Where does that come from? Why is it that Amalek will go down, is willing to throw themselves on the fires - as Rashi says? Right? The Jews have just come out of Egypt and is willing to lose, just so that they can take them down. Because it would fuse you as hatred. It doesn't matter anymore. The nature of hatred is such that, I am willing, even to sacrifice myself for hatred. I mean, we see this now-a-days, with enemies of the Jews. Hatred is a very, very insidious thing. And I believe, that is exactly what Mordecai is telling Esther. And here, by the way, I am going to retreat from an argument that I made somewhere in my book - 'The Queen You Thought You Knew'. The argument I made there was: I had a little bit of a problem, and I'm going to just put this out there, that I finessed a little bit of the book.
The problem with this: it all makes perfect sense. Esther is from Binyamin; the Jews are Yehudim, they're the 'other' side of the family. It's a family struggle coming back; all the language reminds you of the language of Judah we talked about last week - it all makes sense. There's only one thing that doesn't make sense, which is: it's not just the case that Mordecai is asking Esther to save the other side of the family. He's also asking her to save her side of the family. Who's really in peril? In peril is everybody; everybody is going to die. So, in the book I finessed this. In the book, the argument that I made was: look, Judah is most of everybody. Who else is there? There's a few stragglers from Binyamin; Judah was the much larger tribe. Esther thinks that she could probably gather the few stragglers of Binyamin into the palace and save them. But frankly, that argument probably doesn't work. Because, what does a few stragglers from Binyamin mean? We're not talking about a family of 35 people that Esther can shelter into the palace. You are talking about thousands and hundreds of thousands of Jews. So, a few stragglers from Binyamin still means 10,000 people. You're not going to get 10,000 people into the palace.
So, I was in France actually; someone asked me this question, really on the book. It's actually a good question, which is: So, what was Esther thinking? If Esther's not going to act, it's not just Judah that's going down in flames - it's Binyamin that's going down in flames too! What's the answer to that, for real? The answer to that for real is, that the part of her, that could be motivated by hatred, to keep silent - doesn't care. Because if I can get Judah passively-aggressively, by letting Haman take him down, and it costs me my countrymen, that's the energy of Amalek. The energy of Amalek is, okay! In the name of hatred, in the name of the glory of my grandfather, if that's what it takes to uphold the honor of Joseph, then that's what it takes. We'll all go down. Then, Binyamin will go down too. That is a self-destructive argument, which is the same destructive argument as Amalek. It is the same issue. What he is telling her is, "You can't do that. That's evil, you can't do that."
When Esther succeeds in not doing - as I mentioned to you - she redeems the story. And when Mordecai succeeds in convincing her not to do it, he redeems the story, which is more why Mordecai is the one who is led through the streets with kachah yeaseh laish. Mordecai has found a way to redeem the evil words of chalitzah and to turn it into yibum. Yibum is when your brother is in trouble and you're there for your brother, and that's ultimately what Mordecai and Esther in the end stand for.
I'll leave you with one last thought on the Haman piece while we are at it, and I'm a little bit out of time. So, we'll just call this a Purim session and I'll leave you with this piece without getting quite into what I wanted to with Jacob and Esau. So, here's the piece I'm going to leave you with.
So, what is it that motivates someone like that way? Like, why is it that they can't remember properly? Why is it that we remember the truth but they can't remember the truth? What's so hard? Just look at the history - Esau reconciled. Just let go of that already! So, you're the grandchild of Esau? Let go! Why is it that you have to be motivated by hatred? Why is it that you only remember the beginning of the story, not the end of the story? Why? I'll ask you another question. Did it ever bother you, the command to get rid of Amalek? The command to utterly destroy Amalek? I mean, it's not such a nice thing! You've seen it, right? I mean, it doesn't seem such a nice thing. And, how is it that we understand that? There's a command to destroy every last remnant of Amalek. You know, if somebody stopped you on the plane and said that, "You're Jews; you don't like genocide. But you are willing to wipe out all the Amalekites!" What do you say?
This is a very, very difficult question. I actually met somebody in - I wonder if this is getting taped, because I have to come up with an answer for this - but I remember, years ago. I'm not going to mention his name, but he is like a leading light in the Kiruv movement. And he once said - I overheard it on a private conversation - saying, that if he ever gets asked this question, which is, 'what about Amalek and killing all the Amalekites?' his responses is that he changes the topic. Right? Because, what are you going to say?
What are you going to say is one of the most difficult questions, I think, in Judaism. How do you we understand this war against Amalek? So, let me offer you a possible understanding. First of all, there's the Rambam;. The Rambam is quite interesting. The Rambam paskens, at the very end of Hilchot Malchot- the very end of yad - so, he basically gives the laws of war, and he says very interesting thing. He says, "The law is that, whenever you go out to war, you need to be kare leshalom; you need to offer your enemy, you need to come to peace with your enemy first. You need to offer truce terms with your enemy, and the truth has to include that your enemy accepts sheva mitzvot benei Noach. And if your enemy accepts sheva mitzvot benei Noach to live as a moral person, basically abiding by these seven fundamental commands of morality. If they accept that, and they are willing to make peace with you, you have to accept the peace. You cannot go to war against them." And Rambam then goes out of his ways and says, "And this is true, even with the war against Amalek."
Fascinating! I thought there was a command to utterly destroy Amalek. How can Rambam say, that when you go to war, to finally and ultimately destroy Amalek, if they make peace with you and they keep the sheva mitzvot benei Noach, so then, you don't kill them any more. I thought you were supposed to kill them!
One possibility is that, if they make peace with you, in a certain way that they're not Amalek anymore. Which gets to the issue: what really is Amalek? So, let's talk about what what is Amalek. Who does Amalek hate? The answer to that is obvious: the Jews! Jacob, us. Who does Amalek hate? I want to argue with you that, that's not really true. Amalek doesn't actually hate us; it doesn't look like they hate us. Who does Amalek really hate?
Let's talk about Amalek. Who does Amalek hate? Well, let's talk about him. Remember when, Haman makes his irrational step? His irrational step is - Mordecai doesn't bow to you; who should he kill? Mordecai! That means perfect sense, right? I'm second-in-charge; I'm the Secretary of the State. This guy with chutzpah doesn't bow to me; I have the power, I'm going to kill him. It's not so nice, but you understand that; it's not irrational, right? The irrational part is vayivez b’einav lishloach yad beMordachai levado. It was too petty for him to just get rid of Mordecai and therefore, ki higidu lo et-am Mordachai - once he finds out where the nation of Mordecai comes from, he wants to get rid of all the Jews. So, there's this one guy who has offended him, and now he's going to get rid of their whole race. I mean, that's a little bit beyond, right? What's going on with that? Now, listen to those words: Vayivez b’einav lishloach yad beMordachai levado… vayivez b’einav lishloach yad beMordachai levado…. vayivez b’einav... There's only one other vayivez in all of Tanakh.
With Esau. Isn't that interesting? The only other vayivez in all of Tanakh just happens to go back to this man, Haman's great-great-great-great-grandfather. Where do we have vayivez is connection with his great-great-grandfather? The answer is: vayivez Esav et habechorah. What happened there? It goes back to the very first story between Jacob and Esau. What happened? When Jacob was a little bit nasty - so, what happened?
So, we go back to that story. It's a little bit complicated. Vayazed Yaakov nazid - let's actually go to that story and take a very, very quick look. Let me see if I can find it. Vayazed Yaakov nazid; it begins with vayazed Yaakov nazid - which we all know means, what? What was Jacob doing? He was making himself some porridge, like all good fairy tales start, right? Making himself some porridge. The problem is that, if you didn't know what that meant because the Art Scroll chumash told you that it means that he was making himself some porridge, never in a million years, would you have thought that the word vayazed Yaakov nazid meant that he was making himself some porridge. What would you think vayazed actually means?
He was plotting! Yazid. As a matter of fact, there is only one other yazid; in the Torah, other than this one. The only other yazid is: ki yazid ish al re’eihu le’horgo be’ormah in Devarim - when a person will plot in one family to kill another person. Who, by the way, is the only person in Tanakh that we know of - an actual person - who plotted to kill another person? It was Esau, after he was tricked. Why? Because he remembers this: vayazed Yaakov nazid - yazed has the kind of connotation of plotting something in the future that's not so nice. The Torah seems to be telling you that when Jacob was making his porridge, he wasn't just making porridge. He was making plans. The plan is: "Oh, my brother is off to hunt without food. I'm going to set up a lemonade stand when he comes back." So, here I go: lemonade, 5 cents. But instead of saying 'Lemonade, 5 cents', it's 'Lemonade for your bechorah, please'. Right? So, he comes back, and he has plotted it. Vayazed Yaakov nazid vayavo Esav min-hasadeh vehu ayef - Esau comes back and he's tired. Vayomer Esav el-Yaakov haliteni na min-haadom haadom hazeh - Give me some of this; ayef anochi - I'm tired." Vayomer Yaakov michrah chayom et-bechoratecha li - Fine! Sell me the bechorah." Vayomer Esav hineh anochi holech lamut velamah-zeh li bechorah - He says, "I'm tired. I don't need the bechorah anyway." Jacob says, "You sure? Hishaveah li kayom - Swear to me vayishava lo. And he swore to him.
Okay, now if we stop and look at that story, so we say, okay. Just by the way that I presented to you - who would you say is at fault in this story? Who comes across as the bad guy in this story? You might say Jacob, because vayazed Yaakov nazid. But if you look carefully at the story, it's not just Jacob. Because it's true that Jacob did plot to try to get the bechorah. But if you think about what happened, right now, did Esau have to sell it to him? He came home; he was thirsty. Right? Hey, so go to the next lemonade stand. You're not actually going to die, right? Okay, so you are hot. Make yourself some porridge. Do you have to give up the bechorah? Look at what happens next.
VeYaakov natan leEsav lechem unezid adashim - He gave him bread. He threw him some extra bread and now you have 5 verbs in a row: vayochal vayesht vayakom vayelach - those are the 4 verbs. The last one? Vayivez - There's that word. Now, notice how the 5th verb is different than the 1st four. The 1st four are describing what Esau did. He ate, he drank, he got up and he left; but notice the quick succession of verbs give you a sense of what's happening. Esau's not thinking; he's just doing. "I ate,I Drank, I got up and I left, blah blah blah blah blah." And the Torah's now telling you 'doing that' is tantamount to vayivez Esav et-habechorah. Who's saying vayivez Esav et-habechorah? That's the narrator saying. The narrator now, is giving you a value judgement on the meaning of what Esau did. Esau has just degraded the bechorah'; to flip away the bechorah, for a little bit of lentil soup, like that, is a degradation of the bechorah.
The Torah, by the way, does not always give you value judgements. Usually the Torah relies on you to decide on your own what you think. But the Torah goes out of its way to say that the value judgement to make here is that Esau just threw it away. He degraded the 'Bukhara'. Now, if I ask you: so, who's at fault here? The answer is: you know, its a complicated story; it took two to tango. Wasn't so nice what Jacob did, but Esau had a choice. He did not have to throw away the bechorah. The fact that he did - vayivez Esav et-habechorah. So now, years later, isn't it interesting that, that word should show up as the word - the verb - that describes the beginning of genocide. In other words, Haman, not content just to kill Mordecai, the word that describes the jump to genocide is vayivez. Vayivez b’einav lishloach yad beMordachai levado. It's as if there is a double entendre . The double entendre is: on one level, it's - and it was too petty to just kill him, so he killed everybody. But on another level, vayivez reminds you of this vayivez. It's almost as if the Torah is saying, the word vayivez from this story with Jacob was b’einav - was in his eyes. Haman couldn't get it out of his head; it was dancing in his eyes. And the vayivez b’einav, the vayivez of this story is propelling Haman to kill everyone.
Who does Haman really hate? Esau. Why did he have to throw it away like this? The bechorah, being first; reshet goyim Amalek - Amalek at the first locked-in battle with Israel. Who is going to be the bechor? "And Grandfather, you threw it away? For a pot of lentil soup?" It's father-hatred. He hates his father! He doesn't just hate his father. Who else does he hate? This is complicated but very quickly, he hates Esau. Esau was the guy who threw it all away. He's also though - who is Amalek? Amalek, by the way, is literally the grandchild of Esau, the child of Eliphaz. Who is Eliphaz? We've talked about Eliphaz before; in the very beginning of the series, we talked about Eliphaz. Remember? Eliphaz Was the guy who was dispatched by Esau to kill Jacob. The guy with a dagger over his head, about to kill him, but then Jacob tricks him. He says, "No, don't kill me. You can take my money instead."
So, the child of Eliphaz, is Amalek. But if you look carefully, you can find a fascinating thing. Eliphaz gives birth to Amalek; but he is not actually listed as one of Amalek's children. The Rambam makes this point. There are five children of Eliphaz, and Amalek is not one of them. After the five children of Amalek, it is said, "And he had a pilegesh - he had a concubine, a girl by the name of Timna. And Timna gave birth to Amalek." But as the Rambam points out, Amalek is not seen as the child of Eliphaz. He's only seen as the child of Timna, even though Eliphaz was his biological father. Why? It's as the Rambam says, because Timna was not a real wife. She was just a pilegesh - and as a concubine, she was not seen as having given birth to a real child of Eliphaz. It was her child, but it wasn't seen as his child.
The midrash says something fascinating about Timna. Who was Timna? So, what does the midrash tell us about Timna? Timna appears 30 verses before this, too. There is a quick history about Eliphaz's family. With this, I'll let you go. Turns out, that Timna is the sister of Lotan. Who is Lotan? Lotan is a prince of Seir before Esau got to Seir. Okay, so one more time. So, who is Timna? Timna is the sister of Lotan, prince of Seir. Now, the midrash talks about this, and the midrash says a fascinating thing. The midrash says that Manasseh the child of Hezekiah would make fun of the Torah because of this verse. It says, "Why does the Torah involve me in such menushah that I care about who the sister of an old prince of Seir was? That, Timna was the sister of Lotan? Why do generations need to know that? The Torah is a stupid document." That's what Manasseh would say.
It turns out that it is not such a trivial verse. The midrash talking about this says that Timna was royalty. She was the sister of Lotan; she was old money in Seir. Before Esau ever got to Seir, she was the aristocracy. If you watch Downton Abbey, she was Lady whatcha call her... She was old money. And what does she do? She comes to marry Eliphaz, this new kid on the block, the child of Esau? And she is the pilegesh of the new kid on the block? She's royalty, the Countess of 'Whats-her-name' doesn't become the pilegesh of Eliphaz! Chazal say, "You know what? She was so desperate to marry into Abram's family. She was rejected by Abram; the only way she could get in was to marry Eliphaz." But what she didn't realize was that Eliphaz was the child - a disenfranchised child - of Esau, and the only way she could get in was to become the pilegesh. What she didn't realize that by becoming the pilegesh, she gave birth to a child, Amalek, who is a disenfranchised child of Eliphaz. So, who was Amalek? Amalek is disenfranchisement, squared. The disenfranchised child of the disenfranchised child.
On his mother's side, the woman who is so desperate to be a part of the family, but yet not really called part of the family. Who do you want to be if you are Amalek? If you are the child of Eliphaz, the child who is dispatched to kill Jacob, after Jacob tricked Esau; who is tricked by Jacob to not killing him, but by taking his money - what's your life's mission, if you are Amalek? "I am going to carry on my father's unfulfilled legacy. My father was the one who was supposed to kill Jacob, I will fulfill his legacy." But the problem is, who does he hate?
"Father doesn't even consider me his child. I'm not even one of his children. And Esau, vayivez Esav et habechorah. Esau threw it all away! I hate my father! I hate my grandfather!I hate my great-grandfather, Isaac, for blessing the wrong guy. And then there's one last father that I hate. The father who blesses the wrong nation, which is, God." The hatred ultimately goes all the way upto the Father in Heaven in shmot. There's only one problem with father-hatred. The problem with hating father is, if you really hate father, what's wrong with that?
You come from father. Hating father is the scariest thing in the world. Because when a child hates his father - and you can hate your father - there is a self-hatred there. You are getting rid of your creator; you are getting rid of your source. Deeply embedded in the human soul, is a desire to love your Creator. We instinctively love our creator by the fact that they are our creator. When our Creator disappoints us, and we mix that love with hatred, we are in a real bind. We are feeling something so sacrilegious, that we usually cannot feel it. Vayivez b’einav lishloach yad beMordachai levado - the Torah's telling you, the Megillah Is telling you that if you want to understand the genocide, the genocide comes from vayivez. Vayivez was dancing before his eyes. But what's the one thing that Amalek cannot come to grips with? The fact that they hate their father.
So, if I cannot admit to myself that I hate my father, what will I do? I cannot say that I hate my father. I cannot feel that I hate my father. So, who am I going to hate? That was a complicated story. Someone else! Right? Esau let me down, the vayivez. I can't assign any responsibility there. The only kosher person to hate is Jacob; so I hate Jacob. And this - and I'll let you go with this thought - this is the reason, I believe, why we cannot reconcile with Amalek. When you have an enemy, what should you do?
The Rambam tells you what to do. If you have an enemy, the first thing you do is you try to make peace with them. Try to reconcile with them. There's actually two things that you can do with your enemy. There's two rational ways of dealing with an enemy. One rational way of dealing with an enemy, short of all out warfare, is reconcilie. The other way of dealing with an enemy, short of any warfare, is deterrence. The United States and Russia, in the Cold War. "Build up your nuclear arsenal, and they will not attack you."
What's the problem? Let's say you were motivated by somebody who hates their father, and is taking it out on you because you are the only other party. Can you reconcile with them? No! No amount of apologies is ever going to work, because they don't really hate you. It's just displaced hatred of their father. The second they reconcile with you and let go of the hatred, and they are not hating you, what are they off to come to grips with? The fact that they actually hate their father but they can't do that. They have too much invested in hating you, and since it's not - in the end of the day, what you did, it's what their father did, that it's all on you, that you cannot reconcile with them. What could you, maybe, do?
You can, maybe, deter them. But if you are being motivated by father hatred, it's a very, very deep hatred. There are no deterrents. Father-hatred at it's core, is self-hatred. If I really hate myself, will I be deterred, with the father's death? Of course not! Death would be the final blaze of glory. That's what it's all about. You cannot deter Amalek. You cannot reconcile with Amalek. Your only other option is more to the death, because there is no other way out. So, kill them before they kill you, because if you let them, they will kill you. And they will die, killing you.
So, either get them to accept sheva mitzvot benei Noach and abandon being Amalek, abandon that memory - that's one thing that you can do. But if they won't abandon the memory, if they continue to have that identity, beware that it's a fight to the death. There's no other way out. And therefore, in self-preservation, get rid of them. Not because they are evil - the evil comes from somewhere - but in order to survive, you have to battle to the death.
Anyway, that's the thought. A little bit dark for the evening. But I leave you to think about that. And I wish you guys a very happy Purim.
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