Haman’s Downfall by Shlomo Tanenbaum


In the Megillah, Haman receives permission from the evil king Achashveirosh to issue an irreversible declaration that all Jewish men, women, and children are to be killed on the thirteenth of Adar.  The decree was issued a eleven months before the date that it would be implemented.  The obvious question is: Why didn’t anyone kill a Jew before this date?  Would it really make a difference if a person killed a Jew on the exact date specified in the declaration or a day before?  This is strengthened by the impression one receives from the Megilla that everyone wanted to implement the decree to kill the Jews!  It was not just a “Gezeirat Hamelech” forcing the inhabitants of Paras Umadai to kill Jews; rather, everyone wanted to kill the Jews and was happy that they could finally kill their Jewish neighbors.  So why did no one kill a single Jew before the thirteenth if the police and army would not have taken any action against anyone who did?

An answer can be found in the first Perek of the Megilah.  King Achashveirosh summons his queen Vashti to appear before his guests during his seven-day party for the inhabitants of Shushan.  Vashti refuses to come to Achashveirosh and appear before all his guests.  Achashveirosh is enraged over this outright display of defiance against his authority and summons his advisors to think of what to do to his disobedient queen.  Memuchan, who Chazal identify as Haman, comes up with a brilliant solution: “Let the king Achashveirosh make an irreversible decree to kill her and proclaim throughout the kingdom that the queen was killed because she was defiant to her husband, the king of all Paras Umadai. In addition, let it be written in the annals of the law that every man shall be a king in his home and he shall have the final say in all matters. Moreover, let it be written and sealed that a husband can force his wife to learn his language if he so desires.” (See Esther 1:16-20 for the exact words of Memuchan’s statement.)  This was written in the Persian lawbooks?!?  What kind of king makes a law that every man shall be a ruler in his own home?  Normal kings deal with national calamities, foreign affairs and government policy, as well as creating law and order in the kingdom.  But what kind of bizarre king creates a law that every man shall be a ruler in his own home? What kind of king deals with matters that are so trivial and insignificant for a king?

The people of Paras Umadai had the same exact thought.  They reasoned that if their king would make a law as trivial as “Let every man be a ruler in his own home,” then maybe when the king declared that all Jews will be killed on the thirteenth of Adar, he really meant the thirteenth of Adar and no other date.  Who knew what this crazy king was actually thinking?  You never knew what to expect from this king. The people of Paras Umadai therefore waited until the thirteenth of Adar and did not attack any Jews beforehand.

We can see how, through his own advice, Haman effectively prevented the Jews from being attacked before the thirteenth of Adar.  We should also consider that in this same advice, Haman told Achashveirosh to kill Vashti, which led to Esther’s appointment.  This in turn led to the reversal of Haman’s decree that all Jews shall be killed on the thirteenth of Adar.  Hence, Haman prevented the killing of Jews both before the thirteenth of Adar and on the day itself through his own actions. Furthermore, he even set the stage for the killing of the Jews’ enemies by establishing the thirteenth of Adar as a day of Milchamah.  Hashem planned that Haman foil his own plans of utter annihilation of the Jews and change them to salvation for the Jews.

This episode has many lessons. One lesson is that every single time the Jews are in danger or trouble, Hashem has prepared and planned the possibility for Geulah.  Hashem never forgets about His Am Segulah and His Banim.  Moreover, it also teaches us that Hashem can bring Geulah from any person or event.  Whether it be from a Jew, a Nochri, or our enemy, the Geulah is always at hand and waiting. Hashem has many Sheluchim (agents) to carry out his will in this world, and even our most hated enemy can become his Shaliach (agent).  May Hashem bring the Geulah speedily in our days, wherever may be its source.

- Heard from Rabbi Cohen, a former eighth grade Rebbe at RPRY.

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