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Purim
Was Vashti Pretty Print E-mail
Friday, 14 March 2014

If Vashti was pretty then why didn’t she want to appear before King Achashverosh?

 

The Talmud in Masechet Megilla 15a states:

The Rabbis taught: There have been four women of surpassing beauty in the world- Sarah, Rachav, Avigail and Ester. According to the one who says that Ester was sallow, Vashti should be inserted in place of Ester.

 

We know that Sarah was beautiful as both King Pharaoh and King Avimelech wanted to marry her.

 

Rachav was a harlot whose “bed and breakfast” was on the top of the list for most men who visited Jericho.

 

King David was attracted to Avigail even when her husband was still alive and he rushed to marry her soon after her husband died.

 

Ester was beautiful but some say that since her name was also Hadassah (myrtle) that she had a green complexion like a myrtle.

 

If Vashti would take Ester’s place then that would have to mean that she was very pretty.

 

If Vashti was so pretty then why didn’t she want to appear before the king?

 

In Megillat Ester, Chaper 1, sentence 11 King Achasverosh asked “to bring Vashti the queen before the king with the royal crown, to show the people and the princes her beauty for she was of comely appearance.”

 

The fact that it says that she should come wearing the royal crown implies that she should only wear the royal crown (otherwise she would be undressed).

 

The Gemara explains that it wasn’t Vashti’s modesty that kept her from appearing before the king. Rabbi Yose ben Hanina said: This teaches us that tzaraat (a skin disease similar to leprosy) broke out on her.

 

In the Braita it is taught that the angel Gabriel came and fixed a tail on her.

 

The Gemara implies that Vashti was beautiful and that the only reason that she didn’t come out was because she was suffering from some imperfections. Without these imperfections she would not have had a problem appearing before the king.

 

We learn from here that beauty is only skin deep!

 
Was Ester a Vegetarian or a Vegan? Print E-mail
Friday, 22 February 2013
A few sentences after we are introduced to Ester in the Megila (Ester 2:8-10) we read:

 

So it came to pass when the King’s bidding and decree were published and when many young girls were being brought together to Shushan the Capital under the charge of Hegai that Ester was taken into the palace, under the charge of Hegai, guardian of the women. The girl pleased him and she obtained his kindness; he hurriedly prepared her cosmetics and her allowance of delicacies to present her, along with the seven special maids from the palace and he transferred her and her maidens to the best quarters in the harem. Ester had not told of her people or her kindred, for Mordechai had instructed her not to tell.

 

The Gemara in Masechet Megila 13a discusses what special things Hegai did for Ester.

 

Rav said that he fed her Jewish (Kosher) food.

 

The problem with Rav’s answer is that nobody knew that she was Jewish so why would they get her Kosher food?

 

Ben Yehoyada answers that since Ester grew up in Mordechai’s home they assumed that she would want the food that she was accustomed to eating.

 

Another explanation could be that since they knew that Kosher food was healthier, they honored her request and brought it to her.

 

The Gemara continues:

 

Shmuel said that he fed her “kadlei dichazirei” fatty hog bacon (a delicacy at the time).

 

Tosafot say that although she was served the bacon, she did not eat it.

 

Aruch says that they gave her the tops of the lettuce (chazirei being like the chazeret (horsereadish) that we eat on Pesach).

 

The Gemara continues:

 

Rabbi Yochanan says: He fed her “zeronim” seeds (such as peas, beans, legumes) as Daniel, Chananiah, Mishael and Azarya ate in the book of Daniel.

 

Today, if someone declares that they are a vegetarian or a vegan and ask for legumes and vegetables they are respected for their beliefs even if others don’t necessarily agree with them.

 

In some circles when a person declares that they keep Kosher it has become more respected since it is now politically correct for people to be diverse. In other circles people who keep Kosher may be looked down upon while those who are vegetarian may be respected.

 

Living in Israel in the year 5773, 2013 we do not have to hide that we are Jewish the way that Ester did. Rather we can be proud to keep Kosher and we have a wide range of Kosher restaurants including vegetarian and vegan to choose from.

 

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Purim from Yerushalayim!

Sharona Margolin Halickman

 
What Was Her Real Name? Print E-mail
Saturday, 27 February 2010

In Chapter 2 sentence 7 of Megillat Ester, we read that Mordechai “brought up Hadassa, that is Ester”.

 

The Gemara in Megillah 13a notes: The verse calls her Hadassa and the verse calls her Ester. Which was actually her name?

 

It was taught in a Braita: Rabbi Meir said that her name was actually Ester. And why was she called Hadassa (Myrtle)? After the designation of the righteous who are called myrtles.

 

The Braita also presents an opposite approach: Rabbi Yehuda says: Her name was actually Hadassa. And why was she called Ester (hidden)? Because she used to conceal the facts about her origins, by not revealing that she was Jewish.

 

A third approach brought by the Braita: Rabbi Nechemya says: Her name was actually Hadassa. And why was she called Ester? Because the nations of the world used to call her Ester, naming her after the moon, as if to say that she is as beautiful as the moon.

 

A fourth approach in the Braita: Ben Azzai says: Ester was neither tall nor short but of average height like a Hadas (myrtle). Therefore, though her true name was Ester, she was called Hadassa.

 

The last explanation in the Braita: Rabbi Yehoshua ben Karcha says: Though her true name is Ester, Ester was of greenish complexion, like a Hadas (Myrtle). However she was endowed with a touch of grace by God which made her appear beautiful to the nations and to Achashverosh.

 

It seems that Hadassa was her Hebrew name and Ester was her Persian name and that each name had a lot of significance.

 

When a baby is born many parents put a tremendous amount of thought into the significance of the child’s names and the impact that it will have on their lives.

 
Three Days of Purim? Print E-mail
Tuesday, 18 March 2008

This week in Jerusalem we will be celebrating three days of Purim (Mishulash) from Thursday evening to Sunday evening while most other cities in the world will only be celebrating Thursday evening and Friday.

How did we earn all of these extra days of celebration?

Usually, Jerusalem (a walled city since the days of Yehoshua Bin Nun) as well as Shushan (the walled city where the Purim story took place) celebrate on Shushan Purim, the fifteenth of Adar rather than the fourteenth since it took the residents of Shushan an extra day to finish the battle.

This year, Shushan Purim comes out on Shabbat. The Rabbi’s forbade the carrying of the Megillah (Scroll of Ester) on Shabbat, therefore the Megillah is read on Thursday night and Friday morning (regular Purim) along with the rest of the world. The reason why we do not postpone the Megillah reading until after Shabbat is because it says in the Megillah 9:27 “The Jews confirmed and undertook upon themselves and their posterity  and upon all who might join them, to observe these two days , without fail, in the manner prescribed and at the proper time each year”.

Aside from the Megillah reading, Matanot Lavyonim, gifts to the poor will also be given of the 14th of Adar (Friday) since the poor are used to receiving their gifts on the same day as the Megillah is read and this way they can already enjoy their gifts.

On Shabbat itself (Shushan Purim) in Jerusalem, we add the Al HaNisim Prayer. The Torah reading includes the Purim reading about Amalek.

On Sunday, we distribute Mishloach Manot in Jerusalem as well as celebrate with the festive meal. Although we have a festive meal each Shabbat, we do not want to mix two happy occasions (and miss out on more good food) so we have two festive meals, one on Shabbat and one on Sunday.

So while the rest of the world is trying to cram all of the festivities into one day, here in Jerusalem we will be celebrating at a more relaxed pace and we will finally get a Sunday off from work!