Esther – Chapter 6

Turning Point

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

This is the part where everything changes. If you want to talk about a “Butterfly Effect,” the course of Jewish history is changed by a bout of insomnia. But let’s watch it unfold:

That night, sleep eluded the king, so he ordered the royal chronicles brought. The section that was read to the king related how Mordechai had saved him from the assassination attempt in chapter 2. Ahasuerus asked how Mordechai had been rewarded and he was embarrassed to learn that no honors had been bestowed. The king resolved to rectify that immediately.

It was then that Haman arrived to ask permission to hang Mordechai. (Not the best timing for such a request!) The king asked Haman, “What should be done for someone I want to honor?” Haman, massive egotist that he was, assumed that the king wanted to honor HIM, so he responded with what he desired: to be draped in the king’s finery, including the crown, and led on the king’s horse by one of the highest officers of the land, who would proclaim, “Such is done for the man whom the king desires to honor!” With the exception of the part about the crown, this seemed like a good idea to Ahasuerus. He ordered Haman (one of the highest officers of the land) to get the clothes and the horse and go do so for Mordechai. As much as he bristled at the thought, Haman had no choice but to comply.

After Haman had led Mordechai throughout the city, he returned home, dejected. He told Zeresh and his friends about this unpleasant reversal of fortune. Zeresh told Haman, “If Mordecahi is of Jewish descent, then since you have started to fall before him, you will not prevail.” (Rashi says this is because the Jews are compared by the Torah to both stars and dust. When they fall, they descend as low as dust, but when they rise, they ascend as high as stars.) This conversation was still going on when the messengers arrived to escort Haman to Esther’s second party.

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