Esther – Chapter 8

Light Time

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

After Haman was hanged, Ahasuerus gave Esther charge of his house. Esther then revealed to the king her relationship with Mordechai. Ahasuerus took the signet ring, which had been retrieved from Haman, and handed it over to Mordechai. Esther also delegated control of Haman’s house to him.

One problem remained. Esther fell to the floor and literally begged the king to rescind the order of destruction that Haman had issued. Unfortunately, orders written in the king’s name and sealed with his signet are irrevocable. He did, however, empower them to write a rider to the original document to the extent that “Oh, yeah – the Jews are allowed to fight back.” The Jews were permitted to assemble for purposes of defense and, where they were victorious, they could take their attackers’ property as the spoils of war. This was likewise distributed throughout the empire and no doubt provided some disincentive to all but the most die-hard anti-Semites. Mordechai left the king’s palace decked out in royal finery and the Jews of Shushan rejoiced – quite a reversal from the sackcloth and mourning of chapter 4! Wherever the letter was received, the Jews celebrated and many non-Jews were motivated to join them as converts.

Verse 16 – “The Jews had light and joy, rejoicing and honor” – is a very famous verse indeed. It is recited every week at the Havdalah ceremony that concludes Shabbos, with the added sentiment, “May we have likewise.”

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