Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Why wait for a letter

The megilah tells us that the Jews rejoiced when Achashveirosh sent out letters allowing them to defend themselves againt Haman and his henchmen and fight back againt any attack.

M'mah nafshach: If they were able to defend themselves, wouldn't they have done so without Achashveirosh's permission?  Surely they would not have gone like sheep to slaughter! And if they did not have any means of defense, what good does a letter do?

Rav Amiel answers in his Derashos El Ami that the people from day one had the means of defense.  What they lacked was fortitude and resolve.  Kiymu v'kiblu, Esther's revelation of her identity, and finally, the letters of Achashveirosh provided the psychological boost, the necessary chizuk, for the people to take action.

There is something a little sad here.  Why do we need a letter from Achashveirosh, from Lord Balfour, from the UN, from Trump, to empower us to fight for our rights?  Ha'levai it should be kiymu v'kiblu alone that gives us that strength.  


  1. Thank you. Very true and good. On a pshat level, I would assume that had it not been for the letter, the army would have been joined the attack and resistance would have meant nothing, like watching a piano fall on your head and holding your hands up to stop it. The kedoshim in the Holocaust were not sheep, despite the thoughts of Ben-Tzvi, Kovner, and Bialik. I'd like to think that killing at least one on my way to the grave would be gratifying, but as I've learned from experience, nobody can know how they would behave until they are looking at the angel of death in the face. We all dream of the Red Badge of Courage, but until you're tested, it means nothing. I'm not saying that we need to be like Hemingway and prove our masculinity every morning, but dreams of heroism are just self stimulation.

    1. I also heard that answer once.
      BTW, Bialik had no opinion on the Kedoshim of the Holocaust - he died long before.

    2. I appreciate the correction. I wonder why I've always thought that he felt that way.

  2. I have to agree with Eliezer Eisenberg. Experience has taught that when the authorities are on the side of the anti-semites, it is a lot worse than when they aren't. The letter made clear that the king was now not officially out to get the Jews.

    To give a modern illustration, in the period before 1948. the British Mandatory authorities in Palestine officially confiscated arms held by the Jewish settlement so as not to promote violence. At the same time, they looked the other way as the Arabs armed themselves (and in fact the British authorities trained the Arab legion in Jordan). So the official authorities can help one side or the other, even if they do not join in the fight.

  3. "Why do we need a letter...?"

    because of Yaakov's seven bows to Eisav?
    (meanwhile, a nod from worldly power utters, even begrudgingly, even unwittingly, 'Melech malchei ha'melachim')