PREFACES TO MEGILAS ESTHER (cont.)
Rav Dimi bar Yitzchak would begin with "We are slaves, and in our bondage Hash-m did not abandon us, and He stretched over us Chesed in front of the kings of Persia" - this was in the days of Haman.
R. Chanina bar Papa would begin with "You made a man ride on our heads, we entered fire and water":
"In fire" was in the days of Nevuchadnetzar ha'Rasha (he threw us into the furnace). "In water" was in the days of Paro. "And you brought us out to satiation" in the days of Haman.
R. Yochanan would begin with "He remembered His Chesed and faithfulness to Beis Yisrael. All ends of the land saw the salvation of Elokeinu." All ends of the land saw Hash-m's salvation in the days of Mordechai and Esther.
Reish Lakish would begin with "Like a roaring lion and a hungry bear, a Rasha rules over a poor nation."
"A roaring lion" is Nevuchadnetzar ha'Rasha, about whom it says "A lion rose from his thicket";
"A hungry bear" is Achashverosh, about whom it says "And another animal, a second, like a bear";
(Rav Yosef - Beraisa): This refers to Persians, who eat and drink like a bear, and are clothed with flesh like a bear, and grow hair like a bear, and have no rest like a bear.
"A Rasha rules" is Haman;
"Over a poor nation" is Yisrael, who lack Mitzvos. (It seems that the Maharsha's text says "lacked Mitzvos", like it says in Yalkut Shimoni Mishlei 962. In Bava Metzi'a 70b, Rashi says that Nochrim are called poor in Mitzvos, and Shitah Mekubetzes brings so from Midrash Yerushalmi. Even lowly Yisre'elim are full of Mitzvos like a pomegranate (Berachos 57a)!)
R. Eliezer would begin with "Ba'Atzaltayim Yimach ha'Mekareh uv'Shiflus Yadayim Yidlof ha'Bayis" - because of the laziness of Yisrael who did not engage in Torah, the hater of (a euphemism) Hash-m became Mach (unable to save);
"Mach" means poor - "v'Im Mach Hu me'Erkecha";
"ha'Mekareh" is Hash-m - "ha'Mekareh va'Mayim Aliyosav".
Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak would begin with "... If Hash-m had not been for us when a man rose against us" - a man (Haman) who was not a king.
Rava would begin with "Bi'Rvos Tzadikim Yismach ha'Am" - this refers to Mordechai and Esther, "Veha'Ir Shushan Tzahalah v'Samechah"
"Uvi'Mshol Rasha Ye'anach Am" is Haman - "veha'Ir Shushan Navochah."
Rav Masnah would begin with "For who is a great nation to whom Hash-m is close?"
Rav Ashi would begin with "Has any god ever tried (to redeem a nation through wonders like Hash-m did in Mitzrayim)?"
(Rav): "Va'Yehi bi'Ymei Achashverosh" - we read this Vai v'Hi (woe and mourning).
Haman's decree (did not allow Yisraelim to be kept alive for slaves) embodied "You will be sold to your enemies for slaves (and no one will buy)."
(Shmuel): "I did not despise them" - in the days of the Yevanim; "I did not abhor them" - in the days of Nevuchadnetzar; "to destroy them" - in the days of Haman; "to annul my covenant with them" - in the days of the Persians; "for I am Hash-m Elokeihem" - in the days of Gog and Magog.
(Beraisa): "I did not despise them" - in the days of the Babylonians, I prepared for them Daniel, Chananyah, Misha'el and Azaryah;
"I did not abhor them" - in the days of the Yevanim, I prepared for them Shimon ha'Tzadik, Chashmonai and his sons, and Matisyahu Kohen Gadol;
"To destroy them" - in the days of Haman, I prepared for them Mordechai and Esther;
"To annul my covenant with them" - in the days of the Persians, I prepared for them the house of Rebbi, and Chachamim of the generations;
"For I am Hash-m Elokeihem" - in the future, no nation will be able to rule over them.
R. Levi would begin with "If you will not drive out the inhabitants of the land (they will afflict you". Likewise, we did not totally wipe out Amalek, and we were afflicted by Haman).
R. Chiya would begin with "Like I intended to do to them, I will do to you."
(Rav): "Achashverosh" is Achiv Shel Rosh, the equal of Nevuchadnetzar ha'Rasha, who was called Rosh - "Ant Hu Reishah Di Dahava";
He is the Ben Gilo of (has the same Mazel as) Rosh. Nevuchadnetzar killed, and destroyed (the Mikdash), Achashverosh sought to do the same;
At the beginning of Achashverosh's reign, they wrote accusations against the inhabitants of Yehudah and Yerushalayim (to prevent them from building the Mikdash).
(Shmuel): (He is called Achashverosh because) in his days Hushcharu (were blackened) the faces of Yisrael like the bottom of a pot.
(R. Yochanan): Anyone who recalls him says 'Ach l'Rosho' (gets a headache).
(R. Chanina): All were made Rashin (poor) in his days - "Achashverosh imposed a tax..."
"Hu Achashverosh" - he was evil from beginning to end.
Also "Hu Esav", "Hu Dasan va'Aviram" and "Hu ha'Melech Achaz" teach that they were evil from beginning to end.
"Avram Hu Avraham" and "Hu Aharon v'Moshe" teach that they are righteous from beginning to end.
"David Hu ha'Katan" - he acted lowly from beginning to end;
Just like before he was king he lowered himself in front of his superiors in Torah, also in his kingship he lowered himself in front of his superiors in Chachmah.
(Rav): "Ha'Molech" - he made himself king.
Some explain this to his credit, i.e. there was no one else as fitting as him to be king.
Some explain this to his detriment, i.e. he was not fitting to be king. He gave much money (to nobles and dignitaries) and became king.
(Rav or Shmuel): "From Hodu until Kush" - these are at opposite ends of the world;
(The other of Rav and Shmuel): They are next to each other. Just like he ruled over them, so he ruled from one end of the world to the other end. (Maharal (Or Chodosh p.77) - people feared him as if his capital was nearby. The first opinion agrees that Hodu and Kush are adjacent The entire world is between them, i.e. if one goes around the world from one to the other.)
(Rav or Shmuel): "He (Shlomo) dominated the entire other side of the river, from Tifsach until Azah" - they are at opposite ends of the world;
(The other of Rav and Shmuel): They are next to each other. Just like he ruled over them, so he ruled over the entire world.
(Rav Chisda): "Seven and 20 and 100 provinces" - first he ruled over seven, then 20, and in the end 100.
Question: If so, how will we explain "And the years of Amram were seven and 30 and 100 years?
Answer: We expound regarding Achashverosh because the verse was not needed. It already says "From Hodu until Kush (the whole world)", so "seven and 20 and 100" must be to teach like we said.
THREE WHO RULED OVER THE WORLD
(Beraisa): Three ruled over the world - Achav, Achashverosh and Nevuchadnetzar.
Ovadyah said "... There is no people or kingdom to which my master (Achav) has not sent... (and made them swear that they did not find Eliyahu. If Achav did not rule over them, he could not make them swear!)
It says regarding Nevuchadnetzar "And the people and kingdom which will not put its neck in the yoke of the king of Bavel (I will strike... )"
We explained about Achashverosh above.
Question: There are others! Shlomo ruled over the world!
Answer #1: He did not finish his reign (so he is not listed).
Question: This is like the opinion that once he was deposed, he never resumed kingship. According to the opinion that he returned to kingship, why is he not listed?
Answer #2: Shlomo's reign was different. He ruled over higher beings (Shedim) and lower beings (people) - "And Shlomo sat on the throne of Hash-m" (we list only kings who ruled only over people).
Question: Why isn't Sancheriv listed? It says "Who among all the gods of these lands saved their land from my hand?!"
Answer: He never conquered Yerushalayim.
Question: Regarding Daryavesh it says "The king wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the land... "!
Answer: There were seven nations over which he did not rule - "Daryavesh established his reign over 120 provinces."
Question: Koresh said "Hash-m gave to me all the kingdoms of the world!"
Answer: He was just aggrandizing himself (it was not true).
MISCALCULATIONS OF THE SEVENTY YEARS OF EXILE
Contradiction: It says "k'Shevet ha'Melech" (when he became king), and it says immediately "in the third year of his reign"!
Answer (Rava): "k'Shevet" means after his mind was Meyushav (settled).
Achashverosh: Belshatzar calculated and erred; I calculated and did not err. Hash-m promised to redeem Yisrael "when 70 years are completed for Bavel" (Rashash - the other verse does not belong here, rather, on 12a).
Belshatzar counted 45 years of Nevuchadnetzar (from the beginning of his reign), 23 of Evil-Merodach, and two of his own reign, making 70. He took out the Klei ha'Mikdash and used them.
Question: How do we know that Nevuchadnetzar reigned 45 years?
Answer: We learned that the exile from Yerushalayim was in the seventh year, the eighth, the 18th, and the 19th.
Some (Chachamim and Yehoyachin) were exiled in the seventh year from Nevuchadnetzar's conquest of Yehoyakim; this was the eighth year of Nevuchadnetzar's reign. The (Churban and) exile of Tzidkiyahu (and most of Yisrael) was in the 18th year from the conquest of Yehoyakim, which was the 19th year of Nevuchadnetzar's reign.
We learned that Nevuchadnetzar conquered Ninveh in his first year; in his second year he conquered Yehoyakim.
"In the seventh year from Galus Yehoyachin... Evil Merodach (succeeded Nevuchadnetzar and) took Yehoyakim out of prison." It follows that Nevuchadnetzar reigned 37 and eight years, which is 45.
We have a tradition that Evil Merodach reigned 23 years.
Belshatzar was sure that Yisrael would not be redeemed, therefore he took out the Klei ha'Mikdash and used them. This is why Daniel told him "You raised yourself against Hash-m, and brought His Kelim in front of you." "Belshatzar was killed on that night."
Achashverosh: I will not err. The prophecy did not say 'l'Malchus Bavel', rather, "l'Bavel", i.e. the (first) exile to Bavel! Belshatzar's calculation was eight years too early. It is now eight years later, i.e. one year of his reign, five of Daryavesh and Koresh, and two of my reign.
Achashverosh was sure that Yisrael would not be redeemed, since the 70 years had passed. He took out the Klei ha'Mikdash. The Satan came and danced among them, and killed Vashti.
Question: His calculation was correct!
Answer: No. He counted from Galus Yehoyachin; he should have counted from the Churban of Yerushalayim.
Question: His calculation was 11 years too early. Achashverosh ruled 11 more years (14 in all); the Mikdash should have been rebuilt in his day. However, it says "The building of Beis Hash-m in Yerushalayim was stopped (and not finished until the second year of Koresh, who was after Achashverosh)!
Answer (Rava): (Achashverosh counted whole years, but really) the years were partial (in all they were only 69).
(Support - Beraisa): There was another year to (the 70 years of) Bavel; Daryavesh completed it.