Dafyomi Advancment Fourm
Excerpt from Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld's

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[Haman said to King Achashverosh,] "If the king will agree, let it be written that the Jews should be exterminated. I, in return, will weigh out to the king's men 10,000 silver Kikars (a large weight of silver), to be deposited in the king's treasury."
(Esther, 3:9)
I was told, that the 10,000 silver Kikars exactly equaled half a Shekel for each of the Jews, who totaled six hundred thousand when they left Egypt. Haman offered Achashverosh an amount equal to the value of the entire nation, as can be seen if one but makes the calculation.
(Tosafot Megilah 16a)
The terse words of the above Tosafot have puzzled scholars for many generations. The half Shekels which were donated to the Mishkan by each of 600,000 Jews (Shmot 30:13) do not add up to nearly 10,000 Kikar of silver! In the beginning of Parshat Pekudei it is detailed that they totaled no more than *100* Kikar (Shmot 38:26-7), or one hundredth of what Haman measured to Achashverosh.


Various explanations have been suggested to reconcile the calculation of the 10,000 Kikars of Haman (Chizkuni, Shmot 30:14; comments of the Vilna Gaon on the above verse in Ester; Rav Tzadok Hakohen in Divrei Sofrim p. 84; etc.). Many of them, however, either assume some sort of typist's error in Tosafot, or veer from the words of Tosafot entirely.

One oft-quoted explanation is based on the Midrash (Ester Rabba 7:19), which explains that Haman paid *50* Shekels for each of the 600,000 Jews who left Egypt (or *100 times* a half Shekel). Rabbenu Bachye (Shmot 38:25) elaborates further. The Torah ascribes a Halachic "value" (Erech) to a person based on his gender and age group (Vayikra Ch. 27). The *greatest* value ascribed to a person is 50 Shekels. Haman therefore gave that amount for each of the 600,000 Jews. (Although obviously some of them must have been over the age of 50 and therefore "worth" less, Haman didn't take any chances. See also Sefer Roke'ach, #235 and Roke'ach's comments on the Torah, end of Parashat Bechukotai.)

This would not seem to conform to the words of Tosafot, who suggests that Haman paid "half a Shekel" for each Jew. However, Rav Yakov Emden suggests that our reading of Tosafot may simply be a misquote, caused by a typist's misreading of an acronym. The original Tosafot would have read that Haman paid "Chet-Shin" (for *Chamishim*, or 50, Shekel), for each Jew. In a later edition the acronym was misinterpreted as "*Chatzi* Shekel" (a half Shekel) for each Jew.

Others point out that the discrepancy is somewhat lessened by the fact that according to the Gemara in Bechorot (5a), the Kikar of the Mishkan (that is mentioned in Parashat Pekudei) is not the usual Kikar, but rather it is *double* the value of a normal Kikar -- i.e., each of the Torah's Kikars equals two normal Kikars. Haman presumably measured normal Kikars to Achashverosh. This does not fully explain Tosafot's calculation, of course. Haman still paid *50* times the value of the half Shekels given by the Jews in the desert.

I would like to suggest, in line with this latter approach, an entirely new method of demonstrating that the Kikars Haman paid were exactly equal in value to the half Shekels that the Jews donated to the Mishkan. As we shall see, Haman's Shekel's were each worth only one fiftieth the value of a normal Shekel. He paid 50 times as many Kikars as the Jews in order to make of for the difference in value.


A man can consummate a Kiddushin [= betroth] a girl by giving her a coin or another object of value for that purpose. A minimum value of one Perutah (a penny) is required for the Kidushin to take effect. The Gemara quotes Shmuel as saying,

"If a man betroths a girl with a date (the fruit, that is...) although dates are so inexpensive that a 'Kur' of them are sold for one Dinar (a coin), we must nevertheless assume that a Kiddushin has taken effect. (That is, the girl must be legally divorced in order for her to remarry.) The reason for this is because it is possible that in the country of Mede (Maddai), a single date is indeed worth a Perutah."
(Kiddushin 12a)
This Gemara seems to show that dates were in high demand in Mede, which is why they were worth more there than in other countries (see Rashi ad. loc.). The Vilna Gaon, however (printed at the end of Mishnayos Zera'im, and Kol Eliyahu #226), finds a different meaning in Shmuel's statement. The Gaon contends that the value of *silver* in Mede was unusual, not the value of *dates*. Silver was so abundant, and therefore cheap, in Mede, that even for a single date, Medes were willing to pay a Perutah -- a coin whose value is determined by the price of silver. The Gaon bases his interpretation solidly on a verse in Yeshayah (13:17) which states that Hashem will deliver Bavel into the hands of the Medes, "*who do not value silver* and who are not interested in gold."

The Medes to whom the verse is referring are the ones that conquered Nevuchadnezer of Bavel and later shared a kingdom with Achashverosh of Persia (see Megilah 11a). It can be assumed that they shared a monetary system as well.


Is it possible to extrapolate the relationship between the value of silver in the kingdom of Persia-Mede and in other areas?

(a) In areas other than Persia-Mede, a Kur of dates sold for a Dinar. This means that 30 Beitzah-measures of dates [each equaling the volume of an egg] sold for a Perutah. (The rule for measuring volume is: 1 Kur= 30 Se'ah, 1 Se'ah= 144 Beitzah [see Rashi Eruvin 83b]; the rule for changing coins is: 1 Dinar= 144 Perutah [according to Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel in Kiddushin 12a, whose Perutah is the largest on record]). In the kingdom of Persia-Mede, the Gemara is asserting, only *a single* date could be acquired for the same Perutah's worth of silver.

(b) How many dates fit into the size of 30 Beitzah-measures? The Vilna Gaon asserts in his commentary on Mishlei (22:9), based on a Midrash HaZohar, that 3 1/3 *olives* fit into the volume one Beitzah. Our question may therefore be rephrased as, "how many dates fit into the size of 100 olives (=30 eggs)?"

(c) The answer to this can be determined from the Gemara in Krituth (14a), which states that exactly 2 olives fit into the volume of one date. Therefore, exactly *50* dates, fit into the volume of 100 olives.

(d) This means that 50 dates (= 30 Beitzah-measures of dates) were being sold for a Perutah elsewhere, while *each* date brought a Perutah in Persia- Mede. The silver in that kingdom was obviously worth one fiftieth the value of silver elsewhere. This explains why Haman, who lived in the kingdom of Persia-Mede, paid exactly 50 times the amount of silver that the Jews measured in the desert in order to "buy them off!"

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