Daf Yomi

For the week ending 19 July 2014 / 21 Tammuz 5774

Megilah 9 - 16

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Use of language other than Hebrew for Torah, Tefillin and Mezuzot
  • Miracle of translation of Torah into Greek
  • Comparison of kohanim gedolim with different inaugurations and status of a temporary substitute
  • Status of altars outside of Sanctuary and whether sacrifices can be offered after destruction of Beit Hamikdash
  • The significance of the first words in Megilat Esther
  • Three traditions which Rabbi Levi received from his ancestors
  • Introductions to interpretation of Megilat Esther by 12 different Sages
  • Meaning of the name Achashveirosh and details of his kingdom
  • Kings who ruled over the entire world
  • The mistaken historical calculations of Balshatzar and Achashveirosh
  • Why the Jews of that generation were punished with a threat of genocide
  • Details of the setting of the great feast and what was served
  • The Vashti episode and its aftermath
  • The ancestry of Mordechai and the other meaning of "Yehudi"
  • Esther's piety, beauty and her relationship with Mordechai
  • Esther's meeting the king and her preparations for it
  • The restraint connection between Rachel, Saul and Esther
  • How Mordechai discovered the plot to poison the king
  • Haman's slander of the Jews and the king's collaboration
  • Why reading of Megilat Esther on Purim was the only mitzvah added by a prophet and why Hallel is not said
  • The 48 men and 7 women whose prophecy was recorded
  • The glorious descendants of Yehoshua and Rachav
  • Who was the Prophet Malachi and who were the beauties of history
  • The mysterious messenger and the secret message
  • Esther's encounter with the king and her strategy regarding Haman

What Did Esther Eat?

  • Megilah 13a

While Esther was in the king's palace she found favor in the eyes of the keeper of the harem and he singled her out for receiving special food (Megilat Esther 2:9).

What this special food was is a matter of dispute not only among the Talmudic Sages but also even among the later commentaries.

The Sage Rav contends that, in contrast to the other candidates to become Achashveirosh's queen, she was given food that was fit for consumption for Jews. This same approach of Esther being spared from eating non-kosher food is found in the opinion of Rabbi Yochanan, who states that she was given legumes, just as we find in the case of Daniel, Chanania, Mishael and Azariah who avoided eating forbidden food by subsisting on legumes (Daniel 1:16).

The Sage Shmuel, however, contends that she was fed katli dechazire, which both Rashi and Tosefot translate as bacon and which was considered special by her keeper. Rashi writes that she was compelled to eat this forbidden food in order to stay alive and was therefore not held responsible. Tosefot, however, insists that, while this was indeed served to her as a special favor, she abstained from eating it.

An entirely different approach to understanding the opinion of Shmuel is based on the different text suggested by Sefer Ha'aruch. Instead of the above-mentioned Aramaic words which translate as "flanks of the hog", this text is translated as the "head of a lettuce" and places the position of Shmuel in the same line as the other opinions that Esther was not forced to compromise her commitment to eating only kosher food in her difficult circumstances.

What the Sages Say

"Whoever repeats something he heard and names its source brings salvation to the world. Esther told the king in the name of Mordechai about the plot to poison him and this led to the rescue of Jewry."

  • Rabbi Elazar quoting Rabbi Chanina - Megilah 15a

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