For the week ending 26 July 2014 / 28 Tammuz 5774

Megilah 17 - 22

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Stages of Haman's downfall
  • The royal garments of Mordechai and their source
  • Yosef and his brothers in reconciliation
  • Some rules regarding writing and binding of a Megilah
  • Mordechai's status and the history of Yaakov
  • Reading the Megilah in proper sequence and the Shema audibly and in Lashon Kodesh
  • The order of the blessings of the Shmoneh Esrei prayer
  • When silence is preferable
  • The Megilah and other sacred scrolls in other languages
  • Things which the Sages learned from Rebbie's maid
  • Reading the Megilah with breaks in between
  • Writing sacred scrolls from memory
  • Writing materials required for a proper Megilah
  • Residents of walled and unwalled cities and villages regarding the date of reading the Megilah
  • How much of the Megilah must be read
  • Who is eligible as a reader for the public
  • Mitzvot that must be done during day and when day begins
  • Mitzvot done at night and which all night long
  • Reading Megilah or Torah sitting or standing
  • When Torah was learned while standing
  • Hearing Megilah from two readers and the blessings on the reading
  • How many people are called up to the Torah on different days
  • Why the Sage Rav did not prostrate himself

A Numbers Mystery

  • Megilah 16a

When the wicked Haman heard from Mordechai's disciples that they had been studying the laws of a sinner achieving atonement through the offering of a handful of grain on the Beit Hamikdash altar, he exclaimed:

"Your handful of grain has overcome my ten thousand talents (a large measure) of silver!"

This was a reference to the payment that Haman gave to the king for the right to carry out his genocidal plot. Tosefot writes that he heard that ten thousand talents equals the total amount of half-shekel coins given by the 600,000 adult males who went out of Egypt, and Haman told the king that he was thus giving him "their entire redemption".

Tosefot leaves us with a puzzling problem in mathematics. In the Torah calculation (Shmot 38:26-26) of how much 600,000 half-shekel coins equal, we find that the total is only 100 talents of silver!

Of the solutions proposed for this problem we offer this one from Rabbi Yaakov Etlinger in his Responsa Binyan Zion:

When a Jew vows to donate his monetary value to the Beit aHamikdash, the value assigned by the Torah for a male aged 20-60 is 50 shekalim. The amount Jews were ordered to donate for the Mishkan Sanctuary sockets and every succeeding year for purchases of animals for communal sacrifices was one percent of that sum — a half-shekel. Haman magnanimously offered the king "their entire redemption" — the full 50 shekalim for each, which would mean 600,000 x 50 = ten thousand talents.

What the Sages Say

"Haman's advisors warned him of the fate he faced in threatening Mordechai and his people by telling him 'for fall, you shall certainly fall before him' (Megilat Esther 6:13). The double expression of falling was to communicate that the Jewish nation is compared to the
dust and to the stars. When their fortune declines they fall all the way to the dust. But when they rise they reach all the way to the stars."

  • Rabbi Yehuda bar Iloui - Megilah 16a

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