July 21, 2024
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July 21, 2024
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The name “Esther” is widely interpreted and commented upon. One such interpretation is that it stems from “hester—hidden,” as in “hester panim—when Hashem hides his face from us,” historically an event linked to troubled times. And, indeed, we do see hidden thoughts throughout the Megillah. The following are two chiddushim on hidden Torah thoughts in Megillas Esther.


  1. Noach in the Megillah

In Talmud Megillah, the meforshim comment on the tree on which Haman was hanged. Where did they get such a large tree, 50 amah high? (About 75 feet.) Their answer is that it was a beam from Noach’s ark which was 50 amah wide.

Where else do we see Noach in the Megillah? In perek 9, pesukim 16, 17 and 18, the Megillah says, “… and they rested,” referring to the peace which the Jewish people enjoyed after fighting for their survival. The Hebrew word for “and they rested” would ordinarily be “v’nochu.” But instead, it says, “v’noach” in all three pesukim, an unusual grammatical term for “and they rested,” which could also be interpreted, “and Noach.” Proof: Pasuk 22 uses the correct term for “and they rested … —v’nochu.

There is, additionally, a hint of Purim in the story of Noach: In Bereishis, perek 8, pesukim 6 to 13, we see various attempts by Noach to use the raven and the dove in what seems to be two-week intervals. If you interpret the term, “the first day of the first month … ” as the first day of Nissan, then the dove apparently returned with an olive branch in its mouth on 15 Adar, Shushan Purim—the same day on which the Megillah says, “v’Noach.”

Interestingly, “the dove with an olive branch in its mouth” is the world recognized symbol of peace—the same concept for which Megillas Esther uses the term, “v’Noach—and they rested.”


  1. Rochel’s Reward, Yosef and Mordechai

When Yaakov left Lavan’s house, Rochel stole his terafim (idols), Rashi quotes the midrash saying that she did this to prevent Lavan from idol worship. The midrash, in turn, says that this was “l’shem shamayim—in the name of heaven.”

She sat on the idols which were “in the saddle of her camel—bikar hagamal.” (The three Hebrew letters of “in the saddle”—bet, chof and raish—will become important later on.)

Thus there were two inyanim (general topics) associated with Rochel sitting in her saddle, riding and (preventing Lavan from) bowing down to his terafim.

We never see Rochel’s reward for hiding the terafim. Instead—according to Chazal—she was punished because of it… partly because of Yaakov’s promise to Lavan that whoever took the idols would be cursed, and partly because of Rochel’s disrespect to Lavan, her father. She died on the road and was buried in Bethlehem.

However, Rochel had two sons, Yosef and Binyamin. Each son was later rewarded through riding and bowing down (the respectful bowing which one performs to honor a head of state).

In Bereishis, perek 41, pasuk 43, we see that Yosef, (Rochel’s oldest son) rode “b’mirkeves hamishneh—in the royal chariot second to the king.” The people were commanded, “Avrech!—To bow down before him.” (Note the root word of “avrech—bow,” is “berech.” “Berech” contains the same three Hebrew letters as Rochel’s “in the saddle”—bet, chof and raish.)

Later, Yosef was given the Pharaoh’s ring.

Centuries later, Mordechai Ish Yemini, (“Yemini” means a descendant of Binyamin, Rochel’s younger son) was destined to ride on the horse “asher rachav alav hamelech—on which the king rode.” He commanded the respect of Persia as “mishneh lamelech—second to the king.” (Note that the word “rachav—ride” contains the same three Hebrew letters as Rochel’s “in the saddle,” and Yosef’s “bow down” —bet, chof and raish.)

Later, Mordechai also was given the king’s ring.

The term “mishneh”—as in “second to the king”—applies to only two people in all of Tanach… Yosef and Mordechai. (Although Jonathan hoped to become second to King David, it never happened.)

The term taba’as (ring,) in the context of “the king gave his ring,” also applies to only two people in all of Tanach… Yosef and Mordechai. (Mordechai’s relinquished by Haman.)

These two descriptions are unique to these two descendants of Rochel … “mishneh lamelech” and “taba’as hamelech” … plus the three Hebrew letters … bet, chof and raish that recur in, (i) Rochel’s “bikar hagamal,” (ii) Yosef’s “avrech” and (iii) Mordechai’s “asher rachav alav hamelech”—Rochel’s “in the saddle,” Yosef’s “bow down” and Mordechai’s “on which the king rode” … seem to be indications that Rochel … through the two inyanim of riding and bowing down … did receive reward for her act of hiding the terafim l’shem shamayim through her two sons, Yosef and Binyamin.


The Common Denominator

Noach, Yosef and Mordechai each went through hester panim followed by geula—redemption. Noach “ish tzaddik” survived the mabul with his ark, a geula to save the continuation of mankind and Purim—the holiday of hester panim, marks the beginning of the geula from churban bayis rishon—the destruction of the first Bais Hamikdash, as well as our return to the land of Israel to rebuild the second Beis Hamikdash.

And so may it be Hashem’s will, speedily in our days. Happy Purim.

Reader’s comment: In gematria mispar katan, Mordechai (13) plus Esther (13) equals 26 which is the same as “yud-key-vav-key”—Hashem’s four letter name, inferring that the story of Purim is hester panim, i.e., that Hashem’s presence is in the story of Purim but hidden.

Amazingly, Noach (13) plus Rochel (13) also equals 26, inferring that, perhaps, Noach and Rochel are also linked by hester panim to Mordechai and Esther and the story of Purim—since 26 numerically, Noach plus Rochel = Mordechai plus Esther = Hashem’s four letter name (compliments of Yehudah Lorber).

Dr. Abraham M. Speiser, DDS is a graduate of Rabbi Jacob Joseph High School, Yeshiva University and Fairleigh Dickinson School of Dentistry.

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