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Midrash Esther XVII-Nine of Ten Print E-mail

Purim-Esther“The Army of Persia and Medea.” In the name of Rabbi Nathan the following list of “10 Measures” was taught: (compare this to Kiddushin 49b)

 

There are 10 portions of lewdness in the world, nine in Alexandria and one in the rest of the world.

There are 10 portions of wealth in the world, nine in Rome and one in the rest of the world.

There are 10 portions of poverty in the world, nine in Lydia and one in the rest of the world.

There are 10 portions of witchcraft in the world, nine in Egypt and one in the rest of the world.

There are 10 portions of stupidity in the world, nine among the Ishmaelites and one in the rest of the world.

There are 10 portions of robustness in the world, nine among the Ishmaelites and one in the rest of the world.

There are 10 portions of vermin in the world, nine among the Persians, they were very hairy, and one in the rest of the world.

There are 10 portions of physical beauty in the world, nine in Medea and one in the rest of the world.

There are 10 portions of ugliness in the world, nine in the East and one in the rest of the world.

There are 10 portions of physical strength the world, nine among the Chaldeans and one in the rest of the world.

There are 10 portions of courage in the world, nine in Judea and one in the rest of the world.

There are 10 portions of beauty in the world, nine in Jerusalem and one in the rest of the world.

There are 10 portions of wisdom in the world, nine in the Land of Israel and one in the rest of the world.

There are 10 portions of the Torah in the world, nine in the Land of Israel and one in the rest of the world.

There are 10 portions of hypocrisy in the world, nine in Jerusalem and one in the rest of the world, as it is written, “For from the prophets of Jerusalem is hypocrisy gone forth into all the earth (Jeremiah 23:15).”

This midrash is wondering why Achashveirosh specifically chose the armies of Persia and Medea to attend his great six month conference. If he wanted physical strength; he should have chosen the child didn't. If he was looking for robustness; he should have chosen the Ishmaelites. If he was looking for courage he should have invited the previous inhabitants of Judah. The most obvious answer would be that he chose those who were closest to him.

Achashveirosh was not looking for the best. He simply invited those who were in his physical proximity. This would imply that his six-month conference of the United Nations about I share Auch was not intended to collect the best of all the nations, but rather to use those whose provinces were closest to his capital, Shushan. The six-month conference was not intended to collect the best minds, the best officials, the best organizers, the best political activists from all the provinces of his kingdom. There was an element of convenience.

Did Achashveirosh intentionally avoid inviting the best, did he feel threatened by those who possessed qualities far beyond his own? Was he using all the great wealth he displayed at this party to compensate or distract the attendees from his obvious lacking's?

If so, Achashveirosh was feeling vulnerable. We then must consider whether his response to Vashti was simply a result of these vulnerabilities.

If all of the attendees sensed his insecurity and vulnerability; we can assume that they went out of their way to fawn over him, to take advantage of a relationship with this king to secure their own positions, and to make some money. After all he was certainly sending a message that he was willing to “share the wealth.”

When we understand his mental state and that of his guests, we have much more information to keep in mind when considering their support of his ultimate decision as to how to deal with his rebellious Queen.

The mental state of these attendees can also inform their willingness to support his gathering of the young women for his contest, their response to the elevation of Haman, their willingness to go along with the devastating decree against the Jews, and perhaps a hint as to why they felt so empowered when Mordecai rose to such a high rank in the king's palace.

This Midrash also gives us a sense of how the Jews experienced this conference, the party that followed, and this entire. Of time: these people, who possessed, nine of the 10 portions of courage in the world, nine of the 10 portions of beauty in the world, nine of the 10 portions of wisdom in the world, nine of the 10 portions of Torah in the world, would have been devastated to have lost the right to such elevated praises.

Perhaps the closing of the Midrash is an explanation as to why they forfeit all their qualities, when it explains that nine of the 10 portions of hypocrisy in the world could also be found in Jerusalem. No wonder they are thrust into a situation so filled with the hypocrisy of Achashveirosh and Haman.

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