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Midrash Esther XI-A Time of Woe

Rabbi Chelbo said: A time of wailing and woe were those days of the party. Rabbi Bibi said: The word “hahem” those, implies, ‘Woe for those days,’ as we read, “Wail you; Woe for the day (Ezekiel 30:1)” Rabbi Isaac said: Let there be lament, ‘nihyah,’ for those days, as we read, “And lament, ‘nihyah,’ with a doleful lamentation (Micah 2:4).”


Rabbi Chelbo is teaching that the people experienced the days of the conference and the party as, “a time of wailing and woe.” He feels that when the Jews learned that Achashveirosh was celebrating, what he believed was, the end of the possibility of their redemption, and that he used the Temple vessels for his party, they began to weep and cry. They knew at the time of the party that it was a time of “wailing and woe.”


Rabbi Bibi describes the crying as occurring over what has happened in the past. He believes that the Jews at the time of the party did not fully appreciate the terrible message Achashveirosh was sending. It is only in hindsight that they said, “woe for those days.” Perhaps part of the “Woe,” was that the Jews did not fully appreciate what was happening.


Rabbi Isaac speaks of the lament in the future tense: “Let there be lament for those days.” As far as Rabbi Isaac was concerned, even during his time we did not fully appreciate the extent of the damage caused.


It is also possible that Rabbi Isaac saw the party as a message to the Jews: “You need to begin to mourn the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem. You are too comfortable where you are. You have stopped mourning. You must begin to mourn the destruction again, and look toward redemption.”

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