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Purim: Rashash: Esther’s Tzniut

The 11th of Adar is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Shmuel (ben Yosef) Strashun (Straushun; Shtershun; Shtrasson), the Rashash of Vilna (1794-1872).


He was a Rav and a very wealthy banker in Vilna; he also administrated a free loan fund. His commentary on virtually the entire Talmud is printed in most editions of the Talmud. (12 Adar, per Yated 2006; 13 Adar 1885 per Yated 2008).

In reward for the modesty displayed by Rachel, she was granted to number among her descendants Saul;

and in reward for the modesty displayed by Saul, he was granted to number among his descendants Esther.

What was the modesty displayed by Rachel? — As it is written: And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s brother. Now was he her father’s brother? Was he not the son of her father’s sister?

What it means is this: He said to her, Will you marry me? She replied, Yes, but my father is a trickster, and he will outwit you.

He replied, I am his brother in trickery. She said to him, Is it permitted to the righteous to indulge in trickery?

He replied. Yes: with the pure thou dost show thyself pure and with the crooked thou dost show thyself subtle.

He said to her, What is his trickery? She replied : I have a sister older than I am , and he will not let me marry before her. So he gave her certain tokens.

When night came, she said to herself, Now my sister will be put to shame. So she handed over the tokens to her.

So it is written, And it came to pass in the morning that, behold, it was Leah. Are we to infer from this that up to now she was not Leah?

What it means is that on account of the tokens which Rachel gave to Leah he did not

know till then.

Therefore she was rewarded by having Saul among her descendants — What modesty

did Saul display? — As it is written, But concerning the matter of the kingdom whereof Samuel spoke he told him not.

He was therefore rewarded by having Esther among his descendants. (Megillah 13b)

How can we consider Rachel’s sharing of intimate secrets to be an act of modesty?

True modesty is to remain silent; to act without speaking. (Rashash)

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