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Mordichai and Haman


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Tevet 9, 5781
Amalek was a descendant of Esau. Agog was a descendant of Amalek. Haman was a descendant of Agog. Mordechai, who defeated Haman, was a Benjamite. Saul, who defeated Agog, was a Benjamite. Benjamin was the only member of Jacob’s family who did not bow down to Esau—his being in utero at the time. I recall hearing that Benjamin’s not having bowed to Esau is the reason that the nemeses of the descendants of Esau were descendants of Benjamin. The trend of descendants of Esau could be explained as the sins of the father incline the son to the same sin (an interpretation of Exodus 34:7). Similarly, the descendants of Benjamin share non-submission to descendants of Esau. This is explicitly recounted in the case of Mordechai’s refusal to bow to Haman. Question one: is there a source for these trends, individually and together? Question two: if this is not a coincidence, but a real thing, do commentators or rabbis have a term or name for it? Thank you very much,
ב"ה Shalom The Rabbis refer to these traits of steadfastness and determination in the numerous places in the homiletic parts of the Talmud and in Midrashim. In fact in the Mishna in Avot 5 :20 , Yehuda the Son of Tema says: Be as bold as a tiger…. To do the will of your Father in heaven" This brazenness served as the basis of all the self-sacrifice of Jews over the generations standing up for their faith. It is basically the essence of being a Jew. The Midrash (Esther Rabba 6:2) asks why was Mordechai in the Megilla 2:5, referred to as "Ish Yehudi" , literally meaning belonging to the tribe of Judah, from which the word "Jew" comes from. At the end of the same verse is says he was "Ish Yemini" meaning he was from the tribe of Benjamin. The Midrash does a play on words and exchanges the Hebrew letter "Heh" Yehudi, to the letter "Chet" so that instead of Yehudi , the word reads "Yechudi" which means to unify. This refers to the fact that Mordechai represented those who unified G-d's name and those who were willing to sanctify G-d's name and sacrifice themselves for this unification. All the best
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