The first part focused on the Torah reading of the first
day of Rosh Hashonoh that discusses the birth of Yitzchok and
the expulsion of Yishmoel from Avrohom's house by Soroh with
Avrohom's consent. The Ramban says that Soroh Imeinu was
punished for this, as well as Avrohom for letting her do it,
in that Hogor was given a son who was a pere odom, and
who later oppressed the descendants of Avrohom and Soroh.
HaRav Bergman explains that it was evident to Soroh and
Avrohom that it would not be possible to educate Yitzchok in
one house together with Yishmoel and Hogor. Avrohom and Soroh
certainly knew that by expelling Hogor and Yishmoel they were
committing a grievous injustice, but they did it nonetheless,
lesheim Shomayim, in order to safeguard the education
of Yitzchok. Sending away Yishmoel and Hogor was an act of
mesirus nefesh on their part and on the part of their
descendants who would be persecuted by the descendants of
Yishmoel for all generations. And yet they still did it for
the sake of Yitzchok's education.
Since it was done lesheim Shomayim, that is why
Soroh is still said at her petiroh to have been like a
twenty year old, free of sin.
There is an astounding principle: Even when there is a
Divine command, if there is some flaw in bein odom
lechavero it needs to be rectified. The explanation for
this seems to be that HaKodosh Boruch Hu created man
in His image, and whoever causes anguish to another offends
against that person's tzelem Elokim. That is why on
the first day of Rosh Hashonoh we read the parsha of
the sacrifice of both Avrohom and Soroh. We pray that Avrohom
and Soroh's self-sacrifice should protect us. It is because
of this akeidoh that we are suffering from the
golus of Yishmoel to this day, Hashem
yeracheim. The medrash on Bris Bein
Habesorim says, explains the Zayis Raanan on the
Yalkut, that when the male (Yishmoel) and the female
(the heifer Edom) will unite they will destroy the world,
chas vesholom. Why?
It says in Mishlei (30:21-23), "For three things the
land quakes, and the fourth it cannot endure: for a servant
when he reigns, and a villain when he is filled with food,
for an odious woman when she is married, and a handmaid that
is heir to her mistress." Rashi (Ibid.) based on the
Medrash Aggodoh explains that this posuk is
referring to the Four Kingdoms. "The land" is Eretz
Yisroel; "a servant when he reigns" is Nevuchadnetzar,
who was a servant of Morodoch Baladan; "a villain when he is
filled with food" refers to Achashverosh; "an odious woman
when she is married" refers to Greece; "a handmaid that is
heir to her mistress" refers to Eisov, because Yaakov was
originally meant to be the servant but the tables were turned
and because of the brochos Yaakov became the master
and Eisov the servant.
The Medrash Mishlei on the same posuk, on the
other hand, says that, "a handmaid that is heir to her
mistress" — refers to Hogor. As we explained, both
Eisov and Hogor have power over us because of the same flaw,
and therefore "the fourth it cannot endure," as the Yalkut
says: When Yishmoel and Edom get together, since the power of
both stems from the same flaw on our part, the force of their
claim against us is increased.
Chazal say in Sanhedrin (27b) that on the one hand it
says (Devorim 24:16), "The fathers shall not be put to
death for the children . . . every man shall be put to death
for his own sin." On the other hand, it says (Shemos
34:7), "Visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the
children." Chazal explain that when children commit the same
sins as their fathers they are also punished for their
fathers' sins. See the Rambam (Hilchos Taaniyos 5:1):
"There are days (Tzom Gedaliah, Asoro BeTeves, Shiva Ossor
BeTammuz and Tisha B'Av) on which the whole Jewish people
fast because of the calamities that occurred on them in order
to awaken hearts and open the paths of repentance. This will
serve as a recollection of our evil deeds, and of our
fathers' deeds which resembled ours, resulting in the same
calamities for them as for us. By remembering these matters
we will improve our ways as it says, `And they shall confess
their sins and the sins of their fathers.'"
The gemora (Yuma 9b) says that the second Beis
Hamikdosh was destroyed because of the sin of causeless
hatred. We may be sure that if we would amend the sin of
bein odom lechavero we would already have been
redeemed from the golus of Eisov and Yishmoel. The
roots of this sin of hurting our fellow man, even for the
sake of a mitzvoh, lie with the Ovos hakedoshim and we
have to pay for it in order to amend it.
We can now also understand another strange Medrash (M.
Rabboh, Bereishis 98:3): "R. Akiva was sitting and
expounding and his listeners were falling asleep. Wishing to
wake them up, he said, `Why did Esther rule over 127 states?'
Let Esther, a descendant of Soroh who lived for 127 years,
come and rule over 127 states."
Why did R. Akiva choose this droshoh to wake up his
listeners? There are no signs to indicate that he was
expounding this on Purim. Surely he did not mean to make a
mere milso dibedichuso. Furthermore, why are the years
of Soroh's life compared to the number of states over which
Esther ruled? Also, instead of `Why did Esther rule over 127
states" (lit. "What did Esther see to rule. . .") the
commentator R. Zeev Wolf Einhorn (based on M. Rabboh
Esther) amends this to read, "Why did Esther deserve to .
. . "? What does this mean?
Mordechai and Esther were both very great people. Mordechai
was a member of the Anshei Knesses Hagedoloh, and it could be
that Esther was even greater than him, just like Soroh was
greater than Avrohom in prophecy. See Esther (5:1):
"On the third day Esther donned her royal apparel." The
gemora in Megilloh (15a) says that Esther,
"dressed herself" in ruach hakodesh, and megillas
Esther was written with ruach hakodesh, as it says
in Megilloh (7a), "Esther sent the chachomim a message
saying, `Write an account of me for posterity.' "
It says in Esther (4:1), "When Mordechai heard about
everything that had happened." Chazal (quoted by Rashi) say
that he knew from the Dreamer, and they do not say that he
knew because of ruach hakodesh. Esther told Mordechai
to fast for three full consecutive days, including the first
day of Pesach, and to refrain from eating matzos. Mordechai
accepted this, as it says, "Mordechai . . . did according to
all that Esther had commanded him." It seems that Esther was
a very great person indeed. She may be compared to Devoroh
who taught halochos (see the first answer of
Tosafos in Shavuos 29b D.h. Shvuas).
Mordechai, a member of the great Sanhedrin, ruled that she
had to go to Achashverosh of her own free will. Chazal say on
the posuk (4:16), "I will go in to the king, which is
not according to the law," — because until now I was
forced and now I am going willingly, "and if I perish, I
perish" — just like I lost my father's house, so will I
become lost to you because now that I am going willingly I
will become forbidden to you. See Shut Noda Biyehudo
(Y.D. 161 and other places) that we cannot make any
rulings for the case of saving individuals based on
the precedent of Esther, because her case was different since
her actions were to result in the salvation of the whole of
Jewry from India to Kush and were in accordance with the
instructions of Mordechai and his beis din perhaps
based on ruach hakodesh.
The gemora says in Brochos, "Bar Kaporoh
expounded, `What short text is there upon which all the
essential principles of the Torah depend? "In all your ways
acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths (Mishlei
3:6)." Rovo said, Even for a matter of transgression." See
Rashi, but the Maharitz Chayes (in the name of the Pachad
Yitzchok) quotes Rashi in an old printing that we should
acknowledge Him even if we do a sinful act for the sake of
Heaven, such as the daughters of Lot or Yael, and then Hashem
will direct our path.
It says in Nozir (25b), "A transgression performed
with a good intention is better than a mitzvah performed with
an evil intention . . . as it says, `Blessed above women
shall Yael be, the wife of Chever the Keini. Above women in
the tent shall she be blessed,' and `women in the tent'
refers to Soroh, Rivkoh, Rochel and Leah." Rav Yochonon adds
that since the favors of the wicked are evil to the
righteous, Yael derived no pleasure. It was purely lesheim
The whole of the Mesillas Yeshorim is based on the
beraissa of R. Pinchos ben Yo'ir which states that the
highest level to be attained is that of ruach hakodesh
where all one's actions are for the sake of Heaven without
any ulterior motives. The Ramchal concludes his book by
mentioning that posuk in Mishlei, "In all your
ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." Esther,
by obeying Mordechai and going to the king willingly and
thereby becoming forbidden to her husband, was following the
path of ruach hakodesh, of acknowledging Him in all
our ways. She was following in the footsteps of Yael.
We now return to the Medrash Rabboh about R. Akiva's
droshoh. His question was, "Why did Esther see fit to
rule willingly over 127 states?" By mentioning Soroh
in his answer (and saying that she lived "for 100 and 20 and
7 years") R. Akiva is alluding to the medrash that
Soroh at 100 was as free of sin as a twenty-year-old. Even
though, as the Ramban and the Baal Haturim point out, she did
have a flaw, but since her intention was exclusively for the
sake of Heaven it is considered as if she was free of sin.
Similarly, Esther saw fit to rule over "100 and 20 and 7"
states, because her sole intention was lesheim
Shomayim without any personal enjoyment which is the
purpose of avodas Hashem and the foundation of the
Torah: "In all your ways acknowledge Him," even when
committing a sinful act.
To understand why R. Akiva wanted to awaken his listeners
from their slumber with this droshoh, we have to refer
to the Mishna and gemora in Yuma (19b)
that if the Kohen godol was about to slumber on Yom
Kippur, young kohanim would snap their fingers to keep
him awake until the time of shechitoh. The
gemora says, "They kept him awake neither with the
harp nor with the lyre but with the mouth, and they would
sing, `If Hashem does not build a house, they labor in vain
that build it.'"
Rashi explains: Ensure that your avodoh is for the
sake of Heaven, otherwise your labor will come to nothing.
The holiest person, the Kohen Godol, on the holiest
day of the year in the holiest place, is told that he has to
act for the sake of Heaven, the foundation of all avodas
Hashem or otherwise his work is in vain. These words will
keep him awake.
Similarly R. Akiva told his listeners who were dozing off
about Esther who was to be compared to Soroh since they both
acted lesheim Shomayim without which our avodas
Hashem will come to nothing. This thought was to keep
We have to strengthen our middos bein odom lechavero,
especially on Rosh Hashonoh and especially during this period
of golus Yishmoel and Edom.
Our main goal in our avodas Hashem should be to do
everything lesheim Shomayim, thus making our
In this merit may we be inscribed in the Book of Life and
witness the Redemption.