Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Summoned or Not

Chana and R' Gil are having an interesting debate as to whether Esther, when she is speaking to him again in Perek Ches (Ch. 8), is there yet again without having been summoned. The key lines:
3 Then Esther spoke again to the king; she fell at his feet, weeping and pleading with him to avert the evil design of Haman the Agagite and the plot that he had devised against the Jews. 4 The king held out the golden scepter to Esther, 5 and Esther rose and stood before the king.
Chana feels she was coming unsummoned and again risking her life, while R' Gil feels she no longer had to worry about doing so, and that is not what the pasuk is saying. I believe I always learned this Chana's way, and while I think Gil makes interesting points about the word Vatosef, I think he is incorrect in thinking Esther was unsummoned. (I liked a commenter's suggestion that Vatosef is referring to her continuing in her attempts to nullify the decree.)

Gil argues
The king has just appointed Esther, and then Mordechai, as important ministers and has even given his signet ring to Mordechai. However, the king has not yet nullified Haman's decree by sending out letters to undo the letters that Haman had sent. Other than that, Esther and Mordechai are now among the most powerful people in the empire. Esther should not have had any need to be summoned to the king.
I don't think this is true. Esther was the queen in the first place, and still was terrified of coming unsummoned; and more importantly, Haman - even as #2 with a signet ring - was unable to simply enter the palace, but waited impatiently by the gates when Achashveirosh couldn't sleep in order to make a request of the King.

And, as he notes, the difficulty lies in why the King put out his scepter. If she was not summoned, the answer is simple - she again had taken a gamble, and again it paid off, with the King allowing her to live despite coming without being summoned. Gil's suggestions for this are not bad, but none truly explain why it was noteworthy for the Megillah to mention it; I feel it makes more sense to note it if in fact it was showing that he had spared Esther's life.