Picture of the author
Picture of the author

Achashverosh & Haman in Therapy: The Psychological Brilliance of Esther

Reading the Megilah from a Psychological Perspective

2 hr 10 min

Class Summary:

Henry Kissinger may have been the world’s most famous Jewish diplomat, but he certainly was not the first. The Purim Megillah, named for Queen Esther, paints a picture of a smart, resourceful, courageous woman of faith. But a close reading of the story, and a proper analysis of her actions in the story also reveal her to be a masterful tactician and diplomat that even Kissinger would be blown away by.

The simple question is the purpose of Esther’s two banquets. What was the point of the first? And why wasn’t one enough? Why couldn’t she have asked what she needed the first time? These questions are answered in the Megillah by the change of a single word.

According to the Maharil, the main Purim miracle took place when Achashverosh had trouble falling asleep, yet his insomnia seem to have had no really influence on the Purim story. What actually happened that night? Why could he king not fall asleep?

The class examines the relationship between Joseph Stalin and the ruthless Lavrentiy Beria, and uses it as a parallel for that of Achashverosh and Haman. Understanding this relationship and an in-depth analysis of Achashverosh will help expose the brilliant maneuvering of Queen Esther and the purpose of her two banquets.

This class was presented on Sunday morning, 10 Adar, 5775, March 1, 2015, at Beis Medrash Ohr Chaim, Monsey, NY.

Please leave your comment below!

  • CL

    Chaim L -6 years ago

    I wanted to thank you for the time and obvious hard work you put into this website. 
    I have been listening to TheYeshiva.Net for the past year and have gained a tremendous amount from your shiurim. 
    I am 31-years-old. I grew up frum in Monsey (a child of Baalei teshuva through Chabad in the 70's). I now live in Far Rockaway with my wife and four children.
    I listened to your Purim shiur -Achashverosh & Haman in Therapy- and it changed how I view the Megillah completely. 
    Thank you very much for the chizuk you have given me,
    Have a great Shobbos,

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • Anonymous -6 years ago

    svetlana

    is the name

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • מ

    משה -6 years ago

    מרדכי אסתר אחשוורוש

     כיצד ניתן להבין מצב מתמשך, שאסתר לפי הגרסה שהיתה אשתו/ביתו של  מרדכ ,נשארת עד סוף ימיה עם אחשוורוש כאשר מרדכי משנה למלך יוצא ו נכנס בארמון אחשוורוש במשך זמן ממושך ו פוגש כנראה את אסתר לא פעם אחת. בתקופת סיפור המגילה היה מצב שיוצאת מבית אחשוורוש וטובלת  והולכת למרדכי כל זמן שהיה סיכון  של פיקוח נפש לעם היהודי  ולהצלת העם ,שגם זה קשה להבין , אבל לאחר מכן איך הסתכלו על המצב הזה היהודים על אשה יהודית עם שני בעלים,ובנוסף  שאחד מהם הוא ראש הסנהדרין  ? איזה דוגמא זה מהווה לעם ישראל ? האם מותר מבחינה הלכתית   ליהודי לחיות בחטא אפילו בשביל הצלת העם   ? .אסתר מולידה בן לאחשוורוש ונעלמת מעם ישראל ,כל זה  לא נשמע הגיוני אלא אם כן נגיד שמרדכי נתן לה גט ,האמנם? כך היה   

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • S

    shraga -7 years ago

    A wondrous shiur.

    Another way of looking at things (ayin ponim l'Torah):

    There was a machlokis between Mordechai and Esther in Avodas Hashem.

    Mordechai felt the way to mamtik dinim was Taanesim and sigufim. Saak v'Efer.

    Esther said NO.

    [It says in sefer Hamidos "Someone who is always happy, is matzliach". (Learned out from Medrish Rabba. The medrish says when Yosef Hatzadik came to Miztrayim, the possik says he was "Ish Matzliach" (by the way, no Rashi on the possik), The Medrish says it was because he was a "Gever Kofuz". The Matnas Kehuna there, says "Kofuz", loshon kefitz, because he danced; because of his dancing he was b'simcha, and because of his simcha he was matzliach. ]

    Esther felt the way to be successful is derech simcha.

    And Esther also knew that the zechus of the tefillas and fasts of Mordechai and klal Yisroel, wasn't enough, even when Achashverous told her (on 2 different occasions) "ad chatzu hamalchus". Because at those times, Haman was b'simcha. And it would be very difficult to push Haman down, even "Haman Hara Hazeh" as long as he was b'simcha.

    It was only by the last seuda, when Esther saw Haman in distress, she "pulled the trigger".

    And we also see that Min Hashomayim Esther had a haskoma in her disagreement with Mordechai. Because min Hashomayim, Mordechai was forced to be happy; being led around Shushan in Royal garments, on the Royal horse; (also having the opportunity to give Haman a few good kicks, tread on his back), etc.

    sources: HaRav Elimelech Biderman, choveret in Hebrew parshas Truma 5777; Sefer Hamidos, section Simcha part 2, with it's source from Medrish Rabba, (Parshas Vayeshev).

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • O

    Odom -7 years ago

    לפי מה שאמר מעכ"ת לקשר ביאור האדמו"ר הזקן באופן מפלת המן להעלותו למדרגה שבטל ממילא, עם ביאור הבעש"ט מובא בספר אור מאיר באופן הריגת ושתי לגלות הקליפה בלי לבושים וממילא בטל מעליה, יובן בטוב טעם מאמר חז"ל שהרג את אשתו בשביל חבירו והרג את חבירו בשביל אשתו כי אופן הריגת שניהם היה ממש אחד!

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • MH

    Mordechai Hayehudi -9 years ago

    B"H

    Rabbi Jacobson,

    Haman did indeed "stage" the assassination attempt on Achashverosh. The midrash says that Haman was actually part of the conspiracy to kill Achashverosh, and when it was uncovered by Mordechai, he immediately took sides with the king and suggested that Bigtan and Teresh be executed. I can't find the midrash right now, but you are indeed correct - the parallel between Beria / Stalin and Haman / Achashverosh involves the respective assassination attempts as well.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • SF

    Shmuel Fayershteyn -9 years ago

    Rabbi Jacobson,
    First of all, it was brilliant lecture. You did great job.
    But small question, if Haman was executed, why his decrees was not annulled
    as minister was dead. Thank you

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

    • RYJ

      Rabbi YY Jacobson -9 years ago

      ​approve​

      Office of Rabbi YY Jacobson | Dean, TheYeshiva.net
      7 Fieldcrest Drive | Monsey, NY 10952
      www.TheYeshiva.net www.theyeshiva.net=""/> | 347.913.3322

      Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • G

    Guest -9 years ago

    I always undestood בפשטות that the reason אסתר asked for a party altogether, and then a second time, was that she got "cold feet" when she was about to "do the ask".
    Then only after 'בלילה ההוא וגו and המן starting to fall, and coming to the party אבל וחפוי ראש, that she got the courage.

    My only problem with this quite simplistic explanation was that she said in the first invitation אשר עשיתי לו in the past tense (not so by the second invitation) implying that she planned it before she appeared to אחשורוש.

    (But then perhaps she only *told* it that way in order to make it sound plausible because if not it would be quite insulting to invite the king to a party that same day without even having begun to prepare for it...)

    Did you come across this in any פשטנים?

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

    • RYJ

      Rabbi YY Jacobson -9 years ago

      It does not seem to me that is a correct reading of the story. In the words of Esther herself, "I will come to to the king not according to protocol, and if I perish, I perish." Esther has mustered the courage to for sacrifice. I do not think it was about "cold feet." She was a mature lady, she was clever, sharp, and resourceful. Once she made a decision, she made a decision.

      What is more, had she not thought that by pushing off the king time and time again, it would anger him and backfire? Why would she do it, unless she had a worked out strategy.
      And then there are the words "the meal that I have made," as you noted. To suggest she "invented" those words to cover up for her cold feet, seems illogical to me. The king could have easily asked here, where is it? I am ready to come now! And if Esther was caught by a lie, what would have the result been? Esther did not ask him to come to a meal the next day, she asked for him to come "today." She had to to have had it prepared.

      Which means that this was all part of a strategy. I think that is a far more correct reading of the story. The woman had it all figured out.

      Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

    • RYJ

      Rabbi YY Jacobson -9 years ago

      It does not seem to me that is a correct reading of the story. In the words of Esther herself, "I will come to to the king not according to protocol, and if I perish, I perish." Esther has mustered the courage to for sacrifice. I do not think it was about "cold feet." She was a mature lady, she was clever, sharp, and resourceful. Once she made a decision, she made a decision.

      What is more, had she not thought that by pushing off the king time and time again, it would anger him and backfire? Why would she do it, unless she had a worked out strategy.

      And then there are the words "the meal that I have made," as you noted. To suggest she "invented" those words to cover up for her cold feet, seems illogical to me. The king could have easily asked here, where is it? I am ready to come now! And if Esther was caught by a lie, what would have the result been? Esther did not ask him to come to a meal the next day, she asked for him to come "today." She had to to have had it prepared.

      Which means that this was all part of a strategy. I think that is a far more correct reading of the story. The woman had it all figured out.

      Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

      • G

        guest -9 years ago

        I totally agree with you. The explanation you give is both fascinating and rings true. I was expressing the view on how I always (בן חמש למקרא) understood it simplistically without looking into it at all and I was wondering if you came across such an explanation or similar in any of the פשטנים. At times we find that there are פשטני המקרא that appear to be even more simple than רש"י (like רשב"ם וראב"ע)

        Think of it this way: Esther said וכאשר אבדתי אבדתי. Simply put, she's saying that she'll go to the king even though she doesn't see much point, and doesn't have a good plan. She's doing it mostly out if faith (hence her fasting causing herself the opposite of physical charm. Then at the last minute she realizes how futile it would be reveal her identify right then and comes up with ...

        I just saw a reference to the יוסף לקח
        http://www.hebrewbooks.org/...
        יוסף לקח - אשכנזי, אליעזר בן אליהו, הרופא, 1513-1586

        Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • E

    Elie -9 years ago

    The mp3 shows up as an xml file ?!

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

Rabbi YY Jacobson

  • March 1, 2015
  • |
  • 10 Adar 5775
  • |
  • 16974 views

Dedicated to my great wife, a true Eishet Chayil, by David Pisarevsky

Related Classes

Please help us continue our work
Sign up to receive latest content by Rabbi YY

Join our WhatsApp Community

Join our WhatsApp Community

Ways to get content by Rabbi YY Jacobson
Connect now
Picture of the authorPicture of the author