On Esther 8:11, Rashi explains that

וְהֵם בַּבִּזָּה לֹא שָׁלְחוּ אֶת יָדָם, שֶׁהֶרְאוּ לַכֹּל שֶׁלֹּא נַעֲשָׂה לְשֵׁם מָמוֹן

They "did not send forth their hand in the spoils," to show everyone that they did not do it for the sake of money.

Yet on Esther 9:10, Rashi gives a different reasoning:

שֶׁלֹּא יִתֵּן הַמֶּלֶךְ עַיִן צָרָה בַּמָּמוֹן

So that the king not put a stingy eye against their money.

The first reasoning seems to be to make a Kiddush Hashem, that they're fighting solely for the sake of self-defense and would not take the spoils which were rightfully theirs. Yet the second reasoning seems to be much more materialistic: had they taken the money, the king probably would have seized it anyway.

How does one reconcile these two statements of Rashi? Further, why does Rashi give each explanation where he does, rather than mentioning both in the same place?

1 Answer 1


When one looks at the order of Megilat Ester one would realize that the war does not happen yet. Rashi writes that the reason the Jews did not take the money was to show everyone that this was not for the sake of money.

The question is Why is this Rashi here? It's in the wrong place, we did not go to war yet. Thus how could the Jews even take money? By the next Rashi in perek 9 we went to war and we could have taken the money but we did not. the question is why is Rashi in a strange place.

עמנואל הרומי על אסתר on peruk 8 pasuk 11 writes that Mordechai was involved in the writing of the bill which appears in perek 8 pasuk 11. I shall prove it- why do we care that Mordechai became a high ranking official in the government that the text itself tells us just a few pesukim before our first Rashi? The reason is that Mordechai was directly involved in the writing of the bill. How could Mordechai be involved in the writing? only if he was a high ranking official of the king.

The thing that is bothering Rashi is that why did Mordechai include the Money aspect of the bill? Mordechai included it to make a kiddush-Hashem and show the people of Persia that even though the Jews could take the money they will not. The next Rashi that you mentioned gives us a glimpse inside the mind of the people. Their reason was not as noble as Mordechai's reason, they just did not want to deal with Achashverosh.

With my answer, there is one problem. How can I say Rashi says that the other jews did not have the purest of intentions? To answer that I must turn to Rav Chaim Shmuelevits.

Rav Chaim Shmuelevits in his Sichot Mussar on Parshat Ki Tisa asks how could the jews who just experienced so many great miracles could have gone so low and did such a great sin such as the SIn of the Golden calf, Gilui-arayot and killing Chur? Rav Chaim mentions the famous statement from Chazal that ראתה שׁפחה על הים מה שלא ראה יחזקאל בן בּוזי [Even a maidservant was able, at the spitting of the red sea to perceive the divine what Yechezkel ben Buzi could not grasp.] Rav Chaim asks why are they called maidservants, they should be called a prophetess?

"The answer is that revelations and unique events on their own do not create prophets. A person may experience a lofty awareness, a lucid perception of the divine, yet remain the same person. His/her knowledge and awareness will not necessarily affect any change in personality whatsoever. The maidservant, after her experience at the sea, retailed the same humble stature that she possessed before the event."

This principle of an incredible divine revelation happens but it affects no change in the beholder because he/she did nothing for it, thus it won't last. The average jew did nothing to save them. It was all Mordechai and Ester. It is true they fasted and prayed, but they did not really do much thus they had different attitudes. when did the Jews take an active role and make this amazing divine revelation last? when they built the second Beis Hamikdash. They retained this great miracle and made it part of them, but till then they did nothing and it would not change who they were inside.

  • Very nice! I suppose the follow up question is: on what basis does Rashi make this distinction?
    – DonielF
    Mar 13, 2020 at 16:57
  • In chapter 8 the war did not happen and the only people who had access to the writing of the bill were the ones who wrote it- thus having to be Mordechai. In chapter 9 everyone had seen it and the deed was done, the average jew would not be involved with the bill, so there rashi explains the reasoning of the kehila in full. Mar 15, 2020 at 2:26
  • No, I mean on what basis does Rashi suppose that the Jews had less than noble reasons, according to this understanding?
    – DonielF
    Mar 15, 2020 at 2:38
  • it is a long answer so i will send it as another answer Mar 15, 2020 at 3:13
  • You’ve got plenty of room in the answer box! Your other answer doesn’t make sense as a stand-alone answer, but combined with this one it’s a beautiful vort! Please edit them into one if and when you can.
    – DonielF
    Mar 15, 2020 at 3:49

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