When I was young(er) I used to listen to to Toravision's Purim Story tape. (Yeah, I know, I'm dating myself.) It's a great tape, and the older I've gotten, the more it's amazed me how close the tape is to everything Chazal has said about the story.

One of the things that bothered me was the part where Haman is casting lots. Every time he tries to pick a month, the heavenly voice calls out a "merit" that the month has, which "protects" the Jews from being destroyed in that month. (This part of the tape seemed to be lifted straight from Midrash.) For the month of Cheshvan, the heavenly voice says "Sarah Imeinu Meisa" ("Sarah our matriarch died"), and Haman abandons that month, just like all the others. Apparently, Haman sees Sarah's death as a protecting merit for the Jews.

Why is the death of a tzaddik/tzaddekes a "protection" for that month?
And why doesn't Haman see Moshe's death as a merit for Adar?

  • One's Sarah Imeinu, and one's Moshe Rabbeinu?
    – Seth J
    Feb 11 '13 at 3:04
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    @SethJ Ok, but why one over the other? Feb 11 '13 at 3:09
  • Shema', Bni, Musar Avicha, VeAl TiTosh Torath Imecha.
    – Seth J
    Feb 11 '13 at 3:26
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    @SethJ Not seeing the connection.... Feb 11 '13 at 3:38
  • I'm suggesting it's the nature of the relationship. First of all, she's the mother figure. Second, she's the mother to all of us. We don't all descend from Moshe, and even Moshe's faith is a derivative of Sarah (and Avraham)'s. She's also regarded by about half the world's population (or more) as a matriarch and co-founder of monotheism.
    – Seth J
    Feb 11 '13 at 3:42

Rabbi Shlomo Halevi Alkabetz (author of Lecha Dodi) wrote a commentary of the Megilla called "Manos Halevi". (It is said that he sent the book to his fiance in lieu of "Shalach Manos", since he was poor and could not afford to send her food). He addresses this question, and suggests that perhaps Moshe's death was considered a bad indication for the Jews because his death was brought about through a sin committed by them (see also the Iyun Yaakov).

Alternately, many explain (Chidushei Harada"l and the Yefeh Anaf there (quoted in footnote 25 here), R' Dovid Sabah in "Maskil Ledovid", Ma'am Loez) that Sarah's death came as a result of her hearing the news of Akedas Yitzchok and this is the merit the Midrash is referring to.

The Iyun Yaakov suggests that after Moshe Rabbeynu died it is said that "לא קם כמשה עוד" - the Jewish people suffered an irreplaceable loss, and this was considered a bad omen. Whereas, after Sarah passed away, her place was filled by Rivka.

Rabbi Yonosan Eibeshitz answers (Yaaros Devash vol. 1 Drush 3 "Veheni Oid Taam") that Haman reasoned (in his distorted understanding) that if Moshe Rabbeynu who was an expert in sorcery could do nothing to prevent his death, this is a bad sign for the Jews.


The whole lottery scene is really lifted straight from Midrash. Midrash Esther Rabbasi, to be exact. But the tape adds the whole dialog between Haman and the heavenly voice. In the Midrash, the dialog is between G-d and the angels representing the days of the week and the months of the year.

The Midrash says that the reason it didn't land on Tammuz or Av was that the months' Ministering Angels "cried out" before G-d, saying that the troubles that had been inflicted on the Jews in those months had already been enough. The Anaf Yosef there (quoting R' Yonasan Eibeshitz) explains that this is the rule of "לֹא תָקוּם פַּעֲמַיִם צָרָה" (Nochum 1:9), and since ששקולה מיתתן של צדיקים כשריפת בית אלהינו (Rosh Hashana 18b) Sarah's death was effectively a defense for Cheshvan to use, saying that "I've already given the Jews my fair share of troubles."

So why did the lot fall on Adar, if Moshe's death would protect it? According to R' Yonasan, it's simple. Moshe died in a leap year. In Adar Sheini. Haman wanted to kill the Jews, also in a leap year, but in Adar Rishon. Of course, Haman forgot that Moshe was born in Adar Rishon, so when his lots were cast and came up as Adar Rishon, he thought nothing of it. But the merit of Moshe's birth protected the Jews in that month.

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    Meh, I don't know about this answer, HodofHod, there's all kinds of problems with it. First, where's this idea that Moshe was born in Adar I and died in Adar II come from? What about those who disagree? Also, if Moshe's birth is a merit for Adar Rishon, why didn't its Ministering Angel prevent it from being picked? Feb 11 '13 at 2:29
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    "Hey! If you think you can come up with a better answer, why don't you post it?!" Feb 11 '13 at 2:30
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    Also, Moshe didn't die on his 120th birthday?
    – Seth J
    Feb 11 '13 at 3:07
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    How did they know it would be a leap year in the previous Nissan?
    – Double AA
    Feb 11 '13 at 3:16
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    @ba The leap year thing is not from the Midrash. It's from the Etz/Anaf Yosef quoting R' Yonasan Eibeshitz. Feb 11 '13 at 3:36

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