|Esther: A Tikkun for Yosef and His Brothers!
Published: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 03:56:52 PM
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After Esther, a descendant of Binyamin, the son of Rochel Imenu, had saved herself and her family from Haman's decree of extermination, she returned to Achashveros, to plead that all of the Jews (Yehudim) be saved and protected from Haman's evil decree. While at this point in the Megillah (Ch. 8) Esther and her Binayminite clan are safe, she nevertheless risked her life again for the sake of all the Jews, including the Tribe of Yehudah. In fact, there are a number of Midrashic parallels between the selfless actions of Esther and her Uncle Mordecai and the selfless sacrifice of Yehudah on behalf of Binyamin in Parshat Vayigash. A number of Midrashim portray the story of Esther as a resolution and Tikkun (correction) for the strife and hatred of Yosef and his brothers. Esther's actions are a reciprocation of Yehudah's efforts on behalf of Esther's ancestor Binyomin. Esther does not merely repay the debt of Binyomin to Yehudah. There is an additional element in Esther's action that is critical for genuine reconciliation between the sons of Rachel and the sons of Leah.
Yehudah's selfless act on behalf of Binyomin is remarkable because it acknowledges the favored status of Rochel and her children. Yet Yehudah selflessly offers himself as a slave in place of Binyomin. However, his act still reinforces the inequality between the children of Rochel and the children of Leah. Yehudah heroically accepts this double standard, but his act does not resolve the source of the strife and tension in Yaakov's family which is the favored status of Rochel over Leah. Esther and Mordecai are descendants of Rochel, the favored wife. So when Esther risks her life to plead on behalf of the Yehudim, even though she and her fellow Benjaminites were safe, she is not just repaying Yehudah for sacrificing himself for her ancestor, Binyamin, but she is making right the original wrong of Yaakov's favoritism of Rochel's children. Esther's act of Hatzalah of all Yehudim declares that the Binyaminites, her tribe, descendants of Rochel, are no more special than the Yehudim, descendants of Leah.
This is why it was necessary for the Purim Miracle to come about through the descendants of Rochel, Esther and Mordecai. Thus the Book of Esther concludes with the phrase that Mordecai "speaks peaceably of all Jews" ("dover shalom l'chol zaro").
This last verse of the Megillah is a fitting Tikkun to the story of Yosef and his brothers, who "could not speak peaceably to him" ("v'lo yochlu l'dabro l'shalom").