Megillat Esther is the megilla of Galut (Exile). It discusses an era in which the Jewish nation was cut off from its land and Beit HaMikdash. There is no mention in the entire story of the Land of Israel or the Holy Temple. We need to understand that, just like the other books of Tanach, Megillat Esther can be understood at the level of pshat (basic meaning). It also must be viewed through the prism of the Torah She’ba’al Peh – the Oral Tradition.
One cannot understand the inner dimensions of the significance of the megilla without knowing the midrash and aggada associated with it. Our sages extensively expounded Megillat Esther both in the midrashim and in Masechet Megilla. Many are the works of our great rabbis and thinkers throughout the generations until today who delve into the deeper meaning of the words of our Sages just as they did in the rest of the Torah. We will mention two very well-known authors: Rav Shlomo Alkabetz, composer of Lecha Dodi, who lived in Tzefat more than four hundred years ago and wrote Mannot ha’levi which deals at length with the more inner dimensions of the Megilla, and the Maharal of Prague who wrote the Or Chadash, which explains the comments of the Sages according to the order of the Megilla. He, too, reveals before us the deeper vision of chazal – the Sages.
Whoever has been fortunate enough to enter the “inner chamber”/esoteric realm recognizes immediately to what extent the Sages understood the inner connection between the Megilla, the Land of Israel, and the Beit HaMikdash. There are so many sayings and idioms in Megillat Esther that express the deep longing for the glorious past of Am Yisrael in the Land of Israel when the Holy Temple was standing and to what extent the processes in the Megilla are connected to the aspirations and yearnings for the redemption and the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash after seventy years of exile.
The first chapter of the Megilla which deals at great length with the minutiae of the feast of Achashveirosh appears to be superfluous and lacking genuine significance!? However, according to the Sages, Achashveirosh prepared this feast when, according to his calculation, the seventy years of the exile ended. It appeared as though, chas veshalom , G-d had forsaken His people Israel! Only then Achashveirosh dared to take out the vessels of the Beit HaMikdash, “ve’keilim mi’keilim shonim“! It also showed that after intense pressures were brought to bare on the Jews of Shushan and they agreed to attend the King’s feast, not only did they go, but, they enjoyed themselves and were not horrified to the core of their very being by the sight of the desecration of the holy vessels of the Beit HaMikdash.
According to chazal, Haman and his sons were responsible for the interruption of the rebuilding of the Second Beit HaMikdash. Achashveirosh said to Esther, “What is your request and what is your appeal – up to half of the kingdom, and it will be done!” Why not more? Our Sages saw in this an indication that Achashveirosh was not prepared to allow the completion of the Second Beit HaMikdash.
Another example – chazal speak at great length about Haman’s escort of Mordechai on the royal horse. When he called him for the parade he found him in the beit midrash and inquired as to the topic of discourse. That day was the second day of Pesach – the day of the Omer sacrifice. So, Mordechai was teaching about the mitzvah of the Omer. Since it was not possible to offer the Omer in the Beit HaMikdash, it was appropriate to learn about the mitzvah on that day. Haman listens and says in the end, “I see that the power of your handful of the Omer mitzvah is greater than my 10,000 talents of silver!”
The Maharal of Prague in a profound and reflective insight explains the deeper meaning of these words of our Sages. TheOmer represents Divine Providence as it is experienced within the natural realm. This is the central theme of the entire Megilla: G-d saves the Jewish people in the time of Exile in accordance with natural law and without manifest miracles. In the end, chazal teach us that Darius, the son of Esther, ruled after Achashveirosh. He permitted the continuation of the rebuilding of the Second Beit HaMikdash and its eventual completion.
In conclusion, one should not ignore or become disconnected from the Land of Israel and the Beit HaMikdash during theGalut. The yearnings for the past and the longing for the redemption are the essential foundation of the existence of the Jewish nation thr0ugh all the years of its Exile.