In the Merit of Righteous Women

The passuk early in Megillas EstherBayom hashvi’i katov hamelech bayayin – On the seventh day, when the king’s heart was merry with wine.”

The Gemara (Megillah 12b) informs us that this was Shabbos, a day on which the difference between Jews and idolaters is pronounced, “For when Jews eat and drink, they begin discussing words of Torah and praise to Hashem.”

This took place after a feast of 180 days. Surely there were many Shabbosos during this time period as well?

The Chasam Sofer reveals a fascinating facet of the story of Purim. He describes the conniving efforts during the reign of Achashverosh to spiritually destroy Klal Yisrael and tear them from their roots.  This was done not by force, but rather through influencing the Jewish women.

Vashti herself symbolized the antithesis of tznius, and influenced the Jewish women to do likewise. This breakdown of tznius was the beginning of the spiritual deterioration, and it led to them stopping to keep Shabbos and the other mitzvos.

During this period, Vashti — the royal heiress — had control over her husband who did not share her royal pedigree. Likewise, it was the women of the realm who ruled over their husbands. This left the tzaddikim of the generation powerless to oppose the lifestyle of their own wives and daughters.

It is forbidden to speak divrei Torah or mention the name of Hashem in the presence of one who is lacking in tznius, therefore during this entire time period the tzaddikim of the generation were unable to speak divrei Torah or sing zemiros at their Shabbos table.

It was on that fateful seventh day, on that Shabbos, that their wives and their daughters went off to Vashti’s party — leaving their husbands alone at the Shabbos table. Now they were able to tell divrei Torah, and sing songs of praise to the Ribbono shel Olam.

This caused a tumult in the heavens. What was different this Shabbos than all the other Shabbosos?

The angels were quick to defend the Jewish women of the time. It was the difficulty of the exile, and the determination of their rulers that caused this to occur. The accusatory finger was clearly pointed at Vashti. In heaven she was found guilty, and that very day she met her just reward.

It was not only that the letters sent out by Achashverosh made the husbands the rulers of the home, and thus made it possible for the tzaddikim to protest the dress of their wives. It was the ascension of Queen Esther, the paradigm of modesty, that soon influenced all the Jewish women to return to their previous high levels of spirituality.

In the end, the miracle of Purim happened through this righteous woman, and she merited that the Megillah be eternally linked to her name.

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This Thursday, 27 Adar I/February 27, a special asifah for men will take in Ateres Chaya hall in Boro Park to raise awareness and bring clarity to what is often a misunderstood area of halachah. Rebbes, Rabbanim and Dayanim affiliated with nearly every large kehillah in Boro Park have urged their followers to attend the event which will focus on the fundamental, basic halachos pertaining to tznius, as part of a comprehensive effort to give men the knowledge they need to be able to support their wives and guide their daughters in this vital subject.

It was in the merit of righteous women that we were redeemed from Mitzrayim, and a righteous woman played a pivotal role in the story of Purim.

In the merit of increased awareness in the area of tznius, and in the merit of the mesirus nefesh of the countless righteous woman of our generation, may we be zocheh to the Geulah Sheleimah, speedily in our day.