And the third lesson that can be construed – one that is sure to promote shalom bayis in every Jewish household is – listen to your wife. Chances are she’s right – even when she’s wrong.
Smart husbands know that their wives as a rule are full of common sense and wisdom and if they want to be successful in life, they should listen to what their wife has to say – and follow it.
No evidence of this truism is more obvious then in the Book Of Esther (Megillat Esther). Here there are two clear instances when a wife gives sage advice to her spouse: One follows it and saves himself and the entire Jewish nation from doom – and the other just goes off, gets drunk – and ruins his life.
In the first instance, Mordechai HaYehudi, to his great horror, finds out the ruler of Persia has ordered the annihilation of the Jewish people. He quickly runs to his niece Esther – who many believe was also his wife – and asks her to intervene with the king – who she is married to against her will, making her, literally, a “captivating” wife. Esther had been forced to participate in the ancient Iranian version of “The Bachelor” and because she was a beautiful Jewish girl – and because it was God’s plan – she was chosen out of thousands of willing contenders.
While initially reluctant to listen to Mordechai and go to the king – approaching him was strictly by invitation only – unwanted guests being ushered instead to their Maker – Esther agreed to proceed, but not before instructing Mordechai to tell the Jews to fast for three days and nights – which she herself did. He wisely listened to her and rallied the Jews into three days of repentance and supplication for heavenly salvation. And it worked. The Merciful Judge accepted their teshuva and revoked the heavenly decree against them – thereby invalidating the earthly one.
Haman, a member of the nasty nation of Amalek, the timeless enemy of the Jewish people, chose not to listen to his significant other who warned him not mess around with Mordechai because any attempt was doomed to failure. Although it is true that Haman’s friends and wise guys told him the same thing, a look at the text of the megillah reveals that Zeresh, his wife, had the last word. “Then said his advisors and Zeresh, his wife: ‘If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the seed of the Jews, you will not be successful against him, but will surely collapse before him'” (Megillat Esther 6:13).
This insightful declaration was in answer to Haman’s bitter rant about how he had just publicly honored the man he was planning to have hanged. Instead, the tables had been totally turned around and Haman had spent the day with the mortifying task of leading a regally dressed Mordechai, sitting on a royal steed, around the capital city of Shushan, and declaring at the top of his lungs how this was the way the king bestowed honor. It’s surprising Haman’s voice was still strong enough to narrate his woes later that evening.
Haman did have an opportunity, after hearing his wife’s advice, and then whisked away by the king’s men to the private party Esther had planned for him and the king, to set things straight. He could have told the king that he regretted misleading him about the Jews – that in fact they were model citizens – and asking him to do what he legally could to void his command ordering their destruction. Instead he drank himself silly. It definitely was not good PR on his part to fall on Queen Esther’s couch – just as the king walked in after cooling off. The king had become all hot and bothered when Esther spilled the beans about her being slated to be butchered because she was a Jew, courtesy of Haman’s royal manipulation and brainwashing.
As we all know, Haman, who fancied himself high and mighty – ended up high alright – swinging from a 50 cubit gallows – about 75 feet – that he had originally had custom built for Mordechai.
There are three very valuable lessons that should be embraced by anyone reading Megillat Esther. The first and most important is to always have hope. No matter how bleak or horrific or seemingly unchangeable a situation – have faith that things can be turned around. The Jews of the Persian Empire were facing total annihilation. Though the king regretted his death decree, he insisted he could not revoke it – and the plight of the Jewish people seemed hopeless. However not only were they not killed, but were able to turn the tables on their would-be murderers and wipe them out instead. Whether you are hoping for a shidduch, despite being older or handicapped, or a baby after being told its impossible, or a cure when told there isn’t one – no matter how high the odds against you, have faith and hope and keep on trying – reversals of fortune do happen.
The second is one that the haters of Israel should take to heart. The one Zeresh and her hubby’s cronies understood. If you are thinking of trying to destroy the Jewish people, do yourself a favor and forget about it – not only will the children of Yaacov prevail – but their enemies will fall before them.