Friday, March 22, 2024

Parshas Vayikra 5784




Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Vayikra-Zachor

12 Adar II 5784/ March 22, 2024




A friend who is a dentist gives mishloach manos full of huge cavity-inducing candies… and a business card. 

In truth, there is more of a connection between rotted teeth and Purim than you may realize. 


One of the beloved parts of the Purim story is when Haman paraded Mordechai upon the king’s horse through the streets of Shushan. As the procession passed Haman’s home, Haman’s daughter, confident that her father was atop the horse with Mordechai being forced to lead it, cast the family chamber-pot upon her father’s head. When Haman looked up to see who had so shamed him, she recognized that it was her father, and she jumped to her death.

If Haman was repeatedly calling out “Such shall be done to the man whom the king wishes to honor”, how did his daughter not recognize her father’s voice? 

Earlier in the story, after Haman conveyed to Achashveirosh his idea for how the king should bestow honor upon a worthy dignitary, Achashveirosh instructed Haman to implement his own plan by bestowing that honor upon Mordechai. Achashveirosh told him, “Take the royal clothing and the royal horse as you have spoken, and do so to Mordechai the Jew who sits at the king’s gate. Do not leave out anything from all that you have spoken.”

What was added with the final words of instruction not to leave out “anything from all that you have spoken”?

The Ben Ish Chai explains that Haman had suggested to the king that the dignitary whom the king wishes to honor should be honored in three ways – by wearing royal clothes, riding the royal steed, and having another dignitary proclaim before him, “Such shall be done to the man whom the king wishes to honor”.

Achashveirosh did not want Haman to be like the vendors in the shuq (marketplace) who periodically call out their products to inform every new wave of passersbys of what they are selling. Rather, he wanted Haman to keep repeating the refrain over and over. As soon as Haman completed saying it, he was to begin again. In this way, Mordechai would be honored in all three ways throughout the entire procession.

This is why Achashveirosh added, “Do not leave out anything from all that you have spoken”? If Haman would only call out the refrain periodically, during lapses, Mordechai would not be receiving the full tripartite honor that Haman had suggested.

Shushan was a large city with many streets. If Haman was forced to keep repeating the same refrain loudly without stopping, with time his voice invariably became strained. When the parade neared Haman’s home, his daughter indeed did not recognize the tired, strained voice of the person leading the horse. That was how she unwittingly dumped the family refuse upon her father’s head.

         So, it turns out that Haman was thrown off his metaphoric high horse to lead an actual royal horse before he himself became a little hoarse.


The Ben Ish Chai offers an additional explanation as to why Achashveirosh added the final words of instruction, “Do not leave out anything from all that you have spoken”.

Haman was an old man. [In Ta’ama d’Kra, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, notes that Haman and Mordechai were both 95 years old.] At that age, he was undoubtedly missing many or most of his teeth. Without teeth, it’s challenging to enunciate certain letters, particularly the letters ז, ס, ש, ר,צ.

Achashveirosh understood that when Haman would call out the words “Such shall be done to the man whom the king wishes to honor” being that he lacked teeth, it would sound slurred and unclear. No doubt that Haman would make sure to make it sound even more unclear by purposely mumbling the words.[1]

There is one way to ensure that the words will be clear, even without teeth. If one says the words slowly and loudly, the words will be clear and understood.

Achashveirosh, therefore, warned Haman to make sure that the words, literally, did not fall out of his mouth. Rather, he should ensure to say each word slowly and clearly so everyone will understand exactly what he is saying.

So Haman was not only smelly like a horse and a little hoarse (or perhaps very hoarse), he was also toothless.


Perhaps it’s in commemoration of Haman’s rotting teeth that children the world over have adopted the custom to eat endless amounts of candy and sugar on Purim.

Still, we should remind our children that as soon as Purim is over, they should make sure to brush their teeth. After all, they definitely don’t want to end up as the wicked son at the Seder whose teeth get blunted.


Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos

Purim Sameiach & Freilichen Purim,

        R’ Dani and Chani Staum

[1] I have said this thought over at the Purim seudah. It is a lot of fun to demonstrate this idea by covering your teeth with your lips and calling out “Such shall be done to the man whom the king wishes to honor.” It’s especially fun after a few cups of wine.