Rabbi Shmuel Binyamin Sofer, the Ksav Sofer (1815-1871)

The Ksav Sofer (Drush Leshabbos Hagadol 5606/1846) responds to the accusation that when Jews pray for the redemption and the coming of moshiach, they are rebelling against the government. This is false, he says – we are under oath not to rebel against the nations (Kesubos 111a), and we are commanded to pray for their welfare (Avos 3:2). Furthermore, he says, we must be thankful to our current government for allowing us to practice our religion freely.

The Ksav Sofer on the Megillah writes that Haman accused the Jews of being disloyal: “And the laws of the king they do not keep” (Esther 3:8). Chazal add that he claimed that the Jews insulted the king (Megillah 13b). Had these accusations been true, we would understand why King Achashveirosh gave the order to kill the Jews. But they were false: the Jews kept the king’s laws and did not rebel against him. In fact, at no time in history had Jews ever rebelled against their king, even when he harmed them. Despite years of slavery in Egypt, the Jews entertained no thought of rebelling, and Pharaoh wrongly suspected them when he said, “Lest they multiply and, in time of war, they join our enemies” (Shemos 1:10). That there was nothing to this suspicion became clear later, during the plague of darkness, when the Egyptians could not see or move for three days, and the Jews could easily have killed them, including Pharaoh himself – yet they did nothing. They did not leave Egypt until Pharaoh commanded, “Arise, go out from amidst my people!” (12:31). That explains why, just after the plague of darkness, the Torah states that the Jews found favor in the eyes of the Egyptians (11:3). The Egyptians realized that they had suspected the Jews wrongly all these years. If this was true in Egypt, where the Jews were harmed and enslaved, all the more so was it true under Achashveirosh, who did nothing against the Jews. On the contrary, he was kind to them and promoted Mordechai to a high position in the palace gate.

The falsehood of Haman’s accusations became known to all when the Jews realized that the king had approved of genocide against them. They could have organized themselves and gone to war against the Persian Empire – perhaps they would succeed, and even if not, what did they have to lose? But instead, they followed in the footsteps of their forefathers, fasting and crying out in prayer to Hashem to annul the decree. There could have been no greater proof that Haman was a liar.

This, says the Ksav Sofer, explains why Mordechai, when he was given permission to change the king’s decree, wrote that the Jews would be allowed to kill their enemies. At first glance, this seems strange: wasn’t it enough for him that he had saved his people’s lives? Why did they have to kill their enemies, an act that would surely reignite the hatred and jealousy of the gentiles? But the answer is that Mordechai wanted to prove the above point: that out of loyalty to the king, the Jews had not fought back against Haman’s decree. It was still possible to maintain that the only reason they had not fought back was because they felt too weak, or they did not have the morale or skill for warfare. Now, however, after the Jews, with permission from the king, had demonstrated that they were capable of killing 75,000 of their enemies in one day, it was clear that the only reason they had not done so before was because of their loyalty and obedience to the king.