My friend, Dawidh, has been asking me to write up this story for years. I first heard it more than twenty years ago at a Discovery seminar by Aish haTorah. Since then I have learnt a couple of additional understandings. And of course I add my own embellishments.
Our story stems from the fact that in Megilath Esther, towards the end of the narrative, Jews all around the Persian Empire are given a day to fight their enemies with impunity. This day was the 13th Adar, the date selected by the drawing of lots [purim in Persian] by that bad, bad man, Haman, on which to exterminate all the empire's Jews. Included in the Jewish victories in this one day war, sanctioned by the king, was the hanging of Haman's ten sons in Shushan, the summer seat of the Persian monarchy. Haman had planned for the genocide of the Jewish nation. Today we call this ethnic cleansing, the politically correct term for wiping every Jew off the face of the earth because you don't like the shape of his nose or are jealous of her ability to make lots more money than you in the business world, in which you set the rules!
The Jews are having so much fun ridding the world of these creeps, that they send (their own) Queen Esther to ask the King to permit them to fight for another day — but just in the capital, Shushan — and also, now get this, could they please hang the ten sons of Haman all over again. But Esther, they are already dead! What are you going to achieve by hanging them again? But, no, the King agrees and off go the Jews of Shushan and do it all again, though they knock off fewer than they had on the previous day — and the ten baddies are strung up all over again.
Our classic commentators have some trouble explaining what is going on here. There are however some clues hidden in the passage — and hindsight is useful too. Throughout the Tora and the rest of the Tanakh, some letters are occasionally written bigger than the surrounding text (oth rabati) and sometimes smaller (oth zeira). When writing a Tora, the scribe's basic rule (which has its parallels in modern typesetting) is that the width of a column is the breadth of sixty yod letters, yod being the narrowest letter of the alphabet (much like typesetters' el, en and em). The larger the text point size, the wider the physical column width.
In Megilath Esther, where the names of Haman's ten sons are written on ten rows, one name per line, the different sized letters are tav, shin and zayin which are small and vav which is enormous. Some commentators relate the long thin vav, ו, to a pictorial (hieroglyph?) representation of the single gallows on which the ten men were all hung, tall enough to hang them all, one under the other.
A second clue is the fact that God's name is not mentioned in the whole scroll — not even once! However there are hints to the Divine. The commentators tell us that when our text says "King Ahasuerus" (Aḥashverosh), it refers to the flesh and blood king of Persia and Media. However, if the text just says "the King", it [also?] means haShem, God, the Holy One Blessed Be He. The Queen's strange request is directed to Aḥashverosh but also to haShem. She is asking that, at some point in the future (the Hebrew word maḥar — מחר, can mean tomorrow or some unspecified time thereafter), the Jews be allowed to hang ten sons of Haman, not necessarily these same ten.
So to paraphrase our text, the Queen is asking haShem at some date in the future to be allowed to hang ten Antisemites of Amelekite descendent. When? Let's play with the numbers — in Hebrew each letter has a numeric value, g'matria. The three small letters add up to 707. The big letter is 6 — let's say is a big 6 — perhaps 6,000?!
A little further background. In October, 1898, the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II (who incidentally was the first grandchild of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom — royalty is a small world) visited the Holy Land. Because he refused to get off his horse in order to enter the [old] city, the Turkish governor knocked out a big piece of the ancient walls near the Jaffa Gate. The gates to our holy city were built in an 'L' shape. This was connected to the city's defence mechanism. This shape makes it impossible to attack the city on horseback. An attacker must alight and lead his horse into the city on foot, making him a sitting duck to be shot by the defenders. (Apropos, this "charmer" king, who only died in 1941, hoped that the successes of the German Nazi Party would stimulate interest in the revival of the monarchy. Dummy — Hitler believed that the Kaiser had contributed to Germany's greatest defeat in the first wold war.)
Back to our story in Yerushalayim. According to Jewish tradition, one recites a blessing on seeing a non-Jewish monarch — "blessed is He who gives some of his honour to flesh and blood". The Jews of Yerushalayim saw a rare opportunity to make this benediction on seeing the Kaiser, the German king. However the rabbi of Yerushalayim, I believe it was Rabbi Shmuel Salant, told his fellow Jews that as he had a tradition from the GR"A, the Vilna Gaon, that as the Germans were descendants of Amelek, the blessing and subsequent invocation of God's name were totally inappropriate.
A braita in tractate Megila teaches that if ever the tribes of Germama [Germany] were to unite and then join together with Rome [Italy], they have the potential to destroy the whole world. Historically, Germany was the last nation in Europe to conjoin under a unified flag and a single leadership. And not long afterwards (in two world wars) became allies with Italy and very nearly did destroy the world. This Germama certainly refers to the descendants of Amalek and Italy, to the descendants of Esav, Edom, brother of Ya'akov.
At the end of World War II, the victors, as is the way of the world and in this case very rightly so, tried the leaders of Nazi Germany at Nuremberg for war crimes. Twelve men (that's a funny word for them — 12 monsters) were sentenced to death. Martin Bormann, successor to Hess (who got smart and flew himself off to Scotland in 1941 in an attempt to broker peace with Great Britain and was later sentenced to life imprisonment) as Nazi Party Secretary, was found guilty in absentia. He may have already been dead, but the proof was inconclusive and there were many subsequent reported sightings.
Hermann Göring escaped the gallows, managing to kill himself with a potassium cyanide capsule the night before his execution. No-one knows how he got or managed to hide the poison. (In 2005, a former nineteen year old U.S. Army Private, Herbert Lee Stivers, who had been a guard at the trials, claimed to have given Göring medicine hidden inside a fountain pen. He was given the pen via a German woman, Mona, with whom he was flirting. She introduced him to two men who called themselves Erich and Mathias. They told him that Göring was "a very sick man" who was not being given the medicine he needed. Yeah, the night before he was to die!)
Yes. So that left ten.
Back to Goering who died at his own hand. A Midrash, homiletic teaching, informs us that Haman had, in one version, eleven, not ten, sons, and in an alternate reading, ten sons and one daughter. This last offspring made a terrible — fatal — mistake. It was during the famous early morning ride through the streets of Shushan. At the behest of the King, the wicked Haman led the righteous Mordekhai, dressed in the King's fineries, riding on the back of the King's horse. The leading person was shouting, "This is what the King does to his good mates". The offspring was certain that her father was on the horse and Mordekhai was leading him. Being well educated by Haman, he/she dropped the contents of the chamber pot (no plumbing yet for the Persians and the Medes) onto the lead man as the parade passed under his/her first floor window. The sheman, hewoman, realising his/her error, in horror, jumps out of the window, killing himself/herself/itself in the act.
The Nazis hated homosexuals amongst other perversions — well publicly at least. Have a look at a book called The Pink Swastika — I can't guarantee its accuracy, but there were very many depravities practiced amongst the German hierarchy. It has been reported that Göring himself, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force, was a transvestite — supposedly he wore ladies' underwear under his uniform.
Now, in both stories, the children of Haman and Hitlers co-conspirators, we have the number eleven, with a he-she dying by its own hand rather than at the end of a noose.
According to Jewish tradition, the last day of judgement, following Rosh haShana (the New Year) and Yom Kipur (the Day of Atonement), is Hoshana Raba, the seventh day of Sukoth (the Feast of Tabernacles). This is one's last chance for repentance for the current year, the last time the heavenly tribunal sits in judgement of all mankind.
Following sentencing, appeals and other court procedures took place. During this interim, the Jewish year 5707 had commenced. Finally, the execution of the ten convicted Nazis, offspring of the evil Haman, a descendent of the Amelekite king Agag in the time of King Shaul and the prophet Sh'muel, was carried out. It was 16th October, 1946. The Jewish calendar date on which these monsters met their final judgement day? Hoshana Raba in the 707th year of the 6th millennium! As prophesied by the Megila, more than 2,400 earlier.
The last of the ten to mount the gallows was the Nazi propaganda chief, Julius Streicher. At the bottom of the scaffold he cried out "Heil Hitler!" When he mounted the platform, he delivered his last sneering reference to the Jewish scripture, snapping "This is a Purim-Fest, 1946, [purim schpeil]!" His final declaration before the hood went over his head was, "The Bolsheviks will hang you one day!"
And thus the Queen's request was fulfilled once again by the King [of Kings].
Menachem Kuchar, 14th August, 2008
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