In the story of Purim, we read about how Haman got the king to decree the annihilation of the Jewish people. After three days of fasting and prayer, Esther goes to the king and invites him and Haman to a private party. But instead of making her real request and accusing Haman right then and there, she invites them to yet another party. It is only at the second party that she finally accuses Haman.1 Why the need for the second party?


This incident is part of the turning point in the Purim story. In fact, it's right in the middle of the Book of Esther.

The commentaries offer many explanations for why there was a need for two parties. We’ll present a selection of these explanations below.

Waiting for a Sign

Some explain that at the time of the first feast, Esther hadn’t yet seen an indication that the prayers, fasts and repentance of the Jews had been accepted. So instead of making her request then, she invited the king and Haman to a party the next day. By the next day, when she saw that the king had honored Mordechai, she recognized that their prayers had been answered and went through with her plan during the second feast.2

Fearing Backlash

Having approached the king unbidden, a crime punishable by death, Esther feared that if she would immediately accuse Haman, the king (perhaps at the instigation of Haman) would vent his wrath on her. Thus, Esther decided to put a bit of a distance between that incident and her accusation.3

Not in Front of Idolatry

The Talmud explains that when Estherentered Achashverosh's throne room, a place full of idols, the Divine Presence left her.4 Deciding that perhaps this wasn’t the place most suitable for miracles to occur, she invited Achashverosh to her own private quarters. However, Haman arrived wearing an outfit embroidered with the design of an idol (this was the reason why Mordechai refused to bow to Haman in the first place5 ), so she pushed off her request.

The next night, however, Haman was brought to the party right after leading Mordechai on the king’s horse. Not wanting his god to witness his humiliation, he chose not to wear his outfit with the icon. So at that point, Esther made her real request of the king and accused Haman of plotting against her and her people.6

To Arouse the King’s Jealousy

Esther knew that to succeed against Haman, she would first have to slowly arouse the king’s jealousy and suspicion of Haman. When issuing her invitation to the first party, Esther invited the king as her primary guest, and Haman as an add-on. We can see this in her words: “If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him [the king].”7

When it came to her invitation to the second party, however, Esther said, “Let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I will make for them,”8 giving equal status to Haman and the king. This aroused Haman’s ego on the one hand and the king's jealousy and suspicion on the other. So when she finally accused Haman, the king's anger was sufficiently aroused and he had Haman executed on the spot.9

Giving Up Her Life

Esther thought that by inviting both the king and Haman, the king’s jealousy would be aroused, and he would have both her and Haman killed. This way, at least Haman would be out of the picture and the Jews would be saved. Seeing, however, that nothing happened after the first party, she upped the ante and invited the king and Haman to a second party. This time it did work, and Achashverosh’s jealousy was sufficiently aroused (but there was no need for Esther to give up her own life).10

Learning From History

To defeat Haman, a descendant of Amalek, grandson of Esau, Esther took a page from our patriarch Jacob’s playbook. As Jacob approached his brother Esau, who wished to harm Jacob’s entire family (the progenitors of the Jewish nation), Jacob had a three-pronged approach: he sent gifts, prayed and prepared for war. Likewise, Esther prayed and fasted for three days. The first feast was in place of a gift, the second one, in which she accused Haman, was war.11

The Higher They Rise, the Lower They Fall

Esther planned to elevate Haman, knowing that this would lead to his downfall, since a ruler is more discerning and intolerable of any faults of those closest to him. By inviting Haman, Esther elevated him from the status of trusted adviser and minister to one who is invited to the king and queen's private royal parties. However, this was only the first stage. Next, she not only invited Haman, but put him on equal level as the king, as mentioned above.

The chassidic masters explain that Esther’s plan worked on both the spiritual and physical plain. G‑d says of those who are egotistical, “I and he cannot dwell together.”12 And as the prophet Obadiah proclaims, “If you go up high like an eagle, and if you place your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down, says the L‑rd.”13 Thus, once Haman’s ego reached such inflated proportions, he was primed for his ultimate downfall at the hands of the “the King of all kings.”14

Just as G‑d brought about the salvation of the Jewish people then, may we merit the ultimate salvation with the coming of the Moshiach speedily in our days!