Intermediate Talmud: Tractate Megillah

Chapter One: The Megillah Narrative

In this intermediate level class you will learn to understand the unique give-and-take style of Talmudic debate and discussion. Text for this class is Chapter One of Tractate Megillah (folio 10b).

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The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 1
In this class we learn the Talmud’s discussion on the Megillah of Esther narrative.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 2
This Talmud class on the Megillah’s narrative first teaches the miraculous nature of the Holy Ark, and then discusses how the Megillat Esther is actually a continuation and fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 3
This Talmud class on the Megillah unveils ancient Scriptural prophecies that foretold the Purim miracle centuries earlier. We begin with questioning how G-d can rejoice when punishing the wicked. The Talmud continues to recount the thought-provoking preambles of the Sages that decode the hidden messages encrypted in the verses.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 4
This Talmud class on the Megillah expounds upon ancient Scriptural prophecies that allude to the Purim miracle centuries later. The Talmud continues to recount the thought-provoking preambles of the Sages that decode the hidden messages encrypted in the verses.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 5
The final teachings of the Talmudic Megillah introductions reveal encryptions into Esther’s Scroll that link directly back to the Five Books of Moses themselves. Discover how certain Mosaic phrases encapsulate the Purim story, which only happened millennia after it was written. See how this later narrative is intrinsic to the Jewish experience and a reflection of the Chumash and the 613 Mitzvot themselves!
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 6
Delve into the opening words of Megillat Esther in this fascinating Talmud class, which reads into names with incredible depth and insight. Get a peek into the twisted soul and psyche of this ancient Emperor whose royal ambition, ruthless military conquest, and unbridled savagery deeply affected Jewish life in antiquity. This rumination also provides mystical secrets about the zodiac and character predisposition—a remarkable synergy of Torah teaching.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 7
An analysis of the precise scriptural words enables us to delve into the background of the King featured in Megillat Esther. How did Achashveirosh rise to power, and how vast was his ancient empire? Be delighted by this thought-provoking analysis of ancient royal ambition, military conquest and historic imperial dynasties. Plus, discover how our Matriarch Sara shared a special bond with Queen Esther, and see why that should deepen our appreciation of Purim—inspiring us even today!
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 8
This class provides a fascinating analysis of famous historical kings who once controlled global empires. This allows us to better appreciate the place of Achashverosh in the sweep of history, ultimately enabling a more profound grasp and understanding of the Purim story.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 9
This class continues with an analysis of famous historical rulers, and then moves into the documentation of a monarchic miscalculation that proves to be fatal, as the royal emperor of Babylon mistakenly calculated our exilic schedule and engenders harsh consequences.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 10
The Talmud continues its analysis of monarchical miscalculations with the royally mistaken conclusions reached by ancient Persia’s epic emperor, and the fatal consequences it caused. In fairness, our sages are quick to point out that this was no simple equation, as even the Prophet Daniel was unsure; effectively minimizing the margin of his error.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 11
King Achashverosh tried to dazzle his guests with someone else’s clothes, and how he sought to curry favor with his own high society. A careful analysis of his iconoclastic political strategies has our Sages divided: some seeing a “crazy as a fox” brilliant operator, while others saw a totally incompetent fool who just got lucky! We conclude with a penetrating look into what sins the Jewish people committed to warrant such harsh punishment.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 12
This fascinating analysis of the Megillah’s verses provide a window into the artificially simulated atmosphere and ambiance that greeted the overflow crowds who flocked to attend King Achashverosh’s ‘Royal Inaugural Ball’ in the nation’s capital. See how party decoration details were carefully choreographed and shrewdly arranged to uniquely wow Shushanite revelers of differing social classes; while universally provoking promiscuity and other desired sinful effects.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 13
This class explores the subtext of the historic Royal Ball that opens the story of Purim. Although stolen sacred chalices deviously set the scene for sinful indulgence, alcoholic abuse isn’t encouraged as a relatively benign volume of wine is served and nobody is pressured to drink beyond their limits, notwithstanding the incredible variety available. Going far beyond the Talmudic take, we transcend the ballroom ambiance to reveal profound spiritual messaging encoded into the carefully worded scriptural text.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 14
Not to be outdone by her husband, the freshly minted monarch Achashvairosh; the royal heiress turned Queen Vashti hosts a parallel female version of the Inaugural Royal Ball. Being equally promiscuous in character and licentious in behavior; her choice of location, revelry, and festivities were designed to stimulate illicit lust and sinful desire. Predictably, vulgarity abounded, but the surprising end result shocked everybody.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 15
Despite the very public nature of the intoxicated monarch’s request, Queen Vashti brazenly snubs her husband by being a no-show. To add insult to injury, she privately insults her thin-skinned husband by mocking his masculinity. To be sure, she was so licentious in nature that she would have acquiesced; however suddenly miraculous disfigurement made that prohibitive. The clueless king erupts in a public display of fury; while seething inwardly as well. Despite his drunken stupor, the ruler cunningly seeks counsel from local Jewish Sages who are thrust into an impossible no-win situation. Not to be outfoxed, the wise men cleverly recuse themselves from this unwanted judicial duty.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 16
Having given up on his Jewish judiciary, the enraged King now taps his seven-member personal Persian Politburo; the empire’s multicultural crafted royal cabinet. The Scripture lists the individual names of this outstanding group of seven. Our sages see the unique enumeration as an allusion to a silent subtext of the narrative. As the rebellious Queen’s future lie in balance, heavenly angels entreated the King of all Kings for just desserts. The identity of the vocal mystery minister is visited, and the class concludes with the literary fortuitous fallout that followed.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 17
Achashveirosh aggressively sets a Miss Persia Beauty Pageant into motion, and the winner will… become Queen of the Empire! Yet strangely, nobody seems to be volunteering to compete. The Talmud clarifies with a juxtaposition of a somewhat similar – yet entirely different scenario regarding King David and highlights the profound difference between the modern mega-ruler and the uncontested Prince of Jewish monarchy. Next off, we begin to analyse the unusual way Mordechai, the righteous Purim hero is first introduced to us. Fascinating historical backgrounds and generational greatness all come into play in decoding the Megillah’s messaging!
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 18
Further analysis of Mordechai’s Megillah honorific links into a decades earlier exilic drama, and provides profound insight into why we historically exchanged the name Israel for Jewish. Then, in textbook Talmud-style, we meander onto a seemingly unrelated teaching about watershed events that preceded Purim by more than millennia. We uncover fascinating narratives about the courageous persona of a young Egyptian princess who saves the life of a Jewish baby; changing the world forever as a result. Followed by an appreciation of Moses himself; all of these points of light illuminate intrinsic qualities that have set our nation apart from time immemorial.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 19
The unique verbiage employed to detail Mordechai's descent into an exilic reality reveals much about the exemplary sensitivity, compassion and self-sacrificial concern he naturally exhibited for his people – possibly making the case for his ultimate inspired leadership. The “name-game” regarding the nascent Purim heroine is analysed next. Four deceptively simple explanations are offered; yet each is deeply profound in its own right. In unfurling their unique narratives an exquisite picture of Esther's spiritual virtues, physical beauty and radiant personality are revealed –adding to our appreciation of her sacrifices, and the truly miraculous nature of the Megillah's story.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 20
A fascinating analysis of Esther’s tragic birth and childhood – providing surprising insight into what constitutes paternity and maternity. We are introduced to the assumption that Mordechai and Esther were actually married to one another, and why the Scripture only alludes to it, carefully avoiding any explicit mention. Interestingly, proof includes a cryptic cross reference to the prophetic parable of King David’s appropriation of Bathsheba. We conclude with details about Esther's harrowing induction into the monarchy, and her remarkable ingenuity in secretively maintaining faith, observance and composure. The circle closes with how this stress may have colored her complexion.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 21
Despite our Purim heroine's attempts to keep a low profile, the Royal Eunic responsible for the Kings Harem was captivated by Esther. Under Mordechai's strictest instructions she strove to maintain absolute ethnic anonymity – which significantly complicated the keeping of a kosher diet. On the heels of the discussion about the peculiar palace menu, we move into the spa for intense and risky mandated beauty treatments. After clarifying cosmetics on a literal level, we conclude with deeply mystical and beautiful spiritual makeover messages they subtly convey – ultimately shedding light on the food fiasco as well!
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 22
Learning lessons from the otherwise lascivious monarch’s modesty, and the miraculous nature of Esther’s unintended charisma – along with surprisingly salacious intimate details of their carnal relationship, an ironic narrative emerges. Revealing the backstage story of how the one woman who didn’t want it, won the crown, despite never intending to do so. This rich story of royally rewarding unintended consequences captures the imagination and serves as an inspiration as the ancient yet eternally relevant details of the Purim story powerfully resonate today! (Tractate Megillah 13a)
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 23
A discovery of the deep history of ancestral modesty, which served to catalyze Esther’s meteoric rise to the imperial crown of Persia! Here our Sages take us back to the founding figures of our nation: a most unusual courtship conversation between Jacob and Rachel is elucidated, along with its unintended and surprising ending. We’re also introduced to the bashful young man who rises to become Israel’s first King! These stories richly illustrate the remarkable nature of Divine design and the notion that G-d always keeps score, and in the end settles them too! (Tractate Megillah 13a-b)
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 24
Despite royal ascendance, Queen Esther maintains her true loyalty to Mordechai (her husband) and Judaism (her faith). By investigating the verses fully, we become privy to her shocking double life of Yiddishkeit fidelity and (seeming) marital infidelity! A broad clarification in multiple fields of Torah discipline are introduced to clarify this Talmudic expose. When her subtle suggestion causes Mordechai’s promotion, the former Sanhedrin Chief Justice uncovers a palace assassination plot. Our sages demonstrate how the entire narrative is orchestrated by G-d! (Tractate Megillah 13b)
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 25
The rise of the Jewish people’s wicked archenemy seems to have been facilitated by a rabbi saving the King’s life – but logically exactly the opposite should have happened. Here we discover the deep secret about Divine Providence; only once the future salvation is already in place can dark ominous clouds gather to threaten our people. Haman throws lots and is overjoyed to see fortuitous indications of success, as the month in which Moses passed is now slated for the genocide of his nation. Yet his vision was entirely incorrect, as in fact everything turned inside out! (Tractate Megillah 13b)
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 26
The chilling conversation between Haman and Achashverosh plotting a nation’s annihilation. Driven by hateful, anti-Semitic ideology, Haman deviously and skillfully misconstrues facts; twisting them to justify and advance a fascist murderous agenda. The Jewish people are framed as dissolute, lazy and decedent. Their scattered nature insulates the kingdom from financial injury, with no real drawback to mass Jewish genocide he argues. Haman concludes with identity politics, and a bribe to boot. Waiving the cash, Achashverosh needs no further convincing. (Tractate Megillah 13b)
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 27
Making an offer the King can't refuse; a fortune to allow genocide of the Jews. Shockingly, the “pay for slay,” is declined: “keep your silver, and do as you please” he counters! Clearly the monarch is also a vicious anti-Semites, yet their prevailing attitudes seems so disparate. An enigmatic metaphor is presented: two landowners with mirror-image issues – one landowner struggles with a superfluous mound, while the other an annoying ditch, they meet and a final solution emerges. Richly elucidated, a Torah-true perspective on this pernicious hate emerges. (Tractate Megillah 13b-14a)
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 28
Equally twisted with hatred, the King places blind trust in his Prime Minister – handing him the royal signet ring and effectively granting unlimited power to deal with his “Jewish Problem.” Haman could now “sign” a royal edict legalizing genocide in Achashvairosh’s own name. This extraordinary act-of-empowerment is viewed by the Talmud as Heavenly ordained; as it serves to catalyze an unprecedented wave of religious return eclipsing the power of the prophets and their inspired messages! A discussion about biblical “origins” for Purim then ensues. (Tractate Megillah 14a)
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 29
Having established the joyous Hallel song-of-praise commemorating the Exodus narrative (climaxing in the Song-at-Sea) as biblical basis for ordaining the commemorative Purim holiday, we are left with a gaping hole in the jurisprudence: So why indeed did our Sages NOT ordain the songful chanting of Hallel on Purim?! Intriguingly, there are no less than 3 seeming disparate explanations. Thoroughly explored and elucidated; ultimately the supposed mutually exclusive answers may well be viewed as unique articulations of the very same Talmudic theorem. (Tractate Megillah 14a)
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 30
The extraordinary spiritual awakening catalyzed by Haman’s Royal Ringing was juxtaposed with the tepid response to the plethora of Prophetic pleading we were privileged to receive. The number of male prophets presented was 48. Here, the Talmud returns to examine that original statement with proof that this number is woefully inaccurate. To clarify the seeming discrepancy, our Sages draw a sharp line between differing dimensions of prophecy; with the smaller number said to specifically represent the enduring Prophecies of Posterity! (Tractate Megillah 14a)
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 31
After elucidating the reason a (relatively) small number of Prophets were cited (in juxtaposing lackluster spiritual awakenings they engendered, in comparison with the tsunami of Teshuva caused by Haman), the Talmud seeks to identity the seven Prophetesses – also cast as less impactful. Interestingly, the distinction of prophetic posterity isn’t overtly invoked, and there seems to be glaring discrepancies in the list. Verses indicating Sarah’s clairvoyant vision provides a lead to an appreciation of female prophetic superiority and resolving some of the said challenges! (Tractate Megillah 14a)
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 32
Analysis of the assertion that empowerment of Haman to prosecute the Jews was more impactful than even inspired messages of Prophetesses, continues here – per the thesis previously presented, that females would have received a superior form of prophecy. Surprisingly, the quest for biblical proof of Miriam’s seeing status goes far beyond the attribution explicitly found; instead adding seemingly superfluous (albeit related) teachings. Further developing the prior thesis, many questions are beautifully answered and the discussion rings with clarity! (Tractate Megillah 14a)
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 33
The third-in-a-series about Female Prophetic Superiority, comes on the heels of the observation that Hamanic plotting catalyzed greater spiritual rejuvenation than EVEN the exceptional down-to-earth form of prophecy uniquely endowed to females. Here, once again, the quest for biblical proof of a Prophetess’s status reaches beyond explicit scriptural labeling; instead focusing on seemingly superfluous matrimonial attribution and Devorah’s choice of an open-air palm-tree court. The dynamic thesis continues to richly illuminate the Talmud’s narrative! (Tractate Megillah 14a)
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 35
A Torah class is on Talmud tractate Megillah page 14a-b.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 37
Conclusion of the mini-series on feminine prophecy and with lasting legacies of great biblical women! This Torah class is on Talmud tractate Megillah page 14a-14b.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 38
How Mordechai’s “Paul Revere Moment” unfolded and the fallout it engendered. This class is on Talmud tractate Megillah page 15a.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 39
A potpourri of Talmudic teachings including insight into topics like blessings, curses, redemption, eternity and even a slave trade secrets. This Torah class is on tractate Megillah page 15a-15b.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 40
Torah Talmud class is on tractate Megillah page 15b.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 41
The epic error that engendered heavenly abandonment and reconciliation. Queen Esther’s zero-hour miraculous royal encounter! This Talmud class is on tractate Megillah page 15b.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 42
This class on the Purim story features Talmudic expositions of our Sages on the verses of the Scroll of Esther. This Talmud class is on tractate Megillah page 15b.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 43
The class on the Purim story focuses on the sudden onset of the king’s insomnia, which activates imaginary nightmares and ends up turning everything totally upside down. Our Sages see this earthly king’s sleep disturbance as symbolic of a Heavenly or spiritually phenomenon that has great significance in the Megillah narrative. This Talmud class is on tractate Megillah page 15b-16a.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 44
This class on the Purim story features Talmudic expositions of our Sages on the verses of the Scroll of Esther. This Talmud class is on tractate Megillah page 16a.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 45
The hate-filled Haman who plotted genocide against world Jewry was still reeling in shock when he is whisked off to a royal party. Discover the fascinating and little-known subtext of this biblical story. This Talmud class is on tractate Megillah page 16a.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 46
This class opens with Haman still reeling in shock from the worst day in his life. Soiled and disoriented, he has to get to his next royal appointment due to the sudden arrival of the royal chamberlains. Far beyond Esther's most optimistic hopes, the stage is now perfectly set for the dramatic showdown she had aspired to orchestrate. Against this exquisitely arranged backdrop, our heroine finally makes her bold move! This Talmud class is on tractate Megillah page 16a.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 47
This class opens with reexamining the King's stroll-in-the-garden, which provides insight into the mechanics of miracles and the nature of angelic appearances. Having completed her role for "such a time", Queen Esther’s victory is brought to fruition by an unexpected actor who preforms a great service for the Jewish people. Switching loyalties at the last moment, an unlikely man-of-the-hour seals the fate of the Purim villain. In poetic-Purim turnabout, Haman is now hung on the very same gallows he had prepared for Mordechai. And as the King’s angers’ abate, a sense of calm is now restored to the Kingdom of both heaven and earth. This Talmud class is on tractate Megillah page 16a.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 48
This class focuses back in Jewish history to Jacob's family feud over a special wardrobe. Here the Talmud will teach us how the royal robes of Persia’s Purim-era Jewish Prime Minister were woven out of the very seams of a prized suit from Egypt’s only-ever Jewish Prime Minister. Ultimately, these ancient events of Joseph's sale by his own brothers, as well as his gift to Benjamin, presage the entire Purim story and empowered Mordechai, his direct descendant, to bring salvation to the nation! This Talmud class is on tractate Megillah page 16a-b.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 49
Opening on the hems of a seeming wardrobe malfunction, this class continues to focus on an early period of our unique Jewish Saga. In looking beyond the obvious drama of a predictable emotional outburst, the Sages discerned more than ordinary tears, or weeping symptomatic of a typical family reunion that healed historic sibling separation. Mysterious messages to be deciphered include a secret message encoded into the choice of a gift item for an old man. Does every dog really have his day as a clever fox, and can smoke actually extinguish fire? Most of all, what in Heaven does any of this have to do with the story of Purim? This Talmud class is on tractate Megillah page 16b.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 50
Returning to expounding the actual verses of the Megillah, we focus on the stirring statement encapsulating the triumphant reversal of the Purim miracle: from darkness (emblematic of the fasting and mourning) we moved to light, instead of crying and wailing we had happiness and joy, and in the place of sackcloth and ashes there was glory and honor. Delving deeply into the Megillah's superlative string of uplifting euphemism describing the miracle aftermath, here, many rich ideas will be presented. After elucidating each detail on its own with a variety of fascinating sources, we return to discover overarching common themes. This Talmud class is on tractate Megillah page 16b.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 51
The Megillah makes a point of listing the ten sons of Haman who were killed by the Jewish people and later hanged. Here we will discover that it’s far more than reportage of facts and figures. The Talmud speaks of unique Mitzvah methodology for reading this enumeration of evil in a single breath. Clearly demonstrating that this execution of justice was no simple matter! This Talmud class is on tractate Megillah page 16b.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 52
Our Sages make a point of carefully analyzing the specific language employed by the Scriptural narrative. When a King’s belligerent tough talk miraculously shifted into softly spoken sensitivity. Why the Queen’s presentation of a letter written in hate, lead to a sacred inscription. How “words of peace and truth” must be transcribed and told from a scroll to fulfill obligations! This Talmud class is on tractate Megillah page 16b.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 53
Focusing on profiles in leadership, we open with a homiletic reading of a precise word in the Scroll of Esther to reveal where credit must be given for the miracle. Discover the unique and unparalleled historic contribution of Queen Esther. Delving into the detailed description of Mordechai’s unusual leadership, we learn why some didn’t fully appreciate the way he wove politics, scholarship, and saintly stewardship of the Jewish people together. This Talmud class is on tractate Megillah page 16b.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 54
The Scroll of Esther states that Mordechai’s unique combination of political power and saintly scholarship was supported by [only a] majority of his brethren. This prompts an exploration of what pursuit and accomplishment is Jewishly considered to be the most virtuous and important, and ultimately reframes our perspective on Mordechai’s unusual style of leadership. This Talmud class is on tractate Megillah page 16b.
The Talmud on the Megillah, Lesson 55
This final class concluding chapter 1, highlights the overriding virtue of Torah. We carefully calculation and reconcile the detailed timelines in Jacob’s journey. As a discrepancy is revealed, a powerful message shines forth and drives the point home with devastating accuracy! This will complete the thesis on what pursuit is considered to be the most virtuous and important of all! This Talmud class is on tractate Megillah page 17a.
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