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Mar 12, 2009

Persian or Hebrew?

Taking DovBear's lead, I have decided to post this question... I heard the same vort DB heard, and responded with the same response (at least one of his responses).

Someone at a Purim seuda told me a vort that "Why does the Megillah first say Bigsan V'Seresh when Mordechai first hears their plot to kill the king, but then later when Achashverosh remembers the good deed, it says Bigsana V'Seresh?"

I assumed it is just a variartion of the spelling, as we find often in the Torah (more often by name sof cities, but it happens by people's names as well).

The answer he gave me was that it was a miracle - Really Mordechai heard, and told over to the king, the plot being planned by Bigsan V'Seresh. They wrote it down as "Bigsan o Seresh". The reason they did so, as per Haman's supposed insistence, is to make it look like Mordechai did not really do all that much. He did not save the king. He did not even know what he heard.

The miracle happened when the king opened the books that night and saw it said "Bigsana V' Seresh". The angel had moved the letters a bit, but fixed it so it said "and" instead of "or".

My response to this was that it works like that in Hebrew, the language the megilla is read in. However they lived their lives in persian, not Hebrew. Ostensibly, it is highly unlikely that the kings scribes and advisers wrote the memo in the kings book in hebrew, and unless he can be sure that the same "miracle" works in the Persian form of the words, it does not make sense.

The response was the perhaps the advisers/scribes were Jewish and wrote it in Hebrew (they were "Yodei Das Va'Din, so he said they were Jewish). Also we find in history that even the non-Jews wrote much of medical texts in Hebrew rather than the more obvious Latin, so perhaps in Persia as well the scribe wrote in hebrew.

So, I turn to you and ask what you think about this vort. Could it be?


  1. First of all , its a cute vort.
    Thats the point, no?

    But the answer isn't true- since the medrash says that Haman's son was the scribe.
    There are other nissim mentioned, since he didn't want to read the chronicles, he kept on turning to other pages and a malach came to turn it back to Mordechai's page.
    And other nissim too.

  2. But why should the "Yodei Dat wa'Din" write down both (Bigtan and Teresch), although it was just one of them? This is a quite interesting question!

    In 1 S 29,3 the meaning of או is meant to be "or rather" so perhaps there is in the chronic of the days of the king a judgment (that it was mainly Teresch) written down by the wise men. Possibly the Masorets couldn't explain why there is that 'alef' behind Bigtan and so they thought it is Persian dialect.

  3. It could be that it happens to work in Persian as well.

    Anon (1),
    What does Haman's son being the scribe have to do with anything? He may have written in Hebrew. Also, midrashim do not have to "agree" with one another.

  4. some people in the comment section noted that the standard language for writing down records was Aramaic.

    so it would work. still, it is certainly not peshat. it is cute.

    a medrash saying that Haman's son was the scribe is not a problem, since midrashim may contradict one another with impunity.


  5. i dunno if this 'pshat' has a makor or not - and it is pretty mechudush and would need somethign on the level of Midrashic Authority I think - but assuming that there is a source for this it is really no kashya bichlal - in persioan they changed it to whatever they needed to in the persian language (and this was erased/changed- and in hebrew, the megiallas language the megilla reports this in it's own language. It happens to be that in Hebrew it is a simple thing to hint at - by that nifty extra A but who says that in Persian it was a simple change - i.e. in english they would have wwritten 'or' instaed of 'and' and the maloch would have changed it to 'and'. Same in persian.

    I really do not see the problem. This is very poshut.


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