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In Defense Of A Nation

Rabbi Yehuda Heimowitz

When it was ordained for Haman to be hanged on the gallows he had built for Mordechai, eleven species of trees, all of which are compared to Klal Yisrael in Scripture, volunteered to be the one to do away with this terrible foe. In honor of Tu B’Shvat, we examine the links between five of those species — those that are among the shivas haminim — and Klal Yisrael, and how they were used in the Beis HaMikdash.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Commenting on the verse, “Vayislu es Haman al ha’eitz — they hanged Haman on the gallows” (Megillas Esther 7:10), the Midrash teaches that when Haman set out to prepare the gallows on which to hang Mordechai, a fierce competition erupted in Heaven. Hashem asked which tree would volunteer to be “graced” with the deposed foe of the Jews, who would eventually hang on the very gallows he prepared for Mordechai. Te’einah (fig), gefen (grape), rimon (pomegranate), egoz (nut), esrog (citron), hadas (myrtle), zayis (olive), tapu’ach (apple), dekel (date), aravah (willow), and erez (cedar) all clamored for the privilege, staking their claim by citing verses in Tanach in which Klal Yisrael is compared to them.

In honor of Tu B’Shvat, we’ll examine the link between some of those trees and Klal Yisrael, narrowing our focus to the te’einah, gefen, rimon, zayis, and dekel (following the order of the Midrash), which have the additional distinction of being the fruit species of the shivas haminim. Specifically, we will find that each corresponds to an attribute of Klal Yisrael, and are also linked to the avodah in the Beis HaMikdash, each in a unique way.


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