By Barry Dov Walfish
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Additional resources for Esther in Medieval Garb: Jewish Interpretation of the Book of Esther in the Middle Ages
There seems to be no linguistic or midrashic basis for this interpretation, and the only plausible explanation for it is that it fits in well with the picture Kaspi is trying to give of the Jews acting purely in selfdefense, only striking out after they had been attacked. 61 Occasionally, however, exegetes would attempt to take a fresh look at a difficult verse solely out of a desire to come to a better understanding of a difficult passage. This seems to be the case in the following interpretations by Isaac ben Joseph ha-Kohen to 3:8, "ve-lamelekh 'ein shoveh le-hanni~am".
The revealed meaning is our physical redemption, but the hidden meaning is the redemption of the soul which is the true redemption that occurs after death. This redemption is symbolized by Mordecai and Esther. 13H In mystical terms, this chapter is referring to the purification of the soul which takes place after death. , God) (2:12, 13). 13<) Thus the twelve-month period was the time needed for the soul to be cleansed of its sins before being allowed to enter before God (2:13). , the soul) comes before the king.
Megillah belongs to the same genre of literature as the commentaries of Isaac ben Yedaiah on Midrash Rabbah and the 'aggadot of the Talmud. It would seem that R. Shemariah and R. ')') Apparently, the impetus for 34 Esther in Medieval Garb the composition of many of these commentaries came from attempts by Maimonides to explain certain problematic 'aggadot rationally. The students of Maimonides set out to continue this work and carry it out systematically for the entire midrashic corpus. 100 In his commentary, R.