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For One and For All

Written by Rabbi Yehoshua Alt, 7/3/2020

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Fascinating Insights—The Sefer (in English)

For One and For All

Why did Haman want to kill all the Jews if only Mordechai didn’t bow to him?[1]


A leader includes all the people and as the Midrash says ראש הדור הוא ככל הדור.[2] Consequently, the word מלך is composed of the same letters as כלם since he includes everyone. This is just as the Rambam[3] states that a king is לב כל קהל ישראל.[4]


We see this with our leader Moshe who was also a king.[5] R’ Chaim Volozhiner[6] teaches us that Moshe includes all 600,000 נשמות ישראל. Indeed, משה forms an acronym for מקור של הנשמות. Therefore, Moshe brings Torah of 600,000 letters as each letter corresponds to a Jew and he includes all Jews.[7] This is alluded to in משה עבד י-ה-ו-ה[8], Moshe servant of Hashem, as it is the initials עמי. Similarly, this is the meaning in Rashi who states Moshe was שקול כנגד כל ישראל.[9] For this reason, ממכון שבתו השגיח[10], from his dwelling place he oversees, contain the initials משה as he includes everyone. In light of the above we have a novel explanation in שש מאות אלף רגלי העם אשר אנכי בקרבו[11] as Moshe is in each of the 600,000.


Our original question is now answered as Mordechai not bowing is just a manifestation of the rest of Klal Yisrael since he is the leader thereby including everyone.[12]

Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

[1] Kav Hayashar, 98.

[2] Tanchuma in Chukas 23. See Bamidbar 21:21, Rashi, Taamai Haminhagim, p. 282.

[3] Hilchos Melachim 3:6. See Eruchin 17a on the Machlokes of whether the generation parallels its leader or the leader to his generation. The greater the leader, the greater the people could be (Shaarei Orah, Vol 1 Nisayon HaMann).

[4] In a similar vein, the letters of מלך are in the middle of the Alef-Beis since he is the one that connects the nation.

[5] Zevachim 102a. See Yisro 18:1, Rashi.

[6] Likutai Maamarim printed at the end of Nefesh Hachaim 15. After R’ Chaim Volozhin passed away, his student, R’ Dovid Tevel, author of the Nachalas Dovid, wrote about his Rebbe the following: R’ Chaim once needed to find a source for a certain Halacha so he reviewed the entire Shas in three days. Shas Bavli, Yerushalmi, Sifri, Sifra, Tosefta, Mechilta, Zohar and Kisvei Arizal were all carved out in his head, all his Torah was established on his lips—יכנו יחדו על שפתיך (Mishlei 22:18).

[7] In fact, ישראל are the first letters יש ששים רבוי אותיות לתורה.

[8] Yehoshua 12:6, 22:2.

[9] The Midrash (Shir Hashirim Rabba 1:64) says שקול משה כישראל וישראל כמשה.

[10] Tehillim 33:14. When one is walking down a staircase, the head follows the body in its descent. Similarly, the leader is the head and the nation is the body. Accordingly, if the nation sins, the leader also takes a step down. This is just as we see in our Parsha that when the sin of the Eigel was committed, Hashem told Mosheלך רד  to which Rashi says רד מגדולתך, go down from your greatness (See also R’ Tzadok Hkohen in Divrei Sofrim 24).

[11] Bamidbar 11:21.

[12] This is the deeper meaning in (Esther 3:6) עם מרדכי—everyone is included in Mordechai.

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