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Hamanís Tree
by RABBI HESCHEL GREENBERG

One of history’s most famous construction projects was the building of Noah’s Ark, through which he and civilization itself were saved from the flood that destroyed every other living creature in the world.

In the Biblical account, the Ark came to rest on Mount Ararat where it remains until this very day. According to one Midrashic account, the Ark served a crucial function close to 1,500 years later. When Haman sought to have Mordechai hanged he fetched a board from Noah’s Ark to use in constructing the gallows. It was on this very board that Haman himself was hanged!

Without too much probing beneath the surface we can see a correlation between these two disparate events: The Ark saved humanity and the Ark saved the Jewish people from annihilation at the hands of the wicked Haman.

A survey of Midrashic literature yields at least three additional views on the source of the gallows upon which Haman was hanged.

According to Pirkei d’R’ Eliezer, the lumber for the 50 cubit tall gallows was taken from the Holy of Holies, the innermost and most holy section of the Holy Temple.

According to another Midrash, the gallows were prepared by G-d in the Six Days of Creation, and another opinion states that the wood came from the Tree of Knowledge, the source of the forbidden fruit eaten by Adam and Eve.

How can we thematically connect the four sources of Haman’s gallows?

In Chassidic literature, the Ark represents the future Messianic Age when the entire world will experience total peace and unity. This phenomenon, in miniature form, existed in the Ark. The creatures and eight humans that populated the Ark coexisted peacefully. The Ark should therefore not be viewed solely as a reminder of the destruction caused by the flood but primarily as a reminder of how perfect the world could and will be.

When G-d created the world, He did it so that the world would eventually become a dwelling-place for G-d. During the first week of Creation G-d established that the purpose of Creation was “B’Reishis.” Rashi translates this opening word to mean “Because of the two primary entities, Torah and Israel, G-d created the world.” The purpose of Creation will be fulfilled when Israel receives and then fully implements the Torah, the Master Plan for existence.

Once the world was completed by the creation of Adam and Eve, G-d gave humanity, to whom he would eventually entrust His Master Plan, a test commandment: Do not eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. The disobedience of Adam and Eve set back the timetable for implementation of G-d’s Master Plan. Indeed, from that time onward, everything seemed to have gone downhill until the time of the Great Flood. Here we can detect a “Haman” effect: the undermining of G-d’s Master Plan. This is the reason we associate Haman with the Tree of Knowledge and Adam and Eve’s partaking of it.

The next stage in G-d’s Master Plan was the Flood. On one hand, it destroyed the evil that had permeated the Earth up to then and prepared the world for its rehabilitation. Towards that end, G-d gave Noach the so called “Seven Noachide Commandments,” which are geared to making this a civilized and habitable world.

Hence, the hanging of Haman — who represented the greatest threat of his age to the Master Plan, with his diabolical plan to hang Mordechai and annihilate the entire Jewish people — can be traced back to Noach’s Ark. The Ark and the gallows both reversed a potential for evil to challenge and frustrate G-d’s plan.

The gallows that destroyed Haman represents the force that will enable us to rebuild the Holy Temple. Our Sages teach us that the destruction of the seed of Amalek will precede the rebuilding of the Holy Temple. It is from the Holy Temple that the G-dly spirit will spread to the entire world, which will finally resemble the Ark with its peaceful and unified atmosphere.

 

 


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