The Famous “Code” in Megillat Esther

The Famous “Code” in Megillat Esther

adapted from Keeping Posted with NCSY, Fall 1999 edition

We have a tradition that everything in human history is contained in the Torah, which Hashem used as a “blueprint” for the creation of the universe. The Midrash states, “Just as a king wishing to build a palace does not do so arbitrarily, but rather he consults an architect’s plans, so too G-d looked into the Torah and created the world.”

If the Torah is a blueprint for the world, then everything in the world should be found in it. The Vilna Gaon, an 18th century scholar, wrote in his “all that was, is, and will be until the end of time is included in the Torah…not just in the general sense, but… (even) the most minute details.”

For centuries, Jewish sages have been uncovering hidden secrets in the Torah. Following is a famous example, reflecting events in the twentieth century, which is found not in the Chumash (Five Books of Moses), but in Megilla Esther.

When listing the ten sons of Haman who were hanged (Esther 9:6-10), three letters, namely Taf, Shin, and Zayin, are written smaller than the rest (most printed texts reflect this; if yours doesn’t, look in another). The commentaries offer no explanation for this other than that it is a prophecy. The letters “TafShin-Zayin” represent the Hebrew year 5707, corresponding to the secular year 1946-47.

Scene from the Nuremberg Trials, National ArchiveOn October 16, 1946 (21 Tishrei, 5707) ten convicted Nazi war criminals were hanged in Nuremberg. (An eleventh, Hermann Goering, a transvestite, committed suicide in his cell. The Midrash tells us that Haman also had a daughter who committed suicide.) As if the parallel were not obvious enough without further corroboration, Nazi Julius Streicher’s last words were, “Purimfest 1946.”

(In case you question the accuracy of Streicher’s last words, they are are well-documented; they appeared in Newsweek, October 28, 1946.)

It is fairly safe to assume that (a) Streicher did not know about the three small letters in the Megilla, (b) he did not know that these letters corresponded to the year in which he was being hanged, and (c) even had he known, he would have had no motivation to reinforce the validity of Jewish texts, traditions, or prophecies. One could not ask for a more independent confirmation of the all-encompassing knowledge to be found in the Sifrei Tanach.

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