For those of you not following Daf Yomi, we just started doing the whole gemara in Megillah that discusses the story of Purim. Of course, with Purim coming in three weeks, this is very apropos. On Daf 14, the gemara discusses Haman’s ‘bargaining’ to Achashverosh to allow Haman to kill all the Jews. Haman offered plenty of good reasons to kill the Jews, including a large amount of money, but at the end, Achashverosh tells Haman to keep his money and that he too had wanted the Jews annihilated.
The gemara then goes on to compare the above exchange to two neighbors; one has a large pile of dirt and is looking to get rid of it, and the other has a large hole in the ground and is looking to fill it. When the neighbor with the hole in the ground finds out that the other guy can help him, he offers him money. The neighbor refuses the money because he is quite happy to get rid of his pile of dirt.
There’s an obvious question here. Why do we need the story following the one about Achashverosh and Haman? It’s obvious that they were both getting something they both wanted and that no money needed to change hands. So what is the story regarding the dirt teaching us?
Like many questions in Judaism, we answer this with another question. We see that both Achashverosh and Haman both equally wanted to wipe out the Jews. Yet at the end of the story, we see that Haman and his sons and followers are all destroyed, and Achashverosh not only maintains his dynasty, he also emerges as a part-hero! Why is this so?
So there are those that want to say that the pile of dirt is analogous to Achashverosh, and that Haman is analogous to the ditch. Achashverosh had a deeper understanding of the power of the Jews. and understood that Hashem played a big role in the final outcome. He had a respect for the power of Hashem. Achashverosh was therefore hesitant to kill the Jews unless he knew that they were in a state of constant sin. Achashverosh also knew that if things were going to go well for the Jews, that there was no way they could be defeated. That’s why Achashverosh is compared to the pile of dirt. The pile of dirt is elevated from the ground signifying his being on a higher level. On the other hand, Haman’s hatred for the Jews was so intense that no rational thought could motivate him NOT to kill the Jews. For Haman, the only thought on his mind was to wipe out every last Jew from the face of the Earth. Therefore, in the final outcome, Haman was killed and Achashverosh was allowed to live. Additionally, that is why Haman is compared to the ditch, which is something that is on a lower level.
We should all strive to be doing good stuff, so that the ball can be on our court.