Letters, Dates and Criminal Trials

From: Dr. M.W. in Slingerlands, NY

Dear Rabbi,

In the Book of Esther, why are certain letters in the names of Haman’s sons written smaller than the others and why are some letters in the text larger than the others?

Dear Dr. M.W.,

In Megillat Esther, and elsewhere in the Torah, you find several places where a letter is written larger or slightly smaller than the other letters. This is an ancient tradition, and the reason for each instance isn’t always explained.

The particular ones you mentioned (Esther 9:7,9) aren’t explained in any classical sources. Recently, however, it has been discovered that these letters, which occur in the section describing the hanging deaths of Haman’s ten sons, may contain an uncanny hint to the Nuremberg trials in which ten Nazis were tried and hung for their anti-Semitic crimes. The explanation is as follows:

As you may know, the Jewish calendar year is represented by Hebrew letters. The small letters in the names of Haman’s ten sons are ‘tav’, ‘shin’, ‘zayin’ which equals 707. The large letter is ‘vav’ which equals 6. These letters then represent the year 707 of the sixth millennium. Thus you have the Jewish date 5707, or 1946 by the civil calendar. On the first of October, 1946 – 6 Tishrei 5707 on the Jewish calendar – the Nuremberg Military Tribunal tried ten Nazis and sentenced them to death by hanging for their modern “Hamanism”. One of them, the notorious Julius Streiker, as his cryptic last words cried, “Purim-Fest 1946”.

Sources:

  • “The Jewish Observer”, March 1986, pp. 56-57
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