The Unlikely Hero: Lessons from Charbona’s Role in the Purim Story

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by R. Eliezer Simcha Weisz

Throughout history, seemingly ordinary individuals have defied expectations and orchestrated significant change. Consider Charbona, one of the seven eunuchs who served Ahasuerus and whose timely intervention played a crucial role in the Purim story. Or recall the unlikely courage of Israeli politician Amir Peretz, former defense minister who dared to take decisive action against his military advisors and insisted on the Iron Dome, a system that has protected Israel from missiles. His decision is now saving many Israeli lives on  a daily basis

This phenomenon, often attributed to chance, is an act of Hashem (G-d) who often chooses the most unexpected vessels to accomplish His will. This reminds us that outward appearances and status matter little; Hashem can use any individual to spark monumental transformations.

While Esther and Mordechai are celebrated as the Purim heroes, the Scroll of Esther mentions another figure: Charbona. Though seemingly minor, his role sparks discussion. Charbona appears twice, initially remaining silent when the king requests Queen Vashti. Later, when Haman’s plot against Mordechai unravels, Charbona speaks up, revealing the gallows Haman built (Esther 7:9):

“…Then Charbona said, ‘Even for Mordecai, the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate, a gallows fifty cubits high has been prepared by Haman.’ The king said, ‘Hang him on it.'”

At the conclusion of the Megillah reading both at night and in the morning on Purim, we say a prayer called “Shoshanat Yaakov” – “The Rose of Jacob”, which restates the “heroes and villains” of the Purim story.

As one  would expect, the prayer refers to Mordechai the righteous and Haman the wicked, as well as Esther the heroine and the vicious Vashti. The final phrase mentions a less famous character in the Purim story – Charbona. “And Charbona should be remembered for the good.” According to the Megillah (Esther 7:9), all Charbona did was, when Ahasuerus was already angry at Haman, mention that Haman had made a gallows for hanging Mordechai.

Charbona’s timely intervention, though seemingly small, helped expose Haman’s plan and ultimately ensured Jewish salvation.

Charbona wasn’t a traditional hero. He remained silent for much of the story. Yet, in a single moment, he used his knowledge to impact the outcome. There is a passage from Avodah Zarah 17a that states: “Rabbi Yehuda cried and said, ‘There is one who acquires his world in many years, and there is one who acquires his world in one hour.'”

Charbona’s story extends beyond Purim. It resonates with the idea that G-d sometimes uses unlikely figures to accomplish His will. In a world where many stand silent, the acts of Amir Peretz and Charbona teach us that Hashem guides the world, and even small actions, motivated by good, can make a difference. Anyone can be a Charbona. Even small actions motivated by good intentions can have significant consequences. Bystanders can become heroes by speaking up and doing the right thing. Charbona’s story highlights the importance of not being a bystander and should inspire us to take  action when presented with an opportunity to do the right thing.

About Eliezer Simcha Weisz

Rabbi Eliezer Simcha Weisz is a member of The Chief Rabbinate Council of Israel

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