The Book of Esther is a Map of Feminine Development
PurimBurst, 2007 / 5567
Sarah Yehudit Schneider
Based on the teachings of R. Isaac Luria as presented in Kabbalistic Writings on the Nature of Masculine and Feminine.
“This opposite this HaShem created the world.” Everything holy has a dark counterpart somewhere in the universe. And so, in the Purim story every character has its alter-ego from the other side. Mordecai has Haman, Esther has Vashti. And even HaShem has Ahashverosh.
The secret is that if you follow the soul thread of each one back up to its root, the hero and his nemesis always merge. Kabbala refers to this shadow-self as the backside of a person, his achorayim (אחריים). Just as a back is the place on our body that we cannot see, so is this true for a soul. Its backside includes all the sparks that lie beyond the range of its conscious self, all the disowned layers of personality that appear as not-us. The sum total of these not-yet-integrated pieces of soul is what psychology calls the unconscious, and what Kabbala calls the backside (אחריים).
Megillat Esther is an historical chronicle and a kabbalistic teaching tale. When read from the latter perspective there are three composite characters: The masculine archetype which combines Haman and Mordecai; the feminine archetype built from Vashti and Esther; and the Divine presence played by Achashverosh and the King (i.e., HaShem). The story becomes a microcosm of the evolving relationship between masculine and feminine, as taught by Kabbala.
In the world of kabbalistic archetypes man is stable, enduring, unchanging. He is compared to a tent peg that doesn’t budge no matter how strong the winds blow. Woman, by contrast, displays the evolving, perfecting, transforming potential of soul. She associates with the moon that is always in motion, waxing or waning as the case may be. Anything that grows or changes displays feminine attributes. Yet people are not archetypes. The Principle of Interinclusion rules the real world. Every human being contains both male and female aspects in varying proportions. Yet archetypes are useful. They portray the elemental forces both in the world and inside our own psyches. They present the big picture that gets lost in the subjectivity of a single generation (or even an entire lifespan).
The Ari describes three general phases in the evolving relationship between man and woman (which divide into seven substages). Since woman is the one in motion, this becomes the universal map of her life cycle, which proceeds as follows:
Phase 1 – initial equality between masculine and feminine
Phase 2 – diminishment of the feminine
Phase 3 – re-attained equality, that is even more consummately equal than was possible before.
In his model, woman first develops a kind of false equality (phase 1), collapses again quite suddenly (phase 2), and starts a new push toward growth and full stature which she eventually attains at the end of her effort (phase 3). These three phases comprise a single moon cycle. They apply on all scales, from the interincluded feminine inside every soul, through the span of an individual woman’s life, to the history of creation (for the entire period of existence from the beginning of time to its end is but a single circuit of the kabbalistic “moon.”)
The source-text for his teaching is the marital saga of Adam and Eve. Tradition teaches that they began as a single androgynous creature whose male and female halves were fused together like Siamese twins along their backsides. G‑d then severed this backwards bond and released them to meet face-to-face as freestanding individuals for the first time. This is how Jewish tradition interprets the Biblical story of Eve’s formation. The kabbalistic term for this surgical uncoupling is nesira, and it divides the imperfect equality of phase 1 from the consummate equality of phase 3.
In this graph the bottom row maps woman’s life path, which proceeds from 1 to 7 and divides into three phases (to be explained). The vertical axis measures woman’s “spiritual height” in relation to man, her maturity of consciousness and her relative access to intellectual (and prophetic) resources. At a glance, Phase 1 and Phase 3 are nearly the same. Each marks a gradual course of growth from diminishment toward fullness of stature as illustrated on the far right. In contrast, the bottom row’s three divisions measure a more intangible property. They distinguish a front-facing encounter from a back-facing one. Just as the front of a person includes the face with its eyes, and sense organs that define its field of awareness, so is this true for an archetype. The front associates with conscious will, mindful action, and rectified behavior; the back with all that is unconscious, compulsive, and reactive.
In a back-to-back relationship the couple’s primary bond of attraction derives from projections, obsessions, addictions, and narcissistic cravings. In contrast, a front-to-front relationship is one where the couple shares common goals and a mutuality of desire. The Hebrew term for face (פנים) stems from the same root as the word for inwardness (פנימיות). A front- facing relationship is one where the couple’s insides meet, and their souls unite.
The superiority of Phase 3 derives from its preeminence on both scales: woman and man are spiritual equals, and they meet face to face, will to will. In Phase 3 man and woman unite from the crown of their heads to the soles of their feet, from outer skin to inner core. In the Ari’s own words, “Man and woman finally stand face to face and completely equal.”
Yet, wedged between Phase 1 and Phase 3 is the most dramatic interval of woman’s life, the surgical uncoupling that releases the pair to meet in a face-to-face union. For woman, this boon comes at great sacrifice. Its quantum leap forward on the quality scale entails a major backslide on the vertical scale that measures woman’s access to higher lights. Her stature shrinks, even as she gains the possibility of real (and equal) relationship, a prospect that only appears when a couple sees each other’s face, and loves each other’s soul.
Purim marks the nesira between Israel and HaShem, asserts Kabbala.  At Sinai we received the written law, the holy string of letters and teachings that contains the truth of the universe condensed into its five short books. Its words are fixed and final. An error in even a single letter disqualifies the entire scroll. The written Torah does not permit tinkering or innovation. Before this holy writ we can only hear and obey; there is nothing to add.
The oral Torah is a whole different revelation, and this is what we achieved on Purim. The oral Torah is living and evolving. It is the sum total of creative insights pressed from the souls of Jews striving to live their lives with integrity to the truths of Sinai. HaShem’s words form like dew on their hearts, seeding revelation from the inside out. It is here in the quiet of this holy dialogue that we meet our Creator face to face. In the amalgam of heavenly revelations and human realizations we attain a consummate union that is truly give and take.
And it came to pass in the days of Achashverosh (ME 1:1): The Purim plot follows this three-phased map. It opens with the players in neurotic codependence. In back-to-back attachment, individuals do not differentiate, for their backsides are enmeshed. No one knows where he ends and another begins. Each projects his flaws, fears, and shame onto someone else. The system operates more like a herd than a collection of individuals. Haman and Achashverosh are especially fused in this way. They function as a single character: Haman is the will. Achashverosh is the brawn. Haman has his own vendetta against Vashti, for she insulted his pride. The king becomes a mask that Haman wears to enact his revenge. Who killed Vashti? Was it the king or Haman? The midrash leans toward the latter reading: “Achashverosh put his wife to death on account of his friend.”
Where is the hint to Esther in the Torah? It derives from the verse: “And I [G-d] will surely hide My face (הסתר אסתיר פני)” (Deut. 31:18). HaShem is dragged into this motley mix. The term G-d gets encrusted with narcissistic projections when His face withdraws and He meets creation back to back (הסתר אסתיר פני). In this fallen state G-d’s glory is reduced to a spitting image of the ego in its most grandiose display. And so in the Purim story HaShem appears in the unflattering role of a foolish, hedonistic, and megalomaniacal king. It is no surprise that Haman, the most narcissistic of the bunch, grabs the job of managing the King’s PR. HaShem’s image gets branded by Haman’s string of fiery missives that disseminate through the kingdom.
[Achashverosh] displayed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the splendor of his excellent majesty for many days… And Vashti the queen also made a banquet for the women in the royal palace… (ME 1:4)
Just as Achashverosh opened six treasuries, so Vashti opened six treasuries. Just as he went to all kinds of expense, so she went to all kinds of expense. Just as he feasted after the style of the Land of Israel, so she feasted after the style of the Land of Israel. Just as he wore the high-priestly garments, so she wore the high-priestly garments. (MRE 3:9)
In a back-to-back relationship each seeks to outshine the other. The couple competes for attention and power. The goal is to amass the lion’s share of narcissistic supply.
Achashverosh the king, commanded…Vashti the queen to appear… with the royal crown, … But Queen Vashti refused to oblige. (ME 1:11-12)
The king actually commanded Vashti to appear naked, clothed only in the royal crown…Vashti sent her refusal in the strongest terms, “Go tell your stupid master that his orders are outrageous. I am the daughter of the great king Belshazzar…In the house of my father, your master would not have been good enough even to clean out the stables! (Meam Loez 1:12)
In a gender war the battles are vicious. A tact oft employed is to secure a superior position through insult and humiliation. But the injured party invariably takes revenge, for a back-facing ego is hyper-reactive to narcissistic wounds. The conflict escalates with invectives and recriminations.
The king became very angry [at Vashti’s insub-ordination], and his anger burned inside him. (ME 1:12)
Ramchal depicts a back-to-back relationship as two people speaking at each other, both talking at the same time. Each demands the center-stage of the other’s world. A narcissist views everyone as a mere extension of himself. Just as his own body obeys his will without a peep of resistance, so must others conform pronto to his every command. To voice a contrary will is to declare independence, which (for back to backers) is an act of war. The narcissist is humiliated by this insubordination. He throws a tantrum, a day of rage.
And Memucan (aka Haman) answered in the presence of the king and the princes: “Vashti, the queen, has wronged not only the king, but all the princes and people in all the provinces. … for now all the women throughout the kingdom shall despise their husbands when they hear that king Achashverosh commanded Vashti the queen to be brought to his presence, but she came not.” (ME 1:16-17)
Conflict management requires a level of maturity and self-awareness that is lacking in the chronically self-absorbed. Instead of stepping back and viewing the insult from a larger perspective that shrinks its significance, the narcissist does the opposite. The insult may be minor but he turns it into a blazing symbol of shame that undermines his entire sense of self-worth. The slightest affront gets magnified to exponential proportions. With Haman’s input, Achashverosh’s marital spat escalates into a world war.
[At Haman’s advice] letters were sent to all the king’s provinces…that every man should rule in his own house…(ME 1:12)
This move to consolidate male power, and to forcefully assert the right of husbands to rule over their wives, is viewed with disdain by the sages of Israel. “R. Huna said: This decree of Achashverosh was utterly ridiculous. If a man wants to eat lentils and his wife wants to eat beans, can he force her? Surely she does as she likes.”A back-to-back relationship is about power and coercion. The wife is not respected as a free-standing individual with a will of her own. Decisions are not negotiated they are unilaterally decreed. The Scroll of Esther depicts this chauvinistic battle-cry in a most unfavorable light. A front-facing man does not need (or want) to rule over his wife. The reflex to invoke male privilege is a sure sign that a relationship is back to back. Haman’s ideal of marriage is not a role model for the Jewish people.
And Haman said to King Achashverosh, There is one… (אחד… ישנו) (ME 3:7-8)
ישנו… אחד can be literally read as the One (i.e., the God of Israel) is asleep (or at least appears to be so in relation to his people). … Said the Holy One, blessed be He… I will awake from [the semblance of] sleep and protect my nation by smiting those who attempt to destroy them. (MRE 7:12)
The surgical uncoupling of Phase 2 happens while the male partner is asleep,  as seen in its Biblical prototype, “And the Lord God made Adam fall into a deep sleep, and he slept; and He took one of his sides, and closed up the flesh. And from the side which the Lord God had taken from Adam, He made woman…” In the Jewish tradition Israel and HaShem are beloved soul-mates. And so, in the Purim story, the sages note, that when the time for uncoupling arrived, HaShem, true to His role, was (apparently) asleep.
“And the word pleased the king.” (ME 1:21). He gave the order and they brought Vashti’s head in on a platter. (MRE 4:11)
The graph above shows that the surgical uncoupling of Phase 2 results in woman’s diminishment. Rav Ashlag explains that a spiritual curtain separates woman from her brains. The condition of being estranged from one’s intellect is a diminished state, at least according to Kabbala. Certainly, one loses a good foot and a half if the head goes. It’s a “shortened” stature. In real life it seems that nesira occurs in women’s childbearing years. Women often report, at this time, that their minds have turned to mush, that they’ve lost touch with their brains.
And also, the head symbolizes a goal-directed approach to life. Removing the “head” creates a circle, a figure which has no beginning or end. It has no “head.” And so it is often true that women’s lives during this time are more circular in their rhythm. Changing diapers, the diapers get dirty, changing them again…washing dishes, the dishes get dirty, washing them again…cooking food, the food gets eaten, cooking again… For these and other reasons, it seems that woman’s kabbalistic diminishment coincides with her childbearing years. Vashti’s beheading is a crude (and literal) depiction of the spiritual surgery which Kabbala calls nesira.
Note: The term diminishment only applies to one isolated feature of this dramatic interval in woman’s life. It does not consider other fronts of growth that are blossoming at this very same time. It does not measure the deepening of heart, the sharpening of intuition, the building of character and the cultivating of generosity, that simultaneously occur. From woman‘s perspective the same period that Kabbala calls diminishment is in fact a growth spurt.
And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter; for she had neither father nor mother… and Mordecai adopted her as a daughter. (ME 2:7). Once when he could not find a wet nurse, Mordecai’s breasts actually produced milk to feed her. (BR 30:8)
Don’t read daughter (בת), read house (בית). This means that Mordecai took her as a wife (for a man’s wife is his shelter). (TB M 12b)
In the kabbalistic model, after the nesira woman loses her direct access to the flow of light and consciousness that descends from the cosmic wellsprings. Instead, these lights are transferred to her man, and it becomes his job to pass them to her. In the Ari’s own words:
“Woman’s path of development is different from man’s and she needs him to facilitate her passage. When mother raised man she designated a special energy fund earmarked for woman’s growth. This too she transferred into man’s possession and he became its trustee. He serves as an intermediary between mother and woman and passes these special resources on to woman, thereby enabling her development. With his help she too evolves into a full stature of ten sefirot.”
When the king’s decree was publicized, and the young girls were gathered …Esther was taken to the palace… (ME 2:8)
Mordecai realized that he could not hide Esther forever…Mordecai escorted Esther to the public square where the women gathered to be brought to the king. (Manot HaLevi; Maamar Mordecai; Me’am Loez 2:8).
The Purim story now depicts the step-by-step journey of Phase 3, where woman moves toward fullness of stature. This shifting of gender relations is not supposed to be a war, but a mutually welcomed and shared project. Man’s role is to build woman up by generously providing her with the resources of lights and strengths that she needs to develop herself. The Ari identifies four milestones along the way. Each is defined as a positive step based on two criteria:
- Woman’s consciousness (and intellect) matures and expands, which metaphorically translates as spiritual height. The closer she comes to equality of stature with man, the more perfected their union.
- The Ari then spotlights a particular by-product of this growth in stature which is woman’s dependency upon man, a condition that varies inversely with her “height.” The “shorter” she is, the more she relies upon him to fill the functions that she lacks. The “taller” she grows, the more capabilities she incorporates into herself and consequently, the more self-sufficient she becomes. The ideal, says he, is for woman to become independent from man in this regard. Only without need can the couple unite from a love that is utterly free of ulterior motive. This is the Jewish vision of how man and woman will relate when they have healed themselves and fixed the world.
And so Mordecai “raises” Esther. He builds her up into a free-standing, independent woman, and escorts her to the threshold, where Esther must now create her own autonomous relationship with the King, one that is no longer dependent on Mordecai’s intervention.
The king loved Esther above all the other women, for she found grace and favor in his eyes… and so he set the royal crown upon her head. Esther did not reveal her nationality or ancestry as Mordecai had charged her. Esther obeyed the command of Mordecai now, as when she was raised by him. (ME 2:17-20)
Esther’s relationship with the King is evolving. Now she has direct access, symbolized by her newly acquired crown, which in Kabbala, signifies the highest of the ten sefirot, the soul’s superconscious link to HaShem. Yet still, Esther looks to Mordecai as her guide. She remains in his tutelage, though soon she must forge her own independent channel of guidance straight from above.
Mordecai charged Esther…to approach the king…and supplicate for her people. And Esther sent … a command to Mordecai, “All the king’s servants… know, that whoever …enters the kings inner court uninvited …will be put to death… Then Mordecai commanded Esther, “If you remain silent at this time … deliverance will come to the Jews in another way, and you and your father’s house shall be destroyed…” Esther commanded Mordecai… “Gather together all the Jews of Shushan and fast for me…I too … will fast and then will I go to the king unbidden, though it is against the law…” Mordecai did according to all that Esther had commanded him. (ME 4:8-17)
In this exchange Esther comes into full stature. She and Mordecai function as equals. Their dialogue is perfectly symmetrical. They both command and they both obey. They solve their problem through negotiation. There is no power struggle between them.
And it came to pass on the third day, that Esther donned her royal dress, and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, opposite the king’s chamber. (ME 5:1)
Esther enwrapped herself in Divine inspiration (ruach hakodesh). (TB M 15a)
This is Esther’s initiation into a fully independent relationship with HaShem. She is on her own, with no way to summon Mordecai’s input. Alone with her instincts, she has to find G‑d’s holy word, that speaks through them as surely as He spoke at Sinai. At each step she scans the horizon for options, waiting for her heart to whisper yes, and there she will move. An extended fast?…A wine-party for three?…Another? There are no neon signs or prophetic voices. This is trial by fire, and the stakes could not be higher. Esther listened well and chose good. She saved her people and pulled the oral Torah down into the hearts of the nation.
On that day King Achashverosh gave the estate of Haman, the Jew-hater, to Esther the queen. “Mordecai came before the king, for Esther explained who [Mordecai] was to her… And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman. (ME 8:1-2)
Rav Shneur Zalman of Liadi explores the Ari’s culminating stage of feminine development, and concludes that at its highest point a reversal of polarities occurs. In all the preceding stages, man is taller than woman (even if only a hair’s breadth), and she needs him to pull down the lights that she cannot yet reach. But at the highest edge of the highest stage this polarity inverts. Like a spring compressed and released, the feminine’s diminishment (in Phase 2) sets in motion a chain of events which propels her beyond her starting point (the initial equality of Phase 1, and the current crown of man’s stature). In Rav Shneur Zalman’s own words:
“In the future, this crown of superconscious lights that man received from mother will instead come from woman [i.e., his wife]. She, who had previously been below him in stature, will now surpass him, and their roles will reverse. She will be holding their higher lights and he will receive his portion from her.”
And so here, now, Esther is the one with greater access to the King, and Mordecai gains entry via her queenly connections, as the verse states, “Mordecai came before the king, for Esther explained who [Mordecai] was to her.” Esther also now becomes a source of superconscious flow for Mordecai. She pulls the lights from above (i.e., from the King) and transfers them to Mordecai, as the verse explicitly states: “King Achashverosh gave Haman’s estate to Esther the queen… And Esther set Mordecai over Haman’s property.”
Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Avichail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority… And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book. (ME 9:29-32)
Esther wrote the sages that they should make the Megilla an authoritative text to be read on Purim as a permanent obligation, and that it should be written like a Torah scroll. The sages refused for two reasons: 1) They feared the story would provoke a backlash of anti-Semitism, and 2) The Torah forbids adding new commands, and/or layers of Scripture beyond the original three (Torah, Deuteronomy, and Prophets).
Esther convinced them to fulfill her request. She explained that writing the story of how the Jews defeated the Hamanites actually fulfilled the positive command (#189) “to remember the nefarious deeds of the Amalekites” (Exodus 17:14). When the Torah states this obligation “to remember,” it continues with a further request to: “Write it in a book” (Exodus 17:14). Esther argued that the Megilla was simply fulfilling the Torah’s command “to remember…and to write…” (since Haman was an Amalekite, and the Megilla reminds us of his “nefarious deeds.”) Since both the writing and the reading of the Megilla were Torah directives, argued Esther, the sages were not free to compromise based on what the gentiles might think, and there was no worry that a mitzvah was being added to the Torah. The sages concurred, and also attested that the Book of Esther was written with prophetic inspiration (ruach hakodesh). (Me’am Loez 9:29)
Esther and Mordecai wrote the Megilla together, but Esther’s name is mentioned first, for her contribution was more essential than his. The parts that she added turned the historical chronicle into an eternally relevant teaching tale. (Alshich)
Esther further became a source of light and influence (משפיע) to the sages of Israel. She presented an halachic proof that convinced the Sanhedrin to enshrine the Purim story as an official holiday that would be observed by the Jews of every generation forever more.
And it is this festival, Esther’s holiday, that is the only one we will continue to celebrate in the World to Come. The messianic and post-messianic bliss is nothing but the pleasure of man and woman finally meeting “face to face, core to core, cell to cell.” Yet this can only be when they have finally grown “completely equal.”
If only we could integrate this truth into our bones: The rising of the feminine is a win-win situation. Its consummate union of equals is everyone’s joy. This perfect marriage has been our (perhaps unconscious) yearning for six thousand years, and from its realization flows all the promised blessings of the world to come.
Let it be that on this holy Purim fest, when the lights of Esther’s crown stream through the world, that we “taste and know,” if just for that precious moment, how sweet it is to meet our Maker, Master, and Cosmic Soul-mate Face-to-face and Core-to-core. And may the feminine in all her myriad guises be cleansed, honored, heartened, and redeemed by that light. And may the masculine, with all his blessed strength, roll up his sleeves and get to work raising the feminine, inside and out, for that’s the only way to bring Mashiach NOW.
ME = Megilat Esther
MRE = Midrash Rabba Esther
TB M – Talmud Bavli, Mesechet Megila
KW = Kabbalistic Writings on The Nature of Masculine and Feminine
 Sarah Schneider, Kabbalistic Writings on The Nature of Masculine and Feminine (KW), First edition, Aronson Publ.; current (3rd) edition SSV Publications (available at website below).
 Ecclesiastes (קהלת) 5:14.
TB Megilla 10b, ספר הפליאה – ד”ה טצ”ץ ט תשעה, צ תשעים, ץ ט. ;מדרש אבא גוריון פרשה א האריז”ל – ספר פרי עץ חיים – שער ר”ח חנוכה ופורים – פרק ו’
The Talmud says that the word king only refers to HaShem when it is not followed by the proper name of Achashverosh. The Midrash says that whenever the word king appears (even followed by Achashverosh) it also refers to HaShem.
 הארי”זל עץ חיים – שער מעות הירח א’ (Ari, Aytz Chaim, Hechal Nukva, Shaar Miut HaYareach, chapter 1; Sarah Schneider, Kabbalistic Writings on The Nature of Masculine and Feminine, pp. 52-98.
 The words man and woman, when italicized, refer to the archetypal masculine and feminine, and not to male and female human beings who are much more complicated than their archetypal counterparts.
“God created Adam in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female He created them…And the Lord God formed Adam of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul…And the Lord God said, It is not good that the Adam should be alone; I will make him a help to match him…And the Lord God made Adam fall into a deep sleep, and he slept; and He took one from his sides, and closed up the flesh. And the side, which the Lord God had taken from Adam, made he a woman, and brought her to the Adam. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.” (Gen. 2:20-23)
 The passage above (footnote 6) contains an inconsistency. Its first verse describes Adam as both male and female.
God created Adam in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female He created them.
This treats the word “Adam” as a generic term, like “human being,” that includes both genders. Translated thus, the verse reads, “G‑d created human beings in His image, with male and female genders He created them.”
And yet, shortly thereafter the Bible comments that Adam is alone and seeks a mate, for there are no other human beings around, and none of the animals feels like a soul partner:
And the Lord G‑d said, “It is not good that Adam should be alone; I will make him a help to match him…” And Adam gave names …to every beast of the field; but for man there was not found a help to match him.
This passage clearly suggests a contrary interpretation, that “Adam” is a single creature and not a species comprised of two (or more) individual members. Otherwise he would not be alone. But if Adam is a single entity what does the first verse mean when it states, “male and female He created them”?
Reconciling this discrepancy, Tradition teaches that the first human being was an androgynous creature like a Siamese twin, with male and female halves joined at the back. HaShem then caused an anesthetic sleep to descend upon this bi-gendered Adam and surgically severed its halves, creating two separate and free-standing entities called Adam and Eve.
 האריז”ל – ibid; KW, p. 73.
ותכלית גידול שלה, הוא שיהיה בה כל הי”ס שלה, ותהיה עם ז”א פב”פ שווה לגמרי, וישתמשו ב’ מלכים בכתר א’, שהוא מה שקטרגה הירח כנודע.
 Nesira is actually a gradual process that proceeds throughout the whole course of a relationship. The couple meets as best they can, face to face, but there are layers of each that are hidden even to themselves, let alone to the other. These parts remain back to back until the consciousness of the individuals (and of the couple) permeates there and then they begin their journey of turning which starts with nesira. See Ari’s model of the 10 stages of nesira that occur between Rosh HaShanna and Yom Kippur.
האריז”ל – ספר פרי עץ חיים – שער ופורים
 MRE 4:6.
 MRE 1:1.
 TB Chulin 139b.
 Song of Songs 7:6.
 See footnote 3.
 רמח”ל – קלח פתחי חכמה – 135.
 MRE 4:12.
 הארי”זל עץ חיים – שער מעות הירח א’.
 Rav Yehuda Ashlag, HaSulam, commentary on Zohar 3:157a; KW p. 99-135, 124.
 In trying to relate this graph to real life, there are many clues suggesting that “diminishment” coincides with the period in women’s lives when they are most intensely involved in their child bearing, and child rearing responsibilities. Only one of these hints is mentioned here.
 האריז”ל – ספר עץ חיים – שער מעוט הירח – פרק א’; KW, p.70.
ואמנם גידול המלכות אינה אלא ע”י אמצעית ז”א עצמו, כי אמא עלאה כאשר גדלה אותו, נתנה בו כח עוד גידול להמלכות. ואח”כ יצאה בחי’ גידול זה של המלכות…גם כן, עד תכלית הגידול שבה, שהוא עד שתשלם גם היא לי”ס שלימות שבה.
 KW, p. 225-268, 257; ר’ שניאור זלמן – תפילת לכל השנה- 138-139
 אבל הנה לעתיד כתיב אשת חיל עטרת בעלה הרי בחי’ מ”ל שנק’ אשת חיל תהיה עטרת לבעלה שהוא ז”א ונמצא בחי’ העטרה שעטרה לו אמו ביום חתונתו בזמן מ”ת הנה לעתיד יבא לו העטרה זאת דוקא מבחי’ מלכות הנק’ מקבל מפני שאור המלכות תתעלה אז למעלה מעלה מבחי’ ז”א לפי שנעוץ סופן בתחליתן כי סוף מעשה דוקא עלה במחשבה תחלה וכמ”ש ביאור דבר זה במ”א באריכות.
 TB M 7a; [Yerushalmi, Megillah 1:5], Tirath Kesef (Salonika, 1736) by R. chaim Avraham Gatigno; Me’am Loez 9:29.
 פירוש האלשיך ז”ל – משאת משה על אסתר – פרק ט פסוק כט
…לזה אמר, דע איפה כי גם שמרדכי לא עשה עיקר מסיפור המגילה ולא כתב רק מאיש יהודי כמו שכתבנו על פסוק ויכתוב מרדכי את הדברים האלה, אך אחרי כן ותכתב אסתר את כל תוקף, הוא כל מיני תוקף המלך, שהוא מויהי בימי אחשורוש עד איש יהודי, כי שם יש מיני תוקף רבים כאשר הזכרנו. וזהו רבוי האת ורבוי הכל. וזאת עשתה אסתר והסכים עמה גם מרדכי. וזהו שלא נאמר ויכתבו אסתר וכו’ ומרדכי וכו’, וגם הקדים הכתוב את אסתר למרדכי מה שלא עשה כן בפסוק שאחר זה כי אם הקדים את מרדכי. אך הוא כי בזה היא התעוררה בדבר בעצם בראשונה, ואחריה מרדכי נמשך, וזהו ותכתב אסתר המלכה בת אביחיל ומרדכי היהודי את כל תקף:
 Yerushalmi Megila, chapter 1; Yad, end of Megilla.
 See footnote 4.