Esther 1:1, Question 3. Why does the verse utilize the present tense of the verb “hamolech” (“he rules”) instead of the past tense?

The Talmud (Megillah 11a) teaches that the word “hamolech” indicates that Achashverosh was a self-made king. There is discussion as to whether or not this can be seen as a positive or negative indicator of his character. In other words, he is either a “rags to riches” hero or an upstart who didn’t deserve his position. The question remains: why does the present tense indicate that Achashverosh was self-made? Malbim writes that the use of present tense is due to Achashverosh’s rule occuring so fast, starting from when he was a mere commoner. It happened so fast, that nobody remembered which land he conquered first – they only knew that he rules now.

I would like to dedicate this blog today to the memory of Avraham Baruch ben Mordechai (Abe Sonabend) on his yahrzeit today (5 Kislev). He was a great man, a Holocaust survivor, and the memory of his firm handshake reminds me to never give up, and to dream big.


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