Esther 6:4. Question 1. Why does Achashverosh need to know who is in the courtyard?

ד וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ מִי בֶחָצֵר וְהָמָן בָּא לַחֲצַר בֵּיתהַמֶּלֶךְ הַחִיצוֹנָה לֵאמֹר לַמֶּלֶךְ לִתְלוֹת אֶתמָרְדֳּכַי עַלהָעֵץ אֲשֶׁרהֵכִין לוֹ

4. And the king said, “Who is in the courtyard?” And Haman came to the courtyard of the king’s inner house to say to the king to hang Mordechai on the tree that he prepared for him.

  • In keeping with the immediately preceding dialogue, the Alshich translates this verse differently. According to him, Achashverosh was asking, “Who in my court is responsible for distributing rewards?”
  • In a more mystical answer, R’ Moshe David Valle explains that, in Heaven, H-Shem first invites the accusing angel into His vestibule before the angel makes his case.

Esther 6:3, Question 3. Why do the officers use the word imo (“with him”) in regard to Mordechai?

  • As we shall see in the next verse (Esther 6:4), Haman was on his way to the king. According to Tehilla l’Dovid, the officers used the word imo (“with him”) in regard to Mordechai instead of using his name so that Haman would not know that he is on the brink of losing power.

  • The Me’am Loez writes that the officers were saying that rewards were indeed given, but not to the one deserving them.

  • It is also said in name of the Chacham Tzvi that the Talmud (Sotah 11b) teaches that when Yosef’s brothers showed Yaakov the shirt they removed from their brother, they said “is this your son’s shirt?” (Bireishis 37:32) without mentioning Yosef’s name. Yaakov realized from their subconscious inability to say his name that they hated him, and hinted to his knowledge that they were responsible for Yosef’s disappearance. From this, the Chacham Tzvi writes that Achashverosh’s advisers used the pronoun imo instead of naming Mordechai because they hated him.

  • In a speech once before the Polish Parliament, a famous anti-Semite said, “we’ve done enough for the Jews.” R’ Meir Shapiro responded that this statement helped clarify our verse. It is enough for the Jew to be left alone by the gentiles. Therefore, Achashverosh’s advisers were telling the king that he had performed the greatest deed for Mordechai – he did nothing for him, thereby leaving him alone.

Esther 6:3, Question 2. Why do Achashverosh’s youths answer his question?

  • Despite their natural fear of critiquing a monarch, Achashverosh’s advisers had the added restraint of having seen the paranoid king dispose of Vashti. The Talmud (Megillah 16a) clarifies that Achashverosh’s officers did not respond out of a great love for Mordechai, but a great hate for Haman.
  • The Ben Ish Chai traces their motivation to the suspicion that Haman fathered the advisers’ illegitimate children.
  • According to R’ Dovid Feinstein, this hate was motivated by the very jealousy Esther had hoped to inculcate among Achashverosh’s advisers by inviting Haman to the party.
  • The Maharsha proves that the advisers did not act out of good feelings toward Mordecahi by pointing out that the advisers used the general, diminutive word davar (“thing”) instead of the honor and glory Mordechai deserves.

Esther 6:3, Question 1. Why does Achashverosh ask regarding both honor and greatness?

ג וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ מַהנַּעֲשָׂה יְקָר וּגְדוּלָּה לְמָרְדֳּכַי עַלזֶה וַיֹּאמְרוּ נַעֲרֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ מְשָׁרְתָיו לֹאנַעֲשָׂה עִמּוֹ דָּבָר

3. And the king said, “What did I do of honor and greatness to Mordechai on this?” And the king’s youths from his officers said, “You did not do to him a thing.”

  • According to the Alshich, Achashverosh asks regarding both honor and greatness because Mordechai deserved both; honor to show the public that Mordechai saved the king which would potentially convince the Achashverosh’s people to save him as well, and superiority over the king’s other advisers in order to get good advice from him in the future.