Esther 7:5, Question 1. Why does the verse mention Achashverosh speaking twice?

ה וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ וַיֹּאמֶר לְאֶסְתֵּר הַמַּלְכָּה מִי הוּא זֶה וְאֵיזֶה הוּא אֲשֶׁרמְלָאוֹ לִבּוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹת כֵּן

5. And King Achashverosh said and he said to Esther the queen, “Who is he? And where is he who fills his heart to do like this?”

  • According to the Ibn Ezra, Achashverosh repeats himself due to agitation and excitement.
  • The Midrash Lekach Tov says there was an implied conversation here: Achashverosh asked his guards, “who did this?” The response was, “Haman.” Achashverosh responds with, “He couldn’t have…”
  • Similarly, the Alshich writes that Achashverosh spoke twice to ask whether Esther meant him or Haman, or whether she was accusing both of them.
  • The Vilna Gaon says that he spoke twice because he was speaking about the two different topics Esther brought up, he request and her plea. Regarding the former, he was asking who would kill Esther; regarding the latter, he was asking who would kill a nation.
  • The Talmud (Megillah 16a) explains that Achashverosh would previously usually speak to Esther through an interpreter. Now that she tells him that she is Jewish, and a descendant of King Shaul – and thus also royal – he speaks to her directly, as is fitting for nobles. For all of this time, he did not respect her as an equal.
  • M’nos HaLevi adds that this interpretation also explains why the verse uses the otherwise seemingly redundant word, hamalka (“the queen”).
  • Rebbetzin Heller writes that Achashverosh spoke directly to Esther to further humiliate Haman.
  • R’ David Feinstein points out that this genealogy also explains Haman’s hate for Esther. After all, Shaul had spared Agag, and people tend to hate those to whom they feel beholden. He references the Talmud (Chullin 139b) that asks for an allusion to Haman in the Torah. It answers there that it is in the verse (Bireishis 3:11) “did you eat from the tree?,” wherein the word “hamin” (“from the”) is spelled with the same letters as “Haman.” Since this story highlights the very essence of man’s ingratitude, it is a fitting allusion.
  • Both R’ Moshe David Valle and the Brisker Rav say that Achashverosh is speaking twice because he indeed spoke twice, from both ends of his mouth – what he said to Haman while making the deal (Esther 3:9), and what he said to Esther now.
  • The Kedushas Levi quotes the AriZal’s explanation of the Talmudic idea (Sukkah 27b) that a person should see one’s rebbi on Shabbos and Yom Tov. He explains that being close to one’s rebbi allows their holiness to rub off. Based on this, the Kedushas Levi writes that even though Achashverosh hated the Jews, he seems to care about them in this verse due to the direct communication with Esther has allowed for some of her holiness to rub off on him.

Esther 3:10, Question 3. Why does the verse call Haman “enemy of the Jews” here?

  • Going along with his theory that Achashverosh was under the mistaken impression that Haman had no genocidal intentions, Malbim writes that Achashverosh’s removal of his ring, Haman’s genealogy, and even Haman’s title here of “enemy of the Jews” are all meant to describe Haman in contrast to Achashverosh, who was in no way culpable for the decree to exterminate the Jews.
  • The Vilna Gaon writes that Haman is simply called “enemy of the Jews” because he did not explicitly name the nation he wanted to kill. Therefore, the verse uses this appellation to clarify his intent.
  • According to R’ Dovid Feinstein, this phrase is meant to indicate Haman’s new role – that of solver of the Jewish Problem.
  • The GraMad (R’ Meshulam Dovid Soloveitchik) adds that this title is Haman’s only redeeming quality for Achashverosh.
  • Another reason he is called “tzorer haYehudim” (“enemy of the Jews”) is “tzorer” can also mean “binding” (see Bereishis 42:39 and Chullin 107b). Iturei Torah says that this indicates that it was Haman who bound the erstwhile “scattered and dispersed” (Esther 3:9) Jews together into a unified front at this point. Parenthetically, the reason “tzorer” can mean both enemy and binding is because, like the two definitions for the English word “rival,” one would need to be connected in a relationship with someone in order to have a deep feeling – even hate – for that person.