Achashverosh and the Evil of Neutrality

The Rabbis conclude that Achashverosh was a man of contradictions (Esther Rabbah 2:3). But they didn’t leave it at that. When it comes to evaluating him morally, they didn’t mince words, going so far as to say that he was no different than Nebuchadnezzar, the cruel and evil Babylonian king who destroyed the First Temple (Megillah 11a). At first, this would seem to be over the top. It is true that Ahashverosh had agreed to the annihilation of the Jewish people, but the text does not show him to have desired to do this out of hatred for the Jews. Just the contrary, when he finds out that Esther is Jewish, it does not seem to present any obstacle whatsoever to Achashverosh’s affection for her. He seems just as easily convinced to adopt a pro-Jewish policy at the advice of Esther and Mordechai as he was convinced to adopt an anti-Jewish one by Haman. When it came to the “Jewish question,” he seemed to be completely neutral. So how could he be as bad as the man who destroyed the Temple? For more, go to the Jewish Press.

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