Likutei Halachos on Megillas Esther
Translated by Dov Grant
2. Pride Is the Root of All Trouble
VERSE 1:1 "It happened in the days of Achashveirosh. This is the Achashveirosh that reigned from Hodu to Cush: One hundred and twenty seven provinces".
The entire story of the holy Megillah revolves around the force of the miracle that took place and how the evil kingdom (the sitra achara or incorporation of evil forces), corresponding to the trait of pride - an aspect of idolatry - became stronger and wanted to exterminate Israel, G-d forbid. For pride is the root of all our troubles and exiles. It is the opposite of the Torah, since a person only merits the Torah through humility.
This is the meaning of "it happened in the days of Achashveirosh" – i.e. in the days of the evil kingdom, which corresponds to pride. For chazal teach us (Megillah 11a):
"[The name Achashveirosh hints to his nature:] ach (the brother) of rosh (head); the same character as rosh".
The meaning is: Anybody attached to the evil kingdom, trapped by the trait of pride, is an aspect of "the brother of rosh; the same character as rosh", where rosh/head expresses pride and self-elevation. Rosh is seen in this context, as (Tehillim 110): "He [Paroh or Sancheriv] raised his rosh/head [in boast - Rashi]". Also, (Bamidbar 24): "Amalek is the reishis (head/first) of all nations": Amalek representing the poison of the primordial snake that injects man with the evil trait of pride - corresponding to rosh/head and self-elevation. As long as someone is trapped by pride, he is identified with "the brother of rosh; the same character as rosh", the rosh/head of the sitra achara, from whom he received all of his pride.
This is the explanation of "This is the Achashveirosh that reigned from Hodu to Cush". The evil trait of pride is contained within us all - from the greatest to the least of us; we all know clearly that even the lowliest and most contemptible person has pride. Thus he "reigned from Hodu to Cush": "Hodu" corresponding to the great and important people, to "hod (magnificence), beauty and splendor". "Cush" corresponding to despicable people, disgusting by their deeds - like the Biblical character Cush, black as can be (Yirmiyahu 13): "Can a Cushi [black man – Rashi] change his skin?" Therefore the sovereignty of Achashveirosh, corresponding to reishis/ primacy and pride, reigns and is contained within us all - from the least to the greatest of us, from the self glorifiers to the contemptible. It's from here that comes all their troubles, grief and pain.
And so we learn (Megillah 10b):
'"It happened in the days of Achashveirosh" – Whenever it states "it happened in the days of" it signifies trouble.
For all troubles and suffering come by way of pride. Everyone wants to elevate himself and conduct his house above his level, through wealth and honor, as if the whole world is at his disposal, as if he will live forever.
Likutei Halachos Orlah 5:16