In the festival of Purim, Jews celebrate not only their rescue from physical destruction, but also a victory of the human spirit.
The Book of Esther tells us that "all the king's servants who were at the king's gate were bowing and paying homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded. However, Mordecai did not bow..."
This peculiar behaviour triggered Haman's rage and led to his plan to exterminate the Jews. So why did Mordecai act like this? Was he not aware of the danger?
It seems that Mordecai was aware of the inner meaning of the situation. Haman represented something that no person of truth could have bowed to. He is portrayed in the story as a power-hungry, tyrannical egomaniac, while Mordecai cares for the dignity and welfare of all people. Mordecai understands that one must never surrender one's noble values to evil oppressors, even when one's life may be in danger.
Mordecai's victory may be a lesson to us all. Even when faced with danger, we can keep our spirits free and refuse to bow down to evil forces. We must never seek to achieve our own goals at the expense of other human beings. Liberty, justice and dignity are indivisible.
Most of all, we can learn from Mordecai to never accept fear or despair, and always keep our sense of hope for a better future. Surely, this inner freedom is worth celebrating with great joy!
Ehud Tokatly, 4/March/2004