The biblical story of Esther has three heroes: The Holy One, Blessed be He, who subtly directed the course of human events to work a great salvation for His people; the eponymous Queen Esther, whose courage and self-sacrifice made that salvation possible; and her cousin Mordechai, who prevented an assassination attempt on the King, and whose later assistance was pivotal to Esther's ascension to the throne.
The underhanded scheme to exterminate the Jews (the one plotted in Persia circa 400 BCE...it's kind of messed up that we have to narrow it down!) began when Mordechai, among all the prominent subjects in Shushan the capital, refused to bow down before the king's corrupt advisor Haman. This villain added insult to injury by wearing an idol from his neck when demanding the people kowtow to him. You see, Jews do not kneel. It's against our religion to bow before anyone but the One True King, and bringing an idol into the mix made matters that much worse. But the egomaniacal Haman took it personally. He decided that the Jews were a problem, and the solution lay in murdering every last one. (History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes.)
Mordechai the Jew was a man of principle, and integrity, and he stood up against tyranny, literally. May we all merit to follow the examples of Mordechai, Esther, and all the great heroes of generations past.
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