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From the Megillah, we read that Mordechai put on sack-cloth and ashes upon hearing of Haman's decree. Esther, alarmed to see her cousin in such a state, sends him fine clothes to put on, but he refuses them (apparently, because he is "in mourning" due to the decree against the Jewish people).

Yet later, Mordechai was compliant with the King's order to dress him up in royal robes, wear a royal crown, and be paraded about by Haman. If he were in some state of mourning, he would refuse to get dressed up in fine clothing. At this point of the story, the evil decree is still in effect, and all of the Jewish people in the empire are in jeopardy.

So, two questions:

  1. What exactly was Mordechai's rationale for not donning the clothing that Esther sent him, if not because he was in some sort of state of "mourning"?

  2. Why would Mordechai refuse to put on the clothing for Esther, yet would be fine with Haman having him do so?

I'd appreciate answers that bolster their case with citations to Midrash, Talmud, etc. Todah!

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    There is a medrash somewhere which I can't find at the moment that says that Hashem shows a siman yeshua to tzadikim before the actual yeshuah and I believe that one example of this is Mordechai's donning the bigdei malchus.
    – The GRAPKE
    Mar 2 at 5:51
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The Gra on Megilas Eshter 5:8 explains that the reason Esther requested a second wine party before she revealed her request to Achasvarosh was that she was afraid Hashem would not agree with her asking Achasvarosh to help. She was stalling to see if Hashem would send her a sign, which He did in the form of Haman leading Mordechai on the king's horse.

I think it isn’t farfetched to say Mordechai was of the same mindset and was also looking out for a sign from Hashem. So when Mordechai was told Haman is being tasked with this humiliating job he embraced it wholeheartedly.

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  • I like this insight. Can you please provide a citation to the work that you are referring to?
    – taltman
    Mar 17 at 22:49
  • It's not the answer that I was looking for, but it is an answer with a source in the rabbinical literature. Thanks!
    – taltman
    Apr 2 at 19:06
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The simple answer is that Mordechai was obeying a command from a king. The general rule is Dina D'malchusa Dina, which obligates Jews to obey the laws of the land they live in. Here the king commanded that Mordechai be rewarded, so he accepted the reward. Esther was not giving Mordechai a command as queen when she sent him clothes, so he did not have to accept.

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    This would make sense, but I see two problems. 1. According to the text of the Megillah, Mordechai had no problem with disobeying the king's command when it ran counter to Jewish belief in the case of not bowing to Haman. 2. According to the Midrash, Mordechai refused to attend the 7-day extension of King Achashverosh's feast for the people of Shushan, and directed the Jewish people to avoid it. Mordechai evidently has no fear of the king when it comes into conflict with his Jewish values.
    – taltman
    Mar 2 at 8:06
  • Ok, a third problem: what are the limits of Dina D'malchusa Dina? If Mordechai was sitting shiva (real, not symbolic, mourning), can the king command him to wear fancy clothes, ride a horse in a parade, and wear a golden crown, and Mordechai would be compelled to accept? Or should he refuse? What's the limit?
    – taltman
    Mar 2 at 8:09
  • 1. Idol worship is far more serious, even if Mordechai was allowed to bow to Haman. 2.As far as I know, the Jews were not commanded to join the feast of Achashverosh. 3. Good question.
    – N.T.
    Mar 2 at 11:10
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    If his goal was to alert people to the situation (though did he publicize Haman's part in it? I don't know), especially Esther, then he had already accomplished that and more would be gained by being publicly lauded by the king while diminishing Haman.
    – rosends
    Mar 2 at 11:14
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    @taltman There is a big difference between a general invitation to the city, which would not have obligated anyone specifically to come, and a specific honor bestowed by the king. Refusing the latter would be a tremendous insult to the throne.
    – N.T.
    Mar 3 at 9:17

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