by Moshe Feiglin
There is an interesting parallel between Pharaoh and Ahashverosh. Both absolute rulers are sure that their way is just and supreme. Pharaoh rules by force while Ahashverosh rules with the honey trap, but they have the same intentions and the results are the same. Both of them enslave Israel to their will and threaten to destroy the Jewish People. Both Moses and Mordechai ‘irresponsibly’ endanger the nation and at the beginning, make the situation worse.
“Why, Moshe and Aaron?” asks/threatens the king of Egypt. “Why disturb the nation?” You are bothering them. They, after all, are used to slavery. They were born for slavery. “Go take care of your other issues.” You are not leaders. You are private individuals.
As opposed to Pharaoh, Ahashverosh does not threaten anybody. He simply invites them all to his feast. Is it kosher? Strictly kosher. So how can the Jews show contempt for the king and refuse to attend? True, the vessels on display at the feast are the vessels from the destroyed holy Temple in Jerusalem. But why get bogged down with petty details? This is how Ahashverosh pulls the Jews along, getting them to make peace with the fact that they are in exile, encouraging them to even enjoy their status. Ahashverosh entices the Jews to revel at the feast that celebrates their acceptance of the destruction of the Temple – the palace and symbol of the kingly rule of the Creator in His World. Instead of accepting G-d’s rule, the Jews accept the rule of a mere human: Ahashverosh.
Just like Moses and Aaron, Mordechai decides to ruin the party
Mordechai is connected to Jewish destiny. He knows that the exile mentality that Ahashverosh succeeded in creating threatens the Jews’ ability to realize their destiny. He knows that without destiny, there will be no existence for the Jews, either. And so, despite the fact that no danger seems to be looming over the horizon, and strictly because of the betrayal of the Mount and the Temple, Mordechai ‘endangers’ the entire Nation (crazy, pyromaniac…) and restores the Jewish People to their destiny.
Was he crazy? Perhaps. Ben Gurion may also have been ‘crazy’ when he declared the establishment of the State of Israel. History is the judge. But the clear lesson is that the majority will always prefer to ‘manage’ with the current situation and pay for short-term stabilization of their existence in the coinage of destiny. True leadership is concerned about existence, but will never surrender or take its eyes off its nation’s destiny.
Happy Purim and Shabbat Shalom.