Rebbi Shimon ben Yochai told his students that the Jews in the generation of the Megillah were threatened with destruction because they bowed down to the statue erected by Nevuchadnetzer. Why are the Jews of the entire realm slated for destruction because of something that happened 45 years earlier? At the beginning of Galut Bavel the Jews felt saddened about being in exile (איך נשיר את שיר ה על אדמת נכר…אם אשכחך ירושלים). Only 45 years later they saw themselves as Babylonian Jews, not as exiles and felt they had to compromise and bowed down. This, according to Rashbi, was the turning point.
The Megillah describes Mordechai as a Yehudi and a Yemini: i.e. in Shushan there was one Jew who represented what once was – the longing for Tzion, the פליטת סופריהם. Mordechai didn’t bow just like Chananyah. Mishael, and Azariah had in the previous era.
Delivered at the OU Israel Center, March 19, 2019 (12 Adar II 5779)