Why Doesn't Mordechai Bow To Haman?

The Viceroy: Mordechai's Hidden Story

Rabbi David Fohrman
Rabbi David Fohrman

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One of the big questions in Mordechai's story – the point when we lean forward in anticipation – is why does he refuse to bow to Haman? We read in the Megillah how the palace servants approached Mordechai with this very question – but he doesn’t reply. He keeps it a mystery.

It’s easy to assume that Mordechai doesn’t bow to Haman, the viceroy who demands fielty, to avoid being idolatrous, or because Mordechai was a Jew. But the Megillah doesn’t actually confirm these details – and that raises the question: What is Mordechai’s side of the story really about?

In this video, Rabbi Fohrman suggests that Mordechai’s actions had less to do with idolatry than objecting Haman’s power grab in loyalty to the king. Rabbi Fohrman dispels common explanations by showing that bowing, itself, isn’t idolatrous, that the story of Haman’s wearing an idol is not actually in Biblical text, and connecting the narrative to that involving Potiphar’s wife. Follow his journey through the story of Mordechai as he uncovers the answers.