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As we can learn from Mordechai, one of the Purim heroes, a great person and a great leader is determined by the way he (or she!) treats the “little guys!”

In the book of Esther, which contains the story of Purim, we read how Mordechai would frequent the area where the king’s concubines were housed in order to find out how Esther was doing. Esther was one of the many women taken by force to the king when he was looking for a new queen.

Considering that Mordechai was a senior and respected figure in the Jewish community, “hanging out” in the ladies’ quarter would likely have been viewed as unbecoming of him. Indeed, it may have caused him severe embarrassment.

But he didn’t care. He wanted to know how Esther was faring in captivity. He was happy to forego his honor and dignity in order to do whatever he could to help a person in distress. Another person’s pain was his pain. The Midrash (rabbinic literature) tells us that as a result of his self-sacrifice, God told him that “since you showed concern for a single person, I will make you the leader of the entire nation.” And so it was. As the story concludes, “Mordechai the Jew was King Achashverosh’s deputy, the leader of the Jews…seeking the good of his people.”

And there’s more. According to traditional sources, Esther was actually married to Mordechai. Mordechai showed such care and concern for his wife and was rewarded with becoming the leader of the Jewish people. What a beautiful teaching!

Here we see that even small mitzvot (good deed) can lead to big rewards. Many people believe that being nice and caring about people in the outside world is all that is important, rather than what goes on inside one’s home. But the reverse is true. Perhaps the way you treat your family is more important than how you treat anyone else! A great person and a great leader is determined by the way he (or she!) treats the “little guys!”

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel

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