In those days, at that time
The talkbackers in Shushan turned their backs on Mordechai. The secular Jews were complaining that “that religious guy who won’t bow down is putting us in danger.” The ultra-Orthodox warned against provokations while the Orange forces were pushing for a confrontation with Haman
“Refuse, refuse,” the Orange forces of Shushan were undoubtedly telling Mordechai the Jew, a moment before they broke out singing, “Take counsel together, and it shall be brought to nought.”
“Nothing will happen to you and to us if you don’t bow down. What can he do, that evil Haman? On the contrary. If Haman sees that you won’t surrender, he’ll cave in easily. Anyone who says that this is liable to endanger all the Jews in Shushan doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It’s not going to happen. If he stands up for himself that will make Haman look for someone else to pick on. He won’t dare to endanger his status with Ahashverosh just because some guy named Mordechai won’t bow down to him.”
“That religious guy Mordechai is putting us all in danger,” complained the secular Jews of Shushan the Capital.
“Why should all the cultural and economic achievements of Shushan’s Jews be called into question because of one fanatical Jew and his religious whims that don’t even effect everyone? We’re part of modern progressive society, and you can’t continue with anachronistic customs that are contrary to the accepted logic and manners of Shushan.
"If everyone else is bowing down, he doesn’t have to make an issue of it. Even in the religious world there are rabbis who permit bowing down for the sake of saving lives. When you religious people want to find permission to do something according to Jewish law, you find it in a flash.”
'The nationalist arrogance of Mordechai'
The ultra-Orthodox newspapers of Shushan did not remain indifferent to Mordechai’s behavior. “The nationalist arrogance of Mordechai is endangering all the Jews in Shshan the Capital. We have set up yeshivas here, and the kingdom is good to us, thank God.
And now, in the guise of keeping Jewish law, Mordechai is provoking the Gentiles and standing in Haman’s way. This is empty and dangerous nationalism masquerading as observance of Jewish law. After all, if Mordechai was really so strict about keeping the commandments he might have been a bit stricter about his relative and her personal connections, if you catch our drift. Pride is inappropriate, and let us pray for the welfare of the kingdom.”
Several months later, when there was a decree to destroy the Jews, the criticism changed direction. The Orange forces, who realized that their predictions had not come true and that the mechanism of destruction was nevertheless on its way, pointed an accusing finger at Queen Esther, and even organized a small demonstration across from her house:
“This is not the first time that our people have integrated into the political, economic, and media elites. Esther needs to remove her crown, resign, and get divorced. Let’s see them manage without people like us in the King’s court.”
The ultra-Orthodox added that once again their rabbis had been proven correct: first the knitted-kippah-wearing Jews let their daughters leave the house and “integrate” into high society, and even marry a Gentle in order “to exert their influence from the inside.”
But when they get us into trouble through dangerous provocations, they realize that their representative to the kingdom has been more influenced than influential. And the secular sighed: “They’re not just going to kill us all, now they also want us to fast for three days.”
The story of the danger facing the Jews of Shushan is also our story today, but the difference is that no one knows how our story will turn out.