All Dressed Up: The Meaning of Mordechai’s Clothes, by David Mandelbaum

“And the Jews had light, happiness, joy, and honor” (Esther 8:7). Perhaps more interesting, and often overlooked, as we move towards the conclusion of the Purim story, is the pasuk that comes before the one quoted above: “And Mordechai exited from before the king wearing royal clothing of techeilet v’chur, a big gold ateret, a robe of butz and argaman, and the city of Shushan was jubilant and happy” (8:6). At first glance, this pasuk seems relatively normal in the context of the Jews being victorious and Mordechai proving that he was an important player in Jewish affairs as well as in town politics. But why is it important to describe the clothes that he was wearing? And why was Shushan so happy when they saw this?

Clearly there must have been something significant represented in Mordechai’s attire. There is an interesting parallel between this pasuk and one that appears at the very beginning of the Megillah. When the first party that Achashverosh throws is over, he makes a second one. The party’s decorations are cited in the story: “Hangings of chur, wool and techeilet, fastened to ropes of butz and argaman, on silver poles and marble pillars, couches made of gold and silver on the marble floor” (1:6). The Megillah uses five of the same specific and descriptive words that are found in the pasuk regarding Mordechai as well (tcheilet, v’chur, gold, butz, argaman). Additionally, the second party was only for people left in Shushan (1:5), the same city that witnessed Mordechai’s regal presentation. What does the connection between these two pesukim reveal?

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