Mordechai's Religious Identity


Assumptions of Religiosity

Many readers of Tanakh tend to assume that its heroes and heroines were halakhically observant Jews. The text, though, generally provides little information about any individual character's observance of the commandments. Tanakh's silence may be due to the fact that the issue is often irrelevant to a story's larger message, or because the observance is simply assumed. Either way, it leaves room to wonder about the religiosity of individual figures, especially when the story line might actually imply non-observance, as in the case of Megillat Esther.

Where is Hashem?

Overt religious messages are conspicuously absent from the Megillah. The lack of Hashem's name from the scroll is well known; neither the narrator nor any of the protagonists ever mention it or attribute any events to the hand of Hashem. There is also no indication that either Esther or Mordechai even pray to Hashem after hearing of Haman's edict.1  Moreover, nowhere do either Mordechai or Esther protest Esther's being taken to the king or express reservations about her sleeping with a non-Jew.2 How should this omission of religious practice and ideals be interpreted?

Additional Questions