That night, the Prophet Eliyahu - that wonderful protector who appears in time of distress to warn the Jewish people of impending danger - appeared to Mordechai in his dream and revealed to him Haman's wicked plans.

Eliyahu further revealed to Mordechai that this menace was a punishment for the Jews' disobedience of the Torah in partaking of King Achashverosh's feast. Only complete repentance by all the Jews, he told him, could save them from Haman's sword.

When Mordechai awoke, he rent his clothes and went out into the city in mourning, weeping with a loud and bitter cry that aroused all the Jews of Shushan. The sad tidings spread throughout the city, and the Jews were filled with great and overwhelming sorrow, for they knew that they were all doomed to perish on the thirteenth day of Adar.

Clothed in sackcloth, and with ashes on his head, Mordechai came to the gate of the palace. Esther's faithful servants hastened to tell the Queen of Mordechai's great distress, and she became quite disturbed. Wishing to learn from Mordechai himself the reason for his distress, Esther sent Mordechai a change of clothing, and bade him come in to tell her what happened, for he could not enter the palace dressed in sackcloth.

Mordechai, however, refused to take off his sackcloth. Instead, he sent word to Esther through her faithful servant Hatach, with a copy of the royal decree, which was now made public in Shushan. Mordechai begged her to appeal to the King on behalf of her people.

"It is clear," Mordechai said, "that you were chosen as Queen so that you might be of service to your people just on such a fateful day. The time has come for you to reveal your nationality to the King, and to plead with him to save his loyal Jewish subjects, about whom the arrogant Haman has been deceiving him."

Esther sent word back to Mordechai: "I am ready to do all I can, dear cousin, but you surely know of the royal order, initiated by Haman, that anyone entering the King's inner court uninvited shall be put to death except when the King holds out his golden scepter. Unfortunately, I have not been in the King's favor recently, nor have I been invited to the King for the past thirty days! How can I be sure that the King will be pleased to see me, and hold out his scepter to me? Of course, I am not afraid to die for my people, but surely nothing would be gained if I shall have died in vain?"

"These are well-meaning words and sincerely spoken, my child," Mordechai replied. "But do you think that you could save yourself in the shelter of the King's palace, and see all your brethren perish? No, the Jews will be saved, but if you will not stake your life for them, you alone will surely perish! This is no time to think of your personal safety. You must take the chance, and trust in G‑d."