The Gemara wonders, where is Haman in the Torah? Rashi explains the question is this: “where is it hinted at in the Torah that Haman will be hanged?” The Gemara answers in the words hamin ha’eitz.” The Gemara then wonders, “where is Mordechai hinted at in the Torah?” Rashi explains the question is this: “where is it hinted at in the Torah about the greatness of Mordechai?” In the words “mor d’ror” which Onkelos translates, “mira dachya.” Rashi explains that by the parsha of the Ketores – the good smelling fragrance, it states, “b’samim rosh, the top fragrance.” So too the Tzaddikim and Anshei Kneses HaGedolah are called “Rosh,” since they are on the top, they are the greatest in Klal Yisrael.
The Maharal explains that Haman was from the offspring of Amalek whose strength is from Samael the rasha, who rode on the snake and convinced Chavah to eat from the eitz hadaas. Because Chavah ate from the eitz hadaas it brought death into the entire world. So, too, this was with Haman; he was prepared and ready to bring destruction and death to the entire Klal Yisrael. Since Klal Yisrael is the main purpose of the world, it is as though he wanted to bring destruction and death to the entire world. Haman’s strength was the mazal maadim, as the gematria of the word Haman, his name. The Gemara brings that someone who is born during the hour of the mazal maadim, it is known that he will spill blood. He will end up being either a blood letter, a thief who kills, a butcher, or a Mohel; someone who spills blood. The name Haman is hinted at in the words hamin ha’eitz, since his entire essence was to destroy and bring death to the world.
Mordechai, however, was the exact opposite of Haman. He stopped the death from coming to the world. This is hinted at in the words “mor d’ror”, which is the first fragrance mentioned by the Ketores. The Ketores is something which saves from plagues and from death and from the angel who is appointed over death. So, too, it is with Mordechai: he is hinted at with the Ketores, since he too stopped the destruction and death of Klal Yisrael.
In Parshas Korach, Moshe commanded Aharon to perform the avodah of the Ketores to atone for the nation, and thus stop the plague. Why was the Ketores specifically used? Rashi explains Yisrael were complaining and talking bad against the Ketores claiming that it is poison. Because of it, Nadav and Avihu died, and 250 men were burnt. Hashem said, “See, Ketores holds back plagues, rather it is sin that kills!” So too, was with Mordechai. The Gemara brings that the Yidden in Shushan benefited from the feast of Achashverosh, and everyone besides Mordechai bowed to idolatry; therefore, there was a decree to kill them. Mordechai caused Klal Yisrael to come together b’achdus, and fast and daven, and repent. Hashem listened to our tefilos and saved us.
Let us remember that sins cause bad decrees, and may we repent and return to Hashem with sincerity.