“When Mordecai learned all that had been done, he tore his clothes. He put on sackcloth and sprinkled himself with ashes. Then he rushed through the streets of the city, shouting loudly.
‘An innocent nation is being destroyed.’
He got as far as the king’s gate. There he stopped. No one was allowed to enter the royal courtyard clothed in sackcloth and ashes. In every province, where the king’s proclamation had been posted, there was a loud cry of mourning and lamentation, as well as fasting and weeping among the Jews. Most of them put on sackcloth and ashes.”
When Mordecai heard about the decree to eliminate the Jews, he was very upset. The typical way to express this discontent was to wear the cloth of what people carried things in, sacks. Thus we get the name of sack cloth. Secondly, they would put ashes on their head. Then he went through the streets crying out that an innocent nation was going to be destroyed. He did not go into the royal courtyard because no one was allowed in there with sackcloth on. They had to be better dressed. At the same time, the reaction in the various provinces was not much different. The Jewish people in the various exiled areas went into fasting, weeping, lamenting, wearing sack cloth and ashes on their head.