Although we have learned that it is forbidden to give presents to pagans on the holidays that honor their gods, Rav Yehudah and Rava both taught that such gifts can be given if it is known that the non-Jew is not an idol worshipper.
Our Gemara relates the following story, illustrating this point:
Rava once sent a present to the local governor, Bar-Sheshak, on a pagan feast-day, saying, “I know that he does not worship idols,” but upon paying him a visit, he found him sitting up to his neck in a bath of rosewater while naked harlots were standing before him. Bar-Sheshak said to him, “Have you Jews anything this pleasurable in the World to Come?” Rava replied that the Jewish religion has even finer than this. Bar-Sheshak asked, “What can possibly be finer than this?” In response Rava answered that in the World to Come there will be no fear of the ruling power for Jews, while he still lives in fear of the ruling power. Bar-Sheshak argued that in his position as governor he has no fear of the ruling power.
While they were sitting together, the king’s courier arrived with the message, “Arise, the king requires your presence.” As he was about to depart – and recognizing how prescient Rava’s words had turned out to be – Bar-Sheshak said to Rava: “May the eye burst that wishes to see evil of you!'” To this Rava responded, “Amen,” and Bar-Sheshak’s eye burst.
The Gemara continues with Rav Papi saying: Rava should have answered him by quoting the passage in Sefer Tehillim(45:10) that princesses would serve the Jewish People in the next world. Rav Nahman bar Yitzhak said: Rava should have answered him by quoting the passage in Sefer Yeshayahu (64:3) that indicates that the reward of the next world is beyond what any human being can possibly imagine.
The political system in Persia was similar to a feudal system, which gave the local governor free reign and independence in the areas under his control, which is why Bar-Sheshak’s immediate response was that he feared no man.