Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Purim Drinking

"A person should drink on Purim up to the point where they cannot tell the difference between ‘Blessed is Mordechai' and ‘Cursed is Haman.' (Talmud Megilla 7a)

What does the Talmud mean by the phrase that one "cannot tell the difference between ‘Blessed is Mordechai' and ‘Cursed is Haman?'"

On a simple level, it is just a description of a level of intoxication, a point at which one has trouble making clear distinctions between right and wrong, good and bad. On a more philosophical level, when ‘Blessed is Mordechai' and ‘Cursed is Haman’ become indistinguishable, one has grasped a higher concept that even negative things that happen are good, that they come from G-d and, in the end, make us better people.

Why do we drink on Purim?

When reading the Purim story, one sees that wine plays an important role in events that unfold:

* King Achashverosh is drunk when he calls for Vashti and when he orders her banished/killed (there are differing opinions as to her fate).

* Esther invites the King and Haman to a banquet, which the Megillah refers to as a wine-banquet.

* The Megillah describes the 14th and 15h of Adar as days of "feasting and joy," inferring that the Jews celebrated with feasts of wine.

IMPORTANT NOTICE
*While drinking on Purim is a mitzvah, risking one's life is not. Whether host or guest, it is important to be responsible: 1-DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE 2-Beware of underage drinking. While Purim is a religious holiday, and underage alcohol consumption is allowed for religious occasions, adults are still responsible for minors. Please do not give young people any alcohol beyond the bare minimum of wine, if at all. Remember, our children are deeply influenced by our own behavior.

For a more information on the holiday of Purim, please visit NJOP’s Purim pages.

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