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Stanton St Shul Beit Midrash
Drinking on Purim
י ם ֶכי ִפ ִמ ת ַר ְכ ִנ י ִכּ סי ִס ָע ל ַע ן ִיָי י ֵתֹש ל ָכּ וּל ִלי ֵה ְו וּכ ְבוּ םי ִרוֹכּ ִש וּצי ִק ָה
Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you drinkers of wine;
wail because of the new wine, for it has been snatched from your lips. (Yoel 1:5)
Along with the 4 main requirements associated with Purim, the most common practice is to drink on Purim. The source for it is one line in the Talmud:
1. B. Megillah 7b
Rava said: It is the duty of a man to mellow
himself [with wine] on Purim until he cannot tell
the difference between cursed be Haman' and 'blessed be Mordecai'.
First, note the operative word is "ימוסבל" which Soncino translates as "to mellow." In other contexts "ימוסבל" can take on different meanings.
2. B. Megillah 7b
Said Abaye: This bears out the popular saying,
The poor man is hungry and does not know it,
or the other saying, There is always room for
sweet things. 3. B. Megillah 32a
R. Johanan: If one reads the Scripture without a
melody or repeats the Mishnah without a tune,
of him the Scripture Says, Wherefore I gave
them also statutes that were not good etc. Abaye
strongly demurred to this, saying, Because he
cannot sing agreeably, are you to apply to him the verse, 'ordinances whereby they shall not
In terms of getting drunk, the Gemara in Eiruvin provides a useful distinction
4. B. Eiruvin 64b-65a
R. Shesheth citing R. Eleazar b. Azariah
observed I could justify the exemption from
judgment of all the [Israelite] world since the day
of the destruction of the Temple until the
present time, for it is said in Scripture: Therefore :רבד לש
hear now this, thou afflicted and drunken but
Stanton St. Shul Beit Midrash: Drinking on Purim
not with wine. [Isa. LI, 21. Having been
described as 'drunken' prior to the destruction of
the Temple, Israel, still bearing the stigma,
cannot be held responsible for their actions.]
An objection was raised: The sale or purchase of an intoxicated person is valid. If he committed a
transgression involving the penalty of death he is to be executed, and if he committed one
involving flogging he is to be flogged; the general rule being that he is regarded as a sober
man in all respects except that he is exempt front prayer. [Does not this contradict the view of R.
Shesheth]? By the expression, 'I could justify the exemption' that he used he also meant
exemption from judgment [for the lack] of [devotion in] prayer.
R. Hanina said: This [The ruling that, with the exception of the duty of prayer, all intoxicated
man is in all respects regarded as a sober man] applies only to one who did not reach the stage
of Lot's drunkenness, but one who did reach such a stage is exempt from all responsibilities.
Going back to our original Gemara, we find the following narrative of two Amoraim who seemingly acted in accordance with Rava:
5. B. Megillah 7b
Rabbah and R. Zera joined together in a Purim
feast. They became mellow, and Rabbah arose
and cut R. Zera's throat. On the next day he
prayed on his behalf and revived him. Next year
he said, Will your honour come and we will have
the Purim feast together. He replied: A miracle does not take place on every occasion.
(Megillah 1:8) - Based on the Yerushalmi, Rosh defines the limit of drunkenness to being able to recite the
liturgical passage at the end of the Megillah reading.
(Megillah 564) - It's a commandment, but not obligatory. (Mitzvah, but not hiyyuv)
R. Ephraim, Ba'al Hameor, Ramban, Beit Yosef (695:1), Biur Halakha (695 sv Ad)
and others - There is an
obligation for besumei, but it's an outright prohibition to get drunk (l'hishtaker) for drunkenness leads to licentiousness,
murder, and lots of other bad things.
(Laws of Megillah and Hannukah 2:15), Ramo
(695:2), others - Drink more than usual and sleep it off.
(Laws of Purim) - In Gematria, "cursed Haman" equals "blessed Mordechai" (in Hebrew). Therefore, you drink
until you can no longer do the math.(Some people don't even need the alcohol)
Stanton St. Shul Beit Midrash: Drinking on Purim
Yasmin Sautter - Jahrgang 1957 - Seit 1998 freiberufliche Unternehmensberaterin. Ausbildung und Studium Diplom-Psychologie: Schwerpunkt Beratung und Training, Universität Hamburg Berufliche Weiterqualifikation und Ausbildung- Systemische Beratung und Therapie, Institut für systemische Studien, Hamburg- Systemische Prozess- und Projektberatung, TEMAprojekte, Hamburg- Mediation (Konfl
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