Annual Purim Post

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There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is no mitzvah to get drunk on Purim.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

27 comments

  1. Or to drink.

  2. Don’t be that guy

  3. Did you write this while drunk?

    🙂

  4. I hold like the Rema in Shulchan Arukh (who follows the Rambam). There is a mitzvah to drink a little wine and take a nap. That’s my kind of mitzvah!

  5. To be more precise the Rema is following the Maharil. If you compare the two (Rambam & Rema) you will say that they are similar but not the same.

  6. Gil, you would, wouldn’t you?

  7. As you know very well, many poskim hold that there is a mitzvah to get drunk. If you feel there is a sociological need to follow certain shitos over others, despite big poskim who say you do have to get drunk, say so. But do not categorically assert that there is no mitzvah to get drunk.

  8. Nice try, but see the Rif, Tur, Beis Yosef, Bach, Shulchan Aruch, Chacham Tzvi, Yad Efraim, etc. And I can’t prove it, but I think the Rambam is on my list and not on the side of the killjoys. So if you had written “According to some poskim, there is no mitzva to get drunk on Purim,” you would have been closer to the truth.

    As with all mitzvot this has to be done responsibly.

  9. gil you would, wouldn’t you?

  10. “As with all mitzvot this has to be done responsibly.”

    I understand what it means to drink responsibly. I don’t understand what it means to get drunk responsibly.

  11. carlos,

    You are wrong regarding the beis yosef, he concludes his discussion by calling drunkedness a great aveira. The Bach, however, does say that it is a mitzva to get pretty plastered – but not too plastered.

  12. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim. There is a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim.

  13. Not only is there a mitzvah to get drunk on Purim, but it used to be common to get drunk on every shabbos also. (See eg rashi to rosh hashanah).

    PS
    (Ctrl-H can fix many errors quickly).

  14. Let’s put “mitzvah” aside for a minute. Does anyone think it’s a good idea to get plastered on Purim?

  15. Carlos: Your characterization is incorrect. Rambam is not on your side, neither is the plain meaning of the Shulchan Aruch. There is a teshuva in the Mikadesh Yisroel, the Satmar Dayan, that goes through all of the sources on both sides — of which there are many — rather soberly (pun intended), and concludes that, l’ma’aseh, one should get drunk.

    The point of my post was that Gil’s statement was unfair, and I stand by that.

    Whether it is a good idea is another story. There is no question that Chazal didn’t think much of drunkenness (see the midrash Rabbo on Naso). On the other hand, it is been argued by great people that a limited and controlled outlet for frivolity is needed for most people, and Purim allows this within halakha.

    I’m not saying yes or no, but this is not a monolithic question.

  16. This was not a “some say this and some say that” post. This was me saying halakhah le-ma’aseh DO NOT GET DRUNK on Purim (or any other day). I stand by that statement even if there are some who disagree.

  17. “On the other hand, it is been argued by great people that a limited and controlled outlet for frivolity is needed for most people, and Purim allows this within halakha.”

    To have frivolity you have to get DRUNK??? Gil didn’t say don’t have a drink or two (other than adolescents, I would add); he said don’t get DRUNK. There is a difference.

  18. Gil:

    “This was me saying halakhah le-ma’aseh DO NOT GET DRUNK”

    This blog is la-halakhah ve-lo le-ma’aseh. Consult your rabbi before following any practices advocated here.

  19. Eskimo–

    I was making the identical point that you were making.

    As for the Rambam, I said I cannot prove what side he’s on (as a result of my lack of knowledge), but I think anyone saying the Rambam means what the Rema actually says needs to justify himself.

    As for the shulchan aruch, can you explain why you think the “plain meaning” is other than what I said?

  20. Joseph Kaplan–

    You and I may have different definitions of drunk. I would define it by how much alcohol one has imbibed, and I get the impression you would define it based on how people act under the influence. So for me, it is fine to drink quite a bit, but one cannot get out of control. This is no chiddush, it is in the chayeir adam and quoted by the biur halacha and is probably in other sources I haven’t seen. If a sine qua non of being “drunk” is acting like an idiot or worse, I agree with you and with Gil.

  21. We certainly do have different definitions. Here are a few standard definitions: “intoxicated with alcoholic liquor to the point of impairment of physical and mental faculties.” “being in a temporary state in which one’s physical and mental faculties are impaired by an excess of alcoholic drink” “having the faculties impaired by alcohol.” “overcome by alcoholic liquor to the point of losing control over one’s faculties.” etc. etc. Under these definitions, do you think it’s a mitzvah, or wise, to get drunk on Purim?

  22. Joseph Kaplan–

    If one follows the warning of the chayei adom, yes. If one is not capable of or willing to follow the chayei adam, then I agree one should not become intoxicated. Whether one can do this depends on the individual and how much he drinks.

  23. R’ Eskimo,
    Thank you for the reference to Mikadesh Yisra’el. Barukh Hashem, it is available. Here’s the link:
    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=9667&st=&pgnum=312

  24. Interestingly, on p. 293 of the Mikadesh Yisra’el (siman 330), we have an allusion to R’ Joseph Kaplan sagacious guidance to temper one’s enthusiasm to drink wine with a healthy sense of moderation. There, the author accidentally transposes the word “Chanukah” in place of “Purim”, illustrating the effects of intoxication.
    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=9667&st=&pgnum=321

  25. I have been around yeshivos and thousands of “imbibers” over the last 25 Purim’s, and I can attest to the behavior that so impressed Mama Jean.

    MINDLESS PURITY

    Rabbi Avi Shafran
    I’m hesitant to put my Mama Jean story in writing. There’s so much improper imbibing on Purim, so much regarding of “lib’sumi” (to become tipsy) as license instead of mitzvah.

    But the story’s too good, and its message too meaningful, to leave unshared.

    “Mama Jean,” as she liked to be called, was the cook in a small yeshiva where I studied many, many years ago. She was a very large, very jovial, very middle-aged ethnic Italian from “the other side of the tracks.” While she was serving us pasta with meat sauce, her son was serving a life sentence in San Quentin.

    Her first year with the yeshiva brought revelations to both us and her. We learned about fresh oregano. And she learned about strange Jews. How they could feast so incessantly on Sabbaths and holidays, eating odd things like cholent, and how they suddenly ate nothing at all on fast days.

    When Purim was imminent, we thought Mama Jean should be prepared for yet a new strangeness. Gingerly, we told her about breaking the fast after Taanit Esther, about the festivities of that night and the next day, about the festive meal, about how some might be drinking a bit more than they otherwise might. She wasn’t fazed and not only prepared a royal spread (and special punch) for the yeshiva but watched the singing and dancing from the kitchen throughout the day.

    It was a wonderful Purim, what I remember of it. What I clearly remember, though, was an early morning later that week. My mind is sharpest in pre-dawn hours, and I had entered the yeshiva’s beis medrash, or study hall. well before morning services.

    Expecting an empty room, I was startled to see a formidable form sitting on the floor before a bookcase at the back of the hall. Mama Jean was oblivious to my arrival, deeply engrossed in an English holy book that had been on a shelf.

    When she sensed my presence, she was startled, and I apologized. “But Mama Jean,” I said, “What are you doing here?”

    She stood up and smiled sheepishly. “Avi,” she said. “I’m thinking about becoming Jewish.”

    Mama Jean struck me as an unlikely convert (and, to the best of my knowledge, never became one).

    “Why?” I asked, sincerely curious. “Purim” was her response.

    Her elaboration has remained with me for decades since. “Over my years,” she explained, “I’ve seen a lot of people plenty drunk. But I’ve never seen so many people so drunk… without a single fight.” All that she had seen at the yeshiva, she explained, was friendship, joy, laughter, tears, and religious devotion.

    Mama Jean, I realized, had sensed what the rabbis of the Talmud teach: that a person’s true character is evident in “his cup”—in how he acts when intoxicated. She had perceived Klal Yisrael.

    The Talmud (Shabbos, 88a) teaches that something was missing when our ancestors received the Torah at Mt. Sinai, something only supplied centuries later by the Jews in Persia at the time of Mordechai and Esther.

    Because the revelation at Sinai involved an element of coercion: “G-d held the mountain over the Jews’ heads like a gigis (a barrel).” Explains the Maharal: The powerful nature of the experience, the terrifying interaction of human and Divine, left no opportunity for true free choice.

    And for years that “coercion” remained a moda’ah, a “remonstration,” against the Jewish People. Until the Purim story. Then, the Jews chose, entirely of their own volition, to perceive G-d’s presence where it was not obvious at all. Instead of seeing the threat against them in mundane terms, they recognized it as G-d’s message, and responded with prayer, fasting, and repentance. And by choosing to see G-d’s hand, they supplied what was missing at Sinai, confirming that the Jewish acceptance of the Torah was—and is—wholehearted, sincere and pure.

    When I think of my early morning conversation with Mama Jean, I think of the Talmud’s image of G-d “holding the mountain over their heads,” and, especially, of the phrase “like a barrel.” What’s with that? Is a mountain overhead not frightening enough? Who ordered the barrel?

    A gigis, however, throughout the Talmud, contains an intoxicating beverage.

    In Pirkei Avos, we are taught not “to look at the container, but at what it holds.” I suspect that advice may apply here. The Jewish nation’s reaction to coercion may not reveal its truest nature; what does, though, is how we express our dedication in a state of mindless purity.

  26. I wonder how people manage to reconcile the opposing opinions on the matter. Some say there is a Mitzvah to get drunk – Mitzvah d’Rabbanan; others that it is an aveirah – D’Orayssa.

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