Sunday, March 24, 2019

Are We Really Supposed To Drink On Purim? By Rabbi David Brofsky a  review for next year and Simcha Torah

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works  with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money,  and spiritual engagement

Accentuate The Positive

Consciously make an effort to fill your mind with positive thoughts. Practice focusing on the hundreds of positive aspects of your life. Be aware of your ability to see, talk, walk, etc.

Thoughts always keep racing through your mind, so gently keep your focus on all the positive details of your life. Realize that you are the one who chooses what thoughts to dwell on. Choose those thoughts which enhance your life.

I know Purim is over, but here are some thoughts to ponder for Next Year and for Simchat Torah this year when some of the drinking issues come up again.

Love Yehuda Lave

Are We Really Supposed To Drink On Purim? By Rabbi David Brofsky

The Talmud (Megillah 7b) states that in addition to eating a festive meal on Purim day, a person is "obligated to become intoxicated…until he cannot distinguish between 'cursed is Haman' and 'blessed is Mordecai.'" The Gemara then relates the following story:

"Rabba and R. Zeira ate the festive Purim meal together. They got drunk, and Rabba slaughtered R. Zeira. The next day, Rabba prayed for him, and R. Zeira was resurrected. The next year, Rabba said to him, 'Let us hold the festive Purim meal together.' R. Zeira replied, 'Miracles do not occur every hour.'"

Did Rabba really slaughter R. Zeira? The Maharsha argues that Rabba certainly did not kill R. Zeira; rather, he forced him to drink excessively, which made him ill. The Maharsha suggests that the Gemara uses the unusual term "shachtei" ("slaughtered") to illustrate what Rabba did to R. Zeira's throat – he coerced it to drink.

Interestingly, the Baal HaMa'or (Megillah 3b; see Ran, ibid.) cites Rabbeinu Efraim who explains that the Gemara mentions the story of Rabba and R. Zeira to illustrate why one shouldn't become inebriated on Purim. Accordingly, the Baal HaMa'or rules that there is no obligation to drink on Purim.

Many other Rishonim, however, including the Rif (ibid.) and Rosh (Megillah 1:8), cite the Talmudic passage about drinking on Purim verbatim, implying that drinking is mandatory and that the Gemara did not mean to disapprove of its initial statement by citing the story of Rabba and R. Zeira.

The Rambam (Hilchos Megillah 2:15) writes that one "should eat meat and arrange a meal according to his means, and drink wine until he becomes inebriated and falls asleep as a result." According to some Acharonim, the Rambam evidently maintains that a person fulfills his obligation by drinking until he falls asleep. The Aruch HaShulchan (Orach Chayim 695:3) writes that according to the Rambam, the story of Rabba and R. Zeira serves to modify the extreme obligation first proposed by the Gemara. In other words, while one should become mildly intoxicated on Purim, excessive inebriation is not mandated – and, indeed, not permitted.

The Orchos Chayim (Hilchos Purim 38) also rejects the notion that one should become completely inebriated, and writes that one should merely "drink more than one is accustomed." He adds that becoming completely inebriated constitutes a serious sin.

The Tur and Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 695:2) cite the Talmudic passage verbatim. The Rema, however, cites the Rambam, and concludes: "Regardless of whether a person drinks a lot or a little, he should focus his heart toward the heavens."


Which Beverages Should One Drink on Purim?

According to those who maintain that one should consume some measure of alcohol during the Purim meal, is there a "preferred drink" one should consume? Some Rishonim explain that drinking on Purim commemorates the feasts of the Purim story, which included indulgence in wine. Thus, a person should drink wine at the meal (not vodka or scotch, for example).

Rashi (ibis. 7b, s.v. "livsu'mei") and the Rambam (Hilchos Megillah2:15) explicitly mention drinking wine, and some (Mishneh Halachos 5:83) argue that these sources indicate that one should preferably use wine to fulfill this mitzvah. Some also note that Tehillim 104 states: "wine gladdens the heart of man."

R. Moshe Sternbach (Mo'adim UZemanim 2:190), however, writes that although a person should preferably drink wine during the meal – since the obligation to have a "mishteh" indicates that wine is required – he may also drink other alcoholic beverages if he enjoys them.


Concerns Regarding Drinking on Purim

Acharonim raise different concerns regarding this mitzvah, one of them being the danger that a person's inebriation may interfere with him properly fulfilling mitzvos. For example, R. Avraham Danzig (Chayei Adam 155:30) writes that a person who believes that drinking on Purim will interfere with performing a mitzvah – such as bentchingdavening Minchah or Maariv, or acting like a mentch– he is better off not drinking.

Someone who is intoxicated is allowed to recite Birkas HaMazon(Shulchan Aruch 185:4), but the Shulchan Aruch (99:1) states clearly that a person should only pray "if he is able to speak before the King." If not, the Shulchan Aruch says, "his prayer is an abomination, and he must repeat his prayer when the wine is removed from him."

Others express great concern regarding the drinking itself. The Orchos Chayim (ibid.), for example, writes that full inebriation is certainly prohibited, "and there is no greater sin, as it leads to sexual impropriety, bloodshed, and other sins."

Interestingly, the Talmud (Bava Metzia 23b) states that one may alter the truth regarding "puraya," which is traditionally understood as referring to private sexual matters. The Maharsha, however, explains that this term refers to drinking on Purim. He writes that "the Rabbis would customarily prevaricate, saying that they could not distinguish [between 'cursed is Haman' and 'blessed is Mordechai'] even if they were not inebriated enough and could distinguish."

Apparently, one should not feel pressured to become inebriated, and may even lie if necessary to avoid drinking, as was the practice of many great rabbis.



Unfortunately, in recent years, drinking alcohol on Purim has led to many people placing themselves and others in dangerous. Rabbis, medical professionals, and Hatzolah volunteers annually warn of the dangers associated with excessive drinking, including alcohol poisoning, car crashes, and inappropriate behavior. Rabbinic organizations such as the OU and the Agudath Israel have also issued statements calling for people to be careful in distributing alcohol on Purim and especially driving while intoxicated. Yet, excessive and improper consumption of alcohol continues in yeshivahs, college campuses, shuls, and communal gatherings.

It is important to emphasize that whatever the mitzvah of drinking on Purim may be, halacha strongly discourages one from becoming inebriated other times of the year. In addition to specific prohibitions relating to issuing halachic rulings (Eruvin 64b), entering the Mikdash (Kerisus 13b), and davening while intoxicated, numerous sources sharply criticize and even prohibit becoming completely inebriated (see Sanhedrin 70a; Tanchuma, Shmini 5; Rambam, Hilchos De'os 5:3; and Orchos Chayim, ibid.).

An improper understanding and observance of drinking on Purim may have contributed to a very dangerous misunderstanding of drinking in general, and so it is incumbent upon communities to emphasize the dangers of excessive drinking.

The Beur Halacha concludes his discussion of drinking on Purim by citing the following comments of the Me'iri: We are certainly not commanded to demean ourselves through joy, as we are not commanded to engage in a celebration of frivolity and nonsense, but rather joy that brings about love of G-d and thanksgiving for the miracles that He wrought for us.

The Purim festivities are meant to publicize the great miracle of Purim, to celebrate the renewal of our kabalas haTorah (kimu vekiblu), and to bring us closer to G-d. It is crucial that the manner in which we observe Purim enable intense and sincere religious devotion, and not, G-d forbid, frivolity and sin.

Keeping Purim Reasonable

We seem to forget that for many, Purim is a very stressful time because of all the expenses.

Furthermore, the Rambam in Hil. Megilah 2:17, says that we should be more generous with Matanot La'Evyonim (gifts to the poor) rather than Mishloach Manot or Seudat Purim. 

The Rambam in Hil. Megillah 2:16 that Purim is a day of giving to the poor and that should be the focus of our expenses of the day.

So, how can one save money over Purim and yet still fulfill our obligations?

Seudat Purim:

One should have meat and wine, but if you can't afford it one just needs to eat a meal with bread to bench over and say 'Al Hanisim'.

The Rambam in Hil. Megillah 2:15 says one only needs to have a Seudah that he can afford and there is no need to do more than that.

Mishloach Manot:

You need to give 2 separate types of food to one person. Can be a drink and biscuit for instance.

The food needs to be theoretically be included in the Seudah.

Matanot Le'Evyonim:

Need to give 2 manot – food  or money to 2 people.

The value of what you give each person should be around 20 shekels.

Machazit Ha'Shekel:

Nowadays around 22 shekels.

The Great Secrets of PURIM and Life, by R. Shlomo Carlebach

Grab a friend (or ten), light a candle, turn down the lights, open your heart, turn up the volume and listen :) This is a compilation of the most amazing teachings of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach on Purim and Life.

Q & A: Can You Eat The Purim Se'udah At Night?

By  Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Question: Can a person eat the Purim se'udah at night if he will be traveling on Purim day?




Answer: The Mechaber (Orach Chayim 695:1) writes: "If a person makes a Purim feast (se'udah) at night, his obligation is not discharged."

What is the source of the obligation to eat a se'udah on Purim? Megillat Esther (9:17-19, 22) mentions "yemei mishteh v'simcha – days of drink and rejoicing." For festivals like Sukkot we are commanded: "vesamachta bechagecha – you shall rejoice in your festivals" (Deuteronomy 16:14). Our sages (Pesachim 109a) state, "Ein simcha elah be'basar…be'yayin – There is no real rejoicing without meat and wine." It seems logical to say that the words "yemei mishteh v'simcha" in Megillat Esther also imply meals with meat and wine, but the Sages do not say so.

The Rema (Orach Chayim 695) writes: It is a mitzvah to make a festive meal on Purim, and one discharges this obligation with one meal. The Rema refers us to the Tur (Orach Chayimad loc.), who cites no Talmudic source for this requirement.

The Bach (Orach Chayimad loc.) notes that the Talmud (Megillah7b) states that Rav Ashi was sitting before R. Kahana (others say Ameimar) on Purim and asked, "Where are the rabbis? How come they are not in the study hall?" The response he received was that perhaps they are eating the Purim se'udah.

From this incident, the Bach states, we see that one is permitted to eat the Purim se'udah at the expense of the mitzvah of talmud Torah. Eating the se'udah renders one as an osek b'mitzvahshepatur min hamitzvah – one who is busy with a mitzvah and is therefore free from having to perform another mitzvah. This incident is also the Talmudic source of the requirement to eat a se'udah on Purim.

The Gemara (Pesachim 68b) notes that Numbers 29:35 states, "Bayom ha'shemini atzeret t'hiyeh lachem – On the eighth day shall be [an assembly] for you" while Deuteronomy 16:8 states: "u'bayom ha'shevi'i atzeret laShem Elokecha – and on the seventh day shall be [an assembly] to Hashem your G-d." Which one is it? Are we celebrating "lachem" or "laShem" – for us or for G-d? The Gemara answers that every festival should be divided – half in the service of Hashem (prayer and study) and half in rejoicing with feasts.

R. Yosef adds that everyone agrees that Purim also requires "lachem– for you" – i.e., a festive se'udah – since Esther 9:22 states: "yemei mishteh v'simcha – days of drink and joy."

As we noted, the Rema states that one is only required to have one se'udah on Purim. The Mechaber (ad loc. 695:1) cites Rava (supra Megillah 7b) and rules that if a person ate a Purim se'udah at night, he has not discharged his obligation. The Rema adds that at night, there is somewhat of a mitzvah to eat a se'udat Purim.

The Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. sk3) writes that if Purim falls on Sunday, one should feast on Motzei Shabbat – even if one ate a full Se'udat Shlishit – although not as much as on the day of Purim.

The Rema (ad loc. Orach Chayim 695:2) states that our custom is to eat the se'udah after Minchah, and Ma'ariv should be prayed at night. In other words, one should eat the meal between Minchahand Ma'ariv – i.e., late afternoon, not when it is practically night as some people do. If one starts so late, the bulk of the se'udah winds up being eaten on Shushan Purim.

He also notes that when Purim falls on Friday, one should eat the Purim se'udah in the morning in deference to the Friday night Shabbat se'udah.

The Mishnah Berurah (ad loc.) writes that we don't usually make the se'udah in the morning on a non-Friday because we are busy with the mitzvot of the day – Megillah, charity, mishlo'ach manot – and these can take until Minchah to complete.

The Rema cites the Terumat Hadeshen who writes that a person may eat the se'udah in the morning even if Purim doesn't fall out on a Friday. Thus, if for some reason a person must travel on Purim afternoon and is not sure he will reach his destination in time to make the se'udah there, it would see that he may eat an elaborate meal of meat and wine, in the morning. (A simple breakfast of cereal and milk would obviously not suffice.)


The Writings of Rav Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane HY"D

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 695:2) brings down as law the words of our sages' in Megillah (7b): "A man is required to mellow himself (with wine) on Purim until he cannot tell the difference between 'cursed be Haman' and 'blessed be Mordechai'". Many fine Jews have pondered this somewhat bizarre utterance, and have given different explanations.

Is the phrase teaching us that we should get absolutely "plastered" on Purim, to the point where our minds cannot distinguish properly? It seems odd that the sages would encourage such a thing. After all, Purim, like any other holiday, is intended to convey to the Jew certain IDEAS. Since one of the central ideas of Purim is the struggle between good and evil; between Mordechai and Haman - why would the sages want to muddle and obscure these concepts? Furthermore, the expression, "to mellow oneself" does not connote that one should be "rip-roaring drunk," and certainly it is not likely the sages would endorse such a state of mind.

Our teacher, Rabbi Kahane, HY"D, offers a powerful explanation to this question. The point is not that one should drink until he becomes confused and says, "Cursed be Mordechai", G-d forbid. Rather, he should understand that there is no difference between blessing Mordechai and cursing Haman, between blessing the righteous man and cursing the evil one. Both are mitzvot. It is a mitzvah to FIGHT and CURSE the evil-doer precisely the way it is a mitzvah to BLESS the righteous man. The two are equal, complementing one another.


Let us develop this idea. It would not be a shocking revelation if we said that Jews in our generation, as well as in past generations, have a serious problem with the concept of cursing and hating evil. Despite the fact that this subject is a central part of Judaism, permeating the Tanach, Mishnah, Talmud, and halacha, for all kinds of reasons it is difficult for Jews to internalize the need for the burning out of evil, and the hating of the evil-doer. It is a hang-up we are familiar with from the days of King Saul (who in his misguided mercy spared Agag the Amalekite, which eventually brought upon us the episode of Haman!!!!!) - until this very day, where mercy on enemies and murderers has brought us to the brink of tragedy.

For the record, Queen Esther did not fail in this area. After the first day of Jewish vengeance against their enemies, Achashveirosh asked her if she had another request. She answered: "If it please the king, let it be granted to the Jews who are in Shushan to do tomorrow also according to this day's decrees, and let Haman's tens sons be hanged upon the gallows." In other words, Esther did NOT have the galut complex of taking pity on a fallen enemy. On the contrary - she requested that the Jew-haters be killed one more day.


When the sages tell us that we should not distinguish "between cursed is Haman and blessed is Mordechai", they are coming to tell us: You are required to mellow yourselves with wine, so that you will not hesitate to come to the full understanding that the concept of "Blessed is Mordechai" is EQUAL to the concept, "Cursed is Haman". That is, HATRED OF EVIL IS NO LESS IMPORTANT OR FUNDAMENTAL THAN LOVE OF GOOD, AND THERE IS NO ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER. Purim is the time to elevate ourselves in our thinking. Precisely by getting a little tipsy on wine, we can remove the usual inhibitions and hesitation, which commonly prevent us from cursing and hating evil!

The Rav has taught us something tremendous. Purim is NOT a holiday of drunken confusion and chaos, or for casting off our heavenly yoke. On the contrary. Purim is the day to cast off the HYPOCRISY of our everyday lives, and to sever ourselves from the phony self-righteousness which causes us to not want to condemn the wicked. Getting mellow or tipsy on wine straightens us out. If foreign, un-Jewish concepts permeate our thoughts all year round, on Purim we reveal our authentic, uninhibited selves. Without apologies, without "the mercy of fools" (as termed by the Ramban); without being "more righteous than our Creator" (as the midrash depicts Saul when he refuses to kill Agag).

May we merit to be whole in our attributes, and to internalize our understanding that the war against evil is part and parcel to the goal of bringing good to the world. 

See you tomorrrow, please have a great week even though Purim is over

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

2850 Womble Road, Suite 100-619, San Diego
United States


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