The Jewish festival of Purim is known to be a joyous holiday, full of celebration and feasting. What some may not know is that it also carries with it an interesting and unique mitzvah – “eat, drink, and be merry”. This unusual obligation involves drinking alcohol to the point of intoxication but, as always, in moderation.
The origins of this tradition lie in the story of Esther, which tells of how Haman plotted the destruction of all Jews. Through the bravery and courage of Esther, the Jews were saved from harm. To commemorate their deliverance from such peril, Jews are commanded to celebrate and take part in feasting and drinking on Purim day. As Rabbi Shmuel Honigwachs wrote in Torah Musings: “To express our joy at being saved from death we must allow ourselves to become slightly intoxicated…This must be done responsibly”.
It is important to remember that getting drunk on Purim is not simply an excuse for revelry – it serves an important purpose. By reaching a state where one’s inhibitions are lowered or even removed, one can more fully appreciate just how close the Jews came to annihilation at the hands of Haman. Moreover, this act brings attention to how much suffering was endured by Jews throughout history – something we should never forget.
The mitzvah also implores us to take care of those less fortunate than us who cannot afford to feast or drink during this holiday season. Food gifts should be given with extra generosity so that everyone can partake in the joyous occasion. The Talmud prescribes giving two portions (double for special occasions like Purim) so that even poor people have something with which to rejoice.
Purim is a reminder that despite all odds, Jews have managed to survive throughout history due in large part due to their strength and resilience as a people. Therefore let us embrace our obligation wholeheartedly – get drunk responsibly but merrily! Let us come together as a community and celebrate our survival with hope for better days ahead!