Drinking Ad Delo Yada-The obligation and meaning


Lebesumei-Drinking alcohol:[1]
Men are obligated[2] to get drunk [on wine[3]] on Purim to the point they cannot differ between “blessed is Mordechai and cursed is Haman”.[4] [This is included within the Mitzvah of Seudas Purim.[5]] Others[6] however rule there is no need to drink alcohol to this point, and it rather suffices to drink slightly more than the norm and then sleep.[7] Whichever opinion one decides to follow[8], whether he drinks more or drinks less, his intentions are to be for the sake of heaven.[9] One who estimates that his getting drunk will lead him to frivol behavior, or to transgress Mitzvos[10], he is not drink to this point.[11] [Practically the Rebbe stated that those that are able to be cautious and fulfill the Mitzvah in its literal sense are to do so, and not rely on the allowance of sleep.[12]]

The meaning behind not knowing the difference between Haman and Mordechai:[13]

Many explanations have been given on this matter:

  1. Some[14] explain one is to drink to the point that one cannot differ which kindness from G-d is greater; the fact that he blessed Mordechai or the fact he killed Haman.
  2. Some[15] explain it means one is to drink to the point that he cannot calculate the numerical value of the two statements. As Baruch Mordechai and Arur Haman are the same numerical value of 502, and thus when one can no longer calculate this matter he has fulfilled his obligation of drinking.
  3. Some[16] explain this means that one is to drink to the point that he forgets the order of “Baruch Mordechai and Arur Haman”. Meaning he forgets which statement precedes the other.
  4. Some[17] explain that in the times of the Sages of the Gemara there was a custom to have a chorus with the words Baruch Mordechai and Arur Haman, each person having their part in the chorus. Thus, one was required to drink to the point that he forgot his part in the chorus.
  5. Based on Kabala[18] one is to drink to the point that he actually says Baruch Haman instead of Arur Haman.[19]
  6. Some have a tradition that one is meant to get drunk close to the point of not knowing the difference between “Arur Haman” and “Baruch Mordechai”, but not actually until this point.[20]

Summary of the Purim Seuda:

  • It is a Mitzvah to eat a lavish and festive meal on Purim. This Mitzvah is a Biblical command, as rejoicing on Purim is from the words of Scripture which has the same power as the words of Torah. One fulfills his obligation through eating even a single meal on Purim day.
  • When? It is an obligation to eat one festive meal on Purim during daytime. One does not fulfill his obligation with a meal eaten the previous night, and certainly not with a meal eaten on Motzei Purim. Customarily, it is eaten after an early Mincha. One is to beware to eat the majority of the meal while it is still day.
  • Learning prior to meal: Prior to commencing the meal, one should learn words of Torah, as this protects him from any damage occurring to him during the meal. [It is proper to learn Mishnayos from Tractate Shekalim before the meal, and Tractate Megila after the meal.]
  • The menu: It is a Mitzvah to have delicacies and festive foods eaten during this meal. It is best to wash on bread for this meal. It is a proper custom to bake bread on Erev Purim so one have fresh bread available, just like is the custom on Erev Shabbos. It is disputed whether it is an obligation for one to eat [animal] meat during the Purim meal however according to all it is a Mitzvah to do so. One is to eat grains and legumes, in commemoration of the Zaronim which Daniel ate in Bavel. It is customary to eat a triangular shaped pastry filling called Haman-Tashen. One is to gather his family and friends for the Purim Seuda as it is not possible to rejoice alone.
  • Getting drunk: Men are obligated to get drunk [on wine] on Purim to the point they cannot differ between “blessed is Mordechai and cursed is Haman”. Some rule there is no need to drink alcohol to this point, and it rather suffices to drink slightly more than the norm and then sleep. Whichever opinion one decides to follow, whether he drinks more or drinks less, his intentions are to be for the sake of heaven. In some Sichos the Rebbe applied the decree to Purim as well. In other Sichos the Rebbe said the decree does not apply to Purim. After a thorough analysis of each source it seems the Rebbe’s opinion leans to apply the decree to Purim as well. [Practically each person is to seek advice with his Asei Lecha Rav, and whichever one does he should do so for the sake of heaven.]
  • The Mitzvah of drinking wine is to be fulfilled during the day, by the Purim meal. Seemingly one is to reach this state prior to sunset, as is the time frame of fulfillment for all of the Mitzvos on Purim. One fulfills his obligation with any form of alcohol. Nevertheless it is best to get drunk on wine, as the main miracles of Purim took place through wine.
  • Birchas Hamazon: In the grace after meals one adds Al Hanissim. If the meal extended into the night one is to nevertheless recite Al Hanisim in his Bentching. If one Davened Maariv prior to Bentching he no longer says Al Hanissim in Bentching. [Thus one is to avoid Davening Maariv prior to Bentching in order so he be able to Al Hanissim.] If one forgot to say Al Hanissim and has finished Bentching he has nevertheless fulfilled his obligation and does not need to repeat Birchas Hamazon. If he remembered before reciting Hashem’s name in the blessing of “Al Haaretz Veal Hamazon” then he is to go back to Al Hanissim. If however one has already recited Hashem’s name, then if one has not yet concluded Birchas Hamazon, he is to recite “Harachaman Hu Yaaseh Lanu Nissim Viniflaos Kemo Sheasa Laavoseinu Bayamim Haheim Bezman…Bimeiy Mordechai”, in the orders of Harachmans which are recited.
  • May one Daven Maariv or Bentch if he is drunk? One may say all blessings even if he is very drunk to the point he cannot speak before a king. Initially one is to recite Birchas Hamazon prior to becoming drunk to the point one cannot speak before a King. If one did not do so, then [if he became satiated from the meal] he is to bentch even in a very drunk state. It is only forbidden to Daven under the influence of alcohol if: One drank to the point he cannot walk straight or feels extremely under the influence. If one consumed more than a Revius and feels slightly tipsy then he must Daven within a Siddur.


[1] Michaber 695/2; Megillah 7b

[2] The Gra is quoted to say one is obligated to fulfill this command up to the point that he is near death. This can be learned from the story brought in the Gemara Megillah 7b, directly after mentioning the obligation of drinking wine that Rava drank to the point that he slaughtered Rebbe Zeira by his Purim feast and later revived him after the meal. The Yaavetz [in his Siddur] testifies that his father the Chacham Tzevi would fulfill this Mitzvah in the literal sense.

Other Opinions: Some Poskim rule it is not an obligation to become drunk on Purim but it is a Mitzvah to do so. [Hagahos Maimanis Megillah chapter 2 brought in Darkei Moshe 695/1; Teshuvos Mahril 56; Nemukei Yosef Megillah 7; Olas Shabbos 695/1; Elya Raba 695/1; M”B Biur Halacha 695 “Chayav Inish”]

[3] See Q&A

[4] Michaber 695/2

The reason: The reason for this obligation is because all the miracles of Purim took place through wine. Vashti was killed due to a decision made by Achashveirosh while he was in a drunken state. Haman was killed through a feast which included wine. [Elya Raba 695/1 brought in Biur Halacha “Chayav”]

[5] Implication of order of Halachas in Shulchan Aruch; Rambam 2/15 “How does one fulfill the Mitzvah of this meal? Eat meat and drink wine until you become drunk..”; Likkutei Sichos 7/20 “The law of Ad Delo Yada is a law within the manner of how the Purim meal is to be fulfilled.”

[6] Kol Bo; Mahril brought in Rama ibid; Beis Yosef in name of Ran, in name of Rabbeinu Efraim; The Rambam [Megillah 2/15] rules “one is to drink wine until he falls asleep”; The Taz 695/2 explains that this opinion rules that the Gemara ibid in its conclusion negates the requirement of becoming drunk. This is proven from the fact that directly after bringing this requirement, the Gemara brings a terrible tragic story of how a result of this drinking Rav Zeira was killed and needed to be revived. This shows that in the Gemara’s conclusion they held it is not a positive matter to follow. [Taz ibid in name of Ran ibid]

[7] Upon sleeping one comes to a state that he does not know the difference between cursed is Haman and blessed is Mordechai. [Rama ibid]

[8] The Peri Megadim rules it is best to follow this latter opinion of slightly drinking and then sleeping, and not becoming completely drunk. [M”B 695/5] The Munkatcher in Nemukei Orach Chaim [695/4] states the custom is to follow the opinion of the Rama and drink slightly more than usual and then go to sleep. In Sichas Shushan Purim 1954 the Rebbe stated: How do we know Mordechai was a Chassid? As he instituted drinking Ad Delo Yada. Now, how would he have established such a custom if he was not a Chassid? However in order for the Olamishers to also have ability to fulfill the law, there is an opinion which allows you to fulfill the obligation through sleeping. [Toras Menachem 11 p. 146]

[9] Rama ibid

The reason: The purpose of drinking is so one reach a higher state in service of G-d and arouse one’s love for G-d. One is certainly not to drink for purposes of frivolity and simply having a good time. The obligation was certainly not referring to such an experience. [Meiri brought in Biur Halacha “Ad Delo Yada”]

[10] Such as Birchas Hamazon, washing for bread , Davening Mincha or Maariv. [ibid]

[11] Chayeh Adam 155/30 brought in Biur Halacha “Ad Deo Yada”; Shaareiy Teshuvah 695/2 in name of Amudei Shamayim that the Chacham Tzevi would not drink in his later years to the point of being drunk due to it damaging his health, and the same applies if one feels it will damage him spiritually.

[12] Hisvadyus 1989 2/454: “Those that fulfill this Mitzvah without compromise, without looking for Heterim, are greatly praised and their merit is great. May many people see and follow this example.” See Toras Menachem 11 p. 146 brought in previous footnotes. See also Otzer Minhagei Chabad 211 for various instances that the Rebbe was particular that people fulfill the Mitzvah in its literal sense.

[13] See Kaf Hachaim 695/16

[14] Taz 695/1 brought in M”B 695/4

[15] M”A 695/1; Aguda on Megillah, brought in Kaf Hachaim 695/16; See Likkutei Sichos 7/20

[16] Kneses Hagedola 695

[17] Darkei Moshe, brought in Kaf Hachaim 695/16

[18] Shaar Hakavanos Drush Purim

[19] The reason: This is because there is a spark of Kedusha which enlivens all Kelipa and when one reaches a state of above intellect, Ad Delo Yada, he is able to bless the evil in a way that it will become engulfed with Kedusha, and the holy spark within it will become refined. If however one blesses Haman before he becomes drunk then he gives the Kelipos even more life. [Shaar Hakavanos ibid]

[20] Yad Efraim of Rav Margolis

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