The Mitzvah to get drunk on Purim

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Lebesumei-Getting drunk on Purim:[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]] Other Poskim[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 lean on the allowance of sleep.[12]] [See Q&A for Chabad custom]

 

Q&A

Does the Rebbe’s decree against drinking more than a Revius of Mashkeh apply likewise on Purim?[13]

The Rebbe decreed against drinking more than a Revius of alcohol for anyone under the age of forty.[14] In some Sichos[15] the Rebbe applied this decree also to drinking on Purim. In other Sichos[16] 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.[17] [Practically each person is to seek advice with his Asei Lecha Rav, and whichever one does he should do for the sake of heaven.[18]]

 

Q&A on to “Who is obligated”

Does this Mitzvah apply to women?[19]

No.

 

Does this Mitzvah apply to children who reached the age of Chinuch?[20]

No.

 

Must one drink if doing so is detrimental to his health?[21]

No.

Q&A on “What to drink”

Must one get drunk on wine, or are other alcoholic beverages also valid?[22]

One fulfills his obligation with any form of alcohol.[23] Nevertheless it is best to get drunk on wine, as the main miracles of Purim took place through wine[24], and so is mentioned in a number of Rishonim[25]. Some[26] write one is to drink white wine, as white wine gives joy.

 

Q&A on “When to drink”

When on Purim is one to fulfill the Mitzvah of “Lebesumei”?

The Mitzvah is to be fulfilled during the day, by the Purim meal.[27] Nevertheless this Mitzvah applies throughout the 24 hours of Purim, and when it is fulfilled during this time it is considered as if one fulfilled it throughout Purim.[28]

Purim night: Some sources[29] imply that one is to fulfill the Mitzvah of “Lebesumei” also by the night of Purim.

Must one get drunk prior to sunset on Purim?

Seemingly one is to reach this state prior to sunset, as is the time frame of fulfillment for all of the Mitzvos on Purim. However according to those Poskim[30] that allow eating the main part of the meal past sunset, seemingly they would hold that this Mitzvah can likewise be fulfilled after sunset.

 

Q&A on “How much to drink”

The meaning behind not knowing the difference between Haman and Mordechai:[31]

Many explanations have been given on this matter:

1.       Some[32] explain one is to literally drink to the point that he confuses between Baruch Mordechai and Arur Haman.” Likewise, based on Kabala[33] one is to drink to the point that he actually says Baruch Haman instead of Arur Haman.[34] Othersthe statement is literal, it is fulfilled through drinkinga dn then falling asleep.[35] explain that while the statement is literal, it is fulfilled through drinkinga dn then falling asleep.

2.       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.[36]

3.       Some[37] explain one is to drink to the point that one cannot differ between the entire phrase of “Arur Haman, Baruch Mordechai, Arurah Zeresh, Berucha Esther, Arurim Kol Hareshaim, Beruchim Kol Hayehudim.”

4.       Some[38] 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.

5.       Some[39] 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.

6.       Some[40] 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.

7.       Some[41] 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.  

 

A continuous Mitzvah throughout Purim:[42]

Possibly the Mitzvah of “Lebesumei” is a constant Mitzvah that can be fulfilled throughout the 24 hours of Purim. Now although one is certainly required to be sober for large portions of the day in order to fulfill the Mitzvos with “knowledge”, nevertheless when one fulfills his obligation one time on Purim it is as if he is fulfilling his obligation throughout the 24 hours. This is similar to the Mitzvah of Daled Minim on Sukkos in which according to some opinions one fulfills the Mitzvah throughout the entire day when he does the Mitzvah once.

 

Sparks of Chassidus & Kabala

Drinking “Ad Delo Yada” helps refine the evil of Amalek:[43]

One is to drink to the point that he actually says Baruch Haman instead of Arur Haman. 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. The holy spark within it then becomes refined. If however one blesses Haman before he becomes drunk then he gives the Kelipos even more life.

Commemorating the Bittul:[44]

Just as in the times of the Purim miracle we served Hashem in a manner that surpasses intellect and reason, with utter Mesirus Nefesh[45], similarly on Purim we drink wine and fall asleep thus leaving our state of reason. The state or revealing our Yechida, of being above and beyond our limitations of reason in our Avodas Hashem, reoccurs every year on Purim, and is reached through the drinking of wine which takes us out of our limitations. Each year we re-experience the completion of the acceptance of the Torah on Purim through going above and beyond our intellectual limitations.[46]

 

[1] Michaber 695:2; Tur 695:2 “One needs to get drunk/Shikur until…”; Rava in Megillah 7b “Rava stated: One is obligated to get drunk on Purim until he no longer knows the difference between blessed is Mordechai and cursed is Haman”; See Bach 695; Beis Yosef 695; Darkei Moshe 695:1

[2] Wording in Michaber ibid; Tur ibid; Megillah ibid; 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 2:15 Beis in name of Ravayah 564, brought in Bach 695 and 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 ibid; Tur ibid; Rava in Megillah ibid

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] Opinion in Rama ibid; Mahariy Brin, brought in Darkei Moshe ibid; Ran Megillah 3b, in name of Rabbeinu Efraim, brought in Beis Yosef and Bach ibid; Baal Hamaor, brought in Bach ibid; Kol Bo; Maharil; Rambam Megillah 2:15 “One is to drink wine until he gets drunk and falls asleep”; Orchos Chaim Purim 38, brought in Beis Yosef ibid, “This command of the Gemara is not to become drunk, as getting drunk is a severe prohibition and there is no greater sin than it, as it leads to adultery and murder and other sins, rather one is to drink slightly more than usual”; Bach ibid concludes “According to this opinion, one is only exempt from drinking to the point of drunkenness that he deos not know the difference between Baruch Mordechai and Arur Haman, however, certainly one is obligated to drink more than one is used to so that his heart be rejoiced. He should get drunk to the point of Shikur or Shasuiy that he cannot talk before the king, however, he is to remain in bhis right mind.”  

The source from the Talmud: This opinion understands that the conclusion of the Gemara ibid 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 695:2; Bach ibid; Beis Yosef ibid; 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 Otzer Minhagei Chabad 211-214; Kuntrus of “Gezeiras Hamashkeh Bepurim” by Rav Nachmonson

[14] This decree was instated on Shabbos Mevarchim Iyar 1923 as a result of a certain negative occurrence. The decree was applied to even wine and even towards the wine of Kiddush [to only drink a majority of the cup]. The Rebbe spoke numerous times about the decree and how it must be upheld. At times the Rebbe spoke very harshly against those that don’t abide by the decree. The decree is recorded in the following Sichas: Shemini 1963; Balak 1964; Shmini 1964; Yud Beis Tamuz 1965; Noach 1927; Naso 1968; Shavuos 1968; Dvarim 1980; 13th Nissan 1982; Ki Sisa 1984; Balak 1984; Mikeitz 1985; 12th Teves 1987; Vayakhel 1988; Ki Seitzei 1988; Hisvadyos 1991 Vol. 4 p. 298.

[15] Sichos Kodesh 1965 2 p. 241 “….and Purim”; Sichos Kodesh 1937 p. 687; See Hiskashrus 189; Heichal Menachem 3:258; Otzer ibid 214

[16] Sichos Kodesh 1963 p. 282: “I do not want to apply the decree to Purim”; Sichos Kodesh 1964 p. 231: “Everyone should take more than 3 Lechaims today because it is Purim”; Sichos Kodesh 1979 p. 263; Hisvadyos 1991 Vol. 4 p. 298: “One is to drink with the known decree, as after all today is not Purim”

[17] See Kuntrus of “Gezeiras Hamashkeh Bepurim” by Rav Nachmonson

[18] See Toras Shalom of the Rebbe Rashab that Mashkeh is not meant for all people, and those which are not a proper receptacle for it are forbidden in taking it, as is the law that an ignoramus may not eat meat.

[19] Mishnes Yosef 695; Nitei Gavriel 73:4

[20] Nitei Gavriel 73:4

[21] Shaareiy Teshuvah 695:2 in name of Chacham Tzevi

[22] Piskeiy Teshuvos 695:3; Lehoros Nasan 9:22

[23] As the Poskim do not mention the opinions which require wine, hence inferring they hold all alcoholic beverages are valid. [Nimukei Orach Chaim 695:4]

[24] Hisorerus Teshuvah 3:491

[25] Rashi comments on the words of the Gemara Megillah [7a] “to get drunk” that it refers to wine. The Rambam [Megillah 2:15] rules “one is to drink wine until he falls asleep”. It is likewise mentioned in the Rokeiach [237] and Ridbaz [1:462] Kisvei Arizal [Peri Eitz Chaim Shaar Hapurim chapter 8]

[26] Machzor Vitri 2:465 [p. 583]

[27] 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.”; Nitei Gavriel

[28] Likkutei Sichos 3:916; 7:20; Toras Menachem 22 [1958] p. 120

[29] See Machzor Vitri 2:465 [p. 583] “A night of drunkenness is this night, to rejoice with wine… On this night all get drunk.” See Nitei Gavriel 48 footnote 2

[30] See Eretz Tzevi 1:121; Minchas Elezar 2:5; Darkei Chaim Veshalom 854; Shut Rama 132:5 [custom is to begin the meal close to night]; See Shulchan Menachem 3:322

[31] See Bach 695; Beis Yosef 695; Darkei Moshe 695:1; Kaf Hachaim 695:16

[32] Tzedia Laderech Mamar 4:7, brought in Bach ibid; Understanding of Bach ibid in statement of Rava that one must get drunk until close to state of Lot

[33] Shaar Hakavanos Drush Purim

[34] 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]

[35] Mahariy Brin, brought in Darkei moshe ibid

[36] Yad Efraim of Rav Margolis

[37] Tosafus Megillah 7b and Ran Megillah 3b, brought in Bach ibid and Beis Yosef ibid

[38] M”A 695:1; Aguda Megillah 6 and Rabbeinu Yerucham Toldos Adam Vechava 10:1, brought in, Darkei Moshe ibid, Bach ibid, and Kaf Hachaim 695:16; See Likkutei Sichos 7:20

[39] Taz 695:1 brought in M”B 695:4

[40] Kneses Hagedola 695

[41] Darkei Moshe ibid, brought in Kaf Hachaim 695:16

[42] Likkutei Sichos 3:916; 7:20; Toras Menachem 22 [1958] p. 120; See Tzafnas Paneiach Kuntrus Hashlama p. 6

[43] Shaar Hakavanos Drush Purim; Likkutei Sichos 7:20; Toras Menachem 1951 1:305

[44] Torah or “Chayav Inish” p. 96 and 99b; Sefer Hamamarim Melukat Adar p. 64 [Mamar Vikibel Hayehudim Purim 1951]; Likkutei Sichos 16:370

[45] See the section of “Shaar Haderush Vehachassidus” Chapter 1 for a full elaboration on this subject

[46] Sefer Hamamarim ibid

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