Many of you might know that one of the central commandments of the holiday of Purim is to get inebriated. Believe it, or not, it’s actually true. As it says in the Talmud, “one should drink until the don’t know the difference between Mordecai (good) and Haman (evil).”
Now, don’t get too judgy, judgy, excited or mad – you still have to be 21, to refrain from driving, do it once a year, and you must not endanger yourself or anyone else – but it’s true, nonetheless.
And, frankly, it’s still a bit shocking to call it “a mitzvah/commandment.”
Have no fear, however, even the fun moments are teaching moments and Purim has a lot to teach us – particularly about getting drunk.
In Judaism, money isn’t evil. Anger isn’t forbidden. And, alcohol is just fermented fruits and grains – nothing wrong with that. It isn’t bad, it isn’t good, it just is. It’s what we do with the grapes, how we act because of them that makes it good or bad. We learn in the Talmud, “A person’s nature can be recognized through three things: their cup, their purse, and their anger.” This is to say you can learn a lot about someone by watching what they spend money on, what angers them and, in the case of Purim, what they are like when they are drunk. This Purim, or this Saturday night (one and the same this year), or any Purim, or any Saturday night, take a moment and think about that beer, that shot, that glass of wine you are about to drink.
I’m not telling you to drink it. I’m not telling you to refrain. You are all adults . It’s your choice.
Just think about what you are doing. Think about why you are doing it. And most of all think about who you are when you drink.
How do you act?
What are you like?
What mask do you take off?
What mask do you put on?
What man, or what woman, shows up within you when the grapes come out?
Happy Purim and enjoy your fermented fruits and grains – if you partake. Rabbi B
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