Alcohol on Purim
Why is there a mitzvah toget inebriated on Purim?
Rava says: A man is obligedto get inebriated(l’visumi)
until hecannot distinguish between “cursed is Haman,”
and “Blessed is Mordechai.”-Megillah7b
Whyis there a mitzvah to get drunk!? Isn’t Judiasmabout
elevating humanity, not degradingone’sself?
Whyis the word“l’visumi”used instead of the normal
Hebrew word “l’hishtakair”? What’s the difference?
“A manis obligedto get inebriatedtill hecannot
distinguishbetween“Cursed is Haman” and “Blessed is
This means one shouldn’tbe able to distinguish
between the Divine punishmentof Haman and the
great reward given to Mordechai.
VilnaGaon on ShulchanAruch O”Ch 695:3
G-d’s mercy is the source of the “bad” that happens,as
wellas the “good”.
The followingare a few examples of this fromthe
The very gallows which Haman prepared for
Mordechai were used to hang Haman himself!
Hamanadvised King Achashvairoshtokill Vashti.Andbecauseof
this, Esther becamethe Queen andsaved us from Haman!
Becauseof theJews’ participationin Achashvairosh’sgreat
feast,G-ddecreed they bedestroyed through Haman.
But it was at that feast that Vashti waskilled, setting the state for
Esther becoming Queen.
So what didthe Vilna Gaon mean when he said we
shouldn’tdifferentiate between the punishmentof
Haman and the great reward of Mordechai?
We shouldn’tsee a difference betweenthe goodand the
bad that happenbecause, as the Megillahshows, they are
bothtwo sides of the same coin.
Whydo we have to hear about the personal
Isn’t G-d saving the Jewish people from death
enough for us?
The personal rewards and punishments themselves
teach us tosee G-d’s compassionto us in the “bad” that
He does as well as the “good.”
Sowhat does it mean not to know the differencebetween
“Cursedis Haman” and “Blessed is Mordechai?”
Wemust see how G-d’s name is
punishment of thewicked (the
“Cursed is Haman”)just as much
as we seeit from the rewardof
therighteous (the “Blessedis
Now why does
the Rava say
Because “l’visumi”means not only “drunk”
but also “to sweeten.”
We“sweeten”the “bad”when we digdeepdown to
appreciatethe “good” within it.
How does wine helpyousweeten sadness and see the
goodness that comes from it?
Wine gladdensthe heart of man Psalms 104
Wine helps yourelaxand lookbeyondthe surface to see the
So if you can use wine tolet go of
your preconceived notions on
Purim andsee the sanctification
of G-d’s name in the “good” and
the “bad” equally, you have
succeeded in not differentiating
between the “Cursed is Haman”
andthe “Blessedis Mordechai”
in the world!