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Beit Midrash Shabbat and Holidays The Laws of Purim

To Drink or Not to Drink?

A Halachic Analysis of Getting Drunk on Purim
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Can you feel Purim just around the corner? Who isn’t eagerly anticipating this annual Yom Tov extravaganza, featuring joyous dancing, Mishloach Manos, colorful costumes, and of course, the Megillah reading? However, for many, it is the unique mitzvah to get drunk that they are eagerly awaiting. Since Purim is described in the Megillah 1 as a day of Mishteh (referring to a wine feast) and the Purim turnabout miracle occurred at such wine feasts, there is a rare dispensation from the norm, and an apparent obligation to drink wine. 2 Hopefully, the wine will enable one to experience a sublime, spiritual Purim. 3 Yet, uninhibited drinking may also unfortunately result in catastrophic consequences. If so, what exactly is the Mitzvah of drinking on Purim?

Chayav Inish Livesumei…

The Gemara Megillah (7b) famously rules that ‘MeiChayav Inish Livesumei B’Puraya ad d’lo yada bein Arur Haman L’Boruch Mordechai’ - a person is obligated to drink and get intoxicated on Purim until he cannot tell the difference between ‘Cursed is Haman’ and ‘Blessed is Mordechai’. The simple meaning is seemingly teaching us that we must get exceedingly drunk on Purim.

Yet, as we will soon see, this assertion is anything but simple.

The very next line in the Gemara tells a fascinating story of Rabba and Rabbi Zeira who got excessively drunk together on Purim. In his drunken stupor, Rabba proceeded to kill (‘slaughter’) Rabbi Zeira. When he sobered up and realized what he had done, he davened that Rabbi Zeira be brought back to life. His tefillos were answered and Rabbi Zeira rejoined the world of the living. Yet, the next year, Rabbi Zeira refused to join Rabba for his Purim seudah, duly noting that a miracle is not a common occurrence and one may not rely on such miracles.

Although there are different interpretations of this story, with several meforshim explaining that it is not to be understood literally, positing that Rabba did not actually kill Rabbi Zeira, 4 nevertheless, many commentaries are bothered by the Gemara’s choice of words. If the ruling is that one must get drunk on Purim, then why is this story, showcasing the potential drastic and tragic consequences of such drinking, featured immediately following? What message is the Gemara trying to impart to us? Additionally, what exactly does it mean that one must drink until "ad d’lo yada bein Arur Haman L’Boruch Mordechai"? What does this enigmatic turn of phrase actually mean?

Ad D’ad D’lo Yada…

As with many other issues in halacha, the answers to these questions are not as simple as they seem. Several authorities, including the Rif and Tur, 5 when codifying this Mitzvah, do indeed use the basic understanding of the Gemara’s ruling, that one is required to get so drunk on Purim that he cannot tell the difference between ‘Cursed is Haman’ and ‘Blessed is Mordechai’, implying quite drunk.

Yet, Rabbeinu Efraim, cited l’halacha by the Ran and Baal HaMa’or, 6 rules the exact opposite! He maintains that since the Gemara tells the story of Rabba and Rabbi Zeira after the ruling of getting drunk, it is not meant exclusively as a cautionary tale detailing the evils of excessive alcohol imbibement; rather, it is coming to negate the ruling! According to this understanding, it is forbidden to get drunk on Purim!

V’lo Ad B’Chlal!

A different explanation of the Gemara is that drinking "ad d’lo yada bein Arur Haman L’Boruch Mordechai" does not actually mean getting stone cold drunk. In fact, most commentaries offer many different rationales as to the Gemara’s intent with this phrase.

Some say it means drinking until one can no longer perform the mental acrobatics necessary to be able to add up the Gematria of Arur Haman and Baruch Mordechai 7 (Hint: they both equal 502!). Accordingly, this is a much lesser degree of drunkenness. Others explain it means drinking until one can no longer decide which was a greater miracle: the downfall of Haman or Mordechai’s meteoric rise in prominence. 8 Another interpretation is to drink enough to no longer be able to recite a lengthy Purim themed Alef-Bais acrostic poem in the proper order. 9 An additional understanding is that one must get inebriated just enough to no longer be able to properly thank Hashem for the many miracles of our salvation Purim time. 10 It is clear that many authorities throughout the generations felt uncomfortable with the literal interpretation of the Gemara’s teaching to get drunk on Purim, and each one interprets the instruction as such that it does not imply one’s fully getting drunk.

Rav Manoach Hendel of Prague, 11 a contemporary of the Maharshal’s (mid 1500s), cites many of these explanations to elucidate the Gemara’s intent. Interestingly, what they all have in common is that not a single one of them understands the Gemara to mean actually getting drunk! Utilizing any of these aforementioned opinions would mean that one should definitely not be ‘getting plastered’. Rather, one should only drink a bit, somewhat more than he usually would, 12 until he fulfills one of these understandings of the dictum of ad d’lo yada.

In fact, although the Shulchan Aruch seems to imply that he agrees to the Tur’s interpretation, that one must get drunk, it must be noted that in his Beis Yosef commentary he completely rejects this approach, exclusively citing Rabbeinu Efraim and the Orchos Chaim, 13 who refers to getting drunk on Purim as ‘ain lecha Aveirah gedolah mi’zu’, the worst of Aveiros, and concludes that one should merely drink a tad more than he is accustomed to. This apparently means that when he codified the halacha in the Shulchan Aruch as drinking until "ad d’lo yada", this should be understood in the light of his writing in the Beis Yosef, and not ‘getting wasted’, as many mistakenly believe.

Just Sleep It Off

The Rambam 14 offers an alternate approach. He maintains that one must drink until he falls asleep. Meaning, if one drinks and then falls asleep he has fulfilled his Mitzvah of drinking on Purim "ad d’lo yada" without actually getting drunk. When asleep, one certainly cannot distinguish between Arur Haman and Baruch Mordechai! This also fits well with his famous ruling in Hilchos Dei’os about one who gets drunk being a ‘sinner and a disgrace’.

The Rema 15 when codifying the proper amount to drink on Purim, combines both of the latter approaches: drinking somewhat more than one is accustomed to regularly, and then going to sleep.

So…What’s the Halacha?

Many contemporary Gedolim personally followed the Rema’s shittah, including the Chofetz Chaim, the Steipler Gaon, and Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. 16

It should be noted that several prominent authorities who do rule that one should actually get drunk, including the Ya’avetz, Sha’arei Teshuva, Chayei Adam, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, and Kaf Hachaim, 17 add an important caveat. If one might come to be lax in the performance of even one other Mitzvah, such as Netillas Yadayim, Bentching or Davening while drunk, they all maintain that it is preferable not to drink at all, to ensure that all of one’s actions remain l’sheim shamayim.

The Pri Chodosh cites several opinions regarding drinking on Purim and concludes that already in his time several hundred years ago (late 1600s), with society’s decline over the generations, it is proper to follow the opinion of Rabbeinu Efraim, and only drink a small amount more than usual. This way one will be certain not to chas veshalom unwittingly transgress any prohibitions, and result in receiving blessings from Hashem. Not a daas yachid, the Pri Megadim, Aruch Hashulchan, and Mishna Berura 18 all rule like the Pri Chodosh l’maaseh.

If this was the case several centuries ago, how much more relevant is the Pri Chodosh’s prophetic words nowadays, with teen alcoholism on the rise and not a year going by without hearing horror stories about the tragic results of excessive drinking on Purim? In fact, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l 19 decried the leitzonus and zilzul that unfortunately has replaced Simcha shel Mitzva and become the norm among many, due to extreme intoxication. And, more recently, Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky has publicly stated that "it is an Aveira to get drunk on Purim". 20

In the final analysis, whichever opinion one follows, it seems that Hatzolah has it right with their annual Purim message: ‘Don’t get carried away this Purim!’ 21 22

This Shiur is published also at Rabbi Kaganof's site




^ 1.Esther (Ch. 9: verse 19 and 22).

^ 2.See Abudraham (Hilchos Purim), Rokeach (237), Shu"t Radbaz (vol. 1: 462), Elyah Rabba (Orach Chaim 695: 1), Chayei Adam (vol. 2, 155: 30), Tzror Hachaim (Haderech Hashmini, Midrash L’Purim pg. 120 - 121), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (142: 6), Aruch Hashulchan (Orach Chaim 695: end 6) and Biur Halacha (695 s.v. chayav). This is also the basic understanding of Rashi’s commentary (Megillah 7b), who simply translates livesumei as getting drunk with wine . Similarly, the Rambam (Hilchos Megillah Ch. 2: 15) only mentions drinking wine. However, there are those who maintain that one need not get drunk exclusively with wine. See Gilyonei HaShas (Megillah 7b s.v. meichayav), Shu"t Hisorerus Teshuvah (vol. 3, Orach Chaim 491), and more contemporary, Mikraei Kodesh (Purim, 44: in the footnotes), Orchos Rabbeinu (vol. 3: Purim, 92, pg. 56), Shu"t Rivevos Efraim (vol. 1, 395: 2; vol. 3, 465: 1; and vol. 7, 360: 1), Shu"t Mishnah Halachos (vol. 5: 83), Shu"t Mishnas Yosef (vol. 4: 50), Shu"t Lehoros Nosson (vol. 9: 22), Shu"t Shevet Hakehasi (vol. 6: 258), Moadim U’Zmanim (vol. 2: 190), and Moadei HaGra"Ch (pg. 336).

^ 3.As Rav Shlomo Wolbe (Alei Shur vol. 2: pg. 468) wrote about Rav Yisrael Salanter on Purim. See the Maharal M’Prague’s Ohr Chodosh (Hakdamah, pg. 49) for an interesting assessment why we drink on Purim, explaining that by drinking we are completely negating ourselves, which shows that our existence is totally from Hashem, similar to the time of the Purim miracles. A similar assessment is given by the Seder HaYom (Seder Seudas Purim s.v. chayav). Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz (Sichos Mussar 5731, Maamar 11) takes this point a step further, explaining that at that point of drinking we are showing that we are entirely ‘Avdei Hashem’, and not ‘Bnei Chorin’ making rationale decisions. The Chasam Sofer (Toras Moshe, Parshas Tetzaveh, L’Purim, s.v. chayav) writes that our drinking Leshaim Shamayim on Purim is meant to negate the drinking that was done at Achashveirosh’s party in order to sin. Another idea is that the wine serves as a catalyst to draw us close to one another, as the Gemara in Sanhedrin (103b) states "Great is drinking…for it brings together those who are distant". See Rav Chaim Friedlander’s Sifsei Chaim (Moadim vol. 2, pg. 205) and the Birkas Avraham (Megillah ad loc. s.v. ad) at length. See also footnote 10.

^ 4.For different interpretations of what Rabba actually did to Rabbi Zeira if not kill him, see Meiri (Megillah 7b), Maharsha (Chiddushei Aggados to Megillah 7b), Ya’avetz (in his glosses to Megillah 7b), Halichos Shlomo (Moadim vol. 1, Ch.19: end footnote 77), and Shu"t Teshuvos V’Hanhagos (vol. 4: 173). According to the Margolis HaYam (Sanhedrin 65b; cited in Rabbi Mordechai Zev Trenk’s ‘Treasures: Illuminating Insights on Esoteric Torah Topics’; second edition pg. 41 - 42, footnote 2), the famous story in the Gemara (Sanhedrin 65b) about Rabba (according to the Yad Rama’s girsa ad loc.) creating a Golem and sending it to Rabbi Zeira, was meant as an epilogue to the story of the Gemara in Megillah - as if to assuage Rabbi Zeira’s fears, not to worry at future Purim seudos, since he had the ability to bring him back to life at will, ‘bechol shaata v’shaata’.

^ 5.Rif (Megillah 3b) and Tur (Orach Chaim 695, 2). This is also the basic understanding of Rashi’s pshat (Megillah 7b) who simply translates livesumei as getting drunk with wine. Although the Rosh (ad loc. 8) also uses this choice of words in his ruling, he adds the piyut cited in Tosafos (ad loc. s.v. d’lo), implying a lower level of drunkenness is required. See footnote 9 at length. Other authorities who also maintained that the halachah is to get completely drunk include the Ravyah (end 564; cited by the Haghos Maimoniyos - Hilchos Megillah Ch. 2, 15: 2 and Maharil, Shu"t 56), the Sefer HaMinhagim of Rav Yitzchak Isaac Tyrnau [Tirna] (Hilchos Purim; cited in Darchei Moshe, Orach Chaim 695: 1) and Elya Rabba (Orach Chaim 695: 1). However, it is important to note that they hold that doing so is a Mitzvah and not an outright obligation and even if one drinks and does not get drunk, he has still fulfilled the Mitzvah. Astonishingly, the Machzor Vitry (vol. 2: 465; pg. 583) cites a piyut for Maariv of Purim night from R’ Menachem Ben R’ Aharon titled ‘Leil Shikurim Zeh Halaylah’ describing many drunken acts in detail, many of them seeming quite contrary to normative halachah. However, many question the veracity and intent of this piyut, see Rav Yehuda Leib Maimon’s Chagim U’Moadim (pg. 149), Netei Gavriel (Hilchos Purim, Ch. 48: footnote 2, pg. 280; citing the Pupa Rebbe), and the Klausenberger Rebbe’s Shu"t Divrei Yatziv (Orach Chaim vol. 2: 297, 6; who simply writes that this piyut was only written L’Simchas Purim; implying not to take it seriously). The Rema, in his commentary to Megillas Esther, Mechir Yayin (pg. 95) writes several possible explanations to drinking "ad d’lo yada bein Arur Haman L’Boruch Mordechai", and astoundingly all are the exact opposite of how he rules lemaaseh. They include that one should start drinking on Purim while very young, before reaching the age of understanding the difference between Haman and Mordechai, but once he gets older and understands, he shouldn’t drink on Purim anymore, as Eliyahu Hanavi stated (Brachos 29b) ‘don’t drink and you won’t come to sin’. Alternatively, he posits that "ad d’lo yada" refers to drinking ‘harbeh me’od’ until one gets ‘as drunk as Lot’, as therefore even if one sins, he will be pattur. [See also Shulchan Aruch and Rema (Yoreh Deah 1: 8) - that one who gets as drunk as Lot has the halachic status of a shoteh.] This is why, he postulates, that the Gemara told the story of Rabba and Rabbi Zeira - to show that if one gets so drunk (lishikruso shel Lot) that he kills someone - he is not held liable! On the other hand, if one drinks and does not get that ‘plastered’, it is considered that he did not drink at all, and would be held accountable. However, and quite importantly, it must be strongly stressed that the Rema only wrote these as possible sevaros, but actually rules quite conversely. See also Binah L’Ittim (from Rav Azaryah Figo; mechaber of Gedulei Terumah, early 1600s; Drush 21 s.v. v’zeh) who writes in extremely strong terms that one is required to ‘malei kreiso b’yayin… legamri’. An additional rationale to get exceedingly drunk on Purim is cited in Rav Aryeh Pomeranchik’s Emek Bracha (pg. 126, Seudas Purim s.v. shamaati) quoting Rav Yisrael Salanter. He puts forth the notion that the ikar Mitzvah is to drink and get drunk; ergo he if one was drunk and sobered up, he has not fulfilled the Mitzvah, and is required to get drunk again. In other words, the Mitzvah is not to get drunk, but rather to be drunk, as a Mitzvah Kiyumis, as according to this understanding ad d’lo yada is just a shiur to patur the Mitzvah, not to actually fulfill it. Rav Pomeranchik attempts to fit this pshat in with the Rambam’s choice of words (Hilchos Megillah Ch. 2: 15) ‘v’shoseh yayin’ (to drink wine - using the present tense), but notes that both Rashi and the Tur use the term ‘lehishtaker b’yayin’, meaning to get drunk - not to keep getting drunk. It is worthwhile to note that this is a novel approach to the Rambam’s ruling, as the Rema, among others, definitely does not understand the Rambam that way. Additionally, it would create a stirah between the Rambam’s own words in Hilchos Dei’os (Ch. 5: 3; see footnote 14). Rav Pomeranchik concludes with the words of the Brisker Rav that since the pasuk states ‘Mishteh V’Simcha’, it means that ‘Mishteh’ in itself is essentially its own Mitzvah, even without ‘Simcha’, and it this specific Mitzvah of Purim that Chazal established the parameters as ad d’lo yada. [The author wishes to thank his talmid, R’ Moshe Sanders, for pointing out several of these invaluable sources.] On the other hand, this assessment is not so simple, as Rav Betzalel Zolty (Shu"t Mishnas Yaavetz, Orach Chaim 79) explains this pasuk differently. He maintains (in order to answer the Magen Avrohom’s kushya (Orach Chaim 696: 18) on the Shulchan Aruch regarding getting married on Purim), that ‘Mishteh V’Simcha’ refers to a ‘Mishteh shel Simcha’, meaning the only Simcha mandated on Purim is the Simcha of the Mishteh, but not that they are separate Mitzvos. On the other hand, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Maadanei Shlomo; 2016 edition on Dalet Chelkei Shulchan Aruch, pg. 235 - 236, 7 - 8) is quoted as holding that there is a Mitzvah Chiyuvis to drink on Purim, [albeit not necessarily getting drunk; as will be explained later on in the article] and not limited to the actual seudah. See also Rav Asher Weiss’s Minchas Asher on Moadim (vol. 2, Purim, 28: 7, Simchas Purim) who also argues on Rav Zolty’s assessment, explaining that the full quote in the pasuk is ‘ Yemei Mishteh V’Simcha’, implying that that there is a Mitzvah on Purim to rejoice in any manner of Simcha, not necessarily bound to the Mitzvos of Purim. He explains that this bears out from the Gemara’s referencing (Megillah 5b) of (and the Shulchan Aruch’s later ruling of - Orach Chaim 696: 1) a Binyan and Netiyah shel Simcha, which are not Purim related, yet are nonetheless permissible to build on Purim as they are still Simcha related.

^ 6.Rabbeinu Efraim’s shittah is cited l’halacha by the Ran (Megillah 3b in the Rif’s folios s.v. meichayav), Baal HaMa’or (Ma’or HaKattan ad loc. s.v. amar), Shitas Rivav (R’ Yehuda ben Brechya; ad loc.), and Shibolei Leket (201). It is also cited by many later authorities including the Beis Yosef (Orach Chaim 695: 2 s.v. mitzvah), Bach (ad loc. s.v. u’lfa"d), Taz (ad loc. 2), and Pri Chodosh (ad loc. 2). See also Korban Nesanel (Megillah Ch. 1: 10) who writes similarly. This especially holds true according to the girsa that the origin of both memros in the Gemara was Rabba. In other words, the same Amora who originally ruled to get drunk, is the very one that the story happened to due to his ruling. Accordingly, its placement immediately following the getting drunk ruling proves that the Gemara’s practical ruling is quite the opposite of the original. However, not everyone agrees with this interpretation of the Gemara’s juxtaposition of these memros. For example, the Sefer HaEshkol (vol. 2, Hilchos Chanuka U’Purim 8, pg. 27) makes the opposite deduction. He asks why did Rabbi Zeira outright refuse Rabba’s invitation the next year? He could have agreed to attend, stipulating that they will simply not drink nor get drunk. The Sefer HaEshkol infers that from the fact that he didn’t do so implies that Rabbi Zeira essentially agreed that it is mandatory to drink and get drunk at the Purim Seudah. What he did not want to rely upon was a miracle to bring him back to life if things ‘got out of hand’ again. That is why the implication of the Gemara is that Rabbi Zeira still had a (possibly drunken) Purim Seudah the next year; just with different company.

^ 7.This approach is cited by the Agudah (Purim 6), Rabbeinu Yerucham (Toldos Adam, Nesiv 10, vol. 1: pg. 62c), Maharil (Minhagim, Hilchos Purim 10), Chochmas Manoach (Megillah 7b), Darchei Moshe (Orach Chaim 695: 1), Levush (ad loc.), Ba’er Hagolah (ad loc.), Magen Avrohom (ad loc. 3), Ba’er Heitiv (ad loc. 2), Pri Megadim (ad loc. Eshel Avrohom 3), Aruch Hashulchan (ad loc. 3), and Shaar HaTziyun (ad loc. 5). Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l is quoted (Maadanei Shlomo; 2016 edition on Dalet Chelkei Shulchan Aruch, pg. 235 - 236, 7 - 8) as holding that this interpretation is the closest to the true pshat.

^ 8.See Biur HaGr"a (ad loc. s.v. chayav), Yad Efraim (ad loc. s.v. chayav), Aruch Hashulchan (ad loc. 4), and Mishna Berura (ad loc. 4). A similar interpretation is offered by the Levush (ad loc.), as well as the Maharsha (Megillah 7b s.v. meichayav) who writes that the ad d’lo yada is referring to not being able to properly concentrate on the ‘madregah gedolah’ between the absolute wickedness of Haman who lost both worlds (Olam Hazeh and Olam Haba’ah) and the total righteousness of Mordechai who gained both worlds.

^ 9.The idea that Gemara’s intent was not simply to know the difference between "Arur Haman L’Boruch Mordechai" but rather reciting a lengthier acrostic, implying that a much lesser degree of inebriation is mandated, is brought by Tosafos (Megillah 7b s.v. d’lo), the Rosh (ad loc. 8), citing the Yerushalmi (Megillah, Ch. Bnei Ha’Ir, Halacha 5), and Machzor Vitry (250). A similar assessment is cited by many authorities, including the Sefer HaManhig (vol. 1, pg. 242), Abudraham (Hilchos Purim), Sefer HaEshkol (vol. 2, Hilchos Chanuka U’Purim 8, pg. 27), Sefer HaMinhagim (Purim), Tzror Hachaim (ibid. pg. 118), Chochmas Manoach (in his commentary to Megillah 7b), Darchei Moshe (Orach Chaim 695: 1), Rashash (in his commentary to Megillah 7b), Chasam Sofer (Chiddushim on Megillah 7b; quoting his Rebbi, Rav Nosson Adler), Maharsham (Chiddushim ad loc.), and Aruch Hashulchan (Orach Chaim 695, 3), who explain that there used to be a common lengthy Purim themed Alef-Bais acrostic poem recited on Purim. Accordingly, this understanding of "Arur Haman L’Boruch Mordechai" is to drink enough to no longer be able to recite this piyut in the proper order; a feat that would not entail much drinking at all. See also Kiryas Chana (Orach Chaim 695, s.v. v’yesh omrim) who adds several nuances to this shitta, maintaining that the kavanna is not being able to recite this acrostic in the exact order; additionally, one must both start and end with ‘baruch’ and not ‘arur’, as per the Gemara’s dictum (Gittin 75b) not to start or end with ‘Paraniyos’.

^ 10.See Taz (Orach Chaim 695: 1) and Mishna Berura (ad loc. 4). Several later authorities seem to combine this understanding with that of the Gr"a’s. For different and fascinating hesberim of why we drink on Purim, see Rav Avraham Yitzchok HaKohen Kook’s Olas Reiyah (in reference to the Brachos of the Megillah), Rav Yitzchok Hutner’s Pachad Yitzchok (Purim, Inyan 6), Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz’s Sichos Mussar (5731, Maamar 11), Rav Chaim Friedlander’s Sifsei Chaim (Moadim vol. 2, Maamar ‘Ad D’lo Yada’), and Rav Moshe Sternbuch’s Shu"t Teshuvos V’Hanhagos (vol. 4: 173). See also Nesivos Shalom (Purim, pg. 57- 58) who offers a completely separate understanding of the Gemara. He notes that the Gemara does not say 'livesumei' with wine, rather 'livesumei BePuria', in Purim, meaning that one should get intoxicated from Purim itself, as in the connotation of Yeshaya (Ch. 51: 21) "drunk, but not from wine". On Purim a person must become so "drunk" on the elevated revelations of Purim that he cannot tell between the ‘Arur Haman’ and ‘Boruch Mordechai’ of his Avodas Hashem, his interpersonal relationships, and even himself. See also footnote 3. A novel and alternate interpretation is the opinion of Rabbeinu Avigdor, one of the Baalei Tosafos (cited in Netei Gavriel on Hilchos Purim, Ch. 73, footnote 1 s.v. u’kdai) who is medayek from the choice of the word ‘livesumei’ and not ‘l’ei vesumei’ that the obligation is not for one himself to get drunk, but rather that one must get everyone around him drunk as well.

^ 11.In his Chochmas Manoach commentary to Gemara Megillah (7b).

^ 12.Many authorities cite this as correct, some stating ‘ad v’lo ad b’chlal’, meaning yes, one should drink more than usual, but one should definitely not actually get drunk. See Meiri (Megillah 7b s.v. chayav), Kol Bo (45), Sefer HaManhag (cited by Abudraham ibid.), Nemukei Yosef (Megillah 7b), Korban Nesanel (ad loc. 10), Rema (Orach Chaim 695: 2), Leket Yosher (vol. 1: pg. 157), Yad Efraim (Orach Chaim 695: 2; exclaiming that this interpretation originally came to him in a dream), Sefas Emes (Megillah 7b), Biur Halacha (695 s.v. ad), Sha’arim Metzuyanim B’Halacha (vol. 3, 142: 11), Shu"t Shevet Halevi (vol. 10, 107: 2), and Alei Shur (vol. 2, pg. 468). However, and interestingly, the Bach (695 s.v. u’lfa"d) concludes that one should still drink ‘harbeh’ but not get actually drunk. The Chasam Sofer (Toras Moshe, Parshas Tetzaveh, L’Purim, s.v. chayav) writes that "Mitzvah lishtos kedei shikrus, aval lo yishtaker; rak yisyasheiv b’yayno’. A similar assessment is given by the Yesod VeShoresh HaAvodah (Shaar 12, Ch. 7) citing the Arizal, that ‘Chalilah to say that the Gemara HaKedoshah would mandate us to get drunk; rather to drink and ivsum (as opposed to shikur) to be able to celebrate properly with Simcha shel Mitzvah’.

^ 13.Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 695: 2), Beis Yosef commentary (ad loc. s.v. mitzvah), Rabbeinu Efraim (ibid.), and Orchos Chaim (Hilchos Purim 38). Interestingly, the Maharsha, in his Chiddushei Halachos (Megillah 7b) implies this way as well. On the words to explain the chiyuv of "ad d’lo yada", he simply writes, ‘v’ayin B’Beis Yosef, v’kal lahaveen’, implying that this is the proper explanation. See also his comments to Bava Metzia 23b, where he alludes to this as well, that one should not actually get drunk on Purim. However, from the Rema’s choice of words (v’yesh omrim) it seems that he understood that the Shulchan Aruch was actually contradicting his own psak in the Beis Yosef, and he therefore felt the need to actually spell out the correct psak - the conclusion in the Beis Yosef, synthesized with the Rambam’s shitta - see footnote 15. The Aruch Hashulchan (ad loc. 6) as well, asks this as a stira on the Shulchan Aruch and even concludes tzarich iyun. Yet, afterwards, in parenthesis, he writes ‘v’ulai yifrshu ad v’lo ad b’chlal’, meaning there truly is no contradiction, but the Shulchan Aruch’s intent all along was to drink more than usual, but not to get drunk.

^ 14.Rambam (Hilchos Megillah Ch. 2: 15 and Hilchos Dei’os Ch. 5: 3; see also Hilchos Shevisas Yom Tov, Ch. 6:20). See Aruch Hashulchan (Orach Chaim 695: 2) for hesber. This is also the opinion of the Mahari Brin (quoted in the Darchei Moshe, Orach Chaim 695:1).

^ 15.Rema (Orach Chaim 695: 2). See Aruch Hashulchan (ad loc. 2) for hesber. The Rema’s approach seems to be a synthesis of the Kol Bo’s shitta (45) and the Rambam’s. For how to optimally fulfill the Mitzvah this way see Mikraei Kodesh (Purim 44), Orchos Rabbeinu (vol. 3, pg. 57), Moadim U’Zmanim (vol. 2: 190), Chazon Ovadia (Purim. ppg. 175 - 178), and Rav Chaim Kanievsky’s Igeres HaPurim (Ch. 6: 10). On this Rema, the Vilna Gaon (Biur HaGr"a ad loc. s.v. v’yesh omrim) references several Gemaros (Pesachim 113b and Yoma 74b - 75a) that refer to the evils of getting drunk, strongly implying that this is the proper ruling. The Aruch Hashulchan (ad loc. end 6) as well, after much shakla v’tarya, concludes that this is the correct course of action to take on Purim.

^ 16.Many Gedolim personally followed the Rema’s shittah, including the Chofetz Chaim (see Hanhagos HaChofetz Chaim pg. 181), the Steipler Gaon (see Orchos Rabbeinu vol. 3, pg. 57), and Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (see Shalmei Moed pg. 288).

^ 17.Ya’avetz (in his Amudei Shamayim Siddur; cited by the Sha’arei Teshuva 695: 2 lemaaseh), Chayei Adam (vol. 2, 155: 30), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (142: 6), Biur Halacha (695 s.v. ad), and Kaf Hachaim (Orach Chaim 695: 15 and 16). They base this on the Yerushalmi (Shabbos Ch. 8, Halacha 1) that Rav Yehuda bar Ilai only drank wine on Pesach, as it harmed his health, with no mention of Purim. This shows that as one can fulfill his Mitzvah of Purim without drinking, if his kavanna is Leshaim Shamayim. The Kaf Kachaim adds that still one should at least drink a small amount of wine to fulfill the words of the Megillah (Esther Ch. 9, verse 19) ‘Yemei Mishteh V’Simcha’. However, see Rav Avraham Yitzchok HaKohen Kook’s Shu"t Orach Mishpat (Miluim, 7 - LeHilchos Purim) who questions this ruling, as he maintains anyone drunk should be in the category of ‘Osek BeMitzvah Patur MeMitzvah’ and would be considered an ‘oness’, and can therefore make up his missed davening via tashlumin. In a similar vein, the Klausenberger Rebbe relates (Shu"t Divrei Yatziv, Orach Chaim vol. 2: 237, 3) from the Divrei Chaim and Chacham Tzvi, that any time Chazal use the term ‘Chayav’, it means that we are truly obligated to follow it, even with Mesiras Nefesh (even though he questions this definition). Accordingly, the obligation livesumei on Purim would be a ‘Chiyuv Gamur’.

^ 18.Pri Chodosh (Orach Chaim 695: 2; interestingly, he actually first disagrees entirely with Rabbeinu Efraim’s novel interpretation of the Gemara, similar to the Sefer HaEshkol’s approach - vol. 2, Hilchos Chanuka U’Purim 8, pg. 27, even so he still concludes that it is preferable to follow Rabbeinu Efraim lemaaseh), Pri Megadim (ad loc. Mishbetzos Zahav 2), and Mishna Berura (ad loc. 5). The Aruch Hashulchan deals with this topic extensively (ad loc. 1 - 6), citing several opinions, questions and possible answers. Yet he concludes ‘u’lmaaseh yeish l’hisrachek min hashichrus…v’rak l’shtos mi’at yoser m’limudo v’lishan ketzas’, that bottom line one should distance himself from intoxication, and should rather drink a bit more than he is accustomed to and then go to sleep.

^ 19.Halichos Shlomo (Moadim vol. 1, Ch.19: end footnote 77).

^ 20.See here: http://www.vosizneias.com/49255/2010/02/12/new-york-rabbi-shmuel-kaminetsky-%E2%80%9Cit-is-an-aveira-to-get-drunk-on-purim%E2%80%9D/. Perhaps a smach to his shitta (that Livesumei is referring to sniffing) can be found in Rabbeinu Gershom’s interpretation of the word (Bava Basra 73b s.v. v’damo). Thanks are due to Rabbi Tzvi Price for pointing out this invaluable source.

^ 21.See here: http://www.hatzolahems.org/safety/purimsafetyposter.pdf.

^ 22.Especially as the Mordechai (Megillah Ch. 1: 789; cited in Darchei Moshe ibid.) writes ‘v’adif yomei d’Puraya m’Yom Shenitnah bo Torah’. Additionally, the Shelah (Torah Shebiksav, Parshas Tetzaveh, Drush Sheini L’Parshas Zachor) citing the Arizal, expounds on the incredible spiritual nature of Purim, including that is even considered greater than Yom Kippur, which is a ‘Yom K’Purim’, a day akin to Purim, establishing Purim’s preeminence. Just something worthwhile to think about.



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