11 January 2012

Purim Drinking II: Which Beverage(s) to Drink?

Wine is mentioned several times in the book of Esther
Having begun a discussion of drinking on Purim, (and what got me re-interested in this topic), I wanted to do an initial post on which beverage one should drink in order to intoxicate oneself on Purim.
     Curiously, in neither Rabbi Jacob, son of Asher's Four Divisions1 nor in Rabbi Joseph Karo's Set Table2 is any specific beverage mentioned in order to intoxicate, whether wine or not wine.
     Maimonides, however, does specify that one gets drunk through drinking wine.3  I wonder why neither Rabbi Jacob, son of Asher, nor Rabbi Karo specified wine as Maimonides did, although I certainly don't know.  
     One reason mentioned why wine is the means to get drunk on Purim is articulated by Rabbi Abraham Danzig in his Person's Life that since the miraculous occurrences happened through wine (the party at the outset, as well as the small drinking parties that Esther arranged towards the end of the book), therefore, we were obligated to get drunk on wine.4
     While I have certainly come nowhere near exhausting this topic, I did want to - for the time being - share a paragraph devoted to this topic:
Contrary to popular conception, the mitzva of drinking on Purim is intended to be performed exclusively with wine, to the exclusion of all other alcoholic beverages.  It is also noted that drinking wine on Purim is meant to be reminiscent of the verse "wine gladdens the heart of man."  Some authorities suggest that because wine was a much stronger drink in Talmudic times than it is today, it is permissible to drink whiskey and other alcoholic beverages in fulfillment of this mitzva as well.5
      I hope to return to this topic....


1 - טור אורח חיים סימן תרצה
2 - שולחן ערוך אורח חיים סימן תרצה
3 - משנה תורה, הלכות מגילה ב:טו

4 - חיי אדם קנה:ל
5 - Rabbi Ari N. Enkin, Halacha Bilvad: Halachic Insights & Responsa (Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel: Dalet Amot Publishing, 2010), 52.


Woodrow/Conservadox said...

One thing I have learned the hard way: do not mix wine and beer unless you want to wake up to some very unpleasant surprises the next morning!

Steven Radcliffe said...

I thought people used to cut wine with water in the old days. [?] in that case it would be weaker. but is intoxication going to the point of "enough," or deliberately going past that point?