On Purim, Let’s Get Vulnerable

Does eating and drinking to much fit in with our celebration of Purim, a holiday of rejoice and redemption?

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Many of us are preparing for coming Wednesday, 14 Adar. The elders love to make it a special day for the kids and want to prepare themselves a lovely Seudat mitzah.

The kids love the day because then they can dress up and have fun. Mothers have been busy for days to make the children their costumes and they have made preparations to prepare a tasty meal.

according to us it is wrong to think that a person is obligated to drink on Purim until he does not know the difference between “cursed be Haman” and “blessed be Mordechai.” (There is, however, some discussion about what this edict really means.) Every time we come together with others we should present ourselves as a follower of Jeshua and stepping in the footsteps of the ancient godly people. With alcohol we should be very careful not to use to much, so that we would not become intoxicated. Every time we cross the line of being able to think clear or not having ourselves in control, we have gone to far. At no time should we allow it to come so far that the drinks take over. We should always be in full control.

To be intoxicated is to consume heavily, to the point where our typical boundaries are adjusted, our walls of protection start to collapse, and we become vulnerable. When we drink, we are often more relaxed and comfortable revealing parts of ourselves we may hide away on a day-to-day basis.

writes Caroline Dorn, the membership and engagement coordinator at Temple Shalom of Newton, as well as a Union for Reform Judaism 2018-2019  JewV’Nation Fellow.

we all know that meals taken with other people can do good for the relationship and even for the business. Dorn admits

When we share food or drink with others, our relationships deepen in a way that doesn’t happen as organically in professional or more formal settings. It’s why dates typically take place in bars or restaurants, or why groups of colleagues can often be found having a drink together after a long day at work. When we make a new friend and invite them into our home to share a meal, we break a boundary that had previously existed between us and deepen our connection to extend into the intimacy of being in one another’s home.

In many sefer we can find events where a meal played an important role. In the Kethuvim Bet is even said to make it a custom to come together for a meal and for reading the Kitvei Hakodesh.

The commandment to break bread and share drinks together asks us to wipe away the pretense of formality and to reveal our truest selves, to the point that Haman’s evil and Mordecai’s holiness blur together – a challenging concept, given how different these people and their goals were!v>

The essence of coming together should be the sharing with each other in agapè love.
We may celebrate the vulnerability of life. Eat, drink, and be merry, but drink responsibly, even when celebrating Purim and always remember Who makes this possible.

On Purim, especially, keep in mind that many people cannot or do not want to drink at all, and they may not feel comfortable saying so. Purim and the parties that surround it can also be a source of serious anxiety for recovering alcoholics. If someone declines a drink or seems hesitant, accept their refusal immediately, and never assume they just need some convincing in order to indulge themselves.

writes Kelly Hershberg who  lives in Chicago.

We also should be able to admit our vulnerability and share our wealth with the poor, our friends, our family. In this way, pleasure expresses religious value. And by our state of happiness we also shall be able to share with others our gratitude to the Most High Elohim for all the things He grants us.

On that festive day we should respect all who are present in our community. This means respecting our fellow human beings – which includes respecting their boundaries.

On Purim, especially, keep in mind that many people cannot or do not want to drink at all or do not want to eat certain things, and they may not feel comfortable saying so. Purim and the parties that surround it can also be a source of serious anxiety for recovering alcoholics, but also for diabetics. If someone declines a drink or some sweets, or seems hesitant, accept their refusal immediately, and never assume they just need some convincing in order to indulge themselves.

On Purim, a holiday in which the villain (Haman) encouraged persecution of a minority group (the Jews) by pointing out their different customs, it’s incumbent upon us to respect individual choices, including about whether to consume alcohol (and if so, how much, provided they don’t endanger anyone) or to consume certain sweets.

You might think of sage Rava  who says we should drink on Purim until we cannot differentiate between the phrases “cursed be Haman” and “blessed be Mordechai” (Megillah 7b). While no other rabbis comment on this directly within the text of the Talmud itself, many people since have taken up with it.

Kelly Hershberg reminds us

Going back to the Talmud, given all of these other Jewish principles at play, it’s somewhat surprising that none of the other rabbis challenge Rava in his assertion about drinking – specifically, how much drinking he encourages – but the text may refute him in subtler terms. The Talmud immediately follows Rava’s declaration with an anecdote suggesting that such drunkenness is not actually a good idea: When Rabba and Rabbi Zeira make a Purim feast together they become drunk, and in his stupor, Rabba slaughters Rabbi Zeira. The next day, overcome with remorse, Rabba comes suppliant before God, who returns Rabbi Zeira to life – but when Rabba invites Rabbi Zeira to celebrate Purim with him the next year, Rabbi Zeira demurs, saying, “Miracles don’t happen that often.”

Coming together for the Purim feast we should show respect for each other and come to share more of ourselves with others, and to share food and drink as an act of ritual holiness.

Caroline Dorn invites us to

engage in conversations with those with whom we disagree and still find it in ourselves to see each other for our shared humanity and vulnerability.

May we allow ourselves the gift of breaking down walls rather than putting them up, and may we be intoxicated not just with drink, but with conversation and connection with whomever sits at our table.

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Preceding

Being an introvert doesn’t mean you have to be isolated at Purim

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