Take Very Good
Care of YourselvesDeuteronomy 4:15



The Halachic Viewpoint

The Gemarah says that on Purim one is required to drink, - until he can no longer differentiate between ‘Cursed is Haman’ and ‘Blessed is Mordechai’. Many people are under the mistaken assumption that the only way to fulfill this obligation is by imbibing in alcohol without limit.


Rav Yisroel Salanter and the S’fas Emes explain that it is quite to the contrary: If one reaches the state of  “ad d’lo yodah” (meaning, if he becomes completely drunk), then he can no longer fulfill the mitzvah (commandment) at all. As David Hamelech describes {Psalms: 104,15}, “V’yayin yisamach levav enosh” (Wine makes happy the heart of man.).


On Purim, we have a mitzvah to drink, feast, and be happy. However, the mitzvah can only be fulfilled properly as long as we remember the essence of Purim: that Haman be cursed and Mordechai be blessed. Once you are past this state, no amount of drinking will be considered a mitzvah. Just as a person who is drunk cannot pray, he cannot do the mitzvah of mishteh v’simcha (the commandment to eat and drink on Purim).


In a nutshell: The gemarah’s reference to “ad d’lo yodah”- “until he can no longer differentiate”- is the MAXIMUM, and not the minimum.


Some seforim derive this from the word “ad” in the above phrase. They explain that the obligation is to drink until one can no longer distinguish between the cursed and the blessed, but the actual condition must not be reached.


It is also interesting to add that Rav Avigdor, one of the authors of Tosefus, states that the mitzvah on Purim is to observe someone else who is drunk, as this causes happiness and laughter. However, the individual who is drinking beyond reason is not fulfilling the mitzvah at all.


The smallest amount one may drink to fulfill the mitzvah is one revios of an alcoholic beverage, equivalent to approximately 3 to 5 ounces.


If you still want to fulfill the obligation of “ad d’lo yodah” in the literal sense, you can take a nap on Purim, as many tzadikim (Righteous men) do [according to the p’sak of the Remah in 695:2].


The Medical Viewpoint

“A panel of physicians urged doctors to downplay the potential heart-healthy effects of red wine, and to encourage patients instead to exercise and eat more fruits and vegetables.


The appealing idea that red wine can protect against heart disease has gained currency thanks to studies showing a lower rate of heart disease among people who regularly drank moderate amounts of wine.


But it remains unclear whether components in wine or the heart-healthy lifestyles of wine lovers are behind this boost in cardiac protection, say researchers writing in the January 23 issue of Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association (AHA).

Wine drinkers, for example, tend to be thinner, to exercise more and to drink with meals, all of which may help remove artery-clogging fats from their bloodstreams, they explain.”


We are therefore not one hundred percent sure if it is the wine drinking and/or the lifestyle that goes along with it that helps protect the cardiac system.  It is agreed that both are equally important—to have a half cup of dry red wine (check with your health care professional) daily—and eat and exercise correctly. 


For more info on the alcohol/Diabetes combination—see our article


Most of all Purim is a time for spiritual elevation and merriment—Let's make every effort to keep it in the right context



 reprints not allowed without prior approval JDA 2011