Is it a mitzvah to drink on Purim?

Photo by Anastasia Zhenina from Pexels

Bill Motchan

Scholars have long debated whether the Talmud does in fact declare it a mitzvah to drink alcohol on Purim. Or more accurately, to drink enough on Purim that one cannot distinguish between “cursed be Haman” and “blessed be Mordecai.”

Most students of this knotty problem err on the side of the New Orleans mitzvah laissez les bons temps rouler (that’s French—not Yiddish—for “let the good times roll”). Perhaps it’s fitting because Mardi Gras occurs just days before Purim, which begins this year at sundown Feb. 25.

One should feel free, the Talmud tells us, to imbibe a little “to heighten the joy and excitement of Purim.” Take precautions not to over-overdo it and absolutely don’t drink and drive. A good rule of thumb: if you can’t say “hamentashen” three times quickly, maybe switch to coffee.