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Do I need to drink Four Cups on Purim?

by Rabbi Yossi Marcus

  

Library » Holidays » Purim » The Laws | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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Why only four? On Purim we are commanded to drink until we cannot distinguish between "Blessed is Mordechai and cursed is Haman!"

All the miracles of Purim came about through wine parties. Vashti, Ahasuerus' first queen, was deposed because of a wine party (where the king got drunk and ordered that she appear before him). Haman’s downfall also came through a wine party, when Esther revealed to the king that she was Jewish. So we celebrate with a wine party of our own.1

Wine also has the capacity to reveal that which is hidden. As the Talmud says (Eiruvin 65a): “Wine enters, secrets emerge.” Purim is a day that the deepest secrets of creation and the soul can be revealed and accessible.

See also I heard that you’re supposed to get drunk on Purim. Isn’t it a bad thing to get drunk?

Footnotes

  • 1. Obviously this does not apply to minors or those sloppy with their drinks. And remember: Purim practitioners drink responsibly. Don't drink and drive.

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Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Purim
A one-day holiday celebrated in late winter commemorating the miraculous deliverance of the Jewish people from a decree of annihilation issued by Persian King Ahasuerus in the year 356 BCE.
Haman
Descendant of anti-Semitic tribe of Amalek and prime minister of the Persian Empire in the 5th century b.c.e. Schemed to annihilate all the Jews, and the holiday of Purim was established when the plot was foiled.
Esther
1. Jewish wife of Persian King Ahasuerus in the 4th century BCE. Foiled the plot of Haman, the prime minister, to exterminate all the Jews. The holiday of Purim commemorates this miraculous salvation. 2. One of the 24 Books of the Bible, which chronicles the abovementioned story.
Ahasuerus
King of the Persian Empire in the 4th century BCE. Husband of Esther, heroine of the Purim story.
Mordechai
Cousin of Queen Esther, and Jewish leader in the 4th century BCE. Played a large role in saving the Jews after Haman, the Persian prime minister, plotted to exterminate them all. The holiday of Purim was established to commemorate this miracle.