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Purim 5779: Introspection & Drinking

By R' Shaya Gross, z'l

Posted on 03/20/19

Parshas HaShavua Divrei Torah sponsored by
Dr. Shapsy Tajerstein, DPM - Podiatry Care.
(410) 788-6633

[Ed. Note] Out of the respect and recognition of the impact made by longtime BJL friend and contributor, Reb Shaya Gross, z’l, we will maintain a living memoriam to Shaya through the sweet words and thoughtful insights of  his Divrei Torah. BJL readers will remember his weekly column on the Parsha and on various Torah ideas and concepts. These meaningful words will help us remember this special young man who will be sorely missed and for those who did not merit to know him, this will be the most appropriate way for them to become familiar with who he was.


Rava is famously quoted in the Gemara Megilla for saying that "one should drink wine on Purim until he doesn’t know the difference between ‘cursed is Haman and blessed is Mordechai.'
There are many ways one can interpret Rava's statement, but I would like to present a very novel approach based on the Yaaros Dvash's understanding.

The Yaaros Dvash explains that 'until one doesn’t know the difference between cursed is Haman and blessed is Mordechai' means until one doesn’t understand the section of the Megilla between the first time Haman and Mordechai are mentioned.

What does it talk about in this section of the Megilla? It’s the story of how Mordechai tells Esther to remain quiet about her religion and people. Esther listens. Achashveirosh gives her different incentives to talk [as detailed in the Gemara] and Esther remains firm in silence. It is about not talking.

What is a drunkard? ‘When wine enters (a person), secrets emerge.'  A drunkard is all for talking, the opposite of what is written here in the Megilla. So Rava is saying that you just have to get drunk, i.e. to the level of ‘when wine enters secrets come out,' as then it won’t make sense to you what’s written in this section of the Megilla; because you are all for talking and this section of the Megilla is all about being quiet!

My question with this explanation is that although this section in the Megilla is about not talking, Mordechai is mentioned first [in the second Perek] and then Haman [in the third Perek], so according to this explanation, shouldn’t the statement be ‘between blessed is Mordechai and cursed is Haman’ and not ‘between cursed is Haman and blessed is Mordechai’??

I was thinking that perhaps Rava specifically switched it around to fulfill the theme of the day of ‘vinahapoch hoo!'

Alternatively, the order is correct when reading the Megilla backwards. The lesson of Purim is to use our hindsight to look back on what has transpired and recognize the hand of Hashem. If we never stop to think and introspect, then we’ll never appreciate the miracles that Hashem does for us. Therefore, the order is reversed, as we’re supposed to be looking back at the events and not just drifting through them without contemplation.