Following are my contributions to Rabbi Cardozo’s Purim-themed “Thoughts to Ponder“. I hope they will be a worthy addition to the weighty matter of getting thoroughly silly on Purim. Enjoy!
- The medieval Spanish commentator Al-Kohol ruled that wine on Purim may be served in any kind of bottle. He based this on the Talmudic dictum, “Al tistakel b’kankan, elah b’ma sheyesh bo” (Don’t look at the bottle, but rather at what’s inside it). However, his rival, the Marbe beShtiya took issue with him on the basis of Rabban Gamliel’s rejection of inconsistencies between outer appearance and inner makeup (Ein tocho k’baro).
In your opinion, would requiring that wine only be served in Klein Bottles help in reconciling these two opinions?
- “A person should drink on Purim until he does not know…” However, this seems to contradict the well-known saying: “In vino veritas” (In wine is truth). How would you reconcile these two statements? (Note also that Rabbi Mastoul used to say: “‘Sof ma’a’seh b’machshavah techilla’— do not read ‘techilla’, but rather ‘tequila’.”)
- Levity is required on Purim, but this can present serious difficulties in small, demographically challenged Jewish communities. For example, what does one do if there are no Levites present?
- The Glenfiddicher Rebbe was known for his quirky and roundabout stories, which to this day are told and retold as people try to figure out what the point of them is. The following question is attributed to him: Does drinking on Purim turn us into someone else, or does it just makes us forget who we are?
- Charles Baudelaire wrote: “Be always drunken. … If you would not feel the horrible burden of Time weighing on your shoulders and crushing you to the earth, be drunken continually. Drunken with what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you will. But be drunken.”
Ben Shikora explained: “Always” refers to the days; ‘continually’ refers to the nights.” However, could we interpret it thusly: “‘Always’ refers to this world; ‘continually’ indicates the time of the Messiah”?
To which opinion do you incline? Should you be inclining before Pessah?
(See also: Purim: The Call for Eternity)