Why do Jews drink on Purim? Where does this custom originate? Is everyone obligated to drink? Does the mitzvah have to be fulfilled with wine?

The Talmud (Megillah 7b) states that one is obligated to make merry on Purim, and Rashi comments that he should do this by drinking wine. Some take his words literally, explaining that specifically wine must be used to commemorate the great miracle. Since wine was the beverage served at the party hosted by Esther for Haman and Achashverosh, it was the vehicle for the miracle of Haman being killed and the tables being turned, so it is appropriate to celebrate with that same beverage.

However, others rule that any alcoholic beverage is acceptable. If a person might overdo it while imbibing a stronger alcoholic drink, he should definitely stick to wine. And if a person can’t drink any alcohol responsibly, then he is under no obligation to drink, and in fact, he is not allowed to drink.

This question and answer session is taken from Oorah’s Ask the Rabbi book by Rabbi Chaim Mintz, published by ArtScroll.

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