Wednesday, March 7, 2012
The Book of Esther, this evening’s Required Reading. [Click to embiggen.]
Sundown this evening marks the arrival of the Jewish holiday of Purim, on which we Red Sea Pedestrians celebrate our deliverance from a Persian plot to exterminate us. (Sounds kinda familiar, don’t it?)
The old joke about Jewish holidays is that they all have a common theme: “They tried to kill us off. They failed. Let’s eat.”
Purim is a little different. This time, it’s “They tried to kill us off. They failed. Let’s drink.”
Yeah, getting hammered (or at least mildly tipsy) on Purim is a venerable tradition going back to the days of the Talmud. Tractate Megillot states that one should revel on Purim “ad lo yada” - until one no longer knows (ad de-lo yada) the difference between “Blessed be Mordechai” and “Cursed be Haman.” And if that’s not a good rule of thumb, what is?
The other tradition - nay, a requirement - is that one listen to the recounting of the Purim story. To that end, Megillat Esther (the Book of Esther) is chanted in services this evening and tomorrow morning. It’s actually a pretty entertaining tale for something biblical, given that it actually has a narrative complete with good guys, bad guys, suspense, mortal peril, and a happy ending. (Happy, that is, except for Haman.) But unless you understand the Hebrew, it can be a rather tough slog... yada, yada, yada. Yet another reason for having a schnapps or two.
Update: A different take on Purim-Drinkage here.