By: Rabbi Yitzchak Rosedale –

The Gemara states,חייב איניש לבסומי בפוריא עד דלא ידע בין ארור המן לברוך מרדכי, One is obligated to become intoxicated on Purim to the point where he can no longer distinguish between cursing Haman and blessing Mordechai (1).

Both the cursing of Haman and the rising of Mordechai to power are great blessings and, in fact, the rise of Mordechai to power was a greater blessing. On Purim, we are instructed to become intoxicated to the point that we are unable to distinguish between which of the two is a greater blessing. (2)

Methods of Fulfillment
There are two ways to fulfill this mitzvah:

One method is to drink enough wine so that this level of intoxication is achieved. Great care must be taken to not disgrace or be lax in any of the mitzvos as a result of becoming intoxicated, such as with the mitzvah of netilas yadayim (washing before bread), berachos, bentching, or davening Minchah and Maariv. In addition, much is written about people who while intoxicated make fools of themselves and act in a way that is less respectable than the manner suited to sons of the King.

Rather, when done properly, intoxication should bring a person to a level of happiness whereby one feels an acute sense of love toward Hashem and gratitude for all the miracles He has done, and continues to constantly do for us.(3)

Some are of the opinion that the mitzvah of becoming intoxicated should be fulfilled during the Purim meal itself.(4)

Sleeping: Another method of fulfilling this mitzvah is to drink more wine than one normally drinks at a meal during the year and to then fall asleep. In this way the mitzvah is being fulfilled because while asleep one cannot distinguish between these two blessings.(5)

Women Drinking Alchohol
Women are not obligated to become intoxicated on Purim. In fact, it is considered a lack of tzniyus (modesty) for her to do so.(6)

Children Drinking Alchohol
There is no mitzvah of chinuch to train children to drink alchohol on Purim.(7)

Wine vs. Other Alcoholic Beverages
The Shulchan Aruch does not specify what kind of alcohol should be used for this mitzvah. Some poskim, however, specify that it should be done with wine. Therefore, although one can fulfill this mitzvah with other beverages, it is certainly a הידור (beautification) of the mitzvah, to fulfill it with wine.(8)

Davening While Intoxicated
One whose state of intoxication impairs his ability to speak before the King, such that he would repeat or slur words, may not daven Shemoneh Esrei. If he davened, …read more
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