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Megillah, Daf Zayin, Part 4

 

Introduction

Today’s section is about the Purim feast.

 

אמר רבא: מיחייב איניש לבסומי בפוריא עד דלא ידע בין ארור המן לברוך מרדכי. רבה ורבי זירא עבדו סעודת פורים בהדי הדדי, איבסום, קם רבה שחטיה לרבי זירא. למחר בעי רחמי ואחייה. לשנה אמר ליה: ניתי מר ונעביד סעודת פורים בהדי הדדי! – אמר ליה: לא בכל שעתא ושעתא מתרחיש ניסא.

 

Rava said: One is obligated to become inebriated [with wine] on Purim until he cannot tell the difference between cursed be Haman and blessed be Mordecai.

Rabbah and R. Zera joined together in a Purim feast. They became inebriated, and Rabbah arose and cut R. Zera’s throat.

The next day he prayed on his behalf and revived him. Next year he said: Will the master come and we will have the Purim feast together.

He replied: A miracle does not take place on every occasion.

 

Rava is the sage who famously ruled that one should become inebriated on Purim, so inebriated that he cannot tell the difference between Haman and Mordecai. I will not comment on whether someone is really obligated to do so, but I would urge that if you do drink on Purim, give the car keys to someone else. Drinking may be obligatory but endangering a life is strictly against the Torah.

In the famous story that follows Rabbah and R. Zera illustrate well the dangers of drinking.

 

אמר רבא: סעודת פורים שאכלה בלילה לא יצא ידי חובתו, מאי טעמאימי משתה ושמחה כתיב.

 

Rava said: If one eats his Purim feast on the night [of the fourteenth], he does not fulfill his obligation. What is the reason? It is written, "Days of feasting and gladness" (Esther 9:22).

 

From the word "days" Rava learns that the Purim feast must be eaten during the day.

 

רב אשי הוה יתיב קמיה דרב כהנא נגה ולא אתו רבנן.

אמר ליה: מאי טעמא לא אתו רבנן? – דלמא טרידי בסעודת פורים

אמר ליה: ולא הוה אפשר למיכלה באורתא? – אמר ליה: לא שמיע ליה למר הא דאמר רבא: סעודת פורים שאכלה בלילה לא יצא ידי חובתו.

אמר ליה: אמר רבא הכי? [אמר ליה: אין].

תנא מיניה ארבעין זימנין, ודמי ליה כמאן דמנח בכיסיה.

 

R. Ashi was sitting before R. Kahana. It grew late, and still the Rabbis did not arrive. He said to him: Why have the Rabbis not yet come? Perhaps they are busy with the Purim feast.

He said to him: Could they not have had it last night?

He replied: Is the master not familiar with the statement, "If one eats his Purim feast on the night [of the fourteenth], he does not fulfill his obligation"?

He said to him; Did Rava really say so? (He replied Yes).

He then repeated it after him forty times, until he had safely stored it in his mind.

 

In this story, the rabbis eat their Purim meal and delay in coming to R. Kahana’s Bet Midrash. R. Ashi uses this opportunity to report to his teacher R. Kahana the tradition stated above by Rava. The rabbis could not have eaten their Purim feast the evening before. R. Kahana recites Rava’s statement forty times, thereby committing it to memory.