What is the proper approach towards drinking on Purim?
The purpose of our lives is to acquire da’at (wisdom), not to lose da’at. When a person becomes very intoxicated, to the point where he resembles an animal, that’s no praise for him at all.
Sometimes, in order to raise the airplane off the ground, you have to put high octane fuel into the tank to help get liftoff. And therefore, in order to make yourself more enthusiastic. there’s nothing wrong with imbibing a certain amount. But to get out of control, that’s a mistake. It’s not a kiddush Hashem (glorification of Gd’s Name); you make yourself look disgusting. I don’t approve of that. It’s very, very wrong.
There is a mitzvah on Purim of nichnas yayin yatza sod (“wine enters, the secret come out”). One has to be very careful that nichnas yayin – the wine comes into him, and yatza sod – his inner “secret” comes out. The gematria of the word yayin (wine) is 70, as is the gematria of sod (secret). The wine comes in and pushes out the secret that the Jew keeps inside him. The Jew has in his neshamah (soul) a love of Hashem, but he is too bashful to talk about it. He’s enthusiastic about the Torah and mitzvot, but he’s embarrassed to show it. When the wine comes in, the truth comes out, and he shows his true inner self. When he’s a little bit intoxicated, the Jew shows the real enthusiasm that he possesses, things that he never showed before.
Thus, Purim is a great opportunity for people to demonstrate their loyalty to the Torah, their emunah (faith) in Hashem, that He’s protecting us at all times, and that eventually we will triumph and outlive all our enemies. All this and much more we can demonstrate on Purim; and we are able to do it when we evoke, we elicit, the greatness of which we are capable. We have it in ourselves! And a little bit of drinking helps that happen.
We should try to make Purim as important as we can in the eyes of our children, and in our family and in our community. Make a big fuss out of Purim! The Purim seudah (feast) should be a very important affair. If we make Purim very prominent in our lives, then it will become one of the most beautiful, precious tachshitim (jewels) on the Jewish calendar.
The Rama (Rabbi Moshe Isserles) says that if a person is unable to drink wine on Purim, then he should go to sleep. What is the rationale behind this ruling?
If you can’t drink wine, then you should demonstrate some other form of simcha (rejoicing). Sleeping is a simcha, too. It doesn’t mean you should sleep all day long. If you can’t drink wine, you can also open a Gemara. Why not? And if they don’t let you learn in the house, go to the public library with your Gemara. Sit in the public library and learn Gemara. Nobody will bother you there – I can guarantee you that!