This was a direct quote from Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetsky Shlit’a who took precious time from his busy schedule and shared his da’as Torah with our listeners on Thursday night during the Project YES conference call titled, “Purim Parenting: Keeping Our Children Safe and Sober.”
I asked the Rosh Yeshiva to address this matter because many people who heard about our Purim program had asked me to clarify the words of our chazal (sages) “Chayav einish l’besumei be’puria ad deloi yoda bein arur Haman l’baruch Mordechai” which loosely translated says, that one is obligated to drink [on Purim] until he cannot discern between Haman and Mordechai.
“Chas v’shalom (Heaven forbid) that our Torah would consider getting drunk to be a mitzvah!” said Reb Shmuel. He explained that the word l’besumei is derived from the root word which means to sniff something – and said that this means that one should have only “a whiff” of drinking (wine only; he was clear to state).
The Rosh Yeshiva also shed light on the words “ad deloi yoda bein arur Haman l’baruch Mordechai” and said that when one sings verses of a song when he is in a heightened state of simcha (joy) he occasionally will sing the verses in incorrect order – meaning that he will sing the verse of Arur Haman in the place of the verse of Baruch Mordechai. It is inconceivable, he stated, that this is to be taken to condone drunkenness – which is in direct contrast to the teachings of our Torah.
There were many other important take-away messages gleaned from the words of Reb Shmuel and from those of our two other guests, Dr. Benzion Twerski and Professor Lazer Rosman, and I plan on writing them in detail next week. But I feel an obligation to disseminate the words of Reb Shmuel Shlit’a today so parents and educators can discuss them with their children over Shabbos.
This is an important discussion, one that will help us enjoy Purim in a safe and enjoyable manner.