Lie or Not to Lie? To Get Drunk or Not to Get Drunk?

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By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld

Rav Yehudah tells us in the gemara in Bava Metzia, daf chof gimmel, amud bais that there are three things a talmid chacham is permitted to lie about. The three things are mesechta, puria and ushpiza. The Maharsha explains that puria is referring to the gemara in Megilah, daf zayin, amud bais that says that one has to get drunk on Purim up to the point of not being able to differentiate between Arrur Haman and baruch Mordechai.” The Maharsha says that on Purim talmid chacham may lie and say that he got drunk to the point of confusion despite the fact that the truth is he did not get drunk to that point.

The Shailos Utshuvos Yad Chanoch in siman daled speaks about a gemara in Yerushalmi in Perek Ches in Shabbos about Reb YonaReb Yona would not drink wine from Pesach to Pesach. He would have a tremendous headache after Pesach until Shavuos from the wine that he drank at the Seder. The question that is asked is; why didn’t Reb Yona push himself to drink wine on Purim? It must be that Reb Yona was of the opinion that a Talmid Chacham should not drink on Purim to the point of ad delo  yoda” because it might bring to bizayon haTorah.” When a person who considers himself a talmid chacham does not drink wine on Purim it comes across as if has yuhara (he is a baal gaaveh.) Therefore when offered a cup of wine on Purim, rather than come across as a baal gaaveh and not drink it, he may lie and say that he already drank.

On Purim we learn the importance of drinking responsibly. The Mechaber paskens that one should drink until he can’t recognize the difference between arur Haman and boruch Mordechai. The Rema paskens that one should not get drunk on Purim. He should just drink a little more than he is used to and then go to sleep from the intoxication. The following question then arises. If one will get drunk to the point that he will not be able to bentch or daven Maariv, may he or should he still drink or not? There are Rishonim who discuss this dilemma. My feeling is that one who does not go through the entire sugya has no right to get drunk and be mevatel other mitzvos. Remember that drinking is a mitzvah DeRabbonon whereas Birchas Hamazon is a DeOraysa.

Happy Purim!

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  1. “The Maharsha explains that puria is referring to the gemara in Megilah, daf zayin, amud bais that says that one has to get drunk on Purim up to the point of not being able to differentiate between “Arrur Haman and baruch Mordechai.” The Maharsha says that on Purim a talmid chacham may lie and say that he got drunk to the point of confusion despite the fact that the truth is he did not get drunk to that point.”

    1) Rashi, father of the commentators, explains differently.

    2) Even the Maharsha is more complicated than presented here.

  2. 1. maybe reb yona drank booze, not wine. it could be only wine bothered him and he was mikayeim ad dilo yada with shnops or the like
    2.why can’t a yid enjoy doing a mitzva even if he doesnt do it lishma? do you know anyone that does any mitzva with perfect kavanos lishma?
    3. since when does a persons going throough the sugya qualify as reasoning to do something or not? what if im an ignaramous and come out the wrong way? is it cause i went through the sugya?

  3. A Talmid Chochom writes Divrei Torah, coming to a Halacha-Lema’se conclusion. It is Printed in a Frum website and then open to comments from all who wish.
    I have no personal knowledge or personal criticism of Messrs FYI and Anonymous, but I am quite uneasy about the system. Is there a way to communicate on these sites that safeguards the Kovod of Torah and its teachers?

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