V’NAHAFOCH HU: Turn it Upside Down – An Alternative Reading to the Mitzvah of Intoxication on Purim

There is an oft-used statement from the Talmud on Purim that “a person is obligated to become intoxicated on Purim until they do not know the difference between the curse of Haman and righteousness of Mordechai.” This statement has been used as the guiding principle for what Purim celebrations have comprised in the Jewish community, but that statement contains a deeper meaning, hidden right beneath the surface.

In many ways, the story of Purim is a mirror of the world we live in now – a multicultural, multi-faith society struggling with deep division. G-d makes no obvious appearances in any page of the megillah, the central text of this holiday.

We find our central character to be a young woman of color without a fancy resume who ascends to upper class life and suddenly finds herself responsible for the fate of her people. It’s a world of the topsy-turvy, not unlike our own. For most of the Book of Esther, we might find ourselves identifying with the isolation, the pain, and the brokenheartedness that come with living in such a world – a world in which G-d’s presence isn’t as palpable as days before.  

And yet, toward the end of the book of Esther (spoiler alert, Chapter 9), we learn that on the very day that the Jewish people expected their downfall, “ וְנַהֲפ֣וֹךְ ה֔וּא” – the opposite happened. They were saved from certain destruction from the heroics of Esther and the support she received from those around her.

Just like in the story of Purim: faith, community, consistent presence, and showing up can create a new ending of our story. However, creating that new ending requires seeing things not as they are, but as they could be. To see ourselves as powerful and with the potential for change. 

Consider: The idea that intoxication on this holiday may bring us to a place of wonder might be a well-masked invitation to see people in ways that we don’t usually imagine, including ourselves. It may very well be a message to us to see the potential in our world, including our own. We should become so intoxicated in the potential that is within us, that we open up our minds to seeing new unfolding truths, and our hearts to accept them. 

This Purim, I bless you with  the boldness of Esther to turn what you need upside down and believe it’s possible. To read this with the lens of what it takes to build the version of ourselves and our communities that are their wildest manifestations. This takes hard work and community – and we have that here for you. 

With love,
Arielle Krule and the T’shuvah Center Team

Learn how we can talk about Purim and Purim celebrations in an inclusive way that allows everyone to celebrate safely and doesn’t call anyone out for how they choose to celebrate in our new resource with the T’Shuvah Center!

Created in partnership with The T’Shuvah Center:
T’Shuvah Center is an intentional spiritual recovery community for addicts of all kinds. Based in New York City, we integrate Jewish wisdom, text and ritual; the 12 Steps; and spirituality to help those suffering find a path to recovery.

If you have the desire to cultivate transformation for yourself, you have a place here. We believe in the power of following your passions and gaining clarity on what lights you up in life, as a central part of recovering from addiction. We help you unlock your passions as part of our comprehensive approach to addiction recovery. Learn More

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