Drinking Wine on [a day like] Yom Kippur

One of the most peculiar laws of Purim is the obligation to drink wine, and even become intoxicated.  As the Talmud states, “A person is obligated to become inebriated on Purim, until he does not know the difference between ‘Blessed is Mordechai and cursed is Haman.’  Excessive drinking is frowned upon by Jewish law, yet here it appears that the law specifically advocates drinking.  Clearly, a person may not become ...

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The Purim Back Story and Jewish Survival

The Purim story begins about 900 years after the Exodus from Egypt.  The Jews had been living in Israel continually, since they first entered with Joshua.  For 410 years, Shlomo Hamelech’s Bais HaMikdash in Jerusalem had been the focal point of Jewish spiritual and national life in Israel.  The first major tragedy that the Jews of this era experienced was the division of the country into the northern kingdom of ...

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Calvin and Hobbes and Judaism

I recently cited Thomas Hobbes in an article that I wrote, and I received criticism for bringing a non-Jewish source in a Torah article. I thought it would be of interest to share my response. In citing the philosopher Thomas Hobbes I was actually following an ancient practice which recognizes that there is indeed “wisdom amongst the nations” (Midrash Eicha Rabba 2:17) and following the Rambam’s exhortation to “hear the truth ...

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Coffee – The Grind and the Gemara

I confess that we in the Becher home are coffee fanatics.  We only buy recently roasted beans, grind them in a ceramic grinder, make pour-over coffee using only non-bleached paper filters and do not pollute the coffee with sugar or chas v’shalom, artificial sweeteners and other toxic waste.  We recently acquired a cold brew coffee tower, which drips cold water through ground coffee for six hours and produces one of ...

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Where is Moshe?

The parshiyos that we are currently reading feature Moshe prominently in the story of the Exodus, the Red Sea and the time in the desert. It is fascinating to note, however,  that if you look through the Haggadah Moshe is just not there, he is not mentioned. He is mentioned in one place as an aside – coincidentally. Rav Yossi of Galilee was talking about how many plagues hit the ...

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