Monday, March 21, 2011

Purim: A Man's Holiday

Notwithstanding the yearly brouhaha about whether women should read the megillah for women (these issues never do seem to simmer down), it recently dawned on me: Purim is much better if you're a guy.
Sure, we had a joint Purim party in our community that was gender-neutral (although all the skits were performed by men). Women are required to hear the megillah and participate in the mitzvot of the day. But, to the best of my knowledge, most women I know don't get drunk. And that, by far, is the very best part of Purim.
I get drunk once a year. And, being a halachic person (I try to be, at least), despite the desperate pleadings of the OU, I think that there is a mitzvah to get drunk. And if you get drunk in the company of similar, like-minded spiritual people, it's a heck of a lot of fun. Yesterday I had the privilege to participate in just such a seudah. There was much singing, dancing, accordion and guitar playing, drum beating, divrei Torah, stories, revelry and much laughing. (The jokes are much, much funnier with the benefit of inebriation.) No one threw up, thankfully. The was no wild craziness, nothing inappropriate to my mind. We just had a great time.
And the women watched.
Sure, they might have enjoyed it, but for them, it was a spectator sport. And my daughter was justifiably bored.
I'm not sure if there is a solution to this problem. I don't know if I'd recommend a separate seudah with drinking for the ladies. Somehow, I don't seem them getting plastered together. And the halachah does say, חייב איניש לבשומי - "a man must get drunk." I'm not an aramaic specialist, so I can't say for sure whether איניש is a gender-neutral term, but I don't see chazal admonishing Jewish women to drink of Purim.
One could argue that women don't need the benefit of alcohol to allow their spirituality to express itself. One could say that it's kind of sad that men need to drink to let go, and express their religious joy. One might be correct.
But that in no way diminishes the fact that getting drunk on Purim -if done correctly and appropriately - is really, really fun. And, for men only.