Camie Davis

Drunkenness and other such portals on Purim

Purim is a holiday of connecting the dots. A time to remember that as in the story of Esther, nothing, absolutely nothing in life is random or happenstance.  God is orchestrating everything.  Which is comforting.  Unless, of course, God forbid, something we perceive as terrible happens, and the thought of God orchestrating everything is confusing and hurtful to say the least.

So that’s why Jews get drunk on Purim. Okay, not all Jews. But a lot of them. Anyway, many of the Jews I know are very “in control, by the book” kind of people. So it’s a bit surprising that they have a spiritual ordinance on Purim to get drunk. So drunk, in fact, that they can’t tell the difference between “cursed be Haman” and “blessed be Mordechai.”  But that kind of altered state-of-mind is exactly where one of the biggest lessons in life resides. A lesson so old it goes all the way back to the beginning.  Yes, the beginning, in the Garden of Eden.

Two “famous” trees grew there. The Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. One’s fruit could be eaten. One’s fruit was forbidden. And you know the rest of the story of the bite that was heard ‘round the world.

Okay, back to getting drunk. Which is literal and symbolic of “going out of our minds” and/or of “going beyond our reasoning.” Our minds are extraordinary. I find myself thanking God so often for the gift of awareness, of consciousness, of contemplation, of thinking. I love to think. Just absolutely love it. But if I’m not careful, thinking can be a detriment to my peace and happiness. Why? Because I tend to overthink, to overanalyze.  And overthinking and overanalyzing can often stifle the joy of living.

But beyond overthinking, I judge situations.  Remember the scenes in the Terminator movies showing how the Terminator processed so much information instantaneously, like a computer readout?  That’s what our minds do all the time.  And one of the things we are continuously processing is whether a situation is good or evil. And although this ability to navigate between good and evil helps us make wise choices and helps us avoid dangerous situations, it also ironically can hinder us from living abundantly and peacefully. Because even though our minds are extraordinary, we operate within the parameters of finite reasoning.  We forget how to, or are either too lazy to remain connected to the only True Reality, the One of Perfect Knowledge.  We are an extension of that – of perfect Knowledge.  But let’s face it, life muddles our connection to and awareness of God so we only see situations through our perceptions, not through His reality.  The eating of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil lowered our vantage point from an infinite Heavenly one, to a finite earth-bound one.

It’s like the piece of fruit Adam and Eve took a bite of from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil moved into all of our heads instead of into our stomachs and we perpetually chew on it but never swallow and eliminate it.  We are in a perpetual judging state-of-mind but unfortunately our judgements are perpetually limited, therefore perpetually flawed.  The minute Adam and Eve took bites, we all became judge and jury who render judgments of good and evil without ever seeing the entire picture.

So back to getting drunk.  A certain kind of intentional drunkenness is a portal.  One way of reaching the pre-Adam/Eve-took-a-bite moment and instead, reaching for and eating the fruit from the Tree of Life.  A way of getting back to the pristine consciousness of remembering that there is only One True Judge.  A total surrendering again to the orchestrating hand of God connecting every dot of every second in our lives and accepting His decisions regardless if they seem “good” or “evil.”  A way of spitting the pieces of fruit out that we’ve been chewing on for so long and saying to ourselves, “How about living above my rationale for a few moments?  Just live.  And connect to God without reasoning.”

Of course, it doesn’t take alcohol to reach this place.  Access to not knowing the difference between “cursed be Haman” and “blessed be Mordechai,” of not knowing the difference between “good” and “evil” is but a mere thought away.  But most people can’t reach that place of remembering without some sort of aid.  We all will someday though.

The day of a constant “Purim frame of mind” is approaching.  It is a day when the Prophet Zechariah said that God and His name will be One.  When we will all see and understand without labels that everything He did and will do simply “is.”  It is not good.  It is not bad.  It simply is what it is, and because it emanated from Him, it is perfect.

Rumi saw a glimpse of this Oneness when he wrote about going beyond the boundaries of his religion. “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field.  I’ll meet you there.  When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.  Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’ doesn’t make sense.”

I think that field Rumi speaks of is shaded by a very large tree.  And of course you know which tree I’m thinking of.  The Tree of Life.  We lie down under that tree on Purim and put our minds to rest by remembering that we know nothing on our own.  And yet we know everything by just being with Him, in Him.  Being in that kind of place can be more often than Purim, if we would just remember to go there. After all, He loves meeting us in the field.

About the Author
Camie Davis is a non-Jewish writer and advocate for Israel.