What is the significance of the Talmudic instruction to drink on the holiday of Purim?
The Sages taught, “Wine enters, and secrets emerge” (Eiruvin 65a). In our generation, we very much need our inner secrets to come out and be revealed. Through this revelation, we will discover that which is hidden in our souls and learn to recognize our true selves.
When we reach the level of intoxication prescribed by the Sages — ad d'lo yada (so that one does not know) — we are able to free ourselves, at least temporarily, from the pseudo-knowledge and popular truisms that confuse us. We can shake off all of the accepted certainties that conceal the truth from us.
We are drunk with superficial illusions. We think that we have come this far, establishing a foothold in our homeland and embarking on the nascent beginnings of our national redemption, by virtue of our talents and wisdom. We forget that without the hand of the One “Who sows kindnesses and produces triumphs,” all of our efforts would be for naught. We fail to perceive the Divine hand that is hidden behind all of our achievements.
All year long, we are drunk with a deceptive inebriation. We live unaware of the calculated plans of a greater world, a world ruled by the Master of the universe, with Whom we have a sworn pact guarding over Israel’s eternal spirit. This covenant is ingrained in our very essence. It cannot be voided by evasion or alienation. Even if we should sink to the lowest level, we cannot change our skin, our body, our soul. Those who deceive themselves will suffer greatly until they return to where they are inherently connected. “His heart will understand, and he will return and will be healed”(Isaiah 6:10).
In the days of Mordechai and Esther, the Jewish people renewed their promise to keep the Torah (Shabbat 88a). In our days also, Esther’s call to “Go, gather all of the Jews” should ring in our ears and stir the inner self to break forth from its place of hiding. The inner self, buried deeply in the soul of every Jew, resists the clever manipulations of misleading ideas and popular notions.
Let us reveal this epistle of Purim in all of its wonders, set above and beyond all of our superficial “knowledge.” Let us announce the power of a united Israel, bringing together all sectors of the Jewish people. This is the secret strength of eternal Judaism. And through the strength of our unity we will be able to overcome all obstacles that stand in the way of our national rebirth.
(Silver from the Land of Israel, pp. 138-139. Adapted from Mo'adei HaRe’iyah, pp. 266-267, from an article in HaYesod that Rav Kook penned on his last Purim, in 1935.)