The Festive Purim Meal
Get out the silly string afor the wackiest time of the Jewish year. But don't forget the rules.
The Purim feast is unlike any other in the Jewish year. In addition to good food and lots of alcohol, the meal is characterized by its zany raucous atmosphere – trombones blare, silly string flies, and grown men dance together for hours on end.
But for the Jew, there is always a deeper side to the party. The antics are often connected to philosophical topics. Jokes and riddles can even take on a halachic flavor:
Q: I come from a kosher animal, but I cannot be eaten because I am both milk and meat. What am I?
A: The udder of a cow.
Here's another fun Purim gag, rooted in Jewish concepts:
Make a big production out of drinking (non-dairy) rice milk with your hamburger – while leaving the box of rice milk conspicuously on the table. (see Yoreh Deah 87, Shach #6) When people express shock at seeing you mix milk and meat, act drunk and unaware!
These are great gags, and they're RC (religiously correct). And who says that rabbis don't have fun!
Laws of the Purim Feast
1) The Purim Seudah (feast) is held during the daytime. It is also customary to extend the meal until after dark.
2) Even if the meal finishes after dark, we still include the paragraph of Al HaNissim in Grace After Meals.
3) If Purim falls on Friday, the festive meal is held in the morning, so that the meal ends in plenty of time to finish preparations for Shabbat.
4) It is also appropriate to have a "more festive than usual" dinner on Purim night. Some also have the custom of eating a bread meal in the morning.
5) One is obligated to drink until he can no longer distinguish between Arur Haman and Baruch Mordechai. See more details and a deeper explanation.
6) However, one should not become so drunk that he will be negligent in performing mitzvot – e.g. Netilat Yadayim (washing hands before bread), saying the blessings of "Hamotzee" and Grace After Meals, and praying Mincha and Ma'ariv. It is improper to say Grace After Meals or to pray if a person is so drunk that he is "unfit to stand before the King."
7) If a person has limited funds, it is better to limit spending on the Purim meal, and to increase gifts to the poor.