This year, Purim will be celebrated beginning this evening, March 6th after sunset, and continue through tomorrow, Tuesday, March 7th.

Four mitzvot are associated with the holiday:

Megillah Reading – Book of Esther – The Megillah is read twice on Purim, once at night and once during the day. In order to properly fulfill the mitzvah of Megillah, it is necessary to hear every word during the reading. For this reason, it is imperative that nobody speak or prevent others from hearing the Megillah with noise from their groggers during the Megillah reading.

Mishloach Manot/Shalach Manos – Sending Gifts – On Purim day, every Jew should give at least one Mishloach Manot gift containing at least two different types of ready-to-eat food items.

Matanot La’evyonim – Gifts to the Poor – Giving to the poor is a mitzvah all year round. However, the mitzvah to do so on Purim is in addition to the general mitzvah of tzedakah (charity). To properly fulfill the mitzvah of Matanot La’evyonim charity must be given to two poor individuals. Although this mitzvah may be fulfilled by giving a minimal amount of money to each person, the sages noted that the highest form of fulfilling this mitzvah is by giving enough money for a meal, or the equivalent in food. This mitzvah may also be fulfilled by donating beforehand to an organization that will distribute the money or food on Purim day.

Seudah – Festive Meal – In order to properly fulfill the special mitzvot of Purim, it is necessary to partake in a festive meal on Purim day. The minimum to fulfill this mitzvah requires the eating of bread, preceded by the ritual washing of hands (n’teelat yadayim), and followed by the recitation of the Birkat Hamazon, the Grace after Meals.

The Purim seudah is often associated with drinking. The Talmud says, “A person should drink on Purim up to the point where he cannot tell the difference between ‘Blessed is Mordechai’ and ‘Cursed is Haman’” (Megillah 7a and Shulchan Aruch–Code of Jewish Law) – generally, this is interpreted as drinking more than one usually does or enough to make one sleepy.

While drinking on Purim is often seen as a mitzvah, behaving irresponsibly in a way that endangers life, is never permitted. Whether host or guest, it is important to act responsibly:

1) Do not drink and drive.
2) Beware of underage drinking. Please do not give young people any alcohol.