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The Purim Murder That Wasn't.

One of my favorite Talmudic stories tells of Rabba and Rabbi Zeira, two of our greatest sages, who were celebrating Purim with a feast. Commanded to drink copiously on the joyous day, the two, the Talmud tells us, knocked back a few, until, in his drunken stupor, Raba somehow got around to killing Zeira. Waking up the next morning with a massive hangover, a repentant Raba prayed for Zeira's soul, reviving his friend. The following year, as Purim rolled around, Raba once again invited Zeira out to dinner, but Zeira declined. "No thanks," he said. "After all, miracles don't happen every day."

Rod Serling wouldn't have told it any better. Morbid, funny, and terrifying, the story has mesmerized readers for millennia: Was it really possible that Raba, a revered rabbi, could be so caddish? And what was the moral here, anyway? To watch what you drink? To be more careful when picking your friends?

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Author:Leibovitz, Liel
Publication:Tablet Magazine
Date:Feb 28, 2020
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