Seneca on Purim Drinking (Seneca: Letter #18 – On Festivals and Fasting)

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By Rabbi Matt Schneeweiss. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Synopsis: On Asarah ba’Teves, our most recent fast day, we read Seneca’s Letter #18 and examined the differences between the Stoic and Jewish views of fasting. In today’s episode we focus on the “on festivals” part of his letter, in which Seneca advises his student Lucilius on how the philosopher differentiates his own behavior from that of the drunken crowd when celebrating Saturnalia. It turns out that the approach he advocates is not too dissimilar to how talmidei chacham (Torah scholars) ought to conduct themselves when celebrating Purim, even while drinking.

Note: there will be no new episode tomorrow. If you would still like to get your daily dose of Stoicism and Torah, I recommend reviewing/listening to Part 1 of Seneca’s Letter #18 on Taanis Esther today, and then listening to this episode on Purim tomorrow.

Sources:
- Seneca: Letter #18; click here to access the full text of Seneca's letters
- Meiri on Megilah 7b
- many other sources I mentioned which I'm too lazy to dig up right now, but will try to supply later on
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Stoic texts:
The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
Letters from a Stoic Master (Seneca)
The Discourses of Epictetus
The Enchiridion (Handbook) of Epictetus
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126 episodes