Purim Torah

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Purim Torah is a term used to describe humorous and satirical writings customarily read on the Jewish holiday of Purim. Purim Torah can be simple or elaborate, and require no qualifications to write, other than a good sense of humor. Purim Torah authors, often displaying an amazing grasp of Jewish knowledge, playfully use some of the far-fetched methods of Talmudic logic and Biblical exegesis in order to reach absurd conclusions.

Parodies of Jewish life and the world have been found as early as the 12th century.

Ashkenazi culture has a variation of the Purim Torah that is acted out, often with elaborate costumes and is referred to as a Purim Shpiel, from the Yiddish for play.

Talmudic sources

Eliezer Segal points to a passage in the Talmud as the first Purim Torah. In a passage on Hulin 139b, a sage offers up a series of ridiculous puns in order to find allusions to characters from the Purim story in the Torah. Others such as Israel Davidson claim that while there is humor present in the Talmud, calling any part of it a parody is an overstatement.

Example of Purim Torah

The Purim Rabbi asks the question: Why is it said in the Talmud that the generation of Jews who were with Moses in the desert do not have a share in the world to come? Because those Jews quarreled with Moses and with God about water, and never asked for a bit of wine. Such bad...
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