Are Jews actually supposed to get drunk on Purim? I understand there is a statement in the Talmud to that effect, but perhaps it is not to be taken literally? It seems such an unJewish thing to do! Surely there are other, more refined and more spiritual ways of celebrating and showing joy!
The source of this practice is a passage from the Talmudic tractate Megillah (7b):
Rava said: A person is obligated to drink on Purim until he does not know the difference between "cursed be Haman" and "blessed be Mordechai"
The issue of whether and how Rava’s statement should be implemented in practice is a matter of disagreement between various Halachic authorities. The question, however, is not what Rava means, but whether or not the Talmud contains another opinion, contrary to Rava’s (see Ran and Baal HaMaor on Talmud, Megillah 7b; Bach
To summarize: All Halachic authorities are unanimous in ruling that it is a mitzvah to drink, and drink to excess, on Purim, though there are differences of opinion as to whether the obligation is to get as drunk as Rava enjoins, or to a lesser degree. In any case, the concept of becoming intoxicated on Purim to the point that one’s reason is totally incapacitated is a legitimate Halachic position, which requires understanding and validation regardless of whether or not it is accepted in practice.