Saturday, March 07, 2009

Purim and Drinking

This year, more than other years, it seems that our schools and community leadership have got it together and are trying to educate our youth and parents about the dangers of excessive drinking. I notice that all the Jewish Schools have been getting professionals to talk about this subject to the kids. Whether or not this helps is up for debate.

What seems to be the better message is the one in the video above from Aleinu in Los Angeles. It encourages parents to be aware of what their children are doing this Purim. This would seems to be common sense but it seems to me that some (many?) parents would rather party themselves than have to worry about their kids on Purim.

Rabbi Yossi Braun in Sydney has sent out a message about drinking on Purim which I believe puts this in perspective for everyone and especially for those who call themselves Lubavitch Chassidim. Although what he says is not new it bears repeating. Some of the pertinent paragraphs:

A significant improvement can be achieved if we adopt the takono (decree) of the Rebbe in relation to consumption of alcohol. The Rebbe has issued an edict that any person less than forty years of age should not drink more than four l’chaims, the total amount not exceeding a revi’is.

If the above takono is observed, it is highly unlikely that alcohol consumption will be a problem.

School age children up to and including secondary school students should not be given any vodka or whisky. Parents should join together and carefully monitor their children over Purim. Please talk to your children about the dangers of drinking. The key to all of the above is responsibility.

While some are of the erroneous opinion that this ruling of the Rebbe has no relevance to Purim, the Rebbe has made it clear on countless occasions that one ought to be equally cautious not to deviate from this instruction on Purim as on any other day. Even if there would be a doubt in this matter (which is not the case!), it is clear that safek lechumra – any doubt in this matter should result in acting stringently and abstaining from excessive drinking.

Let's hope that this message will get through and that Hatzolah will have a very quiet day this Tuesday.