בהנ"ו ערב פורים ה'תשע"א
Erev Purim 5771
Dear member of the Community,
I hope this letter finds you excitedly anticipating the wonderful holiday of Purim. Rejoicing the miracle of Purim is certainly a most enjoyable time for our community. It is a time for families to get together to celebrate Hashem’s delivering us from the danger of Haman’s decree to the safety of Mordechai and Esther’s rule.
Regrettably, the Orthodox community often experiences misfortune as a result of an accident related to excessive drinking. All doctors agree that disproportionate drinking and the subsequent drunken state that ensues pose very serious health risks for the inebriated as well as those around them.
While Purim Simchah is not only appropriate, but in fact mandated, the kind of reckless drinking that takes place in many circles is extremely hazardous, not in the spirit of Yahaduth, and, according to most halachic opinions, against halachah.
The later Poskim were in the position to weigh all the earlier opinions, and we are to follow their Psak, which is essentially in the Shulchan Aruch.
The Bet Yosef quotes Orchot Chaim: “The mitzvah to drink on Purim does not mean to get drunk, because being drunk is a total Issur, and there is no Averah greater than this!”
Hagaon Harav Shmuel Kamentzky made the bold statement that “Getting drunk on Purim is an Averah, not a Mitzvah.”
The Ramah says in regard to the Mitzvah to drink on Purim, that one need not get drunk, but to drink just a bit more than one usually does, and take a nap.
The Mishnah Berurah (695) says “This is the proper thing to do.”
Getting drunk is improper. That is the halachah.
In today’s climate, where youngsters have increased access to all types of excesses, having too many drinks on Purim can lead to future problems. Many teens who have fallen away from a stable life situation point to a drink at a “Kiddush Club”, a drink on Purim, or a smoke at a Purim party as the starting point for their addiction. Unfortunately, children attending Purim celebrations at many public places have reported that these events encourage youngsters to drink irresponsibly and to participate in other excessive behaviors such as drugs or cigarette smoking.
I am therefore asking our entire community to join together and carefully monitor the consumption of alcohol over Purim. It is important as well to know where and with whom our children will be throughout the holiday. Please let’s talk to our children about the dangers of drinking, and the need to insist on a designated driver if others around them are drinking.
This way, we can ensure that we all experience a truly joyous and safe Purim only filled with Orah, Simchah, Sasson, V’ykar.
Rabbi Avraham Nissanian
Congregation Shaare Tova
Eshel Avraham Organization