Please Don’t Ply Kids with Alcohol on Purim

No one can say for certain why there seems to have been a steep spike in the tragic number of teens and adults in our community who died of overdoses/suicides in the past months.

But the brutal fact is that since this past Rosh Hashana alone, there have been dozens of such tragedies. And a large percentage of people (especially children and teens) in our community have their first exposure to drinking and smoking on Purim.

For those who somehow think that getting roaring drunk on Purim is a mitzvah (positive commandment), I encourage you to listen to this MP3 of a Purim Teleconference we conducted with Reb Shmuel Kaminetsky Shlit”a, one of the leading Torah sages of our generation, on the matter of Purim drinking. Reb Shmuel begins speaking at 5:58 of the recording, and he unequivocally states that this is a sin, not a mitzvah.

If you need a reality check on the dangers associated with Purim drinking, please listen to the haunting words of Professor Lazer Rosman, who followed Rabbi Kaminetsky on the conference call. Professor Rosman is one of the original members of Hatzoloh and served as an active volunteer for the past 40 years. He spoke about the, injuries, carnage, full-blown alcohol intoxication comas and even deaths that he personally witnessed as a direct result of Purim (and Simchas Torah) drinking.

Alcohol and tobacco are “Gateway Drugs,” meaning that virtually all hard-core addicts started with these substances. Worded differently, keeping your kids — and your friends’ kids — from early experimentation with alcohol and tobacco is by far the best way to keep them from becoming addicted later on in life. There is no way of knowing in advance which individual is or is not predisposed to developing addictions.

Dr. Benzion Twerski, an expert of the field of addiction, was kind enough to join the conference call as well, and his sage advice to parents is priceless.

Just read these stunning statistics from the Center for Alcohol and Substance Abuse that we’ve been quoting in the dozens of columns we at The Center for Jewish Family Life/Project YES have written on drinking and smoking over the past 15 years:

* “A child who gets through age 21 without smoking, using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol is virtually certain never to do so.”

* “Teens who smoke cigarettes are 12 times likelier to use marijuana and more than 19 times likelier to use cocaine.”

Here are links to some of the articles I’ve written on this subject:

Details and background on the teleconference with Reb Shmuel Shlit”a

What Are Your Thoughts on the Drinking “Scene” on Purim?

Parenting and Drinking Responsibly

It is An Aveirah to Get Drunk on Purim 

Kol Korei (public proclamation) of our Gedolim (sages) on responsible Purim drinking

In light of the danger of long-term addictions and their subsequent consequences, I honestly feel that any adult who encourages or even condones hard drinking on Purim bears moral responsibility (and probably legal responsibility as well for the short-term effects in many cases) for the ruined marriages and lives of those in his/her care who later become alcoholics and substance abusers.

Here is a sobering (pun intended) thought: Since we believe that when we do kind deeds that have long-lasting positive effects, we become “partners” in the spiritual rewards that accrue as a result of what we have done.

The corollary is true as well; meaning that if the “innocent drink(s)” we offer teenagers become the gateway for addiction or worse, we similarly partner in the carnage that results.

And that is an investment none of us wants to make.

Best wishes for an enjoyable, meaningful, and safe Purim,

Yakov Horowitz

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Public Service Note:

As a public service to home-bound mothers and seniors, I will be reading Megilas Esther on Purim night, Wednesday, March 23rd at 7:50 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. You can hear the Megilah by dialing (209) 647-1600 code 827269#

 Many hundreds of people have participated in our Megilah conference call over the past few years, and each year we receive emails from mothers of small children who were thankful for having been able to hear the Megilah reading for the first time in many years. 

 Please note that one should attend Megilah reading in Shul if at all possible.  This is intended only for those for whom that is not possible. In the NY metro area, you may call Rabbi Bamburger  today at Agudath Israel of America (212)797-9000 who will try to arrange for a volunteer to come to your home to read the Megilah for you. Other communities may have similar services available. 

 There will be a short Torah Thought at 7:50 p.m. followed by the reading of the Megilah.  If the live call doesn’t start immediately, please hold on in case there is a short delay.