Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

Jews are now forbidden to drink alcohol on Purim

I love advocating truths that are often assaulted by popular opinion. So, this blog post was waiting to be written by me.

There was a time that it was not known that smoking cigarettes is dangerous for your health. Life is to elevate us and the world and also to enjoy — within limits. So, Jewish Law looked favorably at it. That has changed. It is now completely forbidden to smoke. Though the rabbis acknowledge that those addicted cannot give it up so easily and that makes them less deliberate smokers and less guilty.

Jewish Law prescribes to spread more happiness from the beginning of the Month of Adar. (Not just to be happy but to spread it.) Culminating at Purim.

There was a time that the Sages thought that drinking wine and eating meat would make a person happy. That must still be true at a spiritual level, but health-wise for the consumer and the planet, that’s passĂ©.

Wine doesn’t gladden the heart — it destroys it.

(Alcohol licks the liver and bites our blood pump. It’s a poison that widens the fine blood vessels and so reduces a weak heart’s pain but it’s still poison for which there is better medication. It doesn’t cure social anxiety — it keeps people anxious so that they need to keep drinking. The “healthiness” of red while is also in unfermented red grape juice. People addicted to alcohol often claim that they need it to deal with life’s difficulties. But do they drink because they have problems or do they have problems because they drink? You guessed it.)

Truth is that happiness should not depend on anything external. We should choose to be happy unconditionally, for no good reason, freely (“bechinam“). Babies don’t need a reason to be happy — why should you? And being happy is not even an embellishment — that’s a minimum requirement for a Jewish religious life. And if you’d say “But that is difficult” — where is written that it’s comfortable and easy to be a Jew? It’s supposed to be deeply gratifying but not always simple.

Reb Shlomo (Carlebach): “If you’re not drunk with Shabbat, you’re not doing it.” With, not on.

And what about saintly people who don’t look happy? Well, apparently, they’re still human because if they’re not happy, they’re not doing it.

The Torah tells us that Jewish Law is to live (well) by, not to die from. It tells us to choose life. It tells us to guard our health very very much.

We are even allowed to break Shabbat to try to remove a possible threat to life, even if we are not sure there is such an immediate danger and if we are not sure we would be effective. This is not a violation of Shabbat. Rather, saving human life goes before keeping Shabbat (and almost any other Commandments), overtakes it.

What about the requirement to drink until you don’t know the difference between Mordechai and Haman — between good and evil? (It reads: until!) Well, a known solution is to take a nap. When you sleep and especially when you wake up groggy, sleep-drunk, you also can’t tell the difference.

There are sometimes elderly Jews who don’t want to eat on Yom Kippur although the doctor tells them that now they must. Jewish Law sides with the physician! (Only — the reverse — when a doc says that you could safely fast and you don’t think so, you win!) Then, nonetheless fasting is a sin, not a virtue. So, to hell with those who say “but we’re used to drinking alcohol on Purim.” Medical science says it’s bad — that’s the end of it.

(Elderly people may have to eat today because of the coronavirus danger.)

As far as I’m concerned, drinking alcohol is taking poison and is against Jewish Law. Also on Purim. And it’s so 2019. Happy Purim.

Full disclaimer: I grew up socialist. Real socialists don’t drink because they have rejected the idea that you don’t need to use your brain (or are stupid). Besides that, the Dutch on average drink alcohol like crazy and they think it’s fun. Dutch Jews, in contrast, often drink little or no alcohol. “Just because everyone jumps in the water doesn’t mean that you should too,” my mother used to teach us. I try to avoid people who drank even a little alcohol. Because they often hold that their speech is at the zenith of intelligence but I find that people after one sip of alcohol talk slow, stupid, repetitive, and boring. The above is just my opinion. Not joking.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQAI, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quit a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500st blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * NEW: To see other blog posts by him, his overspill blog you can reach by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture at the head of every post. There you may find precursors to later TOI blog posts, addition or corrections of published TOI blog posts, blog posts the TOI will not carry and some thoughts that are too short to be a TOI blog post. Also, the TOI only allows for one blog post per blogger per 24 hours. Sometimes, he has more to say than that. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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