New York – Noted Rabbi Twerski Reminds You Drinking Purim Is An Aveirah, Not a Mitzvah!


    Reuters FILE - An ultra-Orthodox Jew lies on the ground drunk during celebrations for the Jewish holiday of Purim in a synagogue in Jerusalem March 23, 2008.New York – In the Talmud, there are differing opinions on some halachos, and we must conduct ourselves according to the rulings of the poskim. For example, R’ Yosi Hagelili believe that the issur of meat and milk does not apply to fowl, but the psak halachah is otherwise. Anyone who eats butter-fried chicken is a treifniak.

    After the early poskim there were the later ones, and because they were in the position to weigh all the earlier opinions, we follow their psak, which is essentially in the Shulchan Aruch. There were great poskim after the Shulchan Aruch, and for all intents and purposes, klal Yisrael has accepted the Mishna Berurah by the Chafetz Chaim as our halachah today.

    In regard to the mitzvah to drink on Purim, Ramah says 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.” This is the halachah we must live by today. Getting drunk is improper. That is the halachah.

    Experience in the past several years has been that particularly young people who drink to excess on Purim get into both shameful and dangerous behavior. Hatzalah cannot keep up with the calls to take these young men to hospital emergency rooms! Can anyone conceive that this is a mitzvah?

    Beis Yosef quotes Orchos Chaim: “The mitzvah to drink on Purim does not mean to get drunk, because being drunk is a total issur, and there is no aveirah greater than this!” I believe that based on this, and the observation of the tragedies resulting from excess drinking on Purim, Hagaon Harav Shmuel Kamentzky made the bold statement that “Getting drunk on Purim is an aveirah, not a mitzvah.”

    Parents! Exercise your authority to prevent your children from harming themselves or others! Make it abundantly clear to them that you will not tolerate excessive drinking, regardless of what their misguided friends may do.

    Baale batim! When bachurim visit your homes on Purim, do not serve them alcohol. Neither wine, beer, nor liquor. They can have the permissible amount (no more than 4 ½ ounces of wine) at home, under their parents’ supervision.

    Remember this! If you serve a young man alcohol, and it has a harmful consequence to him or others, you are responsible for that mishap!

    Rabbanim and Rebeeim! B”H, our children look up to you for guidance. Help them and the community stay healthy and well by speaking out unequivocally against getting drunk on Purim. They will listen to you more than to others.

    May we all enjoy a truly joyous and safe Purim.

    Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D. is the Founder and Medical Director Emeritus Gateway Rehabilitation Center a 28-day alcohol and drug dependence treatment center.

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    1. Every year we get the same warnings from several of gadolei yisroel regarding drinking on Purim yet it seems to be taken with a grain of salt since virtually all the shuls, beis medrashim and kollels not only condone but actually encourage excessive alcohol consumption. In simple terms, they are mamash guilty of murder since we read each year of tragic automobile accidents following such disgusting behavior. We should ignore any Rav who irresponsibly encourages drinking on Purim and expose him public for his actions.

    2. The Karliner rebbe gives out drinks. Some people he actually forces to drink several cups of wine or even 777. Rav Shach called the Karliner rebbe the chochom hador.

      • I don’t believe that the heilege Karliner would “force” anyone to drink wine or liquor, nor would Rav Shach refer to him as a “chochom hador” since any rav or askan who c’v would engage in such action would be universally condemned and shamed and rightfully so.

      • “Baale batim! When bachurim visit your homes on Purim, do not serve them alcohol. Neither wine, beer, nor liquor. They can have the permissible amount (no more than 4 ½ ounces of wine) at home, under their parents’ supervision.”

        You can leave the words “on Purim” out of this paragraph. Bachurim who are under 21 should not, under any circumstances, be given alcoholic beverages by any adult (other than their parents at home). It is against the law.

          • It may well be a dumb law. But there is a case to be made that it is within a parent’s discretion to allow a child to have a small amount of alcohol. There is no case whatsoever to be made that someone else can give a child alcohol– moreover, the possible consequences (in terms of legal liability) are pretty scary.

    3. Every year after Purim, we hear of a tragic story where a young Bochur dies from over drinking. We stop for a moment and look down and are thankful it wasn’t someone we knew. Then we move on with our lives and we drink again the next year. When are we gonna realize how dangerous it is???
      Let’s hope no one gets hurt this year and we should all have a great Purim.

        • Last year, and nearly every year. Many of these stories are “doctored” to reflect other issues, some honestly, others dishonestly. Some accidents are the result of drinking, but the actual cause of death is the injury, not the alcohol. There is far more danger to getting drunk than alcohol poisoning or overdose. These stories happen unfortunately every year. Ask Hatzoloh coordinators for verification, not me in my anonymity.

          Drinking on Purim is a minhag for centuries. No one argued about that. Getting drunk was not the takonoh, and the drinking is unquestionably NOT the main obligation of Purim (the 4 mitzvos are megilla, seuda, matanos lo’evyonim, and mishloach manos). Somehow, these get lost in the quest to be machmir on the amount of alcohol. It is an aveiro to tinker with the priorities of mitzvos and Chazal. Safe drinking (wine only) is what Chazal addressed, and as part of the seuda. The random shikrus has nothing to with Purim, and is, as Rabbi Dr. Twerski described, an aveiro, not a mitzvah.

        • Unfortunately, I’ve heard one last year. And the year before that. And the year before that…
          I personally know someone who was hospitalized from over drinking.a couple of years ago. Please be responsible.

    4. I have this argument with Dr. Twerski every year. Citing anecdotal evidence of the dangers of alcohol consumption is bad science and Dr. Twerski should know better. But I have to mention that the VIN headline writer is apparently even more radical that Dr. Twerski. All the good doctor said was that it was assur to get drunk on Purim. Your headline writer assered drinking in gantzen. Be more careful. Also, there is drunk, and DRUNK. Falling down and throwing up will not enhance your Purim experience, but if you want to make one or two l’chaims, or have a couple of beers and feel “mellow”, notwithstanding Dr. Twerski, you have gedolei haposkim to rely on.

    5. Like every Mitzvah or Eitza that Chazal gave, if done properly there are huge spiritual benefits that the others will not obtain even if they are Patur, that is why there were and are MANY tzaddikim who can’t think of Purim without drinking. There are people with alcohol problems and there are young adults who abuse the Eitza of these Tzaddikim, however a blanket psak that no one should drink is ridiculous. You are going to take away a minhag of millions of Jews since the days of Purim. Its called Seichel and responsibility but not deleting an important part of our mesorah and minhagim for thousands of years. I hate to say but because one Choshuv Rosh HaYeshiva says it’s an aveira doesn’t change much for the people who don’t and never did go by his psak. My personal Rav and minhag is to drink and I am sure glad that I do this mitzvah/minhag and listen to Chazal with a temimus. I don’t touch alcohol the rest of the year and dislike it’s taste. But Purim I FORCE MYSELF to drink in order to listen to the Divrei Chazel and reap much spiritual benefit BH!

    6. Megillah 7b: “on Purim we are obligated to drink wine to the point where we do not know the difference between Boruch Mordechai (‘Blessed be Mordechai!’) and Arur Haman (‘Cursed be Haman!’).”

      Hmmmm let’s see….Twerski….Talmud….Twerski…..Talmud…..ILL GO WITH TALMUD

    7. It was the first Simchas Torah after the passing of the Rebbe Rashab (R’ Sholom Dovber of Lubavitch, 5th Lubavitcher Rebbe), Simchas Torah 5681. Throughout that year, the Rebbe Rayatz (R’ Yosef Yitzchok, 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe), having succeeded his father, acted with great merirus (bitterness). For many months he refused to say Chassidic maamorim in public. His tefillos on weekdays were accompanied by copious tears and his entire demeanor was one of great pain. It was a very difficult time as the communists had taken over the government after a protracted civil war. A trip to the Rebbe entailed great danger not to mention great expense, and money was hard to come by in a time when poverty, starvation, and disease were rampant. Only few Chassidim were able to make it to Rostov to be with the Rebbe.

      Despite the hardship, a group of tmimim made the mighty effort and arrived in Rostov to spend Yom Tov with the Rebbe. The tefillos took place in the Rebbe’s house on Brotzky Street.

      “Simchas Torah 5681 was unusual and we remember it as a most unusual time,” said the Chassid, R’ Nachum Gorolnik a’h.

      After hakafos and musaf, they davened mincha and then sat down to a farbrengen which took place in the large hall, the place where the Rebbe Rashab had passed away.

      During the farbrengen, the Rebbe drank a lot of mashke to the point that people were afraid for his health. One of the Chassidim told the Rebbe’s mother, Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah about this. She entered the large room and as soon as the Rebbe saw her, he stood up.

      “Please, my son, don’t drink so much.”

      “Fine, Mother, fine.”

      After she left, the Rebbe continued to speak and cry and drank more mashke than before.

      Seeing this, they informed the Rebbetzin again. The same scene repeated itself. She entered, the Rebbe stood up, and he responded positively to her request that he not drink any more. Then the Rebbe continued to drink.

      At a certain point, the people noticed that the Rebbe’s speech was becoming slurred and they were finding it harder and harder to understand him. The Chassidim knew that under the circumstances, there was no way that the Rebbe could say a maamar Chassidus as the Rebbeim were accustomed to doing.

      Since they were all tired by a day busy with tefillos, hakafos, and dancing that lasted nearly till dawn, which was followed by more davening and hakafos, each of them found a spot in the room to put down their head for a nap. It was eight in the evening when the Rebbe suddenly asked for his hat. The Chassidim knew this meant that the Rebbe was getting ready to say a maamar Chassidus.

      They quickly woke the chozrim, R’ Alter Simchovitz and R’ Yehuda Eber (may Hashem avenge his blood) while the rest of the Chassidim stood around the Rebbe’s table.

      There was silence as all waited for the beginning of the maamar, the words of the Living G-d. The Rebbe began. His voice was very weak. His lips moved but it was nearly impossible to hear him. The Chassidim sensed it was difficult for him. Another few moments passed and the Rebbe stopped talking.

      A tense silence prevailed in the room. Nobody knew how the Rebbe could continue in his condition. Then the Rebbe suddenly began the maamar again, repeating the part he already said and continuing further. His voice slowly grew stronger and the words became more and more clear until it could be heard loudly and clearly as always, as though he had had nothing to drink.

      “His voice began to get louder and the words flowed, as though of their own accord, with no interference, and in his usual manner of speaking,” wrote R’ Nachum in his memoirs. “The maamar was deep haskala, each thing in its proper place, wondrously organized, and it gave us, the listeners, great pleasure. Our exhaustion disappeared. We were all mesmerized by our hearing and seeing this amazing display of spiritual self-mastery in this wondrous way; it was completely supernatural.”

      The Rebbe said the maamar for a few hours until he suddenly stopped, which was not what he usually did, and he asked, “What time is it?”

      “Five minutes before midnight,” said one Chassid.

      “Nu,” said the Rebbe, “we need to daven maariv.”

      Although throughout the saying of the maamar it was not apparent that he had taken so much mashke, and his voice was clear, the Rebbe wanted to make sure before davening that he wasn’t under the influence of alcohol. He asked the Chassidim to stand in two straight rows on either side of one of the floorboards and the Rebbe walked straight down the middle. Only then did the Rebbe lead the maariv davening of motzoei the Yom Tov, because he was a chiyuv.

      These were the great giluyim that the Chassidim experienced that first Simchas Torah of the Rebbe Rayatz’s leadership.

    8. Cheap garbage wines that contains sugar, or wine diluted with whiskey will make you brech and sick. That’s the problem with these bochrim they drink every glass wine they are offered so they collapse.

    9. The police should crack down on adults providing alcohol to underage teens/children. It is illegal to provide alcohol to a minor. Many people have died from alcohol poisoning. Be responsible adults!

    10. Our Sages state: (Megilla 7b) “A person is obligated to become intoxicated on Purim to the extent that he does not know the difference between ‘Cursed is Haman’ and ‘Blessed is Mordechai.'”

      To cite an example, the Talmud continues, relating: Rabbah and Rav Zeira celebrated the Purim feast together. They became intoxicated. Rabbah stood up and slew Rav Zeira. On the morrow, he prayed for mercy and brought him back to life.

      The following year, [Rabbah] again invited [Rav Zeira] to celebrate the feast together. Rav Zeira answered him: “A miracle does not happen every moment.”

      • The Lubavitcher Rebbe spoke a FASCINATING sicha (well, I was fascinated) about this episode. I don’t think I’m allowed to link here, but you can google “zeirah” and “” to read it.

      • The word “levesumei” does not mean intoxicated. The Gemara, like all Gemaras, must be understood by learning the meforshim. The Halacha is decided by poskim not by just reading a Gemara!

    11. The Emek Bracha brings Rabbi Yisrael Salanter’s chidush in the obligation to drink ad d’lo yoda. Although it is commonly accepted that the word “ad” (until) in this context, refers to the shiur one has to reach to fulfill this mitzva (similar to saying one must eat matza at the seder until one consumes a k’zayis), R’ Salanter maintains that the word “ad” is a shiur of ptur (like one must eat matza until one is forced to stop and just can’t eat a full k’zayis, l’mashal).

      I.e. one is required to drink all day until he forgets there is such a mitzva of ad d’lo yoda, when he is so drunk that he is exempt from mitzvos.

      R’ Itzele Blazer is the source for this explanation and he himself followed it.
      The Sfas Emes in his chiddushim on meseches Megilla explains it the same way.

    12. Overall, alcohol causes many more health problems than illicit drugs in this country. Chronic alcoholics often started drinking as teenagers.

      By enabling teens to drink, and even encouraging it, we are not only guaranteeing that some of these teens will become future alcoholics, we are also creating risky situations–which I have witnessed, year after year–which can and do result in significant injuries to our youth, including becoming comatose and even dying.

      In this day and age, the responsible thing to do is to obey the law–both the secular law and the Jewish law as codified by the Remo and the Chofetz Chaim–and avoid becoming dangerously drunk.

      Those who ignore this and entice children to drink will have to answer for their actions, if not in the here and now (such as in a secular court), then in the World to Come.

    13. There is a great story related by Elie Wiesel in his autobiography “All Rivers Run to the Sea” pp.402-4 about how the Lubavitcher Rebbe outdrank him on Simchas Torah. The Rebbe matched him glass for glass, brimming with vodka.
      ‘Is one enough in Vishnitz?’ the Rebbe asked.

      ‘In Vishnitz,’ I said bravely, ‘one is but a drop in the sea.’

      ‘In Lubavitch as well.’

      He handed me a second glass and refilled his own. He said lchaim, I replied lchaim, and we emptied our glasses. After all, I had to uphold the honor of Vishnitz. But as I was unaccustomed to drink, I felt my head begin to spin. I was not sure where or who I was, nor why I had come to this place, why I had been drawn into this strange scene. My brain was on fire ‘ In Lubavitch we do not stop midway,’ the Rebbe said. ‘We continue. And in Vishnitz?’

      ‘In Vishnitz, too,’ I said, ‘we go all the way’
      He handed me a third glass and refilled his own. My hand trembled; his did not. ‘You deserve a brocha,’ he said, his face beaming. ‘Name it.
      I wasn’t sure what to say. I was, in fact, in a stupor ‘Would you like me to bless you so you can begin again?’
      He blessed me and downed his vodka. I drank and passed out.

    14. I have no clue what relevance the Elie Wiesel story with the Lubavitcher Rebbe has to the discussion. We are discussing the irresponsible drinking on Purim with drunken states that are abominable, as stated by numerous poskim, being branded as a mitzvah. The Rebbe could obviously handle his liquor, and there is nothing in the story to lead us to consider him drunk. Wiesel himself passed out. That is not ok. But we can invest ourselves in asking a kasheh oif a maaseh, or we can address the dangers that pertain to us.

    15. The Chidushei HaRim (the first Gerrer Rebbe) used tell of a yid who saved up money to go to do an aveira. On the way to do his aveira, he passed through a town & found the towns people crying. When he inquired as to the reason for their sadness, they told him that the puritz, who was owed a lot of tax money by the local yidden, had taken many of the local citizens & was holding them hostage. Upon hearing this, the yid (who if you recall was on his way to do an aveira) asked how much was owed to the puritz. When he heard the amount, he immediately removed that amount from his money pouch & handed it to the puritz, who immediately released the yidden.

      In shomayim there was an immediate upheaval. On the one hand this gentleman was deserving of major s’char for giving the money that he had prepared for his aveira for, pidyon shvuim. On the other hand he was a simple Jew (if there is such a thing) who was on his way to spend quite a bundle on doing an aveira. The decision was to give him the power to bless & that his blessings should be mekuyam. As much as that too could be a problem, & in order that he shouldn’t give inappropriate blessings (such as to bring the dead back to life) he was also given an extremely addictive personality which led him to be toasted most (if not all) of the time.

      Once during a difficult time for the Yidden, the Ba’al Shem Tov (who obviously knew the story of this Yid) sent his talmidim to find this Jew to get a brocho from him for the sake of Klal Yisroel. When they arrived & found him smashed all of the time they almost gave up, until one day they finally caught him sober & pulled a brocho out of him (by promising him some good mashke of course). That’s how & why they ended up hearing the story from their Rebbe, the heilige Baal Shem.

      The Chidushei HaRim tells us that the same concept applies to Purim. Since The Ribono Shel Oilam gave Klal Yisroel such a day of the year when every Jew has the ability to ask for all his (& any other Yids) needs, there was a fear that people would make inappropriate request. Therefore Chazal gave us a Mitzvah to drink on Purim ad d’lo yoda (go for it bro) so that in our drunken stupor we won’t have the seichel to make inappropriate requests.

      The Chidushei HaRim tells us that if someone forgos sobriety “leShem Shomayim” he won’t lose out because of it!

      So get ready brother Purim is coming! This is the day to get high! “Leshem Shomayim” (& maybe – hopefully- when u’r there you’ll even remember to ask for something special – for yourself or a yiddishe brother).

      Keep in mind though, that the days leading up to this day are nothing to ignore. (See the first seif of kitzur shulchan aruch hilchos taanis Esther).

      Drink wisely. Don’t overdo it (the Halocho is קצת יותר מהרגיל). Don’t EVER drink and drive (chas vesholom), & remember that mitzvas hayom is mishte haYayin (dry red is my favorite) not booze!

      Peace, Love, & Harmony. 4ever!

    16. Two men are going home in a car after a Purim seuda.
      One screams at another: “What are you doing? You justran the red light!”
      Replies his friend: “Oh! I thought you were driving!”

      Freilichen Purim, friends!

    17. no where in halacha does it say u have to be come inebreated it does say chayev adom lbesuma bepuroa…. that means to be mellow , one shot mabe two and the real mitzvah is wine yoser melmudo, that means a full glass. Anything more do bist ain shegetz, a chillul hashem to goyim —-u shegetz–u frum fool.,whose parents grieve whose rebbi cries for you -cause your vite fun torah


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