Purim has come and gone and unfortunately this year, as every year, there were multiple reports of Jews being rushed to the hospital to get their stomachs pumped due to over consumption of alcohol.
It seems to me that Simchat Torah and Purim are the two holidays where Jews throw caution to the wind and literally put their lives in the hand of fate.
I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of pushing alcohol for religious purposes. I’m not a fan of Jewish organizations using alcohol as a crutch for lousy party planning, and I’m definitely sick of people telling me that it is impossible to have fun without a bit of alcohol
In his book ‘The Conquest of Happiness’, Bertrand Russell calls drunkenness temporary suicide and he’s not wrong. People who choose to drink themselves into a stupor are essentially taking a vacation from reality. Therefore, perhaps instead of trying to convince a heavy drinker to stop drinking, maybe communities should be looking at the lives of these unfortunate souls and try to help them fix their lives.
When it comes to the religious communities, I don’t understand how the could follow one Halacha that says that moderate drinking is encouraged to drink and destroy their lives and bodies, Whole a bother alas says that you cannot intentionally hurt yourself. The hypocrisy is amazing.
It’s time our religious communities stop creating drinking cultures and start teaching moderation, and that has to come from the top. It’s time for our Rabbis and community leaders to start acting like the heads of communities and lead by example. I’d really love to go through a Simchat Torah or Purim with no reports of alcohol poisoning, that would make a truly happy holiday.