Opinion: Stop Making Purim All About Drinking | Shalom Mermelstein

Every year, someone writes up about how terrible it is that there are individuals who will serve alcohol to underage kids. They’re right – it’s a huge problem and there are those who don’t seem to ever understand the problem or stop behaving recklessly. But let’s face it: at this point, if someone doesn’t care that serving alcohol to youngsters is illegal, irresponsible, and downright reckless, there is nothing anyone can write that will stop them. Stupid people will continue to act stupidly. That’s just the way it is.

Instead, I want to focus on a separate, but related issue: the overemphasis we place on alcohol consumption on Purim. Yes, there is an inyan to get drunk “ad d’loy yada” as we all know, usually from the song rather than the actual source. But that’s not the ikkar of the day. And when people’s entire celebration of Purim revolves around drinking, big problems arise.

Ask anyone involved with addiction rehab how many adults in Lakewood are secretly alcoholics. Ask them how many lives have been destroyed because of people becoming hooked after starting to just “take a shot or two” when they attend a kiddush or shalom zachar. Inquire a bit about the measures recovered addicts need to take so as not to even smell alcohol, lest they relapse. Alcohol addiction is real, and it’s really affecting many in our own community.

What should we take from this? If you want to drink alcohol and get a little tipsy on Purim, go for it. Nobody is stopping you. But maybe we should take a step back and look at the bigger picture, the one in which we see individuals and families suffering from the vice that alcohol is. Maybe we should stop associating Purim with drunkenness. Perhaps we should make it a day of happiness – organic happiness – rather than a drug-induced haze of a day.

If we made that shift away from the emphasis on alcohol and towards celebrating the day in a meaningful way – with or without wine and schnapps – we would be doing a lot to help those that are struggling.

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  1. I understand what your saying but it sounds similar to the 1 or 2 kids out of hundreds who have a peanut allergy or some other allergy. before you know it you can’t figure out what lunch to send your own kid because everything is restricted and the whole school becomes peanut free nut free sesame free soy free wheat free egg free etc..just because few ppl have addictions doesnt mean everyone else should not enjoy drinking. If someone has a drinking problem its their own responsibility to be careful. Don’t baby everyone else just because someone “might” have an issue.

  2. I disagree with the whole premise of this article. There is no OVER EMPHASIS on drinking, from what I see. A whole we’re busy with the many mitzvos Hayom, davenning, learning, Megillah, Matanon L’Evyonim, Mishloach Manos, etc etc. An hr before Shkiah, we do the last Mitzva of the day. Have a seuda and, as the Rem”a says: Drink a little bit more than usual etc etc.
    I dont have a problem with this and I’m not sire why you do.
    Happy & Safe Purim to all.

  3. Since when is Purim “All about drinking”? Most people I know start drinking around 4:30-5pm and are done by 8-9pm. They go home relax, go to bed and the next day they’re back to a normal schedule and won’t be drinking much for another year.

  4. No one ever became an alcoholic because they were exposed to alcohol, all alcoholism stems from emotional issues or pain taking away alcohol doesn’t solve the underlying issue if not alcohol they’ll turn to some other unhealthy outlet the point is healthy people can drink to their hearts content on Purim and throughout the year and not develop an addiction and unhealthy people will remain unhealthy with or without alcohol so if instead of blaming Purim let’s come up with a solution to help unhealthy people who are in pain so we can all enjoy Purim k’halacha

  5. We should really find out why people are suceptible to addiction. Any addiction weather it be alacahol, internet, cell phones whatever. Then we can start talking about real solutions, not reactionaey band-aide fixes

  6. Getting tipsy will faster lead to becoming an alcoholic…. as the feeling is great and will make someone want to do it again… besides ur not yotzei ur chiyuv….
    Getting trashed on the other hand is not as enjoyable especially when u have 24 hrs of pain after…. doesnt entice one to want to repeat it…. and ur yotzei ur mitzvah! ????????????

    Enjoy ur purim!

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