Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ad De Lo Yada – I Won't Drink To That

Purim is almost upon us. It's a time of great merriment and joy as Jews celebrate salvation from the brink of destruction. There are numerous unusual ways in which Jews are supposed to celebrate this day – however, it's not by desecrating the name of God.

I remember my yeshiva days, and rabbis talking about what it means to get drunk on Purim. And then I remember Purim night, the rowdiness and the pools of vomit whose aromas wafted along the campus.

Something's wrong.

Apart from the fact:

  • that the Talmudic statement, "hayav inush livesume" is unclear as to its actual meaning,
  • that Maimonides gives it a more sobering interpretation,
  • that even if alcohol consumption is a mitzvah, it is only with wine and no other liquor,
  • that even if there is a mitzva, it is only during the Purim seuda and not throughout the day (and certainly not the night before!!)

And even if we can find some Talmudic legitimization for drinking on Purim, surely common sense teaches us that the encouragement of young immature students, who in many cases it is even illegal for them to be drinking, is wrong.

I've heard many people argue, that the mitzvah is only for special people. Well, as educators we always try and get our students to model our behavior. If rabbis are really so great, why are they not great enough to realize the terrible example a drunken educator can teach.

It is tragic that not only is God's name desecrated in the mistaken belief that a mitzvah is being performed, but that God fearing educators are encouraging this desecration.

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