Message from Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.

February 13, 2014

To our esteemed rabbis and community leaders:

As you know, I have been alerting the community of the increasing problem of alcohol abuse and marijuana smoking among Jewish adolescents. It is unfortunate that many people still do not accept that some of our own children are involved. This is happening to children from the finest families.

Given the gravity of the problem and the ineffectiveness of prevention programs, the very least we can do is to avoid encouraging intoxication.

Purim is soon upon us, and many people drink to excess because of the mistaken notion that there is a “mitzvah” to get drunk on Purim. Rabbi Shneur Zalman in his Shulchan Aruch (529) says, “It is impossible to serve Hashem either in levity or drunkenness.” One of the final authorities on halacha, the Chafetz Chaim in Mishna Berura (695) states clearly that the proper thing to do is not to drink to intoxication, but rather to drink just a bit more than is customary (which would be a glass or two of wine), and go to sleep. This is the proper way to fulfil “not distinguishing between ‘cursed be Haman’ and ‘blessed be Mordechai.’ ”

There is certainly no justification for drinking anything but wine. Aruch Hashulchan (695) condemns drinking spirits (liquor) in very sharp terms. Alcohol intoxication is an abomination, and overriding the rulings of the Baal Hatanya and the Chafetz Chaim by drinking to intoxication is inexcusable.

Let us use good judgement on Purim. We should set a model for our children by not drinking to excess and by supervising adolescents so that they do not drink. We can all enjoy a safe, respectable Purim.

I invite you to affix your signature below, indicating your agreement and support, and to distribute this letter throughout the community.


Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.