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.
Dr. Abraham J. Twerski, an ordained rabbi is an internationally respected authority on the treatment of alcohol and other drug dependencies, and is the author of more than 60 books.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.