Friday, January 21, 2011

Rabbis 'on the wagon': What next?

A whole month without Mashkeh! How are they going to survive?
After all, many of them have congregants who MUST be driving them to drink...

And lucky that this year there are 2 Adars - otherwise Purim would have messed up this Febfast shtick.


  1. Besides Reb Glassman there seem to be no other Chabad rabbis on board.

    Obviously vodka is harder to give up than wine or scotch.

  2. Hmm, fasting in February; I wonder where that idea came from. Now I've perused the web site thoroughly and can't find any reference to an avoda zara origin; the ostensible reason for February is that it's the shortest month, and therefore easier than a JanFast or MarchFast would be, the true origin of the idea just seems too obvious to ignore. It can't be a coincidence, and that should give rabbonim pause before participating. Still, if you're going to do it this year is the best choice, since lent doesn't actually start this year until the 9th of March!

  3. B"H
    I actually think this is done in a very good spirit and leads by example. Sad to say. too many young Jewish kids are going off the derech and drinking to excess as well as experimenting with all sorts of illegal 'recreational' substances.
    Frankly I have been shocked by the number of kids who are children of friends of mine (yes, I am an ancient old biddy) who profess to a real liking for hard likker and indulge in different substances for dubious fun.
    I can recall many years ago, going to parties of friends and one of the nice things about parties of Jewish kids was
    1. The amount of good food available(when you are a poor Uni student a good feed is always welcomed.
    2. The absence of alcohol unless individuals bought it with them and even then it wasn't so welcomed.
    3. You could actually have decent conversations with guys about all manner of topics without them hitting on you in a drunken frenzy.
    4. There was little or no violence and conflicts and the parties were fun.
    By contrast, the parties of non Jewish friends or Uni associates had
    1. Too much alcohol which led to vile behaviour from both men and women.
    2. Going to one of these parties was to negotiate a minefield of drunken slobs trying to hit on you or get you into a similar inebriated state in order for them to have their way with you once you were so drunk you did not care. You never left your non alcoholic drink unattended because it invariably ended up spiked with alcohol. Whoever says you can't taste vodka in orange juice has never tasted a cup of orange juice which is nearly half vodka. It is vile and if can't taste the vodka, you must have faulty taste buds.
    There is too much substance abuse among younger people today. Mainly because there is such an emphasis on being entertained and being entertaining and that puts pressure on young people. Also there are some shocking role models in the non Jewish society, football stars, movie stars and the like who people look up to and these people lead very empty selfish lives in realty. There is no glamour to their lives. It is all empty of deeper meaning and to hide the fact and their deep unhappiness, these people drink or take drugs to dull their disquiet that there is something very wrong with the way they are living. Those who emulate this way of superficial life also do the same. They pretend it is fun to get drunk or to take drugs, when really it is sick.
    I am sure some Chabad rabbis will get on the wagon if it can be shown as way of changing or bringing back others to a more stable and sensible path. Yiddiskeit is not about abuse of a substance to find meaning in your life. That we all know. It is about balance, moderation and living a meaningful life connected to Hashem and doing the ratzion of Hashem.

  4. Ilana, excessive drinking is certainly a bad thing, and if a person feels that in his present state he won't be able to stop once he starts then he should, at least for a time, not start. But abstinence is also not good. Alcohol is Hashem's gift to us, and used properly it is good both for the body and for the soul. The proper Jewish attitude is to drink regularly (טוב לב משתה תמיד) but sensibly, neither too much nor too little, to appreciate its health benefits, and to use its disinhibiting effect to open ones heart to Torah and mussar.

    Nevertheless, doing an experiment like this, and abstaining for a whole month (except kiddush and havdalah) in order to raise money for tzedakah and to connect with people who relate to this, or even just to prove to oneself that one can do it, seems like a reasonable proposition.

    The only real concern I have is the AZ origin of the idea; fortunately it seems that this project doesn't acknowledge its ultimate origin, which may indicate that the organisers aren't even consciously aware of it, and this year in particular the connection is almost nonexistent. Also this year Purim does not fall in February, so there's no problem with that.

    So yasher koach to those who have decided this is an appropriate thing for them to do this year; but those who don't feel that way shouldn't do it, and shouldn't be put down for not doing it.


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