The Alcohol Libel: an Intercepted Letter to Kiddush Clubs

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13 Responses

  1. Dan says:

    My sources in communities outside Brooklyn and the Five Towns were equally perplexed by this custom.

  2. Michoel says:

    cross-currents.com really needs to get R. Feldman to write more often. It is really a shame. He is funny, insightful, and never divisive.

  3. David F. says:

    Terrific. Very clever and insightful.

  4. mb says:

    Whisky is Gaelic for living waters!
    Sounds holy to me.
    (BTW, no Scottish distilleries were boycotting Israel. It was the West Dunbarton Council, led by a communist member, in whose area there are some distilleries, who have all protested the proposed boycott)

  5. CJ Srullowitz says:

    Leave it to Rabbi Feldman! Nobody packs the wallop quite like him. Hard-hitting mussar delivered with hilarity. It just doesn’t get any better than this.

  6. David in Jerusalem says:

    In all fairness, I recall that the Kiddush Clubs that called to participate in the Scotch whiskey boycott were from the Conservative movement. I’m not familiar with their version of the Kiddush Club. Perhaps they’re just making Kiddush for the whole synagogue after services? Therefore, while this article is an excellent tongue-in-cheek reprimand of the chareidi and Modern Orthodox men who sneak out of the Haftorah reading to socialize and schmooze with some booze, it’s not accurate to connect it with the official call of the Kiddush clubs to boycott the Scotch from West Dunbarton.

  7. David says:

    Is Rabbi Feldman saying that there should be no need to boycott Scotch from our shuls for political reasons since all alcohol should be already be banned anyway?
    As far as kiddush clubs not being mentioned in traditional Jewish sources, either are the very popular Motzai Shabbat pizza and learning programs or Friday night cholent and learning.
    Where in the Gemera does it mention talking in Yiddish or yinglish/yeshivsh? Is the Lakewood Kollel lifestyle really one with much pre-WWII precedent?
    Obviously extreme drinking is not to be condoned, but Rabbi Feldman does not strike me as one who holds to the “everything new is assur” philosophy.

  8. Hoody JM says:

    Rabbi Feldman leaves the reader with a serious lot to think about, and a smile that takes a while to fade. Please let’s have more of Rabbi Feldman’s writing.

  9. Bob Miller says:

    To become holy while davening in shul seems too easy to some intrepid congregants. They feel (“think” might be too strong a word) that achieving holiness while alcohol-impaired earns them more points. However, the warning to Cohanim after the deaths of Nadav and Avihu suggests that this is the wrong approach.

  10. Neil Harris says:

    Rabbi Feldman has hit the center of the target! The whole concept, as I understand it, was that those in the kiddush club would leave after leining because they had to get to their jobs on Shabbos (back when you would get fired for not coming in to work on Shabbos).

    Kiddush club after davening…great. Leaving shul and missing word of the ne’veim…not so great.

  11. L. Oberstein says:

    Rabbi Feldman shows how to deal with a serious topic in a rye way.One of his grandsons told me that he also did not smoke cigarettes when he was a yeshiva student.He was an independent thinker, something we need more of.
    On the serious topic of addiction to alcohol, much could be written. I see more young people, including females, finishing a bottle of alcoholic beverage . I am looking at wedding pictures where the younger element (20’s and 30’s) are holding beer bottles in their hands and smiling. They think getting a “buzz” is cool. It wasn’t that way when I was 20 back in Herbert Hooover’s days.
    Secondly, davening is boring and long for most people. If anyone honestly disagrees with me and is honestg enough to admit their name, then they are welcome to disagree. Most baalebatim go to shul late and shmooz or read handouts because they are bored. The solution is not to shorten the service, which doesn’t get to the root cause, it is to deepen the spirituality of the person, which is much harder. Our shuls are full of people going through the motions for social reasons but who don’t really think deeply about the words they are saying. So, given the chance to go out and socialize over some herring and shnaps is enticing. I don’t do it personally because it’s insulting to the rabbi and the haftorah,but I understand how bored these people are. Does anyone disagree that this is the truth.

  12. Steve says:

    I view of this enormous and world shattering revelation that Kiddush-clubs in the USA, are part of the Shabbat service;
    It is now essential that the State of Israel, open a new industry of producing Israeli-made Scotch!
    It will be kosher, made from local Israeli crops, and prepared in olive wood casks.
    A Rabbi will bless-this special “”wiskeyed”‘ juice, before it is exported to the USA.
    Steve

  13. Someone in the know says:

    TO: David
    August 3, 2011 at 1:01 pm
    Is Rabbi Feldman saying that there should be no need to boycott Scotch from our shuls for political reasons since all alcohol should be already be banned anyway?
    As far as kiddush clubs not being mentioned in traditional Jewish sources, either are the very popular Motzai Shabbat pizza and learning programs or Friday night cholent and learning.
    Where in the Gemera does it mention talking in Yiddish or yinglish/yeshivsh? Is the Lakewood Kollel lifestyle really one with much pre-WWII precedent?
    Obviously extreme drinking is not to be condoned, but Rabbi Feldman does not strike me as one who holds to the “everything new is assur” philosophy.

    I seriously doubt that Rav Feldman is referring to banning alcohol at all. Rather, he is exposing “Kiddush Clubs” as having zero connection with Kedusha, or with Shabbos for that matter. He describes the practice as simple indulgence, with the cloak of “Kiddush” used to masquerade its true hedonistic value. The issur against Kiddush Clubs is not novel. The OU, Rav Heshy Weinreb, Dr. Twerski, and many others have publicly shunned the practice. Rav Feldman, in his inimitable and creative manner, echoes those sentiments.

    The learning programs are mentioned in many places. The establishment of times to indulge, whether pizza or cholent, is not. You are correct in drawing the parallel to Kiddush Clubs. These are not mitzvos, but indulgences in the gashmiyus that counter and detract from our ability and progess to achieve the spiritual heights expected from the Torah “anshei kodesh tihiyun li”.

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