DUI and the Toxicity of Ordinariness

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16 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    In this connection, I note the ridiculous faux-minhag of heavy drinking on Simchat Torah. This can’t be sending a good message to our youth.
    Neither can worshippers skipping musaf to drink alcohol on Shabbat.
    While we’re on the subject, where is it written that minors should be allowed to get blasted on Purim?

    One common denominator is adult irresponsibility, often that of parents.

  2. Shmuel says:

    You stated “As yeshiva students we insist on seeing value – against the advice of our own rabbeim and roshei Yeshiva – only in the deepest and most probing forms of learning gemara. We then go through life with few opportunities for such learning, and always feeling a sense of inadequacy”.

    My experience in Yeshiva was learning b’iyun was most pleasurable, and 2 full daily sedarim (80% of they day) and most chazara was spent on this limud as well. I am not sure why you say this is against advice of rabbeim, I found quite the opposite.

    I have been able to arrange a chabura where we do develop sugyas in depth. I do wonder , however , how many people working people really do give up learning because they cant find that same experience they had in yeshiva, and for the same reasons, never developed breadth in torah to allow full experience of other areas of limud.

  3. Nachum says:

    Well, it is less than thirty days to Purim, so I might as well point out to Bob that there’s no mitzvah for *anyone* to get drunk on Purim. (There are four mitzvos of Purim; three have nothing to do with drinking and the fourth certainly doesn’t require it.) And Judaism being what is, I’m pretty sure getting drunk, even on Purim, is very much frowned upon.

    In speaking of drinking on Purim, Herman Wouk has a cute line about “To their credit, many otherwise non-observant Jews do their best to comply.”

  4. Bob Miller says:

    There are various opinions out there, including Nachum’s, about adult drunkenness on Purim, so I didn’t want that to be part of the discussion.

    Anyhow, the basic principle for adults is to drink only until one can’t tell Cross-Currents from Hirhurim. This may take longer for some than for others.

  5. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Given the seriousness of the situation today, as so well described in Rabbi Adlerstein’s article, no reasonable adult should engage in drinking on Purim or any other time. We have whom to rely on not to drink. The last thing our young people need today is to see their parents and Rebbaim smashed.

    Rabbi Mordechai Willig has an excellent lecture on the subject here:


  6. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    If it leads to Hirhurim it must be assur.

  7. Charles B. Hall says:

    ‘affecting even individuals with advanced yeshiva background’

    No one is immune from addiction. It strikes down the powerful and the powerless equally. If you are having a problem with alcohol, get yourself to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. If you are having a problem with drugs: Narcotics Anonymous. Gambling? Gamblers Anonymous. Compulsive overeating? Overeaters Anonymous. Money and debt? Debtors Anonymous. And if a friend or relative has a drinking problem that is affecting you, get yourself to Al-Anon.

    ‘ the ridiculous faux-minhag of heavy drinking on Simchat Torah’

    Both Rabbi Mordechai Willig and Rabbi Avi Weiss have banned drinking on the premises of their shuls here in the Bronx. So has Rabbi Daniel Wasserman in Pittsburgh. It is a pleasure to be able to attend services on Purim and Simchat Torah without having to worry about someone intoxicated making a fool of themselves and bringing discredit to Torah Judaism.

    Here is a group that is active in doing something about the problem in the Jewish community:


  8. Yisrael Moshe says:

    R’ Yitzchok,

    May I make a suggestion to you how to improve your Avodas Hashem, and by connection, your overall happiness. Let us take a lesson from your favorite, the one the only R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch.

    The famous story goes that towards the end of his life, RSRH decided to take a journey to the Swiss Alps. When asked by his followers why, he told them “When I come before The Creator, he will ask me: “Shamshin, did you see my Alps?!”

    So next time you are skiing, standing at the top of the mountain in Mammoth (not quite the Swiss Alps, but close enough), take a moment to look around at Hakodsh Baruch Hu’s handywork, and say “Ma Rabu Ma’asecha Hashem!”

  9. Aaron says:

    Fascinating how we refuse to leave the cities where the shmutz is concentrated and there are ubiquitous billboards.

    Suburbs aren’t perfect, but it’s going to be easier to preserve our values where there is much less competition for our attention.

    Imagine communities living in areas that are inexpensive enough that Tatis and Emas don’t need to work multiple jobs each so that they can be home to be parents and guide their children themselves instead of the housekeeper. In cities like LA and near NY where homes routinely go for 7 figures and school construction costs are highest, the tuition burden is crushing. Now imagine communities where homes are under $200k and it’s possible to support a family with merely an above-average and not a high salary. And when our leaders refuse to do the math, are they not responsible for a problem they could solve by encouraging neo-shtetlism with either their own exodus from the urban cesspools or demanding that their hashkafic heirs (their sons and roshei yeshivos and roshei kollel) lead that exodus?

    Lastly, our urban schooldays are painfully long and deny our children the opportunity to develop healthy hobbies that can provide pleasure without the emphasis on adrenalin.

  10. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “Part of the reason is that we position ourselves for maximum failure…We then go through life with few opportunities for such learning, and always feeling a sense of inadequacy, even when we are learning. We deny ourselves the thrills that could come multiple times a day.”

    This is all-or-nothing- thinking, and is not identical to the pursuit of shleimus. Since one needs to start somewhere, the avoidance itself of this mindset might be a prerequisite, or a necessary component of limud hatorah, or other areas of avodas Hashem that one is involved in. Of course, one needs to not be a perfectionist in avoiding perfectionism. 🙂

  11. Jewish Observer says:

    “the basic principle for adults is to drink only until one can’t tell Cross-Currents from Hirhurim”

    – In this day and age of machmirim, the popular shitah is to to drink all the way until you can’t tell Cross-Currents from Hamodia

  12. Jewish Observer says:

    “Both Rabbi Mordechai Willig and Rabbi Avi Weiss have banned drinking on the premises of their shuls here in the Bronx”

    – it is hard to imagine heimishe rabbis doing this

  13. L Oberstein says:

    This comment is by my son, a junior in college

    interesting but while reading i began to think that perhaps genes are more responsible for addiction than environmental factors. prevention efforts might work a little but prob dont change the stats on how many people become addicted all that much. there so many aspects of personality that are genetic and I dont know how much you can get in the way of that. Treatment on the other hand is def necessary and useful. I definitely agree with rabbi twerski that we all have an addiction of one form or another. The main problem i see with educating alot of people about addiction is that it might plants seeds in their head that will lead to addiction. Kids, especially kids at risk do alot of things for attention and addiction seems like a relatively “cool problem”, if you throw in the mix that its a disease and they get to go to rehab (winter camp) I can see alot of kids trying to emulate what is described to them as “addiction”. I don’t think there has ever been a generation without this problem nor will there likely ever be one. addiction, like war and religion seems to be one of the fundamental aspects of the human condition that will never end.

  14. Lawrence says:

    Even frum psychologists and social workers need to feel that they are doing important work. This is at least the second year running that Aleinu has put out statistics to be read in all our shuls that seem exaggerated; last year it was internet addiction. Objectivity is to be doubted when social workers need a new problem to announce every year. I heard about 20% involvement in one addiction or another (not that they are all “addicted”). I do not believe this number and question the need to drum up publicity and dampen our Shabbos with self-serving figures. Not that anybody is intentionally deceiving us. Not that we should ignore the plight of our fellow man or Jew on Shabbos. But our response should be proportional and dignified. I don’t have contrary figures, just experience in several frum neiborhoods for many years. I know of tragedies due to addiction. They are rare. We should be aware and address each individual problem. We do not need hyped anniversary pronouncements of our weak spots (lo aleinu).

  15. SephardiLady says:

    Just a note based on my own observation, which I need to research more. But I have seen people who “invest,” yet their investments more closely resemble gambling because they are purely illogical. I’ll try to move this subject up towards the top of my to-blog about list at Orthonomics.

  16. Yirmeyahu says:

    People really need to pull themselves together on this. Prohibition has been tried nationally and is practiced by many/most Evangelicals. Their communities are not without alcohol problems. Pushing one’s limits once (or twice) a year IS NOT THE PROBLEM. Period. What message does it send, alcohol has its place and its limited. If you pushing you limits at ever shalom zachar, wedding, etc. that a problem and sends a bad message. But when the only time you drink in excess is when there is some basis it shows that THAT is why you are drinking and not just another excuse.

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