For close to 20 years, the Agudah has shared guidelines for the use of alcohol on Purim, specifically how it relates to bochurim’s drinking. This letter has been signed by many Roshei Yeshiva who joined to inform the community, and their talmidim, of this serious issue.
“One is obligated on this day [of Purim] to have an abundance of simcha, and to eat and drink to contentment. However, we are not commanded to become drunk to the point of diminishing ourselves through the simcha, for the simcha that we were commanded to have is not one of frivolity or foolishness but one of spiritual pleasure that brings us to the love of Hashem and praise for the miracles He performed for us.” (Meiri, as quoted in the Bi’ur Halacha, Orach Chaim 695.)
In recent years, the problem of dangerous drunkenness on Purim, especially among b’nei yeshiva, has reached alarming proportions, and has led to sakonas nefoshos and chilul Hashem. Medical doctors as well as representatives of Hatzolah have reported numerous instances of bochurim having to be rushed to hospital emergency rooms, some of them even placed on life-support systems, because of over-drinking on Purim.
To address this intolerable situation, we call upon the entire community that seeks to fulfill the mitzva of Simchas Purim properly, and especially our dear yeshiva bochurim, to take special care in drinking practices, and to adhere to the following suggested guidelines.
1. The mitzvah of “Chayav adam l’v’sumei b’Puria…” is preferably fulfilled with wine, as is stated in Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (142:6). Unrestrained use of whiskey and other alcoholic beverages is entirely inappropriate and absolutely contrary to da’as Chachomim.
2. Ba’alei Batim should not serve any alcoholic beverages, including wine, to groups of bochurim visiting their homes.
3. Those who drive under the influence of alcohol endanger not only themselves but also their passengers and other members of the public. Drivers must therefore not consume any alcoholic beverages, including wine, and must take extra care to drive safely, observing all applicable laws and safety procedures.
4. Nobody should enter a car if there is reason to believe that the driver is under the influence of alcohol, and all appropriate steps should be taken to prevent such an individual from driving.
In the merit of fulfilling the mitzva of Simchas Purim properly, may we be privileged to see
haromas keren Yisroel.