Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Have I Mentioned Being Drunk on Purim?

Last night one of my classes truly pushed the wrong button. An off-hand remark by me to a couple of the students that I am happy that Purim doesn't come out so that we have class the day afterwards, because too many of the students are still in less than pristine shape, brought disbelief on their part.

And so I did what the professor and the mother in me demanded: I responded. Do you have any idea how much misinformation and how much lack of information is out there? Boys who believe that you can't get drunk if all you are drinking is beer? Boys who believe that 2 or 3 shots of vodka (at 40% alcohol and up) do not mean you are incapacitated at all? Boys who believe that they can "hold their liquor." Boys who believe that if you keep on eating while drinking the alcohol can't affect you? Boys who don't know that body weight and size has a direct correlation with how alcohol can affect you? Boys who don't realize that alcohol can act as a toxic substance and that alcohol poisoning can kill? Boys who believe that getting thoroughly slammed--their word--is a requirement of Purim? Boys who said "But it's only once a year and there are plenty of other types of people who get drunk all the time." Boys who expressed disbelief that getting drunk "for religious reasons" could get them in trouble with the law. Boys who believe that a legal age for drinking does not apply to Purim because religious drinking is exempted. Boys who said, "They exaggerate the drinking on Purim." Boys who claimed they have never been drunk on Purim but when asked if they have ever seen anyone else drunk began to waffle and hedge. Boys who believe that discussing drinking on Purim is not the business or place of a teacher in a college classroom.

When I mentioned the Aguda takanos against drunkenness on Purim, I got the answer "But who listens to the Aguda?" And when I played the Hatzalah trump card, when I spoke of the myriad cases ever year that Hatzalah is called out for that are drink-related, I got looks of polite boredom.

One of the things about younger people is that they truly believe they are invincible. If bad things happen, they don't happen to them. They still maintain that youthful enthusiasm which doesn't allow for anyone and anything to rain on their parade. When it comes to getting drunk, they had better invest in a stock of umbrellas.

10 comments:

d said...

"Boys who don't realize that alcohol can act as a toxic substance and that alcohol poisoning can kill?"

Hmmmm....anyone ever wonder why it is called inTOXICation ?

Honestly Frum said...

"When I mentioned the Aguda takanos against drunkenness on Purim, I got the answer "But who listens to the Aguda?"

I think the problem is that the "When I mentioned the Aguda takanos against drunkenness on Purim, I got the answer "But who listens to the Aguda?"

I think the problem is that the Agudah has issues too many takanos so no one listens to them anymore. Also, in many circles the problem is that people give alcohol to anyone who comes to their house regardless of age. If the police would begin to crack down on underage drinking and those who facilitate it on Purim I believe there would be many less drunk KIDS.

queeniesmom said...

Any chance of Hatzollah coming to your school and giving a presentation re: the effects of drinking.
I teach in a public HS and every fall we have a number of presentations relating to alchol abuse, especially since teens don't think it will happen to them (magical thinking) and really don't understand that you can die from alchol poisoning. Many think death will occur if they're in a bad car crash.
Good luck because 2/3 of the problem lies with the parents who don't see anything wrong with it under the guiose "it's Purim" and "boys wil be boys".

Purim B'samach.

Zach Kessin said...

How about someone convince the NYPD to set up a bunch of Sobriety check points around the relevant areas of Brooklyn and Queens? Any kid found drunk will be locked up until after Purim is over

Risa said...

I think it's awfully sad when as frum Jews we have to even mention bringing in the police because there is a drinking problem on Purim. I think honestly frum may be right that no one listens to the Aguda because they put out takanos on too many things. But the bochrim seem to listen to their rosh yeshiva. Why haven't we heard of any takanos that the roshei hayeshivas have given out about drinking on Purim?

Jake said...

Even though the legal thing to do would be to call the police I don't think it would stop the problem of drinking on Purim and I think it would cause a whole bunch of other problems. Do you really think that there would not be some retaliation against the people who called the police? There would be groups of frum Jews screaming that other groups are out to get them. The whole thing would blow up into an argument about something else all together.

This is one problem we frum Jews are going to have to solve on our own. We need to work so that there is nothing to have to call the police about.

queeniesmom said...

Jake, we need ALL the Rabbaim to buy into this and stop justifying and/or contributing to this behavior. As was said earlier, every mother, wife and parent must stand firm against this behavior. By not saying anything, that person is enabling and giving tacit agreement to the behavior.

Just like kiddush clubs, we need people to take the unpopular stand against this and hold firm.

I sincerely hope this will be a non-issue by the time my sons are older. If it isn't I'll be the mom who will embarrass her teen by refusing to allow them to go to Rabbi .....

Safe Purim. B'Samach

Aharon said...

Nine years ago my wife and I made an emergency flight to Israel on the day after Purim. Our son's yeshiva called just to inform us that he had been hospitalized and was in serious condition but that the doctor's said he would be fine.

Two damn days of drinking over Purim. Going to his rebbi's house on Shushan Purim and drinking some more gave him extreme alcohol poisoning. Just fine? It took over a year until his body was anywhere back up to par. He had a metabolism problem that we didn't know about and that wouldn't have ever shown up or given him trouble unless he got the alcohol poisoning.

Was the yeshiva really worried. yeah, that we would sue them. But when we said that the policy should be that the rebbis shouldn't werve alcohol to the bochrim we were told it's Purim. Just what the hell kind of answer is that?

Elitzur said...

The expected one...
You should sue...

Knitter of shiny things said...

Ever since you've been posting about drinking on Purim, I've been thinking of a certain Gemara that I wanted to quote, but since I didn't have the text I didn't comment with it. Another person blogged about it, though, so here it is. I think it's relevant, and illustrates why getting too drunk on Purim is a bad idea. Maybe the bochurim should study it before Purim:

אמר רבא מיחייב איניש לבסומי בפוריא עד דלא ידע בין ארור המן לברוך מרדכי רבה ורבי זירא עבדו סעודת פורים בהדי הדדי איבסום קם רבה שחטיה לרבי זירא למחר בעי רחמי ואחייה לשנה אמר ליה ניתי מר ונעביד סעודת פורים בהדי הדדי אמר ליה לא בכל שעתא ושעתא מתרחיש ניסא

Rava said: A person is required to become intoxicated on Purim until he does not know the difference between “Cursed is Haman” and “Blessed is Mordechai”. [This is where most people stop reading.]

Rabbah and Rabbi Zeira had a Purim feast together. They became intoxicated. Rabbah got up and slaughtered Rabbi Zeira. The next day, he prayed for mercy and revived him. The following year, [Rabbah] said to him “Come, let’s have a Purim feast together.” Rabbi Zeira said to him, “A miracle doesn’t happen every time.”