Dec 3, 2009

What is the REAL problem - Drinking L'Chaim?!

Rabbi Reisman publicly said at the Aguda convention last week that if he gets shnapps in mishloach manos, he pours it down the drain.  When asked by his congregants what they should serve at a yartzeit, he said cake and juice, and that shnapps is a goyishe minhag (a ridiculous and nasty assertion).

The way it used to be is that Jews drank shnapps and drunkenness was practically unheard of.  Today, because of a loosening of discipline in so many areas of our lives, R' Reisman is trying to counter this by advocating a zero tolerance to alcohol.  Is this a Torah approach? Is his approach a good one? Has zero tolerance (with no means of enforcement) proven effective in the past?

Well, when the United States tried Prohibition, 1919 to 1933, during which the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol for consumption were banned, Mafia groups which had previously limited their activities to gambling and theft took on the profitable black market for alcohol. Powerful gangs corrupted law enforcement agencies, leading to racketeering. Stronger liquor surged in popularity because its potency made it more profitable to smuggle.  When repeal of Prohibition occurred in 1933, organized crime lost nearly all of its black market alcohol profits in most states.

As far as frum people are concerned, well yes, there is a thing in halacha called swearing off consumption of something, as a geder, a protective fence.  But this is something that an individual has to commit to on his own and do so very carefully, so it works to protect him, not entice him.  An all-out ban of alcohol (other than wine presumably) which R' Reisman is promoting seems counter-productive to me and there is no source in Torah which says that we should forswear alcohol.

More importantly, is R' Reisman addressing the root cause of a problem or is he just picking on a symptom? Is the problem that too many people in frum society are drinking or is the real problem that too many frum people are lacking in discipline, lacking in yiras shomayim, lacking in simchas ha'chaim, and turning to forms of gratification that goyim are known for.

1 comment:

  1. B'h
    I happen to disagree with R.Reisman and think it could well have to do with the lack of Yiras Shomayim.