A Few Short Notes to Chaim, Someone We Love
By Rabbi Yisroel Shlomo Rabinowitz
These letters are intended to address the widespread overuse and exaggerated admiration of drinking in the Jewish community. Chaim and others like him are not alcoholics, but they abuse drinking in a way that is damaging to themselves, their families and to all of Klal Yisroel.
Dear Chaim, a L’chaim, has its role in what we do.
Wine at Kiddush, or when you finish, a goal as a Jew.
It lifts our spirits and has its merits, like a cold Shalom Zachor brew.
But it’s gone too far, we’ve raised the bar, and it’s now clear what we need to do.
We see you as an example, a true sample, of one who enjoys to have a drink,
But it’s been too much, to drink as such, and it has affected how you think.
Your relationships and your performance, are hanging on the brink,
So our thoughts and our feelings, we have committed down in ink.
We’ve had a bond, like only between a man and his brother,
But lately I feel like a stranger, like any other.
Our conversations have been empty one after another,
If you think I’m concerned, just think about father and mother.
Your Older Brother
To Our Dear Son Chaim,
We raised you from youth to be on a path towards success.
You married well, and have beautiful kids, all that truly impress.
But your recent behavior and demeanor is causing us stress,
Please tell us dear son, we know it’s not just you…how did Klal Yisroel get into this mess?
Love, Mommy and Daddy
Here in yeshiva, I am one of the best,
And even I do some drinking, imagine the rest.
It happens despite their good homes, because they see drinking’s a quest.
The parents may balance, but we’re not mature enough to handle this test.
It is your daughter, and I am concerned,
To bring home my friends or a chassan, I feel I’ll get burned.
I love you so much, and my respect you’ve always earned,
But these are bad habits that I don’t want seen, and certainly never learned.
I want to thank you for what you’ve taught me, your little one,
To drink during Haftara and when davening’s done,
At weddings and simchas, and with your friends to have fun.
I can’t wait to be like you when I get older. Love, Your Dear Son.
We really feel lonely at our Shabbos table.
I’m sure you want to spend quality time, but are simply not able.
You don’t drink so so much, but this situation isn’t stable.
We feel you know less about our years, than the age on your favorite Scotch label.
I know that you love me, there’s no doubt in mind,
But I feel no connection, our lives are not aligned.
You’ve checked out and you leave me to deal with the daily grind.
You think that things are ok, but I wish I could rewind.
To My Dear Chaver Chaim,
So many lessons you’ve taught me, like what’s blue and what’s black,
And besides for these Johnnies what else should be on my rack.
But a real sense of connection and that you have my back,
Are key friendship skills that I feel that you lack.
I understand that a matzav is what you like to host,
And to get people’s attendance and attention, your drinks you must boast.
But real respect you’re not getting, even when it’s the words of their toast,
I miss the real Chaim of meaning; the one I love most.
Your Old Friend Michoel
I’ve seen you in shul, they say you’re a really good guy,
But I don’t know you by name, just by the bottles you buy.
I want to think of you highly, trust me I try,
But to make such a big deal out of drinking, I just don’t get why.
But I do have one claim, about this I feel strong.
To drink in public or during davening, is something quite wrong.
It’s one thing to impact your own kid, with problems lifelong,
But why take all the others, and drag them along?
Your Fellow Mispallel
Dear Chaim ESQ.,
Right out of Law School, you were the big star,
But since that big day, you have fallen so far.
Your image is shaky, and you’re performing under par.
I know that you’re a lawyer, but you must be studying at the wrong bar.
Kid Down the Block
Hey Reb Chaim, it’s Dovid, the kid down the block,
Did I ever tell you, that I think that you rock?
At Shalom Zachors and at Onegs, you let me drink what’s in stock,
All of the good things that my parents keep under lock.
But I’m young, and this minhag has me on the wrong path,
And from my parents, school, and friends, I am feeling their wrath.
You see, what for you is real life, can lead to my death,
Isn’t it ironic that the word “L’chaim” could be my last breath?
Maybe in writing you’ll listen, because in shul you won’t hear.
When I bring up this topic, you just say “Don’t dare”.
But it really does hurt me, because I really do care.
It’s for the sake of you and your family that I sincerely do fear.
Your Devoted Rav
It’s the yetzer, and the truth must be told.
It’s my antics and persuasion that make you act bold.
Who else can make you read these letters with a reaction so cold?
Don’t listen to me, open your heart, because I know it’s all gold.
Don’t let me tell you not to listen to what they all say.
Don’t let me convince you they’re not in touch with your upscale way.
Don’t let me trigger a rejection, with a smirk and “I’m ok”.
Because, “They’re right!”, please admit it, be a real man today.
I’m watching and waiting, I hope you understand,
If you take the first step, that’s when I’ll stick out my hand,
To encourage and assist you as you make this bold stand.
I love you, make the move, and then this list we’ll expand.
With anxious anticipation,
Your Father (in Heaven)
Dear Me, can’t you see, you’ve really been blind?
Come to your senses and be in touch, with what has created this bind.
Can’t you hear all the fear, in the letters they’ve signed?
It’s time to smell the rose under your nose, and then make up your mind.
Come taste real inner meaning, it’s never too late.
Take down this shot at success, and a movement create,
Of a nation that can have a celebration in a way that I anticipate,
That not in what it drinks but how it’s done that will be truly first-rate.
Literally Yours Truly,
Your Real Self
So, these are our feelings. We hope you take heart.
We care and we’re ready for you to do your part.
To turn this drinking ship around, it’s time to get smart.
U’vacharta Ba’Chaim! Be yourself. Come on and let’s start.
L’chaim! Dear Chaim.
Everyone that Cares About You