OU Purim Safety Alert: “Intoxication is Not a Mitzvah”

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wineAs part of its Safe Homes, Safe Schools, Safe Shuls initiative, the Orthodox Union Department of Community Engagement has issued a “Purim Safety Alert: Let’s be Safe on Purim” advisory.

“In past years, our community unfortunately has heard of countless stories of teenagers and young adults involved in car accidents on Purim due to drunk driving. It is time for parents and teens to be proactive and make certain that safety is the overriding concern throughout Purim,” the alert declares. “Bodily harm through intoxication is not a mitzvah on Purim, and driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal, leads to impaired judgment, and chas ve’shalom, a possible catastrophe.”

In addition, NCSY, the Orthodox Union’s international youth program, once again this year has emphasized that teens should not consume alcoholic beverages; all NCSY Purim events (as are all NCSY programs) are alcohol free.

The OU Safety Alert includes a report on a study of “Alcohol and Children” conducted by the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, which surveyed some 4,000 sixth-to-eighth graders in the Chicago area. The study, which appears in the journal Preventive Medicine, makes it clear that drinking at such a young age opens the door to a host of alcohol-related problems as students grow older, including the increased use of alcohol. More information is available on www.jointogether.org.

The Safety Alert provides signs and symptoms of teen drinking problems. They include: “Changes in moods or attitudes, unusual temper outbursts, changes in sleeping habits and changes in hobbies or other interests.” Also, parents should look for signs of depression, withdrawal, careless grooming, and hostility. “Ask yourself, is your child doing well in school, getting along with friends, taking part in sports or other activities?”

Going beyond Purim, the Alert provides a “Watch List for Parents,” composed of seven items including quick changes in moods, and negative changes in school work, missing school or declining grades.

In a statement, Rabbi Steven Burg, International Director of NCSY, and Frank Buchweitz, Director of OU Community Services, declared: “We live in a society awash in alcohol. Any football game – right up to the Super Bowl – will have one beer commercial after another. No matter what values are taught in the home, in the yeshiva, and in the shul, our Jewish youth come into contact with other, less desirable, values as well. Just as at Simchat Torah, the OU sends out a message to our teens that Jewish holidays can be celebrated with joy and spirit without indulging in spirits.

“Purim presents a particular problem because driving is permitted. So we emphasize, to the teens and their parents alike, that a freilicha Purim can turn to a tragic Purim in an instant thanks to alcohol. There are plenty of ways to have holiday fun without putting oneself – and others – at risk.”

{Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Most people drink for the fun of it, not for the mitzvah. There are more poskim who forbid or discourage getting drunk on purim than those who encourage it. Even the mishan berura says not to get drunk. When it comes to having a good time, people ignore the mishna berura and most poskim.

  2. The headline: “Intoxication is not a mitzvah” is NOT what the OU writes and it is also NOT what the Shulchan Aruch writes!!!
    The OU correctly writes: “Bodily harm through intoxication is not a mitzvah on Purim”.

  3. It isn’t just the kids. It’s just that grownups are better at hiding it. We are in an emergency situation here and we need to take more action than just publishing advisories which will be ignored by the people who need them most.

  4. Maybe I missed it, but I saw in the article the quote that “Bodily harm through intoxication is not a mitzvah on Purim” and not the more general quote in the headline that “intoxication is not a mitzvah”. I believe that this headline is misleading as it ascribes to the O-U something that they did not say, unless they said it elsewhere or I missed it in the article.

    The actual statement that I saw is 100% correct.

  5. For a couple of years in the mid 1970’s, I was privileged to attend the Yeshiva Gedola – Merkaz HaTorah – Tiferes Mordechai in Montreal when the Rosh Yeshiva was Rav Mordechai Weinberg, ZT’L.

    Rav Weinberg was well known as being a very powerful person and a phenomenal speaker. When he would deliver a Sichas Mussar regarding a certain kind of human corruption, he would often exclaim his condemnation of the wrong behavior with a brilliant force and energy that was literally awesome. Of his several Sichos that I was privileged to attend, I think that the biggest of them was the one regarding this problem of the terrible wreckage caused by people misusing the Mitzva of getting drunk on Purim.

    First though, we will discuss a little bit of “background.” In general, in the yeshiva among the students, there had been talk about the issue. One of the very serious problems that had been discussed was how (some of the) students would get very heavily drunk. Then, when they would walk down street, they would be so severely nauseous that they would VOMIT RIGHT ONTO PEOPLE’S LAWNS!!!!

    It was thus understandable that the yeshiva had to set up rules and guidelines. There was thus a rumor that an announcement had been made that (the “getting drunk” was to be only for the older more mature students, BUT) if any student in the HIGH SCHOOL were to get drunk, HE WOULD BE EXPELLED!!

    One year on the evening of Purim, at the gathering that was then held in Rav Weinberg’s house, Rav Weinberg forcefully explained that the Mitzva of drinking/getting drunk IS ONLY by the celebrations done during THE DAY, but NOT at the celebrations of the night (before). He thus strongly denounced those people who would get drunk at night.

    The height of this condemnation though, came one year in the Sichas Mussar that Rav Weinberg delivered on Erev Shabbos Zachor (the Friday before the Shabbos before Purim). The basis of the lecture was the principle that the Mitzva on Purim of our recounting the story of the fall and destruction of the hyper-wicked Haman and his hyper-wicked Amalek nation, is an indication of our task in life of eradicating evil from the world.

    A short while into the lecture, Rav Weinberg suddenly paused; then, with the most abhorrant anger, he vehemently shouted:


    (“Right in the middle of when you are supposedly eradicating evil, you yourselves become ‘a piece’ of evil!”)

  6. (conclusion of previous comment)

    Oh yes, Rav Weinberg himself DID get drunk; his getting drunk though, was clearly a very CONSTRUCTIVE endeavor. It is vividly in my mind the picture of the scene of a Purim Seuda in the yeshiva dinning room:

    At the front table was seated Rav Weinberg and, Yibodel L’Chaim Tovim V’Aruchim, one of the Chavrei HaKollel, Rav Mordechai Tauber, Sh’lita. They were both obviously drunk; they were actually taking drinks, and saying over one of the expositions of the great Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Yitzchak Hutner, ZT’L. Then everyne moved up to the front table. Rav Weinberg started singing a little chant that was composed by the great 20th century Talmudic analyst, Rav Boruch Ber Lebowitz, ZT’L; it was known as “Rav Boruch Ber’s Niggun”:

    ” . . . Mitten Ganssen Moach, Unenganssen Koach . . . !!”

    ” . . . (Our learning Torah must be done) with our entire minds and with all of our strength . . . !!”

    Then Rav Weinberg related a couple of awesome stories about some incidents that expressed the extreme importance and love of Limud HaTorah.

  7. How can you ignore the first three words in their release:
    “BODILY HARM THROUGH intoxication is not a mitzvah on Purim, and driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal, leads to impaired judgment, and chas ve’shalom, a possible catastrophe.”
    Your headline is misleading and should be changed; otherwise it is untruthful.

  8. Oy, getting drunk on Purim is only for angels.
    So much ink is spilled, and breathed breathed out about the drinking that is done, once a year, on one day. If we would be taking about drinking on Yom Tov getting out of hand, or on Shabbat, then we would be talking about a problem.

  9. There’s people who show beautiful middot and are in control of their thoughts and actions while completely drunk, more than some other people are while completely sober.

  10. who are you to make a psak that you can’t drink who are you to say your opinion against gemera and shulchan aruch I personally don’t have a car to drive under the influence with. since last year i’ve been sleeping the same much before you make your psak halacha go learn

  11. There’s such a thing as a hora’as sha’ah. The problem with alcohol here has gotten so bad that perhaps the gedolim might address it with the same philosophy we had in the old country – drinking is fine, getting drunk isn’t. If you can’t drink without getting drunk, don’t drink.

    The previous generation had the proverb “Shikker vi a goy.” It meant that whatever the people around us do, a Jew doesn’t get drunk. Whatever happened to the wisdom of our grandparents?

  12. Call me old fashioned, but doesn’t the Gemoro in Sanhedrin (12.) state that from Purim to Pesach is 30 days and on Purim we darshan on Hilchos Pesach (based on the idea that 30 days before the Chag we darshan on it). Chazal explain that you need to stay sober to do that. How times have changed, or Ein Chadash Tachas Hashemesh – there is nothing new under the sun.


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