A Guide To Drinking Moderately

Dear Editor,

As you know, Purim is coming up and we have a huge issue of underage drinking. Teens are getting drunk, sick, vomiting, hung over, and at times ending up in the hospital.

Let me start by saying that in no way are these guidelines encouraging underage boys and girls to drink on Purim. Let me make it clear that the ideal thing for underage persons is to not get drunk on Purim (or ever).

However, let’s be realistic. On Purim, the vast majority of frum teenagers drink lots of alcohol, regardless of all the laws, restrictions, and penalties we put on them. Kids who won’t touch alcohol on any other day are all gonna get drunk. It’s what everyone else is doing (including many adults), so in their minds there’s no reason not to drink. The best way to approach the issue of underage drinking on Purim is therefore by guiding our kids in how to drink without getting sick, hung over, vomiting, or G‑d forbid ending up in a hospital.

The guidelines are as follows:

Water. Follow every drink (or every two drinks) with a cup of water. That will keep your body hydrated and seriously reduce your chances of passing out or getting sick. Because dehydration is one of the main causes of hangover symptoms, drinking water along with alcohol beverages can prevent those symptoms. Drinking a cup of water before you start drinking alcohol, and after every drink or every two, will go a long way toward relieving hangover discomfort. Don’t drink a whole lot of alcohol and wait till you need to throw up till you finally drink some water. Wherever you go, bring at least two bottles of water with you and follow every one or two drinks with at least 5 ounces of water.

Moderation. It bears repeating: If you do not drink to the point of total intoxication, your chances of vomiting or getting sick are very low. Although there are exceptions, generally only people who drink to excess will experience such results. Don’t play the game of “I know what I can handle.” Play the game of “I know when to stop.”

Some days our bodies are not able to handle the same amount of alcohol as it has on prior days. Therefore, if you were able to handle X amount of alcohol at past parties, that in no way indicates that you will be able to handle that same amount today. The number one reason people end up hospitalized for drinking too much is that they had previously drunk the same amount of alcohol without having any problems. The same way you can’t handle the same amount of food or soda every day, you can’t handle the same amount of alcohol each time you drink.

Regardless of how much or little you have drunk, as soon as you feel any symptoms of drunkenness (slight headaches, dizziness, nausea, needing to vomit, etc.), stop drinking alcohol immediately and drink some water.

On a full stomach. Only drink on a full stomach or after eating a substantial amount of food. Drinking on an empty stomach is simply dangerous. It leads more quickly to intoxication. Swedish researchers had a group of people consume a few drinks after an overnight fast. The next day they had the group consume the same amount of alcohol in the same amount of time after eating a modest breakfast. After having breakfast, the group had a much lower average blood alcohol level–only 75% of the BAC reached when drinking on an empty stomach. Eating food, especially proteins, fats, and dense carbohydrates, slows down the intoxication rate, as does drinking slowly.

Not too quickly. Don’t drink too fast or too much at once, and don’t chug. That’s very dangerous because it leads to faster intoxication since the alcohol is absorbed directly into the bloodstream and neutralizes the body’s ability to reject the toxin by vomiting.

For a free copy of the book “Hangover Detox,” send an e-mail to sober365@yahoo.com or call 646-752-0431.

Sol Auerbach

Best Left Alone

Dear Editor,

When I read a front-page article titled “A Contrast” in last week’s paper, I thought at first that mistakenly the Purim issue of the paper had come out a week early. To make a statement that “there is no reason to learn other than to develop good character and learn proper behavior and sensitivity towards others” is one thing, but to then seemingly attribute this philosophy to the Mesillas Yesharim is Purim Torah at its best (or worst). I guess the multiple perakim in the author’s other sefarim, Derech Hashem and Daas Tevunos, would have to be disregarded as a printer’s mistake.

In addition, the statement “If there are any valid sources for learning Torah over army service, why haven’t they been published?” is equally confusing. The multiple letters in Igros Chazon Ish, in Rav Shach’s letters printed in Michtavim Umamorim, in the lengthy teshuvos of the Tzitz Eliezer, etc., are not considered valid sources?

How can the author consistently refer to himself as “an amateur like myself,” yet in classic “Purim style” claim the gedolim of the last 60+ years have absolutely no sources for their position (halachic and hashkafic), for if he is only an amateur, how would he come to know what they know?

In truth, even on Purim, this issue should not be discussed in this type of forum. This issue of army service for b’nei yeshiva has become a divisive issue that has brought much machlokes and division amongst Torah-observant Yidden in the last few decades and is literally tearing us apart. I heard on Sunday that a large yeshiva in the New York area was planning its annual “Purim shpiel” which is performed by the students and usually makes fun of current events, and they were planning to have a mock Knesset debate on the “share the burden” issue, but the rosh yeshiva nixed it. He explained that this issue has inflicted so much pain on our community both here and in Eretz Yisrael that it should not be joked about, not even on Purim.

This issue has not only divided us in Eretz Yisrael, but here as well. On Sunday afternoon, two e-mails hit my BlackBerry at the exact same moment. One was from a rav in the community who had just completed davening Minchah with tens of thousands of other Yidden in Lower Manhattan at the atzeres tefillah and was exhilarated by the experience. The other was from another rav from a shul several blocks from the first rav, who said that he views this event as a “colossal chillul Hashem”! These are not just two differing opinions, they are two differing worlds.

Incredibly, another rav commented that he has firsthand information that they really have no intention of arresting bachurim who don’t go to the army when called upon, so the whole thing is just untrue. Huh? I guess that his inside information is more accurate than the many Knesset members who have been attending every meeting and discussion on this issue in the Knesset’s closed and open sessions over the last few months and have been fighting this with every fiber of their being.

And so whether this was meant as an introduction to the Purim festivities or not, this painful topic is best left alone for the time being. The author did say that this has given him “a bad taste in his mouth.” On this, we fully agree.

Rabbi Aryeh Z. Ginzberg

Mishnayos In The Military?

Dear Editor,

I wish to express what I feel to be the crux of the issue regarding the new law in Israel eliminating draft deferments across the board for yeshiva students by describing a brief interaction with a yeshiva bachur I just had at a kosher pizza parlor in Brooklyn.

After expressing my opinion against the chareidi protests, I was confronted by the bachur who boldly asserted that the reason why the new Israeli law was objectionable was because it “criminalizes the learning of Torah.”

I simply asked him what would happen if instead of dodging the draft, a yeshiva student-turned-chareidi soldier would take out a Mishnayos during a break between military exercises or before retiring at night and start to learn. Would he be arrested for doing that? He had no reply, so I simply told him that if the soldier would not be arrested for learning Mishnayos in the military it must therefore be a lie or at best a mischaracterization to state that there is a law criminalizing the learning of Torah. No, indeed there isn’t. The law, like that of any other country, is one that criminalizes draft dodging.

Excuse me for saying it, but what all these “gedolim” who have supported these protests do not realize is that this deliberate mischaracterization of the new law is a scandalous act not only toward the Jewish state but toward Hashem. Every rabbi knows well that to die for the sake of other Jews or because you are a Jew is a kiddush Hashem of the highest degree for which the person receives automatic Gan Eden. To attempt to eliminate even the possibility of doing so for the sake of a lie, therefore, must therefore be a chillul Hashem.

But I even have an answer to the most stubborn and recalcitrant of the gedolim who insist on describing the new law as one that imposes criminal penalties for someone who simply chooses to “sit and learn.” I say, do what the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek did: stand and learn. Take the sefarim to the front, and stand and learn, and disseminate the Torah outside the walls of the yeshivos to every Jew, so that the day will return once again when we will no longer have the need to fight.

Through our collective mesirus nefesh and renewed senses of achdus, we should all strive to usher in the day once again when HaKadosh Baruch Hu Himself will seek our return back inside the study halls and will Himself fight our battles. On that day we will no longer have to address the question of whose blood is redder than whose, because there will no longer be any bloodshed.

Lawrence Kulak

Hashem Fights Our Battles

Dear Editor,

The Jewish nation is not like the rest of the nations, and the Land of Israel is not like the rest of the world. Hashem teaches us in the Torah that if we keep the Torah and do the mitzvos, we will be zocheh to have Eretz Yisrael. If not, Hashem will take Eretz Yisrael away from K’lal Yisrael, chas v’shalom.

Today there is a fierce battle going on whether yeshiva bachurim should serve in the Israeli army, or remain in the beis midrash. The question to ask is, why take them out of the bais midrash? Every single second of their learning creates zechusim for K’lal Yisrael! Every moment of their learning protects each and every Jew, civilian or soldier. Those who are not doing mitzvos, not keeping Shabbos, not keeping kosher, and not keeping the Torah, they are the ones who are actually putting us in danger!

During the Six Day War, there were nissim v’niflaos. There are the well-known stories of Israeli soldiers (both dati and chiloni) davening, putting on tallis and tefillin, and the Arabs running in fear of their lives–not from the soldiers, but from the “strange new weapons”–the tefillin; and the “squadrons of air-force planes”–an apparition sent by Hashem. During the first Gulf War, my cousin was in Eretz Yisrael, and told me, “You don’t understand how many times Sefer Tehillim was said. We finished it, and then said it over again–and again, and again . . .” We didn’t need soldiers then; Hashem fought the battle for us. Yes, in each instance, there was a “natural explanation” to hide the Yad Hashem, but it was Hashem fighting the battle for us because we were zocheh.

Are we zocheh today? Taking the bachurim out of the beis midrash will not make us zocheh. If anything, we have to do more learning and more mitzvos. The more we learn, the more Hashem will protect K’lal Yisrael. Granted, there are those who really can’t sit all day and learn. To those boys I say: Try to increase your mitzvos or learning in some way, and if you want, go and be a soldier. Don’t think it is “kochi v’otzem yadi”; it’s not that by being a soldier you are keeping Israel safe. You are just the “natural explanation.

C. Rose

Achdus In Protest

Dear Editor,

I really enjoy reading the paper, and being that I work full time it’s also my way of keeping up with whatever’s going on in the neighborhood. However, this week when I sat down to read it, one of the articles on the front cover was “A Contrast.” I read it, and I said to myself, OK, that’s his opinion and he is entitled to it. I won’t even begin to argue the points Mr. Jacobson made in his article. But there was no mention after that at all in any subsequent article of the Atzeret Tefillah in Eretz Yisrael. What a kiddush Hashem it was, how 600,000 people showed up from all backgrounds and levels of observance, and not one negative thing occurred. It was such a positive and quiet protest, it at least deserved some sort of mention in the paper. It amazes me that the “chareidim” are constantly condemned for not having “achdus,” and yet when there is a beautiful show of solidarity nothing is written about it at all?

I myself have very mixed feelings about what’s going on; I’m not writing because I feel the government or the people that the law will affect are correct or incorrect. It’s a very complex issue and, looking at it objectively, both sides have a point. However, Israel is a democracy, and the citizens there used their rights to protest a law they feel is unjust, and did so in a manner where you won’t find or see anywhere else in the world–and nothing? It wasn’t newsworthy to say that the Jewish nation once again made a tremendous kiddush Hashem? I would think that with so many negative things going on with this situation, it would be noteworthy to at least point out something positive.

Sharona Ben-Haim


AIPAC’s Big Tent:

Not So Big

Dear Editor,

The 2014 AIPAC Conference, where I was one of the 14,000 present, March 2—4, boasted of the diversity amongst the attendees. Latinos, blacks, Christians, students, parents, grandparents, Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, Americans, Israelis, Mexicans, and people from all walks of life were welcome under AIPAC’s “big tent.” But I was not welcome.

My daughter and I had banners made supporting the Application of Sovereignty for Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley in order to counter the many anti-Israel demonstrators outside the conference. After that confrontation which was recorded by Arutz Sheva, we rolled up our banners and went into the Convention Center for the AIPAC program. At the end of the day, when we were greeting friends at the informal AIPAC Village, I took out the banner to show to three Israeli friends from the threatened communities. One was from Shilo, one from “east” Jerusalem, and the third from a section of Beth-El where homes had been destroyed, and he and his family had been forced to relocate. Our friends registered pleasure that their position had been supported. I then rolled up the banner again and placed it back in my bag.

At that point, a young AIPAC staff member came over to me demanding to know, in the most strident, insulting, disrespectful way, why I had taken that undesirable banner out of my bag. There was an exchange of words–hers, nasty and overbearing; mine, explanatory and conciliatory. She finally left the scene, but not before my daughter managed to catch a photo of her.

The next evening we were again relaxing in the Village area. My good friend Rabbi Marc Golub, whose Shalom TV program is quite famous, asked to interview me and my daughter about the Kerry talk which we had just heard. The interview was in progress when the same offensive young lady snatched Rabbi Golub’s arm and demanded to know, “Why are you interviewing these women who do not speak for AIPAC?” We were all stunned and began to explain and protest and then gave up. The interview was ended.

How sad it is that the AIPAC “big tent” has room for everyone, but not for those whose unwavering message for over 35 years has been in support of a whole Israel, which includes Judea, Samaria, the Jordan Valley, and an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. I’ve asked for an apology from AIPAC, and regardless, we won’t be there next year.

Helen Freedman

Americans For a Safe Israel

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