Senior religious Zionist rabbis are calling on teenagers to avoid excessive alcohol consumption during Purim,
in spite of the command to drink until one does not know the difference between "cursed be Haman" and "blessed be Mordechai."
As part of an advertising campaign ahead of the Jewish holiday, Rabbi Haim Druckman is urging religious youth to "appoint a friend to supervise those drinking against danger," while Rabbi Dov Lior has ruled that "they had better not get drunk."
The initiative was launched by the Israel Anti-Drug Authority together with the Nadav organization for religious youth at risk, which have been posting since last weekend large ads in the sector's newspapers, synagogue bulletins and websites, under the title: "In Purim it's a mitzvah to be happy – just don’t regret it."
"Although in Purim it's a mitzvah to drink, there is no mitzvah to do things that you'll regret, and it is not permitted to cross the line and violate Torah prohibitions," the ads read. "So before you drink the next glass, think: When you drink, you are unaware of the danger."
The ads conclude by wishing the teens a "Happy Purim. Don't make it a sad one!"
Rabbi Druckman turns to the youth in the ads, saying that "the mitzvah of drinking on Purim does not permit excessive drinking, debauchery and unlimited intoxication. I call on the youth and their parents to beware of drinking too much on Purim."
Rabbi Lior quotes Halachic rulers, who said that those who know intoxication will make them behave "recklessly" or disregard the Torah commandments – should avoid it, so that "all their acts will be in God's name."
He adds, "They had better not drink alcohol in a way that may – God forbid – break the boundaries of modesty."
According to Anti-Drug Authority Chairman Zvi Hendel, "Drinking on Purim is a mitzvah, but like any other mitzvah it must be observed rationally. Unfortunately, many feel that the mitzvah to drink gives them a permission to get drunk, and that is not the case.
"I hope that common sense and the rabbis' words will reach every Jewish home, and that the mitzvah will lead to happiness rather than sadness, God forbid. I believe that the fact that an advertising campaign has been launched for the first time, encouraged by leading religious Zionist rabbis, will help convey this important message, instill it in the hearts and turn the upcoming Purim into a happy, yet sober, holiday."
This isn't the first time rabbis criticize the habit of getting drunk, although it is considered a mitzvah. Shas'
spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia, Yosef, ruled three years ago that "drunkenness is an abominable and nefarious act" and that on Purim one must drink very little wine, only as a symbolic act to remember Ahasuerus' feast – without getting intoxicated.
"Haman got drunk, but we must practice good manners," the rabbi said, recommending that one drink until one falls asleep – a situation in which one does not distinguish between "cursed be Haman and "blessed be Mordechai."