drinking alcohol

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drinking alcohol

Postby Sander » Tue Mar 22, 2011 3:05 am

It says in Leviticus chapter 10:

8. And the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying,
9. Do not drink wine that will lead to intoxication, neither you nor your sons with you, when you go into the Tent of Meeting, so that you shall not die. [This is] an eternal statute for your generations,
10. to distinguish between holy and profane and between unclean and clean,
11. and to instruct the children of Israel regarding all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them through Moses.

This is a particular instruction to the Aaron and his sons. It seems to say that drunkenness is profane and unclean. Therefore I urge everyone to limit alcohol intake, and stay very far away from drunkenness.
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Re: drinking alcohol

Postby rivka » Tue Mar 22, 2011 3:15 am

The context is quite specific: not "no alcohol", but "no alcohol when serving in the Temple". This implies that one who is praying or learning Torah might be similarly proscribed, but it does not mean what you are reading it to mean.

OTOH, there is little quite so unattractive as most people when they are drunk. There are some notable exceptions -- I have noted that many talmidei chachamim of my acquaintance are among those exceptions.
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Re: drinking alcohol

Postby Saronic » Tue Mar 22, 2011 4:57 pm

Normative Jewish Law is pretty much that getting drunk is forbidden. Drinking a little to augment the Simcha(Happiness) of a meal is condoned.

In the context of Purim, a lot of people point out in the Shulchan Aruch that it seems, on the surface, to be an argument between Rav Yosef Karo (The author of the Shulchan Aruch) and Rav Moshe Isserles (The author of the notes on the Shulchan Aruch which are binding to Ashkenazim,) - Rav Yosef Karo there just quotes the Gemara that says one should get drunk on Purim until you get to the point where you don't know the difference between blessed is Mordechai and cursed is Haman. Rav Moshe Isserles there says just drink a little more than usual, and then go to sleep. (Thus you were technically drinking until you didn't know the difference between the two...because you're asleep)

So a lot of people say that Rav Yosef Karo says one should get pretty drunk, and Rav Moshe Isserles says it's better not to.

However, I think it's obvious that framing the argument this way is dead wrong. In the introduction of the Shulchan Aruch, Rav Yosef Karo says straight out if you want to know how he really rules, read his other commentary, the Beit Yosef. He only wrote the Shulchan Aruch as a brief series of notes to help people review most of the important points in Halacha. He says you should be able to read the whole Shulchan Aruch in about a month(!).

In the Beit Yosef, he writes "You shouldn't get completely drunk, as that is completely forbidden!"

So they both agree that actually getting drunk is not allowed. The question is what does the Gemara mean by "until you don't know the difference..."

I'm a little late for this Purim but hey, it's good to review for next year as early and as often as possible. My current question is how much is actually too much? It would seem to me that Rav Moshe Isserles is explaining a way to follow the Gemara without running any actual risk of drinking too much.

I asked my very-learned friend Yesh what the objective measurement for "had too much to drink" in the context of Halacha. He said for Cohanim about to do Avodah, anything is forbidden. For others, it's whether or not you're at the point where you can speak properly to royalty. If you can't, then you definitely are not allowed to pray any of the services, and that it's a Kal V'Chomer (a fortiori) that one is unable to recite Birkat HaMazon (After Blessing for a Meal) since Birkat HaMazon is Biblical.
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Re: drinking alcohol

Postby Kira » Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:25 pm

I've never seen this anywhere, but I've always wondered about that distinction.

It's not between Mordechai and Haman. It's between blessing Mordechai and cursing Haman. And that's a very fine distinction.

But on the whole, you are right, getting drunk is very problematic, even on Purim.

As for Cohanim, I understand that if a Cohen has any alcohol at kiddush after Shacharit, he can't do the blessing ("duchan") at Musaf. Pretty strict.

-Kira
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