Monday, November 21, 2011

To Drink or not to Drink?

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, zt"l, taught that one should avoid alcohol at all times. He explained that many major failures in history happened due to wine. From Adam to Noach and beyond, the underlying problem was alcohol. The only exceptions to this iron rule are Shabbos and Moadim, when one should drink "a little." And Purim when one should fulfill the halacha to drink abundantly.
Rebbe Nachman explains that a true tzaddik elevates the wine he drinks and rectifies the world by drinking; nevertheless most who drink at Chasidic gatherings would be better off abstaining. Although some great authorities argued with this contention-- Bnei Machshavah Tovah is in favor of drinking at Chasidic gatherings as a means of uplifting one's spirits--others emphatically agreed with Rebbe Nachman.
Rav Yeshayah of Prague, zt”l, was once sitting at a tisch surrounded by his chassidim. Together, they partook of a seduas mitzvah where they discussed inspiring divrei Torah at length. Naturally, this sublime experience sparked a lot of enthusiasm.
“Let’s send someone to bring wine,” a certain older chassid declared.
Rav Yeshayah immediately discouraged this notion. “Our sages teach that sleep in the morning sleep and wine in the afternoon take a person out of the world.”
“But don’t our sages also teach that one who gives wine to a talmid chacham is like one who pours libations on the altar?” the old man piously declaimed.
But Rav Yeshayah did not feel that this was appropriate. “I never understood the words of our sages at the end of Sotah. There we find that in the times proceeding Moshiach’s arrival, grape vines will give their fruit yet wine will be expensive. If there is an abundance of grapes, why is wine costly?
“But now I understand. Since we also find that chutzpah will be rampant in the times immediately preceding the arrival of Moshiach, every person will think that his rebbe is like a talmid chacham discussed in the gemara and buy wine to fill his throat and those of his followers. With such a great demand for wine, it’s no wonder that it will be costly!”

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