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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Purim Perils

Interesting piece on YNet:
A Safed Rabbi on Sunday issued an edict banning the use of firecrackers during the Purim festive day this week.

Rabbi David Lakhiani of the Kabbalh town explained his decision saying: “Over the last few years, as the rabbi of the local hospital,
I met parents whose children lost an eye or a finger because of firecrackers exploding near them over Purim. Few days ago, I visited a kid suffering from burns in the waist area caused by firecrackers he had placed in his pocket. These events have Halachic repercussions.”

Lakhiani added that according to Jewish law one should avoid endangering his and other people’s lives. “It is forbidden for men to injure themselves or others in any way and I think these firecrackers are dangerous and endanger children’s lives and the Halacha proves my words,” he said.
I am very pleased to see someone speaking out against some of the Purim practices of unbridled "festivity" that often become dangerous. Unfortunately, banning fireworks is just a start, and irrelevant here in the US, where it is illegal to posess fireworks anyhow. I would be pleased if a Rabbi would step up to the plate and be more forceful in speaking out against the unfettered drinking that goes on in so many yeshivas. I will never get used to the fact that it is assumed to be a God-given right for so many (underage!) yeshiva boys to get inebriated to the point that it is not uncommon for more than a few to pass out. I ate with a friend this Shabbos, and her husband is member of the local volunteer ambulance association, Hatzalah. He said that on Purim, his radio goes off all night and day with calls regarding people who have imbibed way more than is prudent, and need medical attention. Thankfully, drinking and driving has become much less of an issue in recent years as yeshiva boys are encouraged to travel in vans and buses to do the traditional Purim eve activity of house-to-house Tzedakah collecting. But why can't the heavy drinking be banned or at least controlled? That is a danger as well.

Another Purim "tradition" that is winked at as a harmless practice is the one that allows young yeshiva boys to smoke cigarettes on Purim. Though the practice of smoking has become less and less accepted in the Yeshiva community, and it is frowned upon when young boys take it up, for some reason, it is still looked at as OK to do "only on Purim". How many boys do you think got their first taste on Purim, and then decided they liked it and kept it up? With all that we now know about the direct effect smoking has on lung cancer, if allowing teenagers to smoke - even one day a year - isn't against the stricture that Rabbi Lakhiani is referencing above of "v'nishmartem meod l'nafshotechem" ("be extremely protective of your lives"), then I don't know what the law could possibly refer to.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great points, nice post.

6:23 PM  
Blogger Mottel said...

I've been told that in other communities in Israel Firecrackers have been banned in the past.

8:07 PM  
Blogger MUST Gum Addict said...

More so than specific acts that are dangerous in of themselves (smoking, drinking, etc.) is the general feeling of tossing everything out the window from a frum perspective. These boys (and girls) dress like goyim, and act like goyim in almost every way.

I'll never forget my Rosh Yeshiva who on Purim, called me over at the seudah during my first year of Beis Medrash. I was "dressed up" wearing sneakers, jeans, and a Notre Dame sweatshirt (yes, the Yeshiva was in South Bend) and he asked me "tell me, is that your purim costume or do you wear that all the time?" The smile on his face also said "do you WANT to wear that all the time?"

Since that Purim, I have worn a suit and tie every year on Purim.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Orthonomics said...

The drinking is disgusting. I posted about the great pain it causes plenty of wives, although they won't talk about it in that way.

The smoking is ludicrious because it has absolutely no basis in halacha (not just a basis gone wild) and is just an excuse to be stupid.

I'm glad I don't live in a huge community where terrible behavior is so commonplace. If I was a parent in one of those communities, or if I had a teenage boy in Yeshiva, I would certainly take the entire family on vacation away from this behavior. (No need to reschedule any tests for us :).

9:22 PM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

There are two alcohol-free Orthodox shuls in my neighborhood.

http://www.jacsweb.com is the web site of an organization that is trying to do something about alcoholism among Jews.

11:49 PM  
Blogger TsfatMarm said...

My son's Talmud Torah (he is at Ginzei Shimon in Or Haganuz) sent home a letter last week emphasizing the need to keep the kids away from the dangers of firecrackers and explosives of all sorts, even one cigarette, and abandoned drinking.

This was the first time I felt supported by a school in my telling my son, "All the explosives are dangerous, even the 'pikot' and 'shumum' when used incorrectly". And there are too many kids using them incorrectly.

My kids have gotten the American order to never smoke, and have been just as baffled to see kids smoking a cig on Purim as we are. I was glad to see an article in the Hebrew Mishpacha decrying the dangers of even one cigaretted on Purim.

Purim is a holiday to rejoice that we were saved by the Almighty from the likes of Haman HaAgagi. May we merit to see our children find true joy without dangerous behavior for "thrills".

4:34 AM  
Blogger Just Passing Through said...

Mom, another peeve I have (even though I do it) is calling it Shalach Manot. Isn't it Mishloach Manot? I have that same peeve with Sholoshudes.

My kids have had home-made costumes more years that they've had bought ones. The homemade one's always elicit more 'awwws..' that anything you can buy.

You made 75 'shalach manots'?? Wow. OrthoMom sure is popular!

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This appeared in last week's Jewish Press and was distributed on Rabbi Horowitz's email list.


Purim; and The Search for Yossi

By: Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

· “The more often and earlier a child smokes, drinks and
uses marijuana, the likelier that child is to use harder
drugs like cocaine and heroin.”

· “It’s all about children. A child who gets through age 21 without smoking, using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol is virtually certain never to do so.”

· “Teens who smoke cigarettes are 12 times likelier to use marijuana and more than 19 times likelier to use cocaine”.

- Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA Chairman and President

I like Joseph Califano - although I never met him. I admire his dedication,
his courage, and his brutal confrontation of the facts on the ground.

He heads The Center for Alcohol and Substance Abuse (www.casa.com). The
Center, now celebrating its 11th year, has dedicated itself to the
prevention of substance abuse and its horrific consequences. The ubiquitous,
"Parents; the Anti-Drug" ads are a direct result of the research and public
advocacy of CASA, under the leadership of Joseph Califano.

And, during this Purim season, as hundreds, perhaps thousands, of our
precious children are being introduced for the first time - under the guise
of one of our most joyous Yomim Tovim, and under the direction of adults who
should be modeling more responsible behavior - to the deadly scourge of
cigarettes and alcohol that bring addiction and even death to our children; ask
yourself, "Where is Yossi Califano???" Where are the people in our community who will
step forward, call a spade a spade and address this issue? Who will break
through the denial and apathy and stop the exponential
growth of smoking and drinking among our dear children?


Truth be told, we do have 'Yossi Califanos' in our Orthodox world. They have
been speaking to us. We just have not been listening.

Their names are Rabbi Abraham Twersky, s'hlita, one of the most visionary
and courageous people of our times, David Mandel, CEO of Ohel, Dr. Bentzion
Twerski, among others.

For years, (and in the case of Rabbi Abraham Twerski, decades), they have
been acting as the prophets of our times - standing in the village squares
and begging us to listen to them. It is high time that we do. And for the
sake of our children, we need to get serious about curbing alcohol abuse and
cigarette use among our children.


If you think I am an alarmist, or if you think that I am overstating the case, why don't you
be courageous and do some due diligence of your own? It is quite simple and
should take less than five minutes.

Just ask any local Hatzolah member any one or all of the following questions:

How many Hatzolah calls are there on Purim for alcohol overdoses?
(In Monsey, the Hatzolah members with whom I spoke tell me that there were 4 calls last year for alcohol overdoses just on Purim.)

When was the last time YOU personally went on a call (not only during Purim) to assist a
victim of drinking overdoses?

Do you know of any nearly fatal overdoses due to alcohol abuse? (I
personally know of one instance last year where Hatzolah rushed a yeshiva
bachur to a hospital after falling into A FULL COMA on a Monsey Bus. This young man drank nearly a full bottle of whiskey at a vort – not during the
Purim season!!)

If your local Hatzolah member says that that I am overreacting, please feel free
to ignore this column, or please write a letter to the editor next
week refuting what I am writing. But if he confirms what I am writing; I
suggest you take my warning seriously.


As for the ramifications of Purim and the concept 'ad d'lo yoda':

From a standpoint of halacha and minhagim, there is absolutely no basis for
smoking of any kind as it relates to Purim.

As far as alcohol consumption is concerned; I am not a posek, so I will not
offer my thoughts as to the mitzvas hayom of ad d'lo yoda. I am also aware
of the various minhagim among our diverse k'lal, and the importance of
maintaining our minhagim.

I would however, encourage each of my readers to ask their Rov for guidance
and direction on this matter - just as they would ask any other halachic
question. And when we do ask the question, let us ask:

. Should we be drinking?
. How much?
. How about our children? At what age should they be drinking?
. Is there another way to fulfill the obligation of ad d'lo yada?

Regardless of your thoughts on the 'Indian shaitel' issue that surfaced more
than a year ago, it was inspiring to see thousands of women humbly following
the Da'as Torah of their Rabbonim. Now it is time for the men to step
forward and ask our rabbonim and gedolim how Purim should be conducted
according to the letter - and spirit (no pun intended) of our Torah.

© 2006 Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz is the founder and Menahel of Yeshiva Darchei Noam of
Monsey, and the founder and Director of Agudath Israel's Project Y.E.S.

5:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is purim if i may ask

6:20 PM  
Anonymous buy sex toys said...

The guy is totally just, and there is no skepticism.

3:24 PM  

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