Oct 13, 2014
Taking a Stand on Drinking
Illustration photo: Baruch Ezagui

Ahead of Simchas Torah celebrations, Rochi Bell laments the "excessive l'chaim behaviors some of our youth are being taught."

The following letter was written by Rochi Bell and appeared in Tishrei 5775 issue of Perspectives Magazine, a periodical published by Merkaz Anash

There is an issue which I feel needs more attention and I believe this might be the right platform for it, being the only publication to actually address the real issues facing Anash.

I am referring to the excessive l'chaim behaviors some of our youth are being taught.

Please don't get me wrong. I grew up in home where my father said l'chaim on Shabbos Mevorchim in shul, and it was quite apparent during the subsequent seudah at home In fact, I have some beautiful childhood memories of looking forward to Shabbos Mevorchim, when the Shabbos seudah would be filled with hearty niggunim, stories and joy.

I myself experienced the warmth that a farbrengen, including the mashkeh, brings into a home and it is for this reason that I encourage my husband to attend farbrengens.

However, a clear distinction must be made between a farbrengen, and a sixteen year-old having fun. I am sure our mechanchim are not na?ve enough to think that a youngster having excessive l'chaims will actually help him listen to
the mashpia farbrenging. I am also quite sure that they are aware of the side effects, ruchnius and gashmius.

So why do they let it?

The only sad explanation I have come up with is that the yeshivah staff is scared. They are simply scared of the kids, not wanting to be the unpopular, square, rigid educators. They are afraid to educate.

And if I may dare add, this is merely a symptom.

I understand that the issue exists in other areas too, the amount they are challenged in learning and the standards set for yiras shomayim.

So what is the solution?

I believe it lies with us, the parents. If they are by nature cowards, pardon the frankness, let them be afraid of us. We must take a stand, and make them understand that if they are not ready to educate, to demand higher standards and to be firm then they will be unpopular with us.

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Opinions and Comments
Great article.
It's all too true.
Thanks for writing.
(10/13/2014 5:12:12 PM)
Reality Check
The poor excuse of this "Lubavitch system" that allows for children to drink. The "System" has created Alcoholics and drug addicts. When one drinks it is a gateway for them to try other things - drugs inevitably becomes one of those gateways.

This is not something I am making up. This is an everyday reality that I have lived with as a person who was married to an alcoholic/drug addict.
(10/13/2014 5:14:11 PM)
our youth are not being taught not to drink just like they arent being taught not to take drugs
(10/13/2014 5:26:50 PM)
brutal truth
Agreed, they are cowards . and the drinking problem is complementing the drug problem.
(10/13/2014 5:37:44 PM)
" a typical bocher"
the fear and extreme "peer pressure" our beloved hanalah exhibit, coupled with their inability to convey the truth, without sadistic means of indoctrination (whose cunning is only best by the "call of the shofar") disallows them to drop our excessive drinking behavior which severely damages our chabad image as well as our intellectual honesty...and now i think is an appropriate time to talk about the negative effects this has on the shidduch system......or at least it should!! either way we got big issues in ch, not just drinking.... but as long as we keep up the love we shall prevail g d bless chabad, we never let things get too boring...
ps this is a davar haovead and unless your response falls in this category u should not write during chol hamoed
spread the love
and stop hatin
(10/13/2014 6:17:21 PM)
I agree100./. We can't allow this to continue.
Is too wild and irresponsible.does not make
Any sense.
(10/13/2014 6:25:49 PM)
Its all the jealous woman out there that cant drink complaining and saying its a bad thing
there's no problem with drinking they just say there is because they can't drink while men can.
Ever heard a man come out against drinking??
(10/13/2014 6:34:48 PM)
To # 7
In all the years of the COLlive comments, yours is in the top ten of stupidity and foolishenss. And I am man. Get a life, and stop being a Shikor. See Sichas Shabbos Shmini Tof shin Chof Gimmel, and MANY more Sichos.
(10/13/2014 7:01:41 PM)
So important
It is interesting to note that the Rebbe was very explicit about the rules of drinking, Getting drunk was absolutely prohibited for adults let alone children.
Unfortunately, this community is riddled with problems in reference to drinking and drugs and just as we are vigilant, the mashpiim specifically, to enforce the Rebbe's mivtzoim and Chasidus this should be top of their list. We cannot change the Rebbe's words and directives when it does not fit our likes and dislikes!
Comments like number 7 should be your first indication that education in this area is desperately needed and if we don't the parents and mashpiim are failing this generation and disappointing the Rebbe.
(10/13/2014 7:01:55 PM)
to #7
(10/13/2014 7:12:01 PM)
You are part of the problem, blaming women. You have issues.
(10/13/2014 7:32:34 PM)
To #7
I love you, brilliant comment!
(10/13/2014 7:39:38 PM)
To #5
Hope you understand what you write, cuz I definitely don't.
(10/13/2014 7:52:07 PM)
To #7
Please state your name for the record.
(10/13/2014 7:57:45 PM)
Great this might help
You heard unsupervised bochurim getting drunk what to do??

I know i'm gonna write a oped. problem solved!
(10/13/2014 8:42:16 PM)
to #7
Well said
(10/13/2014 8:45:29 PM)
#7....forget top ten, I think yours has made it into the top 3 dumbest and most ignorant comments. First off, there are plenty of women who 'CAN' and do drink, in moderation, of course, just for the same reason many men do. Second, I believe many of the leading Jewish addiction specialists are men, and have come out against drinking. The great and knowledgeable Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski, who, by the way, is a bigger chossid than your or I will ever be....has opposed excessive drinking for decades...bringing Torah values when giving his opinions
(10/13/2014 8:50:19 PM)
sorry but look at the facts!
actually i think the problem is that the bochrim dont say enough lechaim!!
if you look around youll see that the way it is that the chasidishe ones are the ones that say lechayim and the modern ones from the modern houses are the ones that are scared to touch this disgusting ,
lechayim has helped many of my freinds find the right path, and no they are not alcoholics!
(10/13/2014 9:04:15 PM)
Women CAN drink too!
How dare #7 write: "Its all the jealous woman out there that cant drink complaining and saying its a bad thing " - HUH?? As a woman I can tell you a little secret: we DO drink too! Plenty of my women friends drink WAY more than any man AND much more often!
(10/13/2014 9:27:01 PM)
#7 big mistake
U just started up with the women who look at this comments and u automatically lost there wil to understand the issue.
the issue is much deeper then alcohol it comes out through alcohol and weed and that is just the show someone who drinks and smokes (not tabaco) has a deeper problem and is looking to get rid of it through escaping reality so please let's start with a healthy education from the start and there will be no need to drink etc.
It all comes down to our education. ...and whoever has spare time on there hands put ur energy in to furthering ouour chassidish education that we should be getting
(10/13/2014 9:28:36 PM)
A very respected rabbi:

I am astounded and astonished by what is being said here. bochurim not being able to drink alcohol? no lchaim? go back to Pittsburgh!
(10/13/2014 9:53:16 PM)
fact of life!
I think the problem starts way before kids have mashpiim,and start 'drinking' , it starts in the basic education of the youngest grades, (when they are young) lacking basic derech eretz (which also is missing at home), the fundamentals in Judaism, yiras shamayim, (forget about chassidus) mode ani, negel vasser, brachos in the morning, brachos before and after eating, krias shema, davening......
You can't wake up when a bochur is 16 and have complaints, because he is on a 3rd grade level when it comes to yidishkiet and chasidishkiet.
We have to shake up the lulav and smell the coffee!
There is a fire burning and we have to put it out, and it has to be thru love like the Rebbe " showed us!
A gut moied to all!
(10/13/2014 9:57:56 PM)
Don't know what's happening to the world.
Writing so strong against drinking on Simchas Torah? People who don't have chayus in holy things is a problem, a much bigger problem than "drinking."
(10/13/2014 10:17:18 PM)
Well said Rochie bell
We all need to take a stand becausethis whole drinking is totally out if hand
(10/13/2014 10:32:28 PM)
#7 you are right
#7 you are right on!
It's all jealously which is by the way a may gd help them come see the light one day
(10/13/2014 11:17:33 PM)
face the fact: bochurim don't drink as much as you claim
I am a 20 year old bochur, and I come from a very chasidishe family in Crown Hights. No one in my familly drinks too much on simchas torah; or any other time of the year. now when I finished 8th grade in oholei torah I had 28 kids in my class. Now going through the list , I can see that not one of them is an alchohol adict, or drug addict, or anything else. They DON'T drink on simchas torah exessive quantities.
(10/14/2014 12:56:36 AM)

MASHCHA, is a fancy word for ALCOHOL:
(10/14/2014 1:13:05 AM)
Yom hagadol
Didn't we just finish doing Teshuva on yom Kippur just a few days ago? We got a Clean slate for the coming year, let's forgive and hope and have some optimism that we will have a good year bigashmiyus ubiruchniyus.
Let's give everyone the benefit of the doubt that they did a complete teshuva and have resolved to fix their ways, both men and women.
(10/14/2014 1:22:55 AM)
Your opinion doesn't matter. Read this carefully.
Dina d'malchusa dina--the law of the land must be adhered to by any Jew who calls him or herself G-d fearing. And here it is, plain and clear: It's called the New York State Social Host Law.

"Parents who serve alcohol to their children in their home need to understand they may serve ONLY their children. Social host laws in New York place criminal and civil liability on parents who allow underage drinking in their homes, even if they didn't supply the alcohol, even if the other parents gave their permission. Aside from being liable for any injury or damage that arises from the underage drinking, parents could face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Serve minors alcohol & you can be sued for their actions
Private individuals can be sued if they provide alcohol to anyone under 21 and subsequently, the minor then injures others.
(10/14/2014 1:59:45 AM)
why blame hanhola?
I'm a bochur who was in many yeshivos, and they are all strict on not tolerating bochurim getting drunk. Just wanna point out simchas Torah is outside of Seder yeshiva.....which makes the kids(who will want to experiment and then be displeased by the aftereffects) fall either under the responsibility of their parents or themselve, Lechaim!
(10/14/2014 2:31:15 AM)
#18 is worse than #7
I went through the system and I became a raging alcoholic. I B"H go to AA and have a few years of sobriety.

The problem is not with simchas torah, but with every gathering, there is Maskeh. A Bochur should not be given any alcohol before the age of 17, Period.

The fact is that the situation is much worse then when I was in Yeshiva. And the fact is that many wives do not even know that their husbands are alcoholics.

There is meeting groups call "al anon". Go to a meeting in your neighborhood, it will open your eyes and make your lives better.

#18. How come in every yeshiva in the world bochurim "find themselves" without alcohol. your words are pathetic.

This is not a problem, this is a CRISIS.
(10/14/2014 3:01:21 AM)
To #7 and #18 you sound like a typical misguided, naive Chabad bochur, go get an education. To #26 you absolutely need an education your spelling is horrendous. to #19 just relax yourself over there you don't have to prove anything. Unfortunately whether we like it or not Chabad has bred a culture of drinking, this can be due to the encouragement of "chassidish" people, or the fact that it's the only "kosher" outlet in Yeshiva, whatever it may be I can tell you right now, this excessive drinking in our circle has to stop!
(10/14/2014 6:01:15 AM)
31 please
You ended up as an alcoholic, your issue.

I've passed through many yeahivas these days, and the 'what you'd call high standard' are extremely strict on the mashke drinking. The so called 'more chilled places' who everyone says do such a good job with their kids on the edge, fuel their excitement with alcoholism, but I still don't see any alcoholics comin from them, maybe druggies. You had a specific issue and couldn't use self control, your own bad, If your still blaming the world at your age, you needa learn to grow up and face the big wide world. You control your life.

And excellent comment before, simchas torah no ones in yeshiva, it's the Paretns who needa look after the kids.
(10/14/2014 6:44:24 AM)
Dear fellow Ladies loy"t
Number 7, I think, was joking...well, I hope he was. Perhaps people are not aware but physiologically women cannot cope with as much alcohol as men. I would also like to shock you all but frum Jewish women have never drunk hard mashke and perhaps, as part of the frum world, Lubavitch should discourage it too. Yes,over 40 years ago, a bottle of the Rebbe's mashke somehow arrived in Sem, a bottle top worth each was given out to each girl (which I declined!). At least one of those girls later developed a problem until she had the sense to stop. It is not appropriate nor eidel and could lead to major issues in tznius and affects the weight of an unborn child. Nor is it an inyan in which we need to prove that we are just as great chassidim as our menfolk. Mashke does not make the man!

With respect to the men, it was definitely encouraged in our sons' yeshivas including their first one, when they were 16. Having corresponded with Rabbi Dr Twersky on the matter, he pulls no punches about it with respect to men and boys.

What he would say about frum girls drinking, I leave it to you to work out.

Perhaps the Rabbonim should come out with an horo'oh concerning women and drink.

As a PS, I never saw or heard the Rebbe n"a ever saying l'chaim to the women on mashke. At an acharon shel Pesach farbrengen, he nodded up to a lady in the viber shul, who was standing in front of me. But it was wine/grapejuice and part of the daled kosos minhag, and of course Rabbi Wineberg o"h would bring up the Rebbe's wine, but never mashke.
(10/14/2014 7:25:31 AM)
You think you are chassidish cuz you drink mashke. The rebbe loves everyone. Ok
(10/14/2014 9:31:47 AM)
Whats with the Pittsburgh comment??
(10/14/2014 10:38:34 AM)
Get with the times! Women drink beer and "sweet" liquor including various flavored Vodkas plus a variety of mixed drinks ("hard" liquor mixed with fruit juice or Rum and Coke etc). We women are EQUAL to men in enjoying our drinks (- of course not during pregnancy!). And quite a few of my fellow girl friends enjoy cigarettes too!

So, yes, that is the reality - women (frum, chassidish, in our community) DO drink (and some also smoke) - I do not know if some even drink "more" than the men as #19 claimed, but certainly women drinkl no less than the men.
(10/14/2014 11:36:28 AM)
As the great Tevya in fiddler on the roof understood: Tredition!
We as a deeply religious community are completely dependent on our treditions being passed on to the younger generation.

Excessive drinking has been a staple of a chasidic life for generations. Eradicating this custom will be a strenous experience at best.
We have created our own monster. Congratulations.
(10/14/2014 1:30:32 PM)
Im fed up
Every year around 50 israeli kids ( 14/15 yrs old) being hosted and piled with alcohol in my neighbor sukkah . U see them throwing up, singing and dancing in the middle of a busy street , cars barely swerving to miss hitting them at 4am. It's dangerous and disgusting!
(10/14/2014 1:44:08 PM)
As a bochur
I really don't like most farbrengens in yeshiva b.c drinking a lot never get me inspired or w.e save it for the parties and concerts
(10/14/2014 3:20:29 PM)
What's going on here? Women smoking. Eww.
(10/14/2014 4:27:48 PM)
To "a very respected Rabbi, number 21"
Is there something wrong with a community deciding to control the amount of drinking going on in their shul? After many years of drinking getting very out of hand on simchas torah, the rav and community decided to get the drinking in shul under control. There is still plenty of lchaim to go around, but it is distributed in a safer more controlled way. This is something that should be applauded, not mocked.
(10/14/2014 4:42:18 PM)
To #33 "please"
Another misguided person.
If someone has an addictive personality, giving them a drink when they are still a teenager is fueling the fire.

At least #31 is getting help, your still deep in the darkness.

Stop brushing off the terrible issue we have
(10/14/2014 5:05:07 PM)
A mother is trying to figure out why bochurim drink and then comes up with a conclusion. Guess she knows better than the bochurim. In relaity theres no deep reason to it or lack of education etc, its purely because its FUN to drink.
(10/14/2014 5:46:31 PM)
Call me naive
I have no idea what people are talking about.
Yes Mrs. Bell is right that people drink a lot on simchas torah, which is fine because it's once a year (count Purim in too) but I'm a nineteen year old bochur and I don't see any excessive drinking among the healthy bochurim and the yeshiva where I went to, charged a 50$ knas to anyone who did get drunk.
Those who do drink excessively would probably do it regardless of the system. Just take a look at secular college students. If a guy needs to escape reality he will.
Stop blaming yeshivas and mashpiim
(10/14/2014 5:55:08 PM)
what did the rebbe say???
after the rebbe spoke about mashke ( ) a letter was given to the rebbe if that year purim and simchas torah the was , sometimes the answer was yes and sometimes no.
being that we are now in a and we can't get direct answers from the rebbe we do according to the last wich was in / and the rebbe's answer was that you are allowed to!!!!!
(10/14/2014 6:56:50 PM)
The issues are being obscured. People seem to be looking only from their own narrow perspective, and not at the whole picture. Please recognise that many people have a biological tendency to addiction, and that offering drinks to such a person can cause irreversible harm, besides the immediate consequences of uninhibited behaviour.
It is wrong to make unlimited liquor available, or to persuade someone to drink.
(10/14/2014 7:00:59 PM)
to 19
you obviously arent the type of women you would have a problem so what are you saying
(10/14/2014 8:22:22 PM)
It's not the lechaim
The problem is when kids are drinking for the sake of it and not for saying le chaim to become spiritual
(10/14/2014 8:33:01 PM)
7 is right
the rebbe supported lichayims so what is anyone talkin bout. stupid article
(10/14/2014 9:45:16 PM)
19 yr old bochur
Don't know about anyone else but I can tell you that my avodah has changed IMMENSELY due to saying l'chaim by farbrengens
(10/14/2014 10:18:30 PM)
There is a proper time and amount for everything.
Sometimes the proper amount varies, there's no "one-size-fits-all".
(10/15/2014 12:05:31 AM)
at least you SOUND intelligent so ill BOTHER responding to you. yes, youre right so those ppl should be worked on and dealt with. dont go blaming the lubavitch, hanhola, and whoever else. if you are genuinely worried then make a point for ppl not to say more than four and make a mivtzah or something. we can all accomplish alot. ..that brings me to another point..the rebbe said four, even FOUR you can become addicted to and rely on.the rebbe obviously knows this. we are in good hands.
(10/15/2014 5:15:59 PM)
doesnty anyone think the rebbe could handle the situation.
stop flipping out we are in good hands
(10/15/2014 5:16:38 PM)
Mashke Dovor Hamous.....
Mashke=Dovor Hamous

Mashke= Severe problems in Shalom Bait


Masake= Terrible for Chinuch

Mashke+ source of many many problems....

Vehoikar during the year against clear hoirois of the Rebbe

Ubbbbbeasrei derav this is worse than "Chazir"

Ubocharto Bachayim Kipshutoi......
(10/19/2014 8:12:12 AM)
im really genuinely sorry for you. ...on a different note ..PLEASE DONT GO BLAMING HANHONLA FOR WTVR ISSUES YOU THINK EXIST!!
(10/19/2014 9:34:12 PM)
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