YWN MAILBAG: A Stone-Cold Purim


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

[From the YWN 2008 archives]

Dear Friend,

Last Purim started off like all others from years past, but it was almost the last Purim of my life. Beginning two weeks before Purim, Hatzoloh started putting up signs saying, “This year don’t get carried away,” with a picture of some poor kid being carried away on a stretcher. To me, these signs blended right into the background with the other signs hanging up all around my hometown of Brooklyn, New York.

You see, this year I decided I would make Purim even more “geshmak” than in years past, because this Purim I would drink anyway. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t planning on getting drunk, just enough to make me high. I started out collecting like the last year, going from house to house. I had the most “geshmak” group, I thought, but there was something missing. So when I was offered a drink at the next house, I took it. As I recall, it was Johnny Walker Black Label, which is 40% alcohol. I figured that if I took a cup, 8 oz, it would be better than taking eight individual shots, because I could drink the whole thing in just one shot.

After a few minutes, it starting hitting me, but I was able to continue collecting. About 15 minutes later I had another “shot” of 8 oz. And was already getting “high.” The next few houses passed in a blur. I remember sitting in the houses and just singing. I couldn’t really dance too much anymore, so I just sat down and sang.

I was starting to get a little headache, but I kept on going… after all this was “geshmak”. No longer sober, and without my proper judgment skills, I took a cup and a bottle of Absolute Vodka. I remember my friends telling me not to take it, but I told them that I could handle it. “Just a little,” I thought, and this year would be most “geshmak”. I took one cup and, surprisingly, it didn’t burn when it went down. “Maybe I’m immune,” I thought. “This is great, I can drink and drink and I won’t feel it going down.” I took another cup and another, and then, another. Then I poured half of another cup and I couldn’t pour straight anymore, so I just drank what I had in my cup. I sat for about a minute without feeling anything. The alcohol didn’t have any effect on me.

“Why do they even put up posters telling people not to drink? Its not even so dangerous!” The people of the house didn’t realize that I had drunk anything, because there were four or five groups bothering them for money. I suddenly started falling over. My head was attached to my shoulders as if on a rubber band. My head flew back, then front, then to the right, then back again. The whole room was turning upside down. People were screaming my name. Then I blacked out! They called Hatzoloh and they were there in an instant. My eyes weren’t dilating and when they touched me, I didn’t feel it. I was staring straight ahead at the wall and didn’t even feel the Hatzoloh man pinching me. They put me on a stretcher but my body kept slipping off as though I was made of “jello”.

They strapped me down and off I was to the hospital. On the way out, Hatzoloh took my picture and later asked my mother for permission to use it. That’s right, the next year I would be the poor kid on the stretcher.

I woke up eight hours later tied down to a bed. The last thing I remember was my head hitting the table as I fell to the floor. I looked around and saw a white room. Then I saw my mother crying with a Tehillim in her hand and my father at her side. Then I heard beeping. I couldn’t get up because I was tied to the bed. So I just lifted my head. My mother asked me if I knew where I was. I thought, maybe I was in my room at home, but my room isn’t in white. Then I started thinking, maybe we went away on a trip somewhere, but why was my mother crying? Then I remembered the table coming at my head and then it hit me: I was in a hospital. The beeping? That was my heart rate being monitored on a screen next to the bed.

A doctor came in to make sure I was O.K. and to tell me how lucky I was to be alive. They told me that since I came in “early” I was able to get a bed in a room as opposed to sleeping in the hallway. I still felt a little dizzy, but I was able to go home right away. The doctors told me my Blood Alcohol Content and told me that the IV that they gave me lowered my BAC, so I would have nothing more than a bad hangover. And again, he called me lucky. On the way out of the hospital the halls were lined with bachurim, unconscious on stretchers and beds. Parents and rebbeim were crying and saying Tehillim. It looked more like a funeral than Purim.

On a visit to my pediatrician, I realized why that doctor kept telling me I was lucky. My doctor calculated my weight with how much I drank (approximately 50 oz.) of 40% alcohol and told me that, according to the charts, I should have been dead a long time ago. The fact that I was still alive was a miracle in itself. Most people with that BAC are usually, at the very least, brain damaged. I asked him why I was not dead if his calculations and his charts were right. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Someone up there is watching over you.” I really am lucky.

Almost dead! Not a cold, not the flu, dead, because I wanted Purim to be more “geshmak”. The people in the hospital and of Hatzoloh know that every year this happens to too many bachurim. Too many! Even one is too many! That’s why they put up signs telling you not to drink. No, don’t get carried away. What else do they have to do?

[Written by Reuven Epstein, 18-years-old]


  1. Reuven,

    Thank you for having the guts to post your name. You gained tremendous z’chusim for posting your story along with your name.

    HKBH should give you a geshmake SOBER Purim! I would also suggest you remember that feeling and NEVER dring again!

  2. Thank you for sharing this. Anyone who comes to our house is going to get sodas. If they don’t like diet coke or ice tea they can go ask someone else for money.

    I may put up a sign that says “If you are drunk don’t ask me for money” as well.

  3. part of the problem is when people offer the groups L’chaim at all hours of the day. they dont bother to ask who is driving, when was your last drink etc.. the people who open their doors should offer only soda’s, juices, water and mezonos. i’ve been there when a ba’al habayis sits us down to drink and 5 minutes later sends us out (with tzedaka)and this happens almost at all stops it must stop.

  4. Very well written Reuven- you’re absoluteley right with what goes on Purim- but people dont control themselves.
    Once again a special Thanx to Hatzalah whose Purim is left being sober in order to pick up the pieces around town.
    Ofcorss many of the upcoming comments will include who to blaim including parents the Bochurim and ontop of the “most blaimed” the Balei Batim who write the checks.
    However the heavy drinking on Purim is a BIG problem JEWS in general are being faced with. Together with shidduchim parnassah etc. everyone has some worry about Purim and what it will do to their children, grandchildren, neighbors etc.
    Stories like this for the writer and his friends will leave a tremendous impact as not to repeat it again. Its unfortunate that we must learn from our mistakes- BUT life is too short to learn from your own mistakes; learn from other people’s mistakes!!!
    Enjoy PURIM REUVEN!!!!

  5. chayiv anish levesumim bapuryah ad dilo yadeh says you should drink and get drunk however there r limits obviosly 50oz is too much 10-15 is more than enough to be mikayim the mitzvah
    saying you cant drink on purim is going against the words of the chachomim and might qualify as apikorsis

  6. 50 oz of liquor…. T
    That is most i’ve ever heard being drunk, including the gentile alcoholics that I knew.

    You are very lucky to survive.

    #1 wrote: “…geshmake SOBER Purim…”
    Well there is no need to go to either extremes.

  7. This is a very important leter that should be posted all over shuls accross some various communities! its so important the people don’t overdrink on Purim and this letter shows firsthand that going overboard can get quite scary!! So of course you can drink on Purim, just make sure not to overdo it!!

  8. Kol HaKavod for signing your name so others can realize this is a real person talking and not a “theoretical” warning.

    Some comments on the subject:

    I never understood why there’s a big mitzva to get plastered on Purim. I also know someone who was rushed to the hospital on Purim to get his stomach pumped.

    Also, even at a very low level of intoxication, one can very easily underestimate the amount of alcohol in his body and, G-d forbid, drive while impaired. This does NOT mean a person knows he is high and still recklessly drives. Rather, it means that a person feels fine, but only once he starts driving does he (maybe) realize that he’s really a little too high and therefore a) too aggressive and b) too unresponsive. This is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS and, very likely, illegal.

    Chayav Inish, as far as I am aware, can be fulfilled by having some wine and taking a short nap.

    So why are young kids given to understand that they can have a hava amina of having more than a glass of wine, especially Purim night when there is no mitzva of seuda or having any wine?

    Isn’t it also a chilul Hashem to look like an absolute buffoon in front of anyone, not to mention to yourself? A little high is “geshmak”, but drunk? And in the streets? So since a Mitzva HaBaa BaAveira is not a mitzva, what do you gain by getting drunk and going collecting if you lose out on the schar Mitzva?

    In any event, I imagine that the pikuach nefesh alone is enough to cause people to be “mekil” and “only” drink some wine during the seuda (and maybe the same at night during collecting) and NOT try to get high while collecting?

    While we’re on the topic, where did this insanity of the once-a-year-that-turns-into-all-around-the-year cigarette come from? What heter is there to smoke a cigarette on Purim? Is one allowed to do other Issurei DiOraysa (ViNishmartem and VaChay BaHem for smoking) to increase one’s simcha, too?

    Wishing all of Klal Yisrael a true Simchas Purim that is free of any and all michsholos, Hashem Yishmor.

  9. shkoich for being mizakeh the rabim its a very big lesson for bochorim collecting to learn because they think its fest to get drunk and then they can brag to everyone how they got so drunk and it was “so gishmak” thank you again

  10. Gevaldik!
    I will be hosting a group of boys who will IY”H break their fast at my table before they make their rounds-
    I will read this letter to them and try to get them to understand the seriousness of this lunacy-

  11. kol hakavod reuvein.
    ur story should be posted in every yeshiva and shul.
    a reward should be offered to every bachur who publiczes his own similar story.
    from now till purim an undercover cop or a shomrim volenteer should patrol every wine store in our areas.

  12. Good grammer!

    Anyway, I still say you are alowed to get drunk, just don’t sit there drinking 40%!

    Wine is fine, whiskey is risky. Never heard that before?

  13. [quote]”kol hakavod reuvein.
    ur story should be posted in every yeshiva and shul.
    a reward should be offered to every bachur who publiczes his own similar story.
    from now till purim an undercover cop or a shomrim volenteer should patrol every wine store in our areas.”[/quote]

    That would be maasering. It’s against halacha.

  14. [quote]”kol hakavod reuvein.
    ur story should be posted in every yeshiva and shul.
    a reward should be offered to every bachur who publiczes his own similar story.
    from now till purim an undercover cop or a shomrim volenteer should patrol every wine store in our areas.”[/quote]

    That would be maasering. It’s against halacha.

    HOW EXACTLY IS THAT MASSERING? his point is that a cop or shomrim member should prevent boys under 18 from buying alcohol. Its not messirah!!! and lishitascha that it is, this is pikuach nefesh and messirah is not doche. Think people………

  15. it is not clearlly pikuach nefesh. plenty of people drink without having to go to the hospital. whats wrong with wanting to get drunk once a year? also, putting a cop in the store will ONLY get the STORE OWNER in trouble, NOT THE KIDS!!

    The kids WILL get the booze somehow.

    I know, im 19….

    The law is that someone who is 18 is allowed to smoke, which we KNOW kills people, as apposed to alchohl, which only kills if you abuse it.

    Think how many bochirim there are getitng drunk on purim. Its a great thing that only the amount of people who go to the hospital is so low. Only Jews…

  16. Hatzalah posts these signs every year but originally the message was not to drink and drive, so the bochurim go out with hired drivers. But if the hospital halls are lined with bochurim on strechers every purim, obviously there is more to the message which is not getting across well enough. I think that the boys are not aware of the danger in the drinking itself, not just drinking and driving. Maybe there should be shmoozes given in the yeshivas? Noone should think “this wont happen to me.” People should learn from each others experiences.

  17. such a story happened to my cousin 3 years ago.
    he’s a great serious bochur who would never want to get drunk, but some smartalics kept giving him to drink.
    to make a long story short we got a call from hatzola that we have a ‘valuable possesion’ in the hospital to pick up.(his parents were out of town)
    Sadly the hospital the full of ‘valuable possesions’, lying helplessly in a bed, with IV poking out of them.

  18. Along with the kids needing to read, understand and commit based on this message, Adults (yes, you and I) need to take it to heart also. NOBODY should be feeding alcohol to minors on Purim or any other day (Simchas Torah) excluding, perhaps parental supervision of a little low alcohol content wine on Pesach.

    Bars and bartenders can now be held liable for serving too much. People can go to jail for hosting alcohol parties on their property. So, besides the fact that you are risking the life of one of our (collective) sons – which doesn’t seem to bother you, you are also facing potential criminal and civil penalties.

  19. I was thinking a lot about this article and the ramifications of drinking is really powerful! People can DIE!! I don’t think that boys realize the impact of drinking too much! They feel that it won’t affect them, but Reuven clearly shows us otherwise; that this is completely untrue! Studies indicate that:
    Alcohol can kill you. Drinking large amounts of alcohol can lead to coma or even death. Also, in 2004, 36 percent of traffic deaths of 16- to 20-year-olds were alcohol-related. That equates to the deaths of 2,115 people in this age group alone. 1

    Alcohol can hurt you–even if you’re not the one drinking. If you’re around people who are drinking, you have an increased risk of being seriously injured, involved in car crashes, or affected by violence. At the very least, you may have to deal with people who are sick, out of control, or unable to take care of themselves.

    Alcohol changes the way your mind and your body work. Even one beer can slow your reactions and confuse your thinking. This means anything that requires concentration and coordination–like driving–is dangerous when you’ve had a drink.

    Alcohol also changes the way you act. It can make you let go of the feelings that keep you from doing things you know are risky or dangerous.

    One drink can make you fail a breath test. In some states, people under the age of 21 who are found to have any amount of alcohol in their systems can lose their driver’s license, be subject to a heavy fine, or have their car permanently taken away.

  20. I agree with the letter writer and those who commented in his favor. Happy and safe Purim to all. PLEASE remember our people in ERETZ YISROEL!! Pray for yeshuos on Purim!!

  21. Although the gemara specifically states “‘Chayiv’ inish” we have a clear cut posuk of “vnishmartem me’od”. Drinking 50 oz. of 40% acholhol is definitely going against the obvious.
    That does not mean, however, that one must not touch a drop of alchohol over purim. It should, however, be a responsibilty to each and every Ba’al Habayis to which bachurim come collecting, not to be the “stick of the malach hamaves”.

    A Freilicen Purim
    Drink Responsibly

  22. I NEVER advocated drinking 50 oz of whiskey.

    Getting drunk is not such a bad thing on a day where you are SUPPOSED to get drunk. I could tell you that walk into most rabbi’s houses and they will be completly and totally drunk. Stick to wine, and its hard to get to the point where you WILL die or most probably get SERIOUSLY hurt.
    You have to be safe when your drinking. But you could still drink!

  23. Probably many guys who have gone collecting on Purim can relate to this story.

    While it’s a Chiyuv to reach a level of ad d’lo yada – Bochurim who, B”H, aren’t used to heavy drinking during the year, have to drink in a responsible manner. To assur Bochurim from drinking won’t help, that won’t be effective. I would suggest that Rebbeim,etc. explain to their Bochurim how to drink – slowly, only wine, not to mix, & to drink plenty of water.

    Hopefully, through these methods, the Bochurim can get high in a safer manner.

    A freilichen Purim!

  24. Please remember that in NY State, one can be arrested for serving alcohol to a minor. You cannot hide behind the excuse that the bottle was on the table and the minor took it by himself. You want the bachurim collecting to make a brocha – SERVE GRAPE JUICE.

  25. You should only be drinking wine at the seudah. There’s no inyan of hard alcohol and you apparently you didn’t know that. Not a big surprise you got sick and had to go to the hospital, but B”H you’re ok. So stick to wine on Purim and, in general, remember “liquor before beer you’re in the clear, beer before liquor never sicker.”

  26. Children under the age of 21 should not be drinking at all, even on Purim. It is pikuach nefesh! If there are some people who feel it is a necessity for their child to drink on Purim, they MUST be there at least to take responsibility and moniter what the child downed. I emplore those of you who have under age visitors on Purim to keep the alcohol out of reach! There should be no visible or accessable alcohol for under age children. Where are the parents of these children? Why is it so hard for parents to say “no” to their children? This must be a part of the topsy-turvy world lkwdbubby has written about in the last thread.

  27. Reuven, Very well written! Kol Hakovod! if you take a look at the yad efraim (brought down in the shulchan aruch – hilchos purim) he says “chayav inish lebsumay bepurya ad dlo yoda – ad – vlo ad bechllal” i.e. there IS a limit, drink till the stage of ad dlo yoda and thats it!!!!
    Treat yourselves and look it up – it will change your entire outlook to what is the REAL chiyuv chazal obligated us!
    ע”י הלכות מגילה – או”ח סי’ תרצ”ה סעי’ ב’ ובט”ז סק”א וביד אפרים (שם) וד”ל

  28. Reuven was absolutely right. I can share with you other stories:
    My brother’s friend got drunk on Purim night. Similar to Reuven, he experienced a miracle that he did not die-BAC was majorly high-and he was only 14! His mother told my mother that that Purim was like Tisha B’av.
    My uncle overdrank. He was in a yeshiva and was missing. It was terrifying-after five hours of desperate searching with Chaverim, Shomrim, Hatzolah, and the Police, they finally found him stoned, a few blocks away. It was a miracle that no (drunk) driver ran him over.
    I think that the problem lies with many bochrim who feel a need to be “cool” because they don’t have enough self-esteem. It should be stressed-the only cool way to drink is at the Purim se’udah under the watchful gaze of a sober parent (probably the mother).

  29. I had a chat with my step daughter about this last night. While this conversation has mostly been about boys girls sometimes drink too and at 16 she is old enough that someone may serve her, so I wanted to talk with her. Thank G-d she is a pretty responsible young woman and does not plan to drink. But we both agreed that it was a good thing for us to have the chat. There are a lot of things that can happen to a young person (or even an older one) when drunk and none of them are good, and I want to make sure she understands that.

  30. First of all, I don’t believe this story. Nobody can drink two whole bottles of spirits; he would have passed out long before that. Second, if it’s true, then no wonder this happened to him. But that is no reason at all for him not to drink a more sensible amount this year. 5 or 6 ounces is reasonable (over the course of the night, not all at once!), and even 10 won’t do him any harm. 15 is really far too much, but if he ends up drinking 15 it’s not the end of the world. Just remember that’s fifteen with an n, not fifty! Even 13-year-olds can handle one or even two ounces.

    As for those who prattle about the magic age of 21, what’s so special about that age? And don’t tell me “the law”; which mosser is going to tell the police what happens at someone’s table? Don’t give me any excuse about pikuach nefesh, if someone gives a “minor” one drink it is not pikuach nefesh and doesn’t justify mesirah. A mosser must be killed, and that din applies literally, today in America just as much as 60 years ago in Russia or 2000 years ago in Eretz Yisroel.

    Oh, and by the way, one cigarette will also not kill you. If someone wants to have a cigarette for Purim, or even two or three, let them. I don’t see the attraction, but it’s none of my business. Just don’t make a habit of it (and no, one cigarette will not turn anyone into an “addict”).

    All these bobbe mayses don’t help anyone, you’re just scaring yourselves into a panic for nothing. Have a freilichn Purim. And a safe one. But not a paranoid one.

  31. To Charlie Hall: Yes, read the gemora, and note that knowing what happened, he was still ready to drink again the next year, because it’s a mitzvah. This is Rabba we’re talking about, not your friend. Rabba who was a tzadik gamur, the greatest tzadik of his generation; when he said that he was a “beinuni” Abaye pointed out that if this were so it meant there were no tzadikim at all in the world, and that couldn’t be. So we know that whatever he did was right. Also note that the gemora doesn’t criticize him, so you certainly have no right to. He did it, and he was right to do it, and he was right to risk it happening again (that doesn’t mean another person with such an experience would be right to put himself in the same situation, of course; for that one has to be a Rabba).

  32. The effect that alcohol has on the brain of a teenager is different than the effect it has on an adult. I think there is something to the “magic” age of 21.

    To the commentor above who thinks parents have no influence, I believe you are sorely mistaken. Parents need to speak with their children. They need to let their children know what they think of various issues. Teenagers may experiment and push the limits, but they need to know the limits have their parents’ voices in the back of their heads. Knowing parents disapprove is crucial. Let’s not write parents out of this discussion.

  33. Milhouse, Let me guess, you are a yeshiva bochur under the age of 21. I suggest you google some information about under age drinking and see the effect it has on the brain. Recent studies suggest that teenagers go through an additional brain growth period during adolescence. This finding proves the importance of remaining sober until the legal age as our brains can grow up until the age of 25. Some studies found that teenagers who drank even minimal amounts of alcohol were particularly vulnerable to brain damage and countless other detrimental effects on the body! What do you think is going on in your brain when you are numb from the alcohol? During that period of numbness, your nerve endings and brain functions can indure irreparable damage, Chas v’shalom! Please, do not make such blanket statements without first doing your research. Furthermore, I implore that you listen to your parents and stay away from drinking. If you so desire, there are many more mitzvos, which could use your undivided dedication! Hatzlocha to all, have a happy and safe Purim.

  34. Kensingtonfarm starts off with a wild guess, and proceeds in the same vein of narishkeit. Your guess had no basis in fact and neither does the rest of your rant. I don’t see why anyone should pay attention to what you have to say, since you clearly have such disregard for facts.

    Orthonomics doesn’t make the same mistake, but that doesn’t make his point any more valid. First let’s play the ad hominem game; I won’t definitively say who funded this study you’re quoting, but you may want to look into it. There’s a lot of money for any “finding” that can cast alcohol or tobacco in a bad light, and very little for anything that might find the opposite; even the alcohol and tobacco companies are wary of funding such research. In any case, let’s suppose that alcohol does affect teenagers differently than it does adults; why does that mean that they can’t drink at all? Different doesn’t have to mean worse; if their brains are still growing, then maybe it’s actually safer for them to drink, because they can repair any damaged neurons. In any case, there is nothing in the world that has no safe dose; the only question is how low that dose is, and what kind of safety margin there is above it before the damage becomes serious.

  35. milhouse

    actualy what kensingtonfam wrote is true and i read it also. no its not narishkiet.

    you sound really niave-most guys who have ‘just one’ cigarette on purim end up smoking all year round.

  36. #37- How are the Roshei Yeshiva going to assur drinking? Are they out of their minds to be mevatel a mitzvah midirabanan??????
    Don’t even suggest such a thing! Maybe suggest that they should teach boys how to drink responsibly and this won’t happen again. Secondly, not that this letter doesn’t have a good point, but it was not just written, I read this letter posted in my yeshivah around 8 years ago. I would be interested in knowing how old
    Reuven is in 2008. And thirdly, most guys who smoke on Purim do not end up smoking all year round. A very large portion of kids smoke on Purim, and only a very small portion of them continue smoking after Purim( whether they take up smoking later on in their yeshivah years is a different story). I myself smoked 2-3 cigerettes in my life, and they were all on Purim.

  37. Kensington Fam has seen the research I’ve seen. Research shows that adolescents can drink more than adults and not experience the same slowdown in gross motor skills, increasing BAC levels quicker. Short term memory and learning are more negatively impacted.

    The bottom line is that teenagers should not be out drinking from home to home period. If parents want to serve their own child a glass of red wine alongside the seudah, that is one thing. Sending teenagers out to drink from home to home in a peer group is pure lunacy.

    And, btw, I’m a she, not a he.

  38. milhouse you are 100% wrong as a hatzolah member i have seen the effect that alcohol has on teenagers and on adults and for some reason must of the patients that i brought in to the emergency room in serious condition (unconscious) were yeshiva bachurim. so yes it is a hard thing for the rabanim to assar but that does not make stories like this one a bubba misa. i do think that rabonim and rabeim should lead and show an example by cutting back on their on drinking and let us all show the younger generation that it is possible to have a geshmaka purim and not get stunned drunk

  39. Kensingtonfarms blew his entire credibility as soon as he started with a wild and utterly unfounded guess about my identity. That discredits everything else he has to say.

    Orthonomics, you say teenagers can drink more than adults before passing out; maybe so, but two whole bottles?

    Hatz, I said it’s a bobbe mayse because I don’t believe anyone can drink that much without passing out. I don’t doubt that people do get taken to hospital with alcohol overdoses, and that’s bad. But that doesn’t justify a call for no drinking at all. Teenagers can handle a reasonable amount of alcohol, and it’s good for them to test their limits – within reason. 5 shots in an evening is reasonable; 10 is too much, but won’t do any damage, and helps the bochur discover where his limit is. Even 15 is nothing to get too excited about, though it’s a mistake he’ll probably only make once. 50, as this writer claims to have drunk, is completely crazy, and would give trouble even to a sumo wrestler.

  40. Perhaps this story is overexaggerated. Nevertheless, the drinking gets out of control and needs to be more curtailed. If you please as a parent, serve your sons have a cut of wine over the seudah. No one else should be serving them, esp unsupervised.

  41. Yes, this IS Reuven’s mother.I honestly don’t know why I’m wasting my time here but I feel that some of you guys, like Milhouse and yeshivamon- are already drunk way b4 Purim has started….by your comments, you appear to be very immature, too
    If you have to know, yes, BARUCH HASHEM Reuven is 23 yrs. old and this was written 5 yrs. ago (see how you lose perspective when you are drunk!? 8 yrs. is not 5 yrs.) And yes, you did read this b4 ..but it is never too often to relay the message that Reuven intented. It may seem redundant to you, but if we would Chas v’solom be
    observing a yarhrziet, it would not be redundant at all. Hashem sends us wake up calls and if we do not respond then they are for naught. The chesed that He showed us that night was tremendous and the yearly seudas hodoah that we have to commemerate it, is a constant reminder, like his letter, and we do not want to forget it. I cry when I read Reuven’s letter every yr. like I cried when Hatzoloh was taking him out. As I grabbed my tehillim, I looked each of his friends bet. the eyes and I said, “do not forget tonight” We did not know the outcome at that point, but it didn’t matter. There are no exaggerations in the letter; the details are all true. There is no heter at all to drink at night and do not think that you are in control to the point where you can determine when you are intoxicated or not, if
    you drink by day. We used to have a few hundred bochurim passing thru our home on Purim night collecting while my husband had his famous Torah contest. After this happened to Reuven we realized that this is not what Hashem wants from us. We closed our doors since then and give the same tedakah in a quiet fashion. May we all have a simchas Purim that is l’shem u’l’tiferes.

  42. Mrs. Epstein, I was beginning to wonder why I was here myself, but it must have been to read your message. Thank you for your courage in sharing your experience. There are some truly exceptional zechuyos with your family’s name on it. May you only know nachas and bracha, and have a truly freilichen Purim.

  43. Thank YOU, ladies for responding. It is my brocha to everyone that we all be zoche to have a Purim that is full of simcha and yeshua. Despite the hectic schedule on Purim (especially this year) may we do everything with an enthusiasm that bespeaks our inner feelings. It is a very holy day
    and we should make the time to daven and request from Hashem…He always answers us, but Purim is especially designed for us to receive his blessings. We just have to ask.

  44. dovy6…

    Aside from the SERIOUS risk to health from drinking, do you realize what a HUGE CHILUL HASH-M it is when goyim see frum Jewish boys DRUNK, roaming the streets acting loud and boisterous, walking into the middle of traffic in the street, collapsing on the street or sidewalk, VOMITING on the street or sidewalk!!!
    You think acting in such a disgusting, disgraceful manner is a mitzvah!?!?!?!

  45. I think he should go around speaking in yeshivas to make a big impact, bachurim dont read yeshivaworld, on the flip side i dont think anything will ever change purim will always be purim as we know it, Which is not a bad thing it is alot of fun. b’h we only know of near deaths and not…. i think there is extra shmira on purim

  46. I think speaking to the boys is one step.
    The other is to get the balei batim to stop offering any hard drinks when the groups come. Isn’t it illegal to serve liquor to someone under 21?
    The main problem is the “adults” drinking habits. Children (yes teenagers are children) need to be taught by example. If they’re told drinking is bad but see adults drinking why should they believe what they hear.

  47. This terrible machlah will not stop until all the Rosh Hayeshivas sincerely condemn this horrible behaviour.
    It is bad enough the rest of the year as it is.

  48. Thank you Reuven and Mrs. Epstein. I am a Principal in an out of town Mesivta. I spoke to the bochrim before Rosh Chodesh and was very clear about the dangers of drinking. I sent a letter out to the parents and to neighborhood Rabbis and Mechanchim as well. And to all the “smart” people who quote the Gemara, it is clearly NOT a mitzvah to put yourself in danger on Purim!Try learning the Rema, the Mishneh Berura, Chayei Adam, and the Meiri in the topic!

  49. To all the machmir young men who (suddenly) are SO concerned about being mevatel a mitzvah…

    While sitting at the Purim seudah with your family or rebbe, drink 6 – 8 ounces of wine.
    Hopefully that’s more than you normally drink at kiddush.
    See, you were mekayaiym the mitzvah WITHOUT endangering your health, WITHOUT making a fool of yourself, and WITHOUT making a chilul HaSh-m!

  50. Yashar Koach to the Epstein family for sharing. B’Ezras Hashem, lives will be saved as a result.

    To some of the commenters, there is no Mitzvah to drink to the point of getting sick. And, if your worst aveira is not drinking at all on Purim, you’re in excellent shape!

  51. The Chidushei HaRim (the first Gerrer Rebbe) used tell of a yid who saved up money to go to do an aveira. On the way to do his aveira, he passed through a town & found the towns people crying. When he inquired as to the reason for their sadness, they told him that the puritz, who was owed a lot of tax money by the local yidden, had taken many of the local citizens & was holding them hostage. Upon hearing this, the yid (who if you recall was on his way to do an aveira) asked how much was owed to the puritz. When he heard the amount, he immediately removed that amount from his money pouch & handed it to the puritz, who immediately released the yidden.

    In shomayim there was an immediate upheaval. On the one hand this gentleman was deserving of major s’char for giving the money that he had prepared for his aveira for, pidyon shvuim. On the other hand he was a simple Jew (if there is such a thing) who was on his way to spend quite a bundle on doing an aveira. The decision was to give him the power to bless & that his blessings should be mekuyam. As much as that too could be a problem, & in order that he shouldn’t give inappropriate blessings (such as to bring the dead back to life) he was also given an extremely addictive personality which led him to be toasted most (if not all) of the time.

    Once during a difficult time for the Yidden, the Ba’al Shem Tov (who obviously knew the story of this Yid) sent his talmidim to find this Jew to get a brocho from him for the sake of Klal Yisroel. When they arrived & found him smashed all of the time they almost gave up, until one day they finally caught him sober & pulled a brocho out of him (by promising him some good mashke of course). That’s how & why they ended up hearing the story from their Rebbe, the heilige Baal Shem.

    The Chidushei HaRim tells us that the same concept applies to Purim. Since The Ribono Shel Oilam gave Klal Yisroel such a day of the year when every Jew has the ability to ask for all his (& any other Yids) needs, there was a fear that people would make inappropriate request. Therefore Chazal gave us a Mitzvah to drink on Purim ad d’lo yoda (go for it bro) so that in our drunken stupor we won’t have the seichel to make inappropriate requests.

    The Chidushei HaRim tells us that if someone forgos sobriety “leShem Shomayim” he won’t lose out because of it!

    So get ready brother Purim is coming! This is the day to get high! “Leshem Shomayim” (& maybe – hopefully- when u’r there you’ll even remember to ask for something special – for yourself or a yiddishe brother).

    Keep in mind though, that the days leading up to this day are nothing to ignore. (See the first seif of kitzur shulchan aruch hilchos taanis Esther).

    Drink wisely. Don’t overdo it (the Halocho is קצת יותר מהרגיל). Don’t EVER drink and drive (chas vesholom), & remember that mitzvas hayom is mishte haYayin (dry red is my favorite) not booze!

    Peace, Love, & Harmony. 4ever!

    [email protected]


    (Check out the link in the comment from Yeedle in the comment section, for R’ Shlomo Carlebach’s version of the story – in hebrew- listen till the end)

  52. Millhouse…

    It is reasoning like yours that, chalila, causes people to end up on life-support or… worse.

    I pray you live long enough to mature and realize the foolishness of things you wrote here today.

  53. Is it weird that I feel ahead of the curve because of my past indiscretions I’ve built up a decent alcohol tolerance.

    Some of my non Jewish co workers talk of going to the bar on 3/17 every year and seeing “novices” who need to be carried out on stretchers and its eerily similar around some of the “hemishe” instituations in my neighboorhood

    I feel that if drinking isnt something you do often then you shouldnt pick purim as the time to show how much you can handle.

    BTW I dont for a second believe that everyone think the letter writter is brave for signing his name. I’m thinking that everyone said the same thing “I’m glad he’s not going out with my daughter”

    Letters like this are ineffective anyway as the weaker minds will always get pulled by the much stronger instigaters and leaders.

  54. cleverjewishpun,
    “BTW I dont for a second believe that everyone think the letter writter is brave for signing his name. I’m thinking that everyone said the same thing “I’m glad he’s not going out with my daughter”

    Its people with an attitude like that, unforgiving to a childish mistake years before he’s thinking about dating, that creates a shiddusch crisis like our currnet one. I’m glad I’m not mishadech with you.

  55. I happen to know Reuven personally and I can first of all vouch that this story is 100 percent true and I can also tell you that he is one of the nicest guys out there. He has extraordinary midos. Shkoiyach Reuven for being mechazek the oilam. Tizku limitzvos.

  56. I’m sorry Reuven but you were irresponsible & immature. Unfortunately you had to learn the hard way, B”H you were at least given the opportunity to live to learn the hard way. I’m a bocher in Yeshiva who has gone collecting 9 years (since the very young age of 13, 8th grade) & iy”h this year will be the 10th. NEVER have I been with or seen a bocher drink that much!! & NEVER would any one of my “group mates” (geshmakeh oilam) let such a thing happen between us!! And believe me, we get reeeeallly trashed, “gantz toit”.
    Its a great thing you publicized your mayseh even though it is only for the few irresponsible guys & of those, few that will actually listen (miyutah d’miyutah). Each & every bocher is priceless, to save one is worth the world. After all they make the world go round & will lead our future generations. However remember all these signs, stories, advertisements, warnings etc… are for this is extreme minority (miyutah d’miyutah) of those that are irresponsible & that will listen.
    You show your stupidity & amaratzus in toirah when you start making all these toiras with ushmartem es nafshoisaichem, mitzva h’bah b’avaira etc… (that’s what we bochrim call “Purim Torah”). There is a clear pushit chiuv “chayiv inish”, DON’T TRY DEFINING IT ANY OTHER WAY THAN ITS CLEAR AND TRUE MEANING. Those of us (most of us) who are responsible and mature – kol h’kovod. Those that aren’t, your parents have to educate you and till then keep you on a leash. I’m not yet experienced to go into the process & ways of educating children to be responsible & careful. Your immaturity & lack of self control will hurt you in many ways the rest of your lives, this is merely one instance in which your lack is clearly shown & brought to the extreme surface. To the extent of pikuach nefesh.
    Oh & by the way, 21 is an American made age of responsibility. In most countries the age is lower & our rabanim decreed 13 or 20 (chaiv b’oinshin) as the age of responsibility. Go darshin but soif maiseh there is nothing like an emeseh bocher who spends hours upon hours learning toirah every day, deeply soaked in toirah, sh’kuah b’toirah, rolling around stone shikur filled with wine shmoozing or rather slurring or even trying to slur in TORAH.

  57. Yes, stories like this are tragic. But that by no means takes away the obligation to drink on Purim. Drink safely, drink smartly, but still drink.

    Also, I think educating our boys on how to drink safely will be far more effective than trying to get them not to drink at all. Anybody that knows anything about alcohol knows that taking the equivalent of 16 shots in 15 minutes is stupid, bordering on suicidal. If we would tell our boys how to drink safely instead of trying (and failing) to stop any drinking at all, we wouldn’t be having these problems.

  58. Just teach your kids that if they are going to drink to choose one drink because when you mix different types of alcohol it is worse and to drink a couple of shots. That’s it! Not 50 oz. Because, let’s face it, your kids gonna drink on purim. Just teach them how to do it without ending up in the hospital or throwing up all over the place.

  59. Reuvain is a saint for writing something which is so personal. Anyone who writes personal stories to help the tzibur must be an amazing type of person.

    I have seen numerous Purim videos of gedolim and always notice that the gedolim drank simple kedem melaga wine.

    We have to follow the lead of gedolim and not mix wines and schnapps. Stick to one type of alcohol beverage and not more than 4 cups. Weight,age and height play a big role with how meshuga you get when drinking.

    Police officers will be posted at all yeshivos this year and give breathalyzer tests to save you from getting into a car and getting arrested. if you see a police officer at the door give a nice tip.

    Happy Purim

  60. The only reason why the age limit to drink is 21 in the US is because of driving.Be’etzem its 18, just that if the age limit would be 18 then inexperienced teen drivers would be able to buy alcohol which would be a disaster.

  61. I just want Reuven and all the bachurim that might bother to read this comment, that my friend’s son was not as “lucky” as you. and instead of listening to Megilah and giving Shalach Manos, my friend’s husband was in the morgue R”L identifying his son’s body. No one should know from this ever, and it was completely avoidable. There is no excuse for this drinking, collecting and driving. Please take these Hatzolah posters and messages to heart.

  62. For thos how say it is a mitzva to get drunk there are other ways of doing it , by sleeping AND by the way the mitzva is do drink wine!!

  63. Happy shushan purim. Reuven u have a lot of guts putting ur name on this article, however ur story is extreme I drank 64 oz. Of vodka and the only problem I had was throwing up later on. You r right that ppl go above and beyond the call of duty but either u have a very low alchol tollerence or u mixed wtvr the case may be you can’t say that if some1 does what u do then that’s what’s going to happen. The truth is every1 has a breakin point but urs is really low I’m very glad that we still u with us and we r happy that u posted this story. Thanx alot

  64. Wild story Bro. Teachers need to educate more regarding the dangers- you are collecting for their institution after all- as do parents. That being said, and I like to drink too, you drank way too much and your naivete comes right through with your thoughts while being inebriated. Steer clear if you are not mature enough to handle as with most anything.

  65. While excessive drinking on Purim is a serious problem, a better, more long-term solution is for adults to carefully monitor the drinking of these young men, controlling the amount and type of alcohol as well as offering food and non-alcoholic drinks–the same way youth drinking was monitored in the alter heim. Pressure must be put on the state and federal governments to abolish their condescending, infantalizing and fascistic drinking age laws (a legacy of alcohol prohibition madness). The only way to learn responsible drinking is under careful adult supervision, not in an underground, rebellious environment full of immature bachurim.