“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.casacolumbia.org). 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 HAVE THE COURAGE
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.
PURIM AND HALACHA
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.
Rabbi Horowitz recently released his sefer on Divrei Torah, “Growing With the Parsha; Torah Thoughts for Teens” To purchase the sefer ($15-), or for more information about Rabbi Horowitz’s parenting materials, please visit www.rabbihorowitz.com or call 845-352-7100 X 133.