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Is it proper to have drinks in a bar?


Rabbi Ben Zion Shafier

I don’t see any issue with having drinks in a bar – the question is who are you there with? For instance, if you are with your wife or friends of the same gender or an appropriate mixture of people, and you drink in moderation, I don’t see any problem with it.

On the other hand, if it’s a mixed gender group or another less appropriate group of people for business, for example, then extreme caution has to be taken. The issue becomes saying or doing inappropriate things under the influence of alcohol.

A person must remember that he or she is a representative of Hashem’s holy nation and is responsible for both their individual behavior and the impression it makes on others.

– Rabbi Ben Zion Shafier, founder of The Shmuz. His next book, The Ten Really Dumb Mistakes that Very Smart Couples Make, will be released in December.


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Rabbi Yehoshua Heber

We are all familiar with the rabbinic enactment against non-Jewish wine and the issur of chalav akum and givinas akum. We also know about bishul akum and pas akum. What is not well known is that there is a halachic prohibition against consuming alcoholic beverages when purchased from a non-Jew in their place of sale, see Y.D. 114 1. While there may be some situations excluded from the issur and there may be room for leniency in other cases, we can glean that the Chazal frowned upon drinking in bars and the like.

Certainly, wine and alcohol play a significant role in Yiddishkeit as we mark special occasions such as Shabbos and Yom Tov with wine. We make l’chaim in shul for a yahrzeit and the like, but drinking in a secular environment is a different matter. Even more so to have a drink with someone with different standards of decency and dignity is not the proper conduct for a Torah Jew. To share a drink with a member of the opposite gender, as we know, has led many down a very dangerous road.

Our holy Torah tasks us with the mandate to uplift the mundane and imbue it with holiness not for us to take the holy and put it in a situation that can lead to the unholy.

Rabbi Yehoshua Heber is Rav of Khal Tomchai Torah at Yeshiva Torah Vodaath and Dayan at Bdatz Mishptai Yisrael.


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Rabbi Marc D. Angel

People will decide for themselves if it’s proper to have drinks in a bar, and under what circumstances they may decide to do so.

But speaking for myself, I think one should avoid entering a bar to have drinks. Bars, by definition, are places where people gather to drink alcoholic beverages … a classic place for idle chatter, gossip, and excessive frivolity. There are better, finer places for socializing.

The popularity of bars is a reflection of prevalent hedonism in general society. By patronizing bars, we would be endorsing a set of values very much at odds with Torah values.

Drinking strong liquor, while perhaps appropriate in small quantities on Shabbat or special occasions, is something that should not be encouraged … not only in bars, but at home, in shul or anywhere else.

Rambam (Hilchot De’ot 5:3) states: “One who becomes intoxicated is a sinner and is despicable, and loses his wisdom. If he [a wise person] becomes drunk in the presence of common folk, he has thereby desecrated the Name.”

In his section on the Laws of Holiday Rest (6:20), Rambam rules: “When one eats, drinks and celebrates on a festival, he should not allow himself to become overly drawn to drinking wine, amusement and silliness … for drunkenness and excessive amusement and silliness are not rejoicing; they are frivolity and foolishness.”

It’s fine to drink in moderation and on special occasions. It’s not fine to drink excessively or in a hedonistic environment.

– Rabbi Marc D. Angel, director of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals.

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