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Dear Dr. Yael, amush

I am writing to you before Purim because I would like you to address the serious safety issues that need to be discussed before Purim arrives this year. Purim is a wonderful yom tov (holiday), but some of the young men and teenagers have turned it into something wild and dangerous. There is an inyan to drink wine on Purim; however, it needs to be done within a safe (and legal) environment. Boys should not be hanging off the back of trucks, nor should they be walking the streets so drunk that they do not look where they are going. One of my neighbors got alcohol poisoning on Purim a few years ago and was in serious condition. He was lucky that a friend of his noticed that something was wrong and took him home right away. Baruch Hashem, his parents were wise enough to know that their son was in trouble and called Hatzolah. Needless to say it was a scary situation and quite embarrassing for him and his parents. This boy was zocheh to make a full recovery and is 100% healthy today, but if his condition was not caught and he was not brought to the hospital, he could have, chas v’shalom, passed away. Since this occurred, I have made it my business to try and get the message out that being inebriated to the point of danger is not simchas hayom tov and not what Hashem wants. Please print this letter in your column to help me advocate this message.


Thank you,
A Concerned Jew


Dear Concerned Jew,

Thank you for your very important letter. I hope that my readers are preparing for this Purim in a safe manner and ensuring that their children are not planning anything that can be dangerous. Just because it is Purim, it does not mean that boys should be drinking alcohol with friends nor does it give them the excuse to act irresponsibly and hazardously. You brought up a very good point in your letter and I would like to elaborate upon it. If you know someone who is drinking too much, please make sure you follow the ideas noted below:


When Someone is Intoxicated

  • Continually monitor the intoxicated person.
  • Check their breathing, waking them often to be sure they are not unconscious.
  • An intoxicated individual should not be put in charge of another intoxicated individual.
  • DO NOT allow the person to drive a car or ride a bicycle.
  • DO NOT give the person food, liquid, medicines or drugs to sober them up.
  • DO NOT give the person a cold shower; the shock of the cold could cause unconsciousness.


Signs of Alcohol Poisoning

  • If the person is breathing less than thirteen times per minute or stops breathing for periods of eight seconds or more.
  • If the person is asleep and you are unable to wake him/her up.
  • Skin that is cold, clammy, pale or bluish in color.
  • If the person is continually vomiting (repeated, uncontrolled).
  • If the person is showing indications of confusion.
  • If the person’s demonstrating slow reflexes.
  • If the person is unable to communicate effectively.
  • If the person is slurring his/her speech.
  • If the person has a rapid pulse.
  • If the person is dehydrated.
  • If the person is unable to walk.


If any of these signs are observed, CALL HATZOLAH right away! As you mentioned in your letter, time is of the essence and you need to act immediately or the person’s life can be in serious danger.

I hope this letter has helped you, dear readers, take a good look at what your Purim plans are and see what it is that you can do to keep your children and spouses safe. Purim is a time to daven, do mitzvos, and say divrei torah. Many people take a nap to fulfill the halacha of being unable to differentiate between the phrases, “Arur Haman” and “Baruch Mordechai” (Megilla 7b). If it is your mehalech to drink wine (as per your Rav), then please make sure to be in a safe place and conduct yourself with dignity. The Rabbanim that are drinking wine are drinking at their seudah and are generating divrei torah. This is, I believe, the intent of the Torah. The frivolity that has become associated with Purim is neither warranted nor advised by any Rabbanim. Thank you again for your wise words and imperative message. Hatzlocha!


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Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at