My brothers always teased me that I could get drunk from
sniffing the cork of a wine bottle. Now, as a long time
father, I do make Kiddush on grape juice, yes, but the `cork-
sniffing' story is a bit far fetched. On Simchas Torah and
Purim, the two times a year that I do drink alcohol,
well, two cups of wine definitely do the trick!
The one thing I can say about myself and drinking is that
I've never been so drunk as to not know what's going on
around me and I always remember everything that was said
during the drinking on the following day.
This Purim was no exception. After my first cup of wine, most
of my shul friends had already had two or three large
cups of vodka or whiskey. My learning partner, Shmuel, was
singing at the top of his lungs and hugging everyone in
A couple more friends had low-hanging heads. I myself felt
like I was entering my own happy world of dizziness. I slowly
moved a siddur from on top of a chumash to rest
next to it. It felt unusually heavy. What wine does to a
"Have another cup!" Naftali tripped over to where I sat.
Holding on to the edge of the table for balance, he filled my
cup with wine. I smiled, blessed him with only happiness, and
drank a bit.
"How's your son?" Naftali asked, practically falling into the
chair next to mine.
Feeling suddenly more sober than I wanted to feel, I nodded
towards the window where Yossi sat. Naftali looked in that
direction and held up his cup in a toast. Yossi smiled. My
only son after five daughters.
"Yossi! Oh, Yossi! Are you enjoying this scene?" I thought to
myself, gulping down the second cup of wine too quickly.
The room, actually the whole world, seemed to be spinning. I
stood up wobbly. I wanted my Yossi! My only son. My Down's
I made my way slowly through the singing, unsteady men.
Lifting one foot and then the other took effort. Everything
seemed to take effort! Thinking took effort...
"The simplest movement seems so complicated," I thought. "Is
this how every minute of your day is, my son?"
I plopped down next to Yossi -- almost fourteen years old
already. His suit jacket was slung over his shoulders just
like all the other bochurim. He had the same black
hat, tilted jauntily to one side, just like all the other
bochurim. With my arm draped around his shoulders, we
swayed together to the off tune joyous singing.
"Yossi, O Yossi!" I said out loud, turning to look straight
into his trusting blue eyes. "Now that I'm drunk, everything
seems so different! This happy, light feeling! How beautiful
everyone and everything looks."
Yossi's smile grew larger. I squeezed his shoulders tightly.
Suddenly Shmuel was beside me, pulling at my arm. I stood up,
clasping Yossi's hand, and we joined the clumsy, exuberant
circle of dancers.
Everyone else now has the same drooping eyelids as Yossi
always has, I thought to myself. Everyone else is just as off-
balance now as Yossi is on a daily basis. Like yesterday,
when he tripped going up the steps... like yesterday... when
I was so impatient with Yossi. Tapping my foot and looking at
my watch as he slowly put on his socks. Looking at my
watch again, knowing that we'd be late for
mincha. Again. I sighed audibly.
And if someone were to lose their patience with me right now
because of my sluggish, awkward dancing, how would I
So, how can I lose my patience with you, my son? Why can't I
understand how hard it is for you? Could the mitzva of
drinking until we don't know the difference between people
mean that the wine propels us above knowledge to the
higher level of understanding?
I closed my eyes, resting my arms heavily on Yossi on one
side, Shmuel on the other side, feeling that I would fall at
We made it back to our chairs and with Yossi sitting next to
me in his own happy world, I poured myself another cup of
wine. The thoughts that I never have time for, never
make time for, were circling in my head.
"Yossi's never gone through the doorway without kissing the
mezuza. Not once. Can I boast the same? And what about
the fact that Yossi never, ever says a bad word about someone
else? That I certainly can't compare with! My wife refers to
him as `Yossi Hatzaddik.' I wish I had such a nickname!" I
leaned my head back against the chair, my mind reeling from
It felt strange doing a cheshbon hanefesh like this,
realizing that I could be a better person, a more accepting
person, not just of my child, but of all people. Hopefully,
this realization wouldn't wear off when the wine would.
Somehow, I was now outside. Two of the more sober men were
trying to hold me up. Everything looked familiar but
different at the same time. That drunken hour or so had been
good for me, I knew. I had drunk more than my customary two
cups but I didn't care. I let out a low, deep giggle that
sounded so silly it made me giggle even more. I looked at the
men on either side of me and I knew: I didn't need them to
hold me up. I had love keeping me up.
And love is stronger than the whole world.