Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

8 Adar 5762 - February 20, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family
After the Second Cup
by S. Levy

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 sight.

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 fellow!

"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 child.

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 react?

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 any moment.

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 wine plus...

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.


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