Bottoms Up!

Dear Rabbi

What’s the deal with drinking on Simchat Torah? I know there is a mitzvah on Purim but I have never seen a source to suggest the same for Simchat Torah. Is it really just an excuse for Rabbis to enjoy their tipple?



Dear Gerard

First, how dare you call my Knappogue Castle 1992 malt a mere tipple? I recommend it for every Jewish soul looking to quench their spirit. Secondly, you say it is not referenced anywhere but in actual fact most synagogues do the Priestly Blessing in the morning service as opposed to the usual slot in the additional festival service. This is recommended by Jewish law, lest the Priests be a little inebriated and it is inappropriate to do the Priestly Blessing when in that sort of state. Clearly, Jewish law takes it for granted that slight inebriation is to be expected.

To be sure, this is not about getting drunk – ever. This is about loosening up a little bit and getting somewhat high so that you can experience the full thrust of joy as intended for the special festival in completion of the Torah. My father of blessed memory, who never touched the stuff, always insisted you should be able to self-generate the joy from within. I say, if you can work that then kudos to you. But if you can’t, for whatever the reasons and the inhibitions holding you back, the intent of the l’chaim is to transcend the obstacles that impede your ability to experience the real spirit of the day. There’s a reason why they call the drink spirit! The challenge of course is to then maintain the “high” even after the alcohol wears off. L’chaim to you and here’s to your happiness all year round.