| Words Unspoken |

To the Woman Who Called at Midnight

Don’t you want your son to learn to experience the simchah of Purim without relying on alcohol?


To the Woman Who Called at Midnight,

I don’t know who you are, but let me tell you: I regret answering your phone call. But it’s too late to change that.

Allow me to backtrack. In anticipation of our sons’ mesivta’s Purim chagigah, some of the parents on the yeshivah chat were wondering what the yeshivah’s alcohol policy is. Having lost my childhood babysitter to a drunk driver, this is a very sensitive topic for me. Furthermore, as a high school teacher, I’ve had students with alcohol problems and know that the teenage brain isn’t ready for that challenge, so when the question came up, I reached out to the Rosh Yeshivah to clarify the policy, hoping they’d encourage the boys to abstain from drinking on Purim.

The Rosh Yeshivah normally responds quickly, but after a delay, he apologized and let me know he’d gathered the hanhalah together, and they’d decided to make a “no alcohol” policy for all yeshivah events. I was very relieved and appreciative. I then conveyed the information as a simple message on the chat to let parents know the yeshivah’s new official policy.

Then you called, screaming that I’d ruined Purim for your son, and accusing me of pressuring the Rosh Yeshivah not to allow alcohol. You wouldn’t even tell me your name.

After listening to you rant, I told you I was getting off the phone.

I pressed the end button.

Part of me thinks it’s funny you think I have such influence over yeshivah policy.

The other part of me feels sorry for you and your son. You’re clearly oblivious to the dangers of teens drinking alcohol; your son seems to have an issue if he can’t celebrate Purim without alcohol, and your relationship with him must be strained if his distress causes such a strong reaction that you have no problem calling a stranger in the middle of the night and yelling at her.

Did you know that outside of their parents’ direct supervision, it’s illegal in America for teens to drink?

There’s a reason for that. Alcohol is addictive. Alcohol blunts a person’s judgment and loosens his inhibitions. Too much alcohol and mixing drinks can cause alcohol poisoning. And teenagers are so vulnerable to addiction, to making bad decisions, to taking risks. Why would you want to mix the two?

For so many frum people, their first exposure to alcohol is as teens on Purim. And without the maturity and improved self-control an adult has, that first bout of drinking can easily become the beginning of a lifetime struggle with alcoholism. Some yeshivahs even have drinking problems. Don’t you want to prevent that? Don’t you want your son to learn to experience the simchah of Purim without relying on alcohol? It sounds like he’s already unable to do that. Maybe the mesivta’s no-alcohol policy will force him to?

My surprise and dismay at your phone call has dissipated. Instead, I’m focusing my energies on using the koach of Purim to daven for you, for your son, and for all the parents in Klal Yisrael. May He grant us all the koach to protect our children and raise them b’derech haTorah.

A Concerned Mother


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 833)

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