by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths
“I do not want to drink any wine, only grape juice!” my Shabbos guest told me. Actually, he said this five years ago when he first came to my house. This week he came back, and he laughed at himself for having said it.
He was on what he thought was a more pure path than the Torah teaches. Often, when someone begins to follow the Torah, he or she will take a medical report from here, an alternative lifestyle report from there, an idea from an Eastern religion, a few fond memories, and blend them all into what they think is a really groovy way to be. They end up inventing what they believe is a more holy, or more healthy way to live. This is pretty much what the 1960s did so “well.” It’s called, “roll your own.”
But when you see that the Torah has sustained the Jewish people so beautifully for thousands of years, you should tread very carefully before you stray from even the smallest bit of it.
But wasn’t my guest right in abstaining from wine? After all, common belief is that drinking wine leads to drunkenness! Isn’t alcoholism one of the major pitfalls of society today? Alcohol is horribly unhealthy, right? Surely, we should not encourage our young people to drink alcohol?
Lo and behold, today’s medical reports show that moderate alcohol consumption is very good for you. Of course this assumes that you do not overindulge. The Rambam, who besides being a principal Torah scholar was also a medical doctor, wrote that wine is good for the stomach.
There is an interesting law regarding a nazir. A nazir is a Jew who, wanting to become more aware of G-d’s presence, would take a vow of abstinence. He could not cut his hair for this period of time, nor was he allowed to eat grapes or drink wine. He was not allowed to become spiritually unclean by tending to the dead, ether. Most often the vow was to last for 30 days. After he fulfilled his vow he would go to the Temple in Jerusalem and offer up certain required sacrifices. Then, his vow would be fulfilled and he would return to normal life.
One of the sacrifices that he was required to bring was a sin offering. It is asked, “Why should a man who tried to become more aware of G-d have to bring a sin offering? What was his sin?”
It is answered; wine in moderation brings joy. The nazir’s sin was that he forbid himself something that G-d put into the world to bring joy.
My advice is, if you want to abstain from something to become healthier, or to become more aware of G-d’s presence, then you should abstain from such things as; sorrow, anger, overeating, laziness, judging others, and a few things like this.