A Grape Juice-Drinking Teetotaler
A Simple Jew commenting on Alcohol & Chassidus:
In his CD "No To Drugs", Rabbi Lazer Brody mentioned that many Breslovers avoid drinking alcohol and drink grape juice instead except in places where it is required explicitly by halacha. When I asked Rabbi Brody about this, he responded:
"Rav Shalom Arush is very adamant about this - he says that a person needs tremendous spiritual preparation before he can make a proper tikkun to drinking wine. On Purim and Pesach, he cries his eyes out to Hashem for 30 minutes before the wine touches his lips."
I found Rabbi Brody's response to be particularly interesting since I too use grape juice for kiddush since I don't care for the taste of alcohol and also because I have small children at home. Furthermore, while some may accuse me of being a teetotaler, it my contention that the vast majority of people use alcohol as a way to simply cope with their present reality. This can be a slippery slope since an alcoholic is often defined as someone who has to drink to feel normal.
Commenting on the verse "wine gladdens the heart of man" (Tehillim 104:15), Radak wrote, "Hashem creates the grapes from which wine is pressed. When drunk in sensible proportions, wine gladdens the heart and drives away melancholy. It heightens the intellect and even prepares the mind for prophecy."
Wouldn't you agree, however, that the man who rushes back to retrieve the bottles of scotch and vodka on Shabbos morning after davening is thinking more about the liquid inside the bottles rather than using this liquid to aid his avodas Hashem? Does he really have a lofty goal in mind or is he just trying to get a chemical reprieve from his screaming kids who he expects others to watch while he pours another shot?