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Sunday, 20 September 2015

Nobody likes to drink alone

Daf Yomi Nazir 28

A riddle: Every afternoon after work, Jimmy and Frankie get together at the local watering hole.  It’s a tradition they’ve had for years, and rain or shine they’ll meet for a drink after work.   In a similar scene, just down the road, Joe also stops into his favourite pub on his way home from work.  The bartender knows his drink and knows that Joe arrives like clockwork each day. 

What is the difference between Jimmy and Frankie’s beer and Joey’s?

Following the term of nazirism, one must offer sacrifices in the Temple.  Until what point may a husband revoke his wife’s vow of nazirism? 
Mishna: If the blood of the sacrifice has already been sprinkled upon the altar, the husband can no longer annul his wife’s vow.  Rabbi Akiva says: Even if one of the animals has merely been slaughtered, he may no longer annul.  When are we talking about?  With regards to sacrifices offered for the ‘conclusion’ of her term of nazirism.  But if she were bringing sacrifices to atone for becoming impure ‘during’ her nazirism – in which case she would have to begin all over again – the husband may indeed annul her vow.  For he can say, ‘I don’t want my wife to abstain from wine.’

What’s wrong with his wife abstaining from wine?  Clearly, the answer is that nobody likes to drink alone.  When you picture Jimmy and Frankie versus Joey, what imagery comes to mind?  In the first scene, they are happy.  In the second, he is probably sad and stressed out.  Drinking alone is a sign of loneliness and sadness.  And nobody likes to be alone.  That’s why the husband may revoke his wife’s decision to abstain from drinking; so that his alcohol consumption can be not just responsible, but enjoyable.

Some people in this world are blessed to have constant company.  The company of a spouse, the company of children, grandchildren, siblings, friends.  Others are not as blessed.  There are many lonely people in this world, despite our human need to ‘drink together’ and enjoy the company of others.

Your job in this world is to reach out to those who might not enjoy the company that you do.  No matter your situation, there is someone who is lonelier and could do with some company, now and again.   Before Shabbos, pick up the telephone and wish them a Good Shabbos.  Invite them for a Yom Tov meal.  Nobody likes to drink or eat alone.  Especially on Yom Tov when we should all be celebrating together. 

Did you know that our Sages encouraged the relaxation of Pesach stringencies on the eighth day so that people would share a meal?  For seven days, some people make sure not to touch anyone else’s food, lest they aren’t as strict as them.  But then on the eighth day, we’re reminded that Yom Tov is about ‘breaking matzah’ together!

We’re never meant to be alone.  But at certain times of the year, we really need to do our utmost to think about who might be lonely.  May you merit never being alone in life by always thinking about and being there for others who may be even lonelier!