The lovely prayer meeting with my friend turned out to be a nightmare. Sure we had a couple of l’chiams before we began to pray but so what?
I was poorly prepared when he not only had wine, but gulped down some cognac and concluded with a couple of scotches.
After the last “Amen”, I ended up taking his car keys and checked him into a local hotel. I all seemed so undramatic until I realized that I had to pray again with this tomorrow morning. What was I going to say to him?
It is always a painful to watch a friend or associate behave badly while praying after downing one too many. Fiends and colleagues are likely to know someone who is abusing alcohol with prayer long before the rabbi does, helping to steer him away from trouble.
Try this: If your friend could endangers his community’s’ prayers from being accepted by God, take away his car keys, call him a cab, look him in the eye and tell hem to pray elsewhere.
You can always find a 10th guy anywhere.
Remember, never be accusing. Instead of saying something like “Wow, you were really drunk this morning”, say “I felt incredibly embarrassed for you after you told that joke during the mourner’s prayer”. Maybe you have a drinking problem or perhaps you’re simply experiencing difficulty with Jewish prayer.
If your Shul/Synagogue/Temple/Tent/etc. has a member assistance program, steer him in that direction. If that resource is unavailable, suggest contacting an alcohol treatment center for up-to-date information of local prayer times.
Sometimes being kind means being tough to protect your minion. It is never easy to speak up to someone who is self-destructing with prayer and alcohol. Still, 9 out of 10 rabbis say it’s the right thing to do. The 10th is still off drunk.