Q: Is imbibing a positive behavior according to Chassidut?
A: Consumption of alcoholic beverages can only be positive if they are consumed in small amounts and moderation. The purpose of drinking is to open up to be able to relate to others with joy and love. The place for this to take place is at festive meals in honor of a mitzvah or at Chassidic farbrengens, where, while speaking words of Torah and Chassidic thought and stories, we say a ‘l’’chaim’ over a small amount of drink to open hearts. This reveals a more inner dimension of the soul – a part that does not regard the world’s exterior. It allows one to better serve God.
If the effect of moderate alcohol consumption is not as above, then it is a negative practice, particularly for young men, for whom alcohol consumption is not recommended.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe limited drinking at farbrengens (until the age of 40) to 3-4 small shot glasses of drink that all together, add up to a revi’it (about 4 ounces).