Torah Portion: Shemini
“יין ושכר אל תשת… בבואכם אל אהל מועד” (ויקרא י ט)
It is a negative commandment to not enter the Sanctuary while intoxicated, nor render decisions — that is, that we not deliberate [and decide] about any of the Torah’s laws — while a person is intoxicated, as it is written, Do not drink intoxicating wine… when you come to the Tent of Meeting (Vayikra 10:9).
The root of this mitzvah is obvious. For it is not befitting to be involved in any exalted endeavor such as service in the Sanctuary and rendering Torah law unless the person is of settled mind and controlled action.
And just as a kohen is not allowed to enter the Sanctuary because of intoxication, so too it is forbidden for any person, whether kohen or Israelite, to render halachic decisions while he is intoxicated. This applies even if he drank mead or milk and his mind became unsettled — he may not render halachic decisions.
The prohibition against entering the Sanctuary while intoxicated applies when the Holy Temple stands, to both men and women. The prohibition against rendering halachic decisions applies in all places and at all times.