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19

"Nittle nacht" is the Yiddish reference to the night going into Christmas. (It was observed on different dates, depending on if you lived in a Catholic/Protestant country, or an Eastern Orthodox [Christian] country; the former have Christmas on December 25th, thus "nittel nacht" starting at sunset December 24th; the latter have a different calendar.). ...


17

In Hayom Yom (17 Teves), the reason given (in the name of R' Shalom Dovber Schneersohn, fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe) is "to avoid adding vitality." The point is that the person whose birthday they're celebrating on this day was a Jew, and since on a person's birthday his mazal (spiritual source) is stronger, we don't want the spiritual benefits generated by our ...


12

There is a good summary of the pros and cons, and the various halachic opinions, here. In a nutshell: R' Moshe Feinstein and R' J.B. Soloveitchik seem to have little or no problem with such a meal, while R' Yitzchak Hutner (all three zt"l) argues that it is prohibited as a gentile custom.


11

I'm not so sure it's as straightforward as follick said. True that Christianity is avodah zarah for us Jews; true also that it is, according to some posekim, also the same for non-Jews. Nevertheless, one of the major leniencies in this regard (alluded to by Shalom in his answer to the related question) is that most non-Jews nowadays aren't אדוק באמונתם, so ...


11

First, it should be noted that you are asking a very broad question, as, unfortunately, there certainly are many Jews who celebrate it as a secular, cultural holiday, and many Christians who classify themselves as Jews. Mainstream Judaism, however, rejects Jesus. Adamantly, decisively, and without qualification. We do not believe he was a prophet, a ...


8

I once heard a rabbi speak about this (but, sadly, I don't remember who), and he talked about contrasting Halloween with Purim. Both involve dressing up in costumes and socializing -- but on Purim we go around and give gifts, while Halloween is about taking. He made this a teaching moment with his kids about mussar (right behavior), and tied it in with the ...


7

Rabbi Michael Broyde discusses the issue in a post here. One of his major points is "that Valentine's Day is no longer celebrated even by Christians as a Christian holiday." To quote his conclusion: I think it is the conduct of the pious to avoid explictly celebrating Valentine's day with a Valentine's day card, although bringing home chocolate, flowers or ...


7

Here's Rabbi Michael Broyde's excellent treatment of the subject, in which he permits observance of Thanksgiving (according to many) but prohibits Halloween, out of our prohibition of imitating heathen-inspired rituals. This matches the practice I've seen observed (at both lay and rabbinic levels) in mainstream Orthodox communities wherever I've been in ...


6

I get this: "Is your Christmas shopping done?". It's usually from a well-meaning customer who doesn't know my customs. I see no difference between this and "so what plans do you have for Friday night (or Saturday)". The question is certainly more prevalent at this time of year. If this is a "learning moment", where I choose to use my expansion of the ...


6

I will assume that this non-Jewish acquaintance is Christian or at least that they will be celebrating Chistmas in a secular way on Dec 25 (as opposed to being Muslim, Greek Orthodox. Wicca or other) Happy Chanukah (early or in proximity to Chanukah): They have wished me well appropriately for my holiday, I wish them a Merry Christmas. (It seems you ...


6

There are a number of theories as to where the term "Nittel", or "Nittel Nacht" originate from. Some suggest that it comes from the Latin "Natale Dominus", meaning, "The birth of our God". Others surmise that the use of the word Nittel etymologically comes from the Hebrew "natal", meaning "to have been hanged". Nittel can also be construed as the Hebrew ...


6

Nitel Nacht is the eve of the non-Jewish holiday celebrating the birth of the Nazarene (see Divrei Yatziv O.C.2 240:1). According to some Nitel is associated with the Latin for being born, nacht of course meaning "night". (Nitei Gavriel on Nittel 1:2, see also Halichos Chaim, Moadim u'Zmanim, nittel 1 note 2). December 25th for the Eastern Church falls out ...


6

See this excellent write-up by Rabbi Michael Broyde, permitting it. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein briefly remarks (when discussing Thanksgiving) "that it's more like New Year's Day" (and thus permissible). Though perhaps the origins may have been somewhat pagan, at this point those origins have long, long faded away in virtually all of society (how many churches ...


6

Maybe what you're looking for is a way to communicate the idea in Deut 18:9-15... that the Israelites should be different from the other nations and stay away from magical/idolatrous obsessions or attempts at power that bypass God. In the spiritual realm Jews have only one, very special, relationship. Even so, God would give a better replacement for those ...


6

R' Ari Enkin has a great article on this: http://www.torahmusings.com/2011/03/jesus/ He theorizes that it is preferable to wish another Merry Christmas than Merry Xmas On a related note, there does not seem to be any halachic advantage to using “Xmas” over “Christmas” as many are accustomed to do. This is because “X” (the Greek letter “Chi”) is not only ...


5

Tosafot in Avoda Zara, 2a s.v. אסור answer this question. (By the way, not every one agrees to the "three days" thing Avodah Zara 7b.) A: because of איבה, i.e. if Jews never did business with Christians before their holidays this would cause undue hatred of Jews. However, the Tosafot reject this, because there is no hatred, because the Jew could just say ...


5

Rabbi Marc Angel of Shearith Israel in NYC wrote a very interesting blog post on the subject. Worth noting, he writes: When President Washington called for a day of Thanksgiving, Jews observed this day with joy and pride. At Shearith Israel in New York, the Rev. Gershom Mendes Seixas arranged a suitable service of prayer, and delivered an address ...


5

Not to replace, but to add to, Alex's link and synopsis, R' Mordechai Willig gave a great Shi'ur about xmas in which he touched on other holidays, including Thanksgiving. I listened to it a long time ago, so I don't remember everything he said, but he addressed it, and I found the Shi'ur very enlightening and informative on a whole range of related issues. ...


4

I'd actually err towards inclusiveness: Even though they're not Jewish, Hashem still wants them to be nice to each other, so they get together to talk about how to do that. It's definitely a difficult balance, you don't want your kids thinking "oh why bother being Jewish if it's not really needed", but you don't want them spitting on every non-Jew they see ...


4

There is this (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 571:1): One who fasts - if he is able to bear doing so, is called holy; if not - such as if he is not healthy and strong - he is called a sinner. Mishnah Berurah there cites various authorities who apply this to voluntary fasts not in penance for specific sins; and further, that even where fasting is ...


4

My standard answer to holiday greetings such as those mentioned is along the lines of "Thank you, to you as well", all though with the last one I tend to regret it if I forget to stop after "Thank you." With respect to wishing someone a "Merry Christmas", it seems that many contemporary works apply Yoreh Deah 147:2 as a reason not to mention the holiday ...


4

The Wikipedia entry for New Year's Day indicates that it seems to have pagan origins. The article says, "This day is traditionally a religious feast, but since the 1900s has also become an occasion to celebrate the night of December 31, called New Year's Eve." Someone born on the 25th December would have his bris on 1 January (Wikipedia and here). It would ...


4

A lot of leniencies have been given over the years, with the goal of not causing ill-will among non-Jewish co-workers, and improving work relationships. (It's quite amazing how many of the prohibitions in the first chapter of Avoda Zara are circumvented in one way or another by the Tosafists, which led one thinker to pen a monograph entitled "Was Rabbeinu ...


4

No we do not. We do not consider him a deity and therefore we have nothing to celebrate on that day. Some [mainly Chassidim] have the custom to abstain from learning the Torah on that day so as not to give strength to the Evil forces that are around on that day. Read more here.


3

According to the Mishneh Torah, Avodah Zara ve-Chukot ha-Goyim 9:4, Christians are Ovdei Avodah Zarah( idolaters), Sunday is their Yom Eidam( holyday, festival), and one is forbidden to do business with them, on Thursday till Sunday of every week in the Land of Israel, but only on Sunday itself everywhere else. Same goes for their other holidays.


2

You might be able to preempt the whole thing by linking the gifts to Channukah. Both requesting that you receive gifts only then, and giving them then. (This will be easier when Channukah comes first, so maybe wait for a year when that happens, and then make it a known thing for future years.) In my local school they suggest giving annual gifts to teachers ...


2

See: Appendix A: Collecting Candy on Halloween Harmless Pastime or Halachic Prohibition? http://www.tfdixie.com/special/thanksg.htm#A10


2

No (Avodah Zara 2a) If Christianity is considered Avodah Zarah then it is clearly assur. I know that not everyone holds that it is but in cases of doubt about such a serious issur D'Orisah as Avodah Zarah we need to be machmir.


2

Based on my research (see below), Christmas lights are entirely secular, and therefore there is no problem whatsoever with looking at or enjoying Christmas lights. Even if the lights are not entirely secular, there still wouldn't be a problem. The Shach (Shulchan Aruch 142:15), based on Tosfos and the Rosh, writes that it is permitted to derive benefit ...


2

It is Mutar to enjoy Christmas lights (see Ben Ish Hai S"B Mase 2 who says that they don't have the din of Avoda Zara, Shulhan Aruch Yoreh Deah 142:15 with Shach). The Ben Ish Hai texts also quote Rav Danzig in Hochmat Adam 87:1 but I don't see that as the actual discussion in the text. NOTE: this answered was changed from the original.



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