Apparently, some Jews mark the Christian holidays by refraining from studying Torah. Does this practice have any roots in halacha? Do the rabbis sanction it? References? The only such restriction I know is studying only the "sad" parts of traditional texts on Tish'a b'Av.

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    The idea is not to study torah on the winter solstice which is the longest night of the year not on the 25th or what is today the tekufa. It seems he was really born then and brought great darkness to the world. Not to give him any zechusim. This idea called 'nittel' predates chasidim.
    – interested
    Commented Dec 24, 2020 at 14:29
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    God, at least, doesn't sanction it (Joshua 1:8). Don't know about everyone else.
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 24, 2020 at 14:34
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    What about this one? judaism.stackexchange.com/q/50873/15256 Commented Dec 24, 2020 at 16:22
  • @Kazibácsi -- I keep hearing that it's a "custom". I know that. But did any halachic authority say it has the force of halacha? Most Jews don't observe it. Commented Dec 24, 2020 at 16:28
  • That answer is packed with sources claiming that no such custom (ק"ח halakhah) exists. Commented Dec 24, 2020 at 16:32

2 Answers 2


The Lubavitcher Rebbe in Shaarei Halacha U'Minhag (Yoreh Deah) mentions here and says that the practise is to refrain from learning Torah so that "כדי שלא להוסיף חיות" - "To not add any life" - i.e. to not give a sense of vitality to the life of Jew who deserted his Jewish background.

  • Does this answer the question?
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 24, 2020 at 15:16
  • He asked if the Rabbis sanction it. The Lubavitcher Rebbe seems to be saying that it is not practised as by doing so is 'adding life' to Yoshke?
    – Dov
    Commented Dec 24, 2020 at 15:37
  • I just see here a reason for the practice, which wasn't the question.
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 24, 2020 at 16:16
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    @DoubleAA I'm not familiar with the cited book, but if it's intended/used as a Halachic source, then citing it is facially a valid answer.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Dec 24, 2020 at 16:22

It's not about multiple non-Jewish holidays, or else that would be in the obvious place -- Tractate Avodah Zarah. (In fact, one would study that tractate and conclude that one could study Torah but not sell to non-Jews those days, when in fact many have the opposite practice.) It's specifically about Christmas.*

As stated previously and you saw in the Lubavitcher Rebbe's answer here, some say it's about whatever spiritual forces or whatnot; but many historians suggest it was just about not going out to the study hall/synagogue (people didn't have a lot of books at home), or to the mikveh, because there were drunk anti-Semites on the prowl. Somehow that eventually mutated into "don't study Torah" when it was really just "stay home."

I put an asterisk on "Christmas" above because conveniently, Jews in Catholic and Protestant lands observed the "no Torah" whatnot (perhaps claiming dark spiritual forces or the like) on December 25th, while Jews in Eastern Orthodox lands observed the exact same thing on whatever day the locals celebrated as Christmas. Which would make a lot of sense if the whole point was "stay home and stay safe."

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