Secret Santa is a form of communal gift giving, that I have seen being done at workplaces to foster closer ties to employees. It is generally done near the end of the secular year. While the wiki article says that it's often voluntary, everytime I've seen them, the voluntary nature of it was not very clear, and it felt pretty obligatory to me.

While one can't give a gift to a non-Jew 3 days before their holiday, how does that halacha apply to this situation? Also what other relevant halachot are there? Does it matter if the instigator of Secret Santa is Jewish? Does it matter if there are other Jews in the group besides yourself?

Related to this question.

  • 1
    At an office I once worked at they called it Mystery Maccabee along the same lines... (where quite a few of the workers were not jewish)
    – Naftali
    Dec 14, 2011 at 15:49
  • 2
    What Halacha says that"one can't give a gift to a non-Jew 3 days before their holiday"? Would this apply to the question about Giving gifts to non-Jewish teachers and bosses? Dec 14, 2011 at 16:01
  • 1
    As answered in that related question, Avoda Zarah page 2a. is the halacha that says you can't give a gift to a non-Jew 3 days before their holiday.
    – avi
    Dec 14, 2011 at 16:39
  • 1
    @avi: per Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 148:4, the three-day thing applies only in Eretz Yisrael; elsewhere, it's prohibited only on the holiday itself.
    – Alex
    Dec 14, 2011 at 17:17
  • @Alex good thing I live in Israel :P
    – avi
    Dec 14, 2011 at 19:40

1 Answer 1


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 Tam a Reform Rabbi?").

In an OU talk several years ago regarding various workplace issues, Rabbi Herschel Schachter insisted that saying "Season's Greetings" to a non-Jewish co-worker was permissible (or certainly "Happy New Year", I presume), but not "Merry Christmas."

  • 2
    I thought the classic "Reform Tosafot" was about clapping on Shabbat, or something like that.
    – Isaac Moses
    Dec 14, 2011 at 16:47
  • What thinker was that? Google doesn't show any article with that title.
    – Double AA
    Nov 1, 2016 at 0:46
  • Perhaps the article was in Hebrew originally and that's not the exact title?
    – Double AA
    Nov 1, 2016 at 14:07
  • Perhaps this answer should be edited to answer the question more fully.
    – Eliyahu
    Dec 27, 2016 at 5:03

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .