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This M.Y. question shows a picture taken from a Roman feast where people lean during their meal. The question states that the way people should lean during the Passover Seder should be similar to what is in the picture.

If much of halacha suggest that we avoid imitating what Gentiles do, then how is it that during the Seder it is actually a halacha that we MUST imitate them by leaning? (See O.C. 472:7) Why are we not concerned about chukot hagoyim?

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    How is this any more Chukot HaGoyim than wearing a button-down-shirt on Shabbat? – Double AA Mar 21 '17 at 13:58
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    Not every thing which is made by non jews is prohibited, as to wear pants for men, or sleep in a bed. – kouty Mar 21 '17 at 14:01
  • Not sure why you cite the question, as it just assumed. Why not cite the answer, which has a video of Rav Belsky saying "this is the way to lean"? – MTL Mar 22 '17 at 0:04
  • The answer is we imitate it when we want to and then act incredulous on other things that are imitated. We aren't perfect, and we aren't always consistent. – Aaron Mar 22 '17 at 1:47
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This is not (in this case) chukas hagoyim. Rather it is pointing to a situation in which we use something that we can see from the goyim as an example of what we would do. Another example is the description of how to wrap the tallis (like the araviyim). Another example is how Rashi describes the choshen using the example of a noble woman's riding dress.

Chukas hagoyim also does not apply for fashion, such as the modern suit and tie. It is only when they do something because of superstition or avodas zarah.

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    A suit is functional clothing of a particular fashion, but a tie is not. A tie has no function. Indeed some prohibit ties. – Double AA Mar 21 '17 at 14:18
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    Citing sources for your claims (especially the one in your first or in your last sentence) would improve your answer vastly IMO. – msh210 Mar 21 '17 at 14:53
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See S A 178, 1:

אין הולכין בחוקות העובדי כוככים (ולא מדמין להם) (טור בשם הרמב״ם). ולא ילבש מלבוש המיוחד להם ולא יגדל ציצת ראשו כמו ציצת ראשם ולא יגלח מהצדדין ויניח השער באמצע ולא יגלח השער מכנגד פניו מאוזן לאוזן ויניח הפרע ולא יבנה מקומות כבנין היכלות של עבודת כוכבים כדי שיכנסו בהם רבים כמו שהם עושים:

הגה: אלא יהא מובדל מהם במלבושיו ובשאר מעשיו (שם) וכל זה אינו אסור אלא בדבר שנהגו בו העובדי כוכבים לשם פריצות כגון שנהגו ללבוש מלבושים אדומים והוא מלבוש שרים וכדומה לזה ממלבושי הפריצות או בדבר שנהגו למנהג ולחוק ואין טעם בדבר דאיכא למיחש ביה משום דרכי האמורי ושיש בו שמץ עבודת כוכבים מאבותיהם אבל דבר שנהגו לתועלת כגון שדרכן שכל מי שהוא רופא מומחה יש לו מלבוש מיוחד שניכר בו שהוא רופא אומן מותר ללובשו וכן שעושין משום כבוד או טעם אחר מותר (מהרי״ק שורש פ״ח) לכן אמרו שורפין על המלכים ואין בו משום דרכי האמורי (ר״ן פ״ק דעבודת כוכבים): ‏

The problem is for minhag linked to debauchery or to idolatry (Rama in name of shut Maharik). a cushion or a sofa are not a problem. Additionally, as mentioned @Double AA, the beur Hagra (likut after sk 7), says that the prohibition includes every imitation, even without explanation. It seems obvious that affluent people live in comfort.

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Rav Moshe Shternbuch in his responsa, while discussing a question whether wearing "short" suits, which were a modern advent, falls into the prohibition of Chukas Hagoyim, writes a general principle regarding the prohibition: "The law of Chukas Hagoyim only applies when there is no rhyme or reason to the custom. But if there is a practical purpose the custom, it is not prohibited"

Following this line of reasoning, sitting in the manner of the Romans, is not impractical. On the contrary it was more comfortable, and was a considered a dignified way to sit.

Therefore, on Seder night, when we are actively trying to present ourselves as royalty, aristocracy, and men of freedom, this way of sitting is not a prohibition of Chukas Hagoyim.

However this does not imply that it is prohibited throughout the rest of the year, as it is legitimately a comfortable way to sit. Thus it is not a problem of Chukas Hagoyim.

  • while discussing a question whether wearing "short" suits, etc. Ironically this was the basis for the maharik brought in ramma who was discussing the modern practice of wearing a long coat. – user6591 Mar 22 '17 at 10:09
  • @user6591 that is quite ironic. – Shoel U'Meishiv Mar 22 '17 at 10:10

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