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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 ...


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 "...


9

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 ...


8

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 ...


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 ...


8

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 ...


8

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 ...


8

There are people who don't like saying "Christ", and therefore don't like saying "Christmas." If you don't have a strong secular education, you'd assume that "X" just means "fill-in-the-blank", so "X-mas" sounds like a more "kosher" way to refer to the holiday. (This is what my camp counselors did when I was a kid, and that was their explanation.) As Ze'ev ...


8

Presenting a strictly Chareidi point of view on this site is like walking into a minefield, but here goes. There were definitely religious leaders who were against instituting a special day to commemorate the Holocaust, but not all gave their reasoning. One reason that was given came from Rabbi Gedalia Schor as quoted in Meged Givos Olam. The author there ...


7

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 ...


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

The word Christ comes from the Greek Χριστός, and the initial letters, ΧΡ (chi rho), was a common abbreviation in handwritten manuscripts and a symbol for Christianity. The English Xmas as an abbreviation of Christmas is long-attested: Xres mæsse appears in the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" (c.1100). At some point in English the r was dropped from the ...


7

See this article which analyzes part of Igrot Moshe on the topic of New Year's celebrations in general. While you should read the whole article, I'm excerpting the part that I believe is most relevant to your question: Rabbi Feinstein (Iggerot Moshe, Yoreh Deah 4:11(4)) is logically correct in his observation that: ‘Thus, it is obvious in my opinion, ...


7

Wikipedia deals with the question: The Chief Rabbinate of Israel, in 1949, under the guidance of Ben-Zion Meir Hai Uziel and Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog, decided that the Tenth of Tevet should be the national remembrance days for victims of the Holocaust. The Tenth of Tevet fast commemorates the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar II. For this day, it ...


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 ...


6

It is permissible to enjoy Christmas lights. (See Ben Ish Hai S"B Mase 2 who says that they don't have the din of idol worship, Shulhan Aruch Yoreh Deah 142:15 with Shach). The Ben Ish Hai texts also quote Rav Avraham Danzig in Hochmat Adam 87:1 which explains that the names of their festivals do not have the same kinds of restrictions as the actual names of ...


6

The Chochmas Adam 89:1 wrote that the Vilna Gaon abolished the minhag of decorating the synagogue with trees in honor of Shavuos because of the problem of Chukkas HaGoy (i.e. the practice of decorating a tree for the Christian's Holiday). The Chochmas Adam held that such a problem would even justify nullifying a practice mentioned (but not commanded) in the ...


6

There are Orthodox Rabbis in London who wear poppies and go along to Remembrance Ceremonies and even recite prayers in them. The poppy is not a form of idolatry but is instead a symbol of "respect" to the soldiers who gave up their lives to protect us. In the United Kingdom, this is particularly relevant, as we are remembering soldiers who fought in World ...


6

I think it'll be a bit dfficult to give overall rules about whether 'pranks' are allowed, since what one might consider a 'prank' is quite varied, with some items being forbidden and some being permitted. With that said, there are still certain things that are forbidden. Once we list all the 'pranks' that are forbidden, we can figure out what is permitted ...


5

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 ...


5

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 warranted, ...


5

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 ...


5

The Nitei Gavriel which @yishai linked has an abundance of info of the customs and history of nittal nacht. Rav Aviner brings a nice summary from his tshuvot (text): "Question: Is it permissible to learn Torah on "Nittel Nacht" (Christmas Eve)? Answer: There is a custom among some Chasidim not to learn Torah on "Nittel Nacht" in order not to contribute ...


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.


4

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.


4

An excerpt from this article in which Rav Eliyashiv is discussion adopting various non-jewish practices there is a source which would seem to prohibit it and is cited as follows the Gra (to Shulchan Aruch [Yoreh Deah 178]) rules stringently, that we are even forbidden to adopt non-Jewish rituals that are based on obvious and positive motivations. Further ...


4

Fooling others [Jews] by saddening them even minutely is prohibited Deorayso even if they forgive afterward: Mishna Bava Metziyah 58b: כשם שאונאה במקח וממכר כך אונאה בדברים: לא יאמר לו בכמה חפץ זה והוא אינו רוצה ליקח, אם היה בעל תשובה לא יאמר לו זכור מעשיך הראשונים, אם הוא בן גרים לא יאמר לו זכור מעשה אבותיך שנאמר (שמות כב, כ) וגר לא תונה ולא ...


3

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 ...


3

How about simply teaching your children to respect the differences in people based on their culture, religion, colour, nationality etc. There is no need for long explanations when we accept that people are different. And notice that I said the word accept and not tolerate.


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