Practical Halachic Guide to the Holiday Season
Happy Holidays. While we don’t condone going off the Derech, we realize that it is common. If there are any recent off the derechers who are slowly transitioning from Ner/Darchei alumnus status to not frum, we have prepared a special guide for you so that you can observe Christmas without committing too many aveiros and still stay relatively close to your roots which were forced into you at Eitz Chaim. We know that this lifestyle change is scary, and we are here to make sure that you do this gradually and don’t go off the derech too fast and then crash like a typical Neveh, Ner Jake, or Ohr (insert word here) guy. It’s also come to my attention that there are many Jews who celebrate anti-Torah holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Yom Hatzmaut, Presidents Day, Remembrance Day, New Year’s Day, Easter, and Christmas. It goes without saying that anybody who participates in the festivities of any of these holidays deserves only the worst punishments. Don’t think that you can just ignore Christmas after celebrating one of the aforementioned holidays. If you take one, you take ’em all. So many Jews think that they can just pick and choose which sins to commit, but this is not the case. If you celebrate Halloween, for example, you are chayav to celebrate Christmas. If you are going to observe Christmas this year IYH, and wish to incorporate your Jewish heritage in honor of Jesus because, after all, Jesus, Olav Hashalom, was one of our boys, you should know the halachos so that you don’t cross G-d or cause Jesus’ neshama to suffer because of our sins.
1) L’shem Mitzvas Christmas: While performing the following mitzvos, you should stop every few minutes to stress your kavanah by closing your eyes and saying “L’shem Mitzvas Christmas”; thus, any activity you participate in will be only for the mitzvah of sanctifying the Yom Tov.
2) Decorations: This is where those Succos decorations come in handy. We understand that it’s expensive to finance cell phones, lap tops, and vacations for an entire family and that it is too expensive to keep buying decorations for every holiday. It is therefore permissible to use your leftover Succos decorations on Christmas. If you haven’t chucked your arba minim yet, they make wonderful Christmas tree ornaments. Consider a Magen Dovid on top of the tree instead of the traditional star.
3) Seuda: Like any Jewish holiday, you are chayav to eat a big meal. The truth is that you should eat at least one chicken and cheese dish in order to show Jewish independence, but you must be mindful of the special benching this time of year. The traditional Jewish Grace After Meals is omitted. Instead, everybody has to hold hands before the meal thanking G-d for all the good things He has provided. Wine served from a goy is allowed today because the wine has the halacha of blood, and nowhere in the Torah does it say a goy can’t handle blood.
4) Dress: Although traditional red and white attire should be donned in honor of Christmas and is mehudar for the Christmas seder, you are allowed to wear some black and white if there are any recent off the derech or charedi rebels at your table this year.
5) Presents: There is no other halacha regarding this Yom Tov that is more controversial than the halachos surrounding the giving of gifts. While it is permissible to give a gift to another Jew, one must be careful to not give one to a goy. In order to fit in with the goyim, however, the followers of HaRav Hagaon Moses Mendelsohn ZT”L have paskind that you may give a present to a goy as long as you are not wearing a kipa, are married to the goy’s daughter, or you work for him.
6)Z’miros: One is chayav to sing at least 3 zemiros at the yuntiff table. Songs about Jesus are preferred, but if you wish to sing about Santa or snow, then you have my blessing.
7) Divrei Torah: If you sit down to the seuda and do not give divrei torah about Christmas, it’s considered avoda zarah.
8) Women: Women play a special role in the yom tov festivities. If not for Mother Mary, a woman, the miracle of Christmas would not have happened; therefore, we give women the kavod of cooking, cleaning, and being in the mezumin after the seuda. Of course, we don’t want women to relax too much because that could hurt the Bais Yaakov industry, so there is a special minhag that women should do extra work while the Christmas tree is lit so that they don’t get rusty.