Posts Tagged ‘xmas’
Back in Yeshiva elementary school I was introduced to the holiday of Nittel Nacht, which happened to coincidentally always fall on the eve of December 25th.
There was excitement in the class, a night that it is assur (forbidden) to learn Torah!
“What do we do instead?” a fellow classmate asked.
And we nearly all fell off our chairs when the answer from the Rabbi was, “Stay home and play cards,” which was, of course, amazing, since we were taught that playing cards wasn’t even allowed on Shabbat.
What a great holiday.
And the Rabbi explained why:
The night of Nittel Nacht is one of great impurity, where evil and dangerous spirits run around outside, and we aren’t allowed to go outside, so they couldn’t harm us.
And since we must be inside with nothing to do, we should normally be learning Torah. But since we don’t want those evil spirits to get the Zechut (merit) for our Torah learning, since we can’t go outside because of them, we do meaningless things instead.
But I always wondered about one contradiction:
Since we were also taught that the world continues to exist only because there is always at least one person learning Torah at any time, if we’re telling everyone not to learn at the same time, wouldn’t the world be destroyed?
There are additonal customs associated with Nittel Nacht, such as eating garlic to ward off the demons (particularly you know whose), praying Aleinu out loud (since that is the prayer against idolatry), and not going to sleep all night. You can read about more Nittel Nacht customs on Hirhurim.
But now, lets step back a bit from the edge.
The custom obviously began in Jewish communities that lived among Christians.
On Christmas Eve (on whichever date they celebrated it on in that community), the Christians would get plastered (with spirits) and wander the streets beating up Jews and organizing pogroms, and killing more Jews.
So as a result, Jews learned that, on Christmas, don’t let the drunk goyim see you, and then they won’t kill you. So Jews didn’t go outside to the Beis Midrash or the Shul.
As to not learning, obviously, people started coming up with additional explanations as to why we don’t learn, though I think the most likely is that if the Christians saw a light on in your house (which you kept on for reading), they were likely to grasp that you were inside and then, maybe, try to burn the house down with you in it. And the same thing for not going to sleep. How would you see the drunk Christians approaching to burn down your house if you weren’t awake to spot them coming — and run?
Voodoo explanations aside, historically there were very good reasons for Jews to not go outside on Nittel Nacht.
In fact, I would say that today (for people in America and Modi’in), the visual and audio spiritual impurity issues are far more relevant reasons why one should not go outside on Nittel Nacht, as opposed to the more traditional dangers of Christian violence and pogroms.
But, my original question regarding Torah learning has never been answered to my satisfaction. Because if I was planning to be learning Torah anyway, there is no way the evil forces should see any merit from my actions, and if there isn’t at least one person learning Torah, what would support the world?
So, tonight, on Nittel Nacht, I won’t be going outside, even though I’m in Eretz Yisrael and we don’t really have that problem here, but I will be learning Torah, because why should we allow evil forces to cause Bittul Torah (cancellation of Torah learning), and, perhaps, with everyone else not learning Torah, I could be the one who supports the entire world!.
So just say no to Nittel Nacht, or at least the part about no Torah learning.JoeSettler
It’s the 25th of December in Israel, 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and nothing is stirring, not even a mouse. Nothing. No sign of Xmas at all. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not a reindeer, not an elf, not a stocking, or a candy cane. So carols, no jingles, no bells, no Xmas songs. There are plenty of old men with white beards on the street, but none of them is Santa. If it weren’t for the Xmas decorations on Google, I wouldn’t know it was Xmas at all.
Why should I? I’m a Jew. I live in my own Jewish Land. Xmas is traf here. It doesn’t exist. It’s meaningless, like it should be. No one talks about it. No one cares. Even the secular talk-show hosts on the radio don’t give it a passing mention. If you didn’t risk your life and venture into Bethlehem, you wouldn’t know it was Xmas at all.
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. No decorations, no evergreen trees with twinkling light bulbs and stars. Here in Israel is the only place where it is truly a silent holy night, with no choirs and the massive spiritual pollution that surrounds idol worship and a religion that deifies a man, in whose name more Jews were killed than in the name of Hitler.
How can the Jews of the Diaspora put up with it? How can they live for weeks on end under the cloud of Xmas. Brothers and sisters – how? Why? Why do you linger in your impure Xtian land when you have your own Jewish State? Why do you suffer the onslaught of Xmas when you can live in a place where there is no Xmas at all?
I don’t understand. It’s so wonderful here in Israel, in the Holy Land, where the whole Harry Potter story was invented. This is the Holy Land and here, in the Holy Land, there is no Xmas at all. How can a Jew live anywhere else?
How can he live in a place where there are Santas, and mangers, and stockings, and Xmas trees all around him, and the knowledge in his gut that he doesn’t belong. And woe to those lost Jewish souls who try to fit in, who smile like everyone else, and exchange presents, and get drunk at their parties, and sack down with unstockinged girls. Woe to the lost Jewish souls, the tens of thousands of them, who feel lonely come Xmas time, without a family to be with, without someone to love them, alone in their apartments, divorced, listening to the songs, bombarded by the masquerade of love, lost and alone, tormented by the aroma of roasted chestnuts coming from the fireplace of some happy family down the street, while he or she sits all alone.
And woe to those unhappy Jewish souls who are captured at Xmas time by missionaries and Jews for Jezeus, innocent souls who fall for fake embraces and false promises of love, handed out freely by those prostitutes of religion who have been expertly trained especially for this time of year to trap lonely and unhappy Jews in their Santa Claus sacks of love.
Bothers! Sisters! Look around you! You’re enslaved in Gentileland. Xmasland. In lands where you don’t belong.
How beautiful it is in Israel! How truly holy and serene! It’s almost evening on the 25th of December and there is no sign of Xmas at all. Nothing! Absolutely nothing!
It can be this way for you.
We are waiting to embrace you, to love you, to greet you as family with a warm Jewish embrace.
Come and experience the incredibly holy, mind-blowing high of the 25th of December with absolutely no Xmas at all.Tzvi Fishman
Imagine the Jews wanted to take down the giant Xmas tree in Rockefeller Center, or the huge Xmas tree on the White House lawn! First of all, no Jew in America would have the guts to demand such a thing. But that’s what happened this week in Jerusalem. Some clown at the Jerusalem Municipality gave his approval to place a Xmas tree at the entrance to the Old City’s Jaffa Gate. Residents of the Jewish Quarter complained, along with a representative of the Shas party, and the Xmas was removed. That’s one further example of the difference between living in a foreign country and our own Jewish State. Here in Israel, public Xmas trees are out.
Let’s face it. America is a Xtian country. So are most of the countries of Europe – that is, where Islam hasn’t yet taken over. Yesterday was the fast day of the 10th of Tevet, marking the beginning of the siege on Jerusalem. But the siege continues even today. Look how all the countries of the world condemned Israel for wanting to expand building in Jerusalem. They want to keep us under siege, in compartmented areas of the city, without a chance to grow.
Who are they, the Europeans and Americans who go bananas every time one of their spy satellites spots a Jew in Jerusalem clearing ground to build a house? The same Crusaders of old, now dressed in suits and ties. They don’t want the Jews getting any stronger in Jerusalem, because all of humankind, in its deepest unconscious psyche, knows that the nation which controls Jerusalem is the Chosen Nation, chosen by God to bring His word to the world, and they don’t want it to be the Jews and our Torah, because they want to be free to continue paying lip service to God while carrying on with their fornicating, robbery, and murder.
And while we’re talking about the upcoming pagan holidays, we should all remember, that for Jews, New Year’s is Rosh HaShanah, a time of judgment and prayer – not drunken orgies. Celebrating January 1st as the beginning of a new year, in the manner of the gentiles, is following after their ways, and a practice that all pious Jews should avoid. After all, for a Jew, counting the years from the birth of the founder of Xtianity is absurd, to say the least, and sadly schizophrenic. Think about it. Why count the years from the birth of Jezeus? The world was around a long time before he appeared. Why mark that as the beginning of history? Why identify with Xtians? Why should the calendar start with them?
But that’s what happens when a Jew is cast out from his own Jewish Land and compelled to wander among the gentiles. He begins to identify with the culture around him. It’s a sad but natural phenomenon. That’s what happened to the Jews in Egypt too. They descended to Egypt just to sojourn there during the famine, but they ended up staying. That’s what happens. It’s happened again and again, from Berlin to Brooklyn. We forget that our real home is in Israel.
We learn this from the end of this Shabbat’s Torah portion of “Vayigash.” The verse tells us: “Thus Israel settled in the land of Egypt in the region of Goshen; they possessed property in it and they were fruitful and multiplied” (Bereshit, 47:27).
Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook would say, “They settled and sank,” referring to our propensity to get stuck in galut. Citing the commentary of the “Kli Yakar,” Rabbi Kahane explains that this verse is a condemnation of their behavior. Hashem had told Avraham that his descendents would be temporary “aliens” in a foreign land, but they sought to become permanent settlers by acquiring property and building villas for themselves – just like we see today in many Diaspora communities.
Interestingly, the Hebrew for “they possessed property in it, “ויאחזו” is written in the passive form, literally meaning that “they were possessed by it.” That is the situation in galut. We become possessed by the foreign lands and cultures where we live. We come to identify with foreign languages, customs, values, holidays, and nationalities – very much like the Jews who were slain in the plague of darkness in Egypt, a staggering 80% of the Jewish community, because they didn’t want to leave Egypt and go on aliyah to Eretz Yisrael. They actually liked Egypt! Would you believe it? Just like Jews like Brooklyn and Berlin.
While Yaakov only came to Egypt to temporarily sojourn in the land, his descendants let themselves become gripped by it. This is why Yaakov gave his children the order to bury him in Israel – so they would never forget that Eretz Yisrael was their homeland, not Egypt, America, France, Canada, Mexico, or Australia, and that Rosh HaShanah was their New Year’s and not January 1st.
I can understand how an assimilated Jew who doesn’t study Torah could come to love a foreign Xtian place – but for a religious Jew who believes in the Torah, I simply cannot understand it at all. Can you?Tzvi Fishman
With Santa Claus scheduled to arrive any minute, here are a few pre-Xmas warnings. Be sure to stay away from Xmas parties, non-kosher wine, frivolity, and kissing Suzy under the mistletoe. If there’s a Xmas party at the office, tell them you have a stomach ache. On Xmas day, keep as far away from their festivities as possible. Since Christians are considered idolaters, on their holiday it’s best not to have any business with them at all (Rambam, Laws of Idol Worship, Ch.9, 1-4).
Don’t be fooled into thinking that those twinkling Xmas lights are romantic, and that exchanging gift-filled stockings and candy canes is a harmless gesture of love. Remember, in the name of brotherly love, the Xtrians massacred millions of Jews throughout history. The color red that you see everywhere at Xmas-time is the blood of the Jews.
If I were in the Diaspora on Xmas, I’d spend the whole day locked in the john. It’s a lot purer there than out on the street. Xmas is the most impure day of the year. Its cloud of impurity is 100 times greater than the radioactive cloud that spread out over Hiroshima after the bomb was dropped. All over the world, in America, and Europe, and countries all over the globe, hundreds of millions of people are paying homage to Western civilization’s best loved idol worship.
The prohibition against idol worship tops the list of the Ten Commandments. No one is allowed to make or worship a graven image. As the Rambam explains, “The essential principle concerning idolatry is that people are not to worship anything created – neither angel, planet, star, the elements, or something derived from them.” That includes worshiping a man, and bending down to a statue, and praying to Buddhas, Hindu monkey gods, totem poles, crucifixes, and the like. I would post a few photos in illustration, but it is even forbidden to gaze upon the picture of an idolatrous figure, as it says, “Turn not after their idols” (Vayikra, 19:4. See Rambam, 2:2, loc. cited).
In Rabbi Kook’s writings on Christianity, he explains that it began as a break-away sect of Judaism which grew in influence and ultimately led the world astray with its doctrines. He categorizes it as idol worship, and says that its founder brought the majority of the world to err by serving a god other than the Almighty. By abandoning the mitzvot, Christianity enshrouded the world in a seemingly legitimate offshoot of idol worship. While imitating many of Judaism’s values and beliefs, Christianity actually led the world away from the true service of God.
Referring to Christianity’s renegade founder, the Rambam writes: “Can there be a greater stumbling block than this one? All of the Prophets spoke of the Messiah as the redeemer of Israel, and its savior, who would gather the dispersed and strengthen their observance of the commandments, while this one caused the annihilation of Israel by the sword, and caused its remnants to be scattered and scorned. He caused the Torah to be altered, and brought the majority of the world to err, and to serve a god other than the Lord…” (Laws of Kings and Their Wars, Uncensored version, Mosad HaRav Kook edition, Ch11).
This is what we affirm several times a day in the concluding“Aleynu” prayer. The following verse is deleted in many prayer books used in the Diaspora, but here in Israel, we say it concerning the nations, “They bow down to vanity and emptiness, and pray to a god that cannot save.”
The “Aleynu” prayer expresses our heartfelt wish that idol worship be uprooted from the earth, and that the world come to understand that God alone is the One and Only King, “We hope, therefore, Lord our God, soon to behold Your majestic glory, when the abominations will be removed from the earth, and the false gods exterminated; when the world will be perfected under the reign of the Almighty, and all mankind will call upon Your Name, and the wicked of the earth will be turned to You. My all the inhabitants of the world realize and know that to You every knee must bend and every tongue vow allegiance….”
There is no question that we have a lot of problems and challenges facing us in Israel, but at this time of the year, I have to take time-out from the headlines to thank Hashem for granting me the incomparable blessing of living in His Holy Land, and not in the spiritually polluted lands of the Diaspora, where Christmas is being celebrated in all of its insidious force and make-believe holiness.Tzvi Fishman