Is thanksgiving assur
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- This topic has 74 replies, 18 voices, and was last updated 1 year, 6 months ago by Reb Eliezer.
November 25, 2021 8:08 am at 8:08 am #2033757LostsparkParticipant
We don’t have a mesorah to celebrate this particular chag, but my family celebrated it none the less. Since is not an issue of A”Z are we still able to celebrate?
Is there any equivalent in the Gemara of yidden celebrating non A”Z goyshe chagim in bavel?November 25, 2021 8:29 am at 8:29 am #2033762
Three IS an issue of Avoda Zora. There is a machlokes haposkim whether it is okay to celebrate, but those who assur seem to have a better understanding of the historical context of Thanksgiving, which includes religious celebration.November 25, 2021 9:57 am at 9:57 am #2033771hujuParticipant
Thanksgiving strikes me as a good day for Jews (or anyone else) to give thanks to America for giving us Jews a safe place to live and thrive. No country (other than Israel, which so heavily depends on the US) has been more welcoming and provided more opportunity for Jews. Try to imagine the fate of world Jewry during and after the Holocaust, or the next attempt at a holocaust, without a nation as big and powerful and welcoming as the US. Until Moshiach, I am staying right here.November 25, 2021 9:58 am at 9:58 am #2033777akupermaParticipant
1. One side would argue that it is similar to the “King’s birthday”, for which frum Jews in the past did join in the celebration (especially if we liked the king in question). What make’s Thanksgiving different is the President’s tradition of declaring that it is a quasi-religious holiday .
2. The origins going back to colonial times were that days of Thanksgiving were religious holidays, though never tied to a specific religion or denomination (always careful to avoid anything to insult any specific religious group, while probably insulting atheists though that isn’t an issue for us). If one holds that when Christians talk about the “creator” references in Breishis they are talking about Ha-Shem rather than a pagan diety, that eliminates some of the objections. One should ask if a frum political leader could call for a day of Thanksgiving for some national deliverance and ask Christians and Muslim (but not atheists) to join us. It should be noted that the connection to Plymouth in the 17th century in declaring a day of Thanksgiving is ahistorical. (at most a precedent, but more of a gimmick).
3, Unlike some non-Jewish holidays (particularly the one based on the Roman Saturnalia, which includes the pagan custom of having a tree in one’s house), eating a turkey or playing flag football do not seem to have religious meaning. Honoring the the 17th century colonists in Plymouth (who were quite anti-Semitic) seems problematic (though accusing them of genocide is a stretch since most of the locals were killed be infectious diseases that neither side understood how they spread). There is prohibition of imitating goyimNovember 25, 2021 9:59 am at 9:59 am #2033782
If you have a good meal in your own home, how is that celebrating their holiday? It’s your home. Which is a Jewish home.November 25, 2021 9:59 am at 9:59 am #2033783Reb EliezerParticipant
Our Thangsgiving is really Sukkos the collection of teviah. Maybe we can celebrate it but not eat turkey specially even though it is called tanigol ‘hodu’, thanks.November 25, 2021 10:00 am at 10:00 am #2033785
Why are you convinced that the historical context matters? If it is not idolatry now, why should it be forbidden?November 25, 2021 10:00 am at 10:00 am #2033790shmuel..gimmelParticipant
Rav Moshe ZTL…writes it clearly…
Absolutely NO problem to acknowledge the Day…
Even a better idea to show Thanksgiving to ALL everyday….November 25, 2021 10:35 am at 10:35 am #2033814Reb EliezerParticipant
You can look at it as a legal holiday rather than a religious holiday. We don’t designate a mother’s day as everyday is mother’s day.November 25, 2021 11:12 am at 11:12 am #2033857
Ujm is correct that those who forbade it (especially rav avigdor miller) were American and able to read English historical accounts. The machlokes is more about the facts than halacha. Everyone agrees that if something has AZ roots it would be assur even if now it is not viewed that way (think of Halloween). Actually, the maharik in siman 98 says that this is the precise reason that a non jewish custom without a clear meaning is not allowed, because we’re worried that there’s a forgotten AZ component, and if so, it would be assur even if now it is merely cultural etc.
Mother’s day is a completely cultural holiday, as is the 4th of july and other secular national days. It is of note, however, that father’s day is not observed by most frum people, but mother’s day is…hamyvin yovin.
The oft quoted refrain of “we give thanks every day” does not speak to the issues involved with Thanksgiving, from a halachik save hashkofic perspective. We acknowledge that there are opportune times that we focus on a given theme, lehavdil. Aside from the halachik issues above, there is a deeper hashkofic problem as well. Jewish holidays, as explained by the ramchal, have a “koach hazman”, a spiritual power inherent in the day itself. The powers of geulah were the reason why the yidden left on the 15th of Nissan; pesach isn’t merely a commemoration of what happened in the past, but rather a time when the avodah associated with geulah, from one’s personal shi’bud, comes to the fore. Chanuka we celebrate torah she baal peh. But this is the reason why leshana acheres kavuah, the chachamim only instituted chanukah the following year. Says the ohr gedalyahu, it was because the chachamim wanted to see if the spiritual powers they felt on chanuka returned the next year; if they did, it was worthy of being a yom tov.
Acknowledging secular holidays (aside from showing patriotism to our host country on, say, 4th of july, veterans day, memorial day, etc) dampens our understanding of koach hazman and makes us establish holidays that have no bearing on us. There’s nothing special about this day that has a shaychus with hakaras hatov; that is something we focus on during pesach, chanukah, sukkos, purim, and other times whej gratitude is one of the central themes.November 25, 2021 11:13 am at 11:13 am #2033866
Since Thanksgiving ALWAYS comes out on Thursday AND our meshorah includes cholent on Thursday night, chazal bring down that a “Thanksgiving Dinner” is mutar if one substitutes Turkey (dark meat) in the cholentNovember 25, 2021 11:14 am at 11:14 am #2033850EJMRBroParticipant
Certainly you must have finished shas and poskim to come to this conclusion OP! Or maybe this is just gurgling?- NO CHAS VISHALOM! A Jew never makes uninformed posts on the internet!November 25, 2021 11:34 am at 11:34 am #2033872
Actually, there is long standing Mesorah for Jews in the US to celebrate Thanksgiving, going all the way back to 1789. That is older than many other minhagim we adhere to today. The Jewish community in New York enthusaiasticly endorsed the holiday that year and even modified the nusach hatefilliah to skip tachanun and to add additional psalms. A sermon was given on the topic of Mizmor L’Todah. That synagogue still exists — Shearith Israel in Manhattan — and still maintains that nusach for the day. No synagogue in America has as long a Mesorah.
Those who asur either don’t understand this historical context, or improperly ignore it. There is no avoda zara issue. Furthermore, newcomers to an area are halachically required to accept the existing minhagim of the community, including special days of observance. The bottom line is that Thanksgiving SHOULD be observed by Jews in the United States.
Whether one can eat turkey is a separate issue.November 25, 2021 11:38 am at 11:38 am #2033880
“The machlokes is more about the facts than halacha.”
No machlokes about the facts. Thanksgiving Day has been celebrated by American Jews since 1789. Even it it were an incorrect minhag to adopt (as eating turkey probably was) we are not permitted to deviate from minhagim. That is what the heterodox movements do!November 25, 2021 11:39 am at 11:39 am #2033879
Turkey was eaten in Plymouth because it was a common and tasty bird, not for religious meaning. Interestingly there was actually another Thanksgiving two years earlier in Virginia that people ignore. How turkey became accepted as a kosher bird is itself an interesting story.
But the first national Thanksgiving was in 1789, declared by the famous philo-Semite President George Washington. It was not Christian (although Washington himself was) and was enthusiastically embraced by the Jews of New York.November 25, 2021 11:50 am at 11:50 am #2033903
I have heard that Rav Pam was of the opinion that it is permitted. It should be noted that the Pams do not eat turkey at all.November 25, 2021 11:55 am at 11:55 am #2033908
Thanksgiving is different than the Maharik. It is not merely cultural, possibly stemming from idolatry. We know where it comes from. And it has a clear modern rationale to it.November 25, 2021 11:55 am at 11:55 am #2033910🍫Syag LchochmaParticipant
I was taught that the problem with thanksgiving is that because it always falls on the same day (fourth thursday of november, i think) it becomes a moed, which is assur to take on. It’s not what you eat, it’s making a festive meal kavuah on that day.
I would add that another problem would be the tendency to cook extra for thanksgiving and use the “leftovers” for shabbos.November 25, 2021 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm #2033917
Charlie, when a minhag is a minhag shtus or keneged halacha, we drop it. “The Jews of new york” hundreds of years ago are not the forebears of the massively diverse jews who live in NY of today. Any jewish community after that time in NY, say under rabbi yaakov yosef, did not do such outlandish things such as change our davening to fit a non jewish holiday. Can you provide one even remotely relevant source in the poskim to permit such a thing? Rabbis in early America weren’t always poskim; are there teshuvos on the matter? What some shul did in the 1700s has no bearing on “minhag makom”, im sorry but that’s not how halacha works. If that were the case, you’d have to research what this community did in all of their minhagim; we’d all have to keep whatever zman they held for shabbos, their nusach, and everything else, but no one has ever paid attention to what Jews living in America did as basis for anything. I would give examples of things that early American rabbis permitted, but my rebbe rav belsky said he didn’t want to “start up with them” when i asked him about something particularly questionable that they allowed, so i will not do so eitherNovember 25, 2021 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm #2033919
We know that its origin included religious celebration.November 25, 2021 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm #2033920
I could agree on both points. But a dinner could early be celebrated while avoiding both issues.November 25, 2021 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm #2033921
Nomesorah; i didn’t say that Thanksgiving is a milsa belo taam as mentioned in the maharik. I said that the claim that a once religious holiday can lose its status and become secularized is not true, as evidenced by the mahariks psak that something unknown is asur, because we’re worried that it’s rooted in AZNovember 25, 2021 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm #2033923
Rav avigdor miller researched the matter extensively and found compelling evidence that the gratitude expressed was to the trinity, not Hashem.November 25, 2021 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm #2033924
As usual, Charlie H. provides a great historical context regarding Yidden embracing Thanksgiving at the time of the founding fathers. That “mesorah” continued through the early 19th century and beyond. it was not uncommon for some shuls to hold services on Thanksgiving (as was the custom for a time among American churches)
Prof. Jonathan Sarna, (not frum but nonetheless a highly regarded Jewish historian) asserts that Thanksgiving was one of four annual holidays — Pesach, Chanukah and 4th of July–that together promoted what he called a “cult of synthesis,” (his inyan that Yiddeshkeit and Americanism reinforced one another in a non-assimilation context). According to Sarna’s research, there were dozens of “Thanksgiving sermons” published in newspapers in the early 1900s, some from rabbonim at frum shuls, evoking the idea that Jews could participate in the Thanksgiving holiday. This was at least 50 years before R’ Soloveitchik and R’ Feinstein (both keenly aware of the historical context) provided limited heterim for participation by frum yidden.November 25, 2021 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm #2033952
Gadolha, American jews owned slaves in the 19th century as well; that is their mesorah too. Rabbonim were fine with it. Are you alright with that?November 25, 2021 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm #2033959
Churches don’t give religious sermons on July 4 or on Memorial Day. Yet they did and do for Thanksgiving. That gives a good indication Thanksgiving has a foreign religious nature.
Furthermore, the early modern American synagogues that celebrated Thanksgiving with a sermon and other ways were clearly imitating the Churches. That was also wrong.November 25, 2021 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm #2033964
So what?November 25, 2021 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm #2033967
And I think that an unknown is very different than a known shift in attitude.November 25, 2021 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm #2033989
The same would apply to using the common vernacular in shul. As well as many other natures of our current communal life. History has proven your argument incorrect.November 25, 2021 1:04 pm at 1:04 pm #2033999
Dear n0meso: Sew your button.November 25, 2021 1:05 pm at 1:05 pm #2034002Shimon NodelParticipant
If it makes you feel better, it’s asur gamur. Be careful not to have any pumpkin pie today. Better fast all day to be sureNovember 25, 2021 1:37 pm at 1:37 pm #2033774BenephraimParticipant
A great RY said Arnold , please drive me to the airport I don’t want to be late for the Thanksgiving dinner.This mayseh is well known.November 25, 2021 1:40 pm at 1:40 pm #2034015
Lo silbash!November 25, 2021 1:41 pm at 1:41 pm #2034017
Nomesorah, jews have always spoken non jewish languages; the gemara was written in aramaic for that reason! A more valid comparison would be praying communally in English, which is something hard to attribute to any particular prohibition, yet is a dramatic breech of mesorah, and was forbidden by the achronim responding to such attempts by the early reform movement.November 25, 2021 1:43 pm at 1:43 pm #2034021
Here, the communities led by gedolim who we know of, such as eav Eliezer silver, did not engage in communal acknowledgement of Thanksgiving in the form of changing our davening (the most extreme case) or even just giving sermons. It’s not the same as “jews always have done it”, when we have no proof from poskim or teshuvos that allow it. Until such time, deviances from the norm of not acknowledging non-jewisy holidays should he considered abberations and halachikally unproven at best.November 25, 2021 2:15 pm at 2:15 pm #2034055anonymous JewParticipant
Actually, the 1789 thanksgiving has a Jewish connection, not a Christian one. President Washington wanted Congress to pass a resolution to declare a national day of thangsgiving to thank the ” Almighty G-d ” ( singular, not trinity ) for allowing the possession of the Constitution and the birth of the country. A Congressman from South Carolina objected. He said this was a common royal practice in Europe and they didnt rid themselves of a king only to have Washington copy the practice. A Congressman from Connecticut replied that they were not copying European kings but King Solomon. In the same way that Solomon declared thanksgiving to G-d for allowing him to build the Temple, we should declare our Thanksgiving to G-d for the Constitution.
Thr South Carolinian replied that King Solomon he could accept and supported the resolution.November 25, 2021 2:17 pm at 2:17 pm #2034064TS BaumParticipant
Having a special dinner on thanksgiving is considered celebrating it. Because why have something special on that day? Have it any random day. So then you would be celebrating it. It’s like giving gifts on chanukah. If you give gifts all year round, and you happen to give gifts at the time that falls out on chanukah, then no problem. But if you do it just on Chanukah, because the goyim also do it, then it’s a problem.November 25, 2021 4:51 pm at 4:51 pm #2034079
Anonymous, christians believe in tanach and the god of what they consider to be the bible. According to their religion, jews worship the same god as they do chas veshalom, just the trinity hadn’t revealed itself until yushkes time. They say god was always a trinity cv”s, so their doing something for a commemoration of shlomo or moshe or anyone else doesn’t make it a “Jewish” root, because it’s all part of their own bible. The founding fathers with the exception of Jefferson believed in the trinity. When they said god, they referred to the christian idea of god.November 25, 2021 4:55 pm at 4:55 pm #2034096
AJ: That’s akin to arguing that since Christianity has the “Old Testament”, therefore Christianity has a Jewish connection.November 25, 2021 6:20 pm at 6:20 pm #2034158
“That’s akin to arguing that since Christianity has the “Old Testament”, therefore Christianity has a Jewish connection….”
I hate to break this to you BUT Christianity DOES have a “Jewish Connection”……Indeed, some of them believe their “moishiach” was a Yid who went OTD.November 25, 2021 8:48 pm at 8:48 pm #2034157
For that reasoning, one can not go shopping on Black Friday either. Or any secular based shopping, including back to school. It should also be forbidden to follow the news, engage in sports, or care about politics. Come to think of it, I could get behind this new issur!November 25, 2021 8:49 pm at 8:49 pm #2034161
English sermons and English services were the same controversy at am early point. Even Chacham Barnays faced heavy backlash for speaking in German.November 25, 2021 8:49 pm at 8:49 pm #2034162
That’s irrelevant; what ujm and i (though he was more succinct) are saying is that a Christian modeling something after Shlomo hamelech doesn’t mean that the model has a Jewish connection that would make it not AZ relatedNovember 25, 2021 8:54 pm at 8:54 pm #2034186Shimon NodelParticipant
Avira, I don’t believe for a moment you that you are a talmid of Rav Belsky z”lNovember 25, 2021 8:57 pm at 8:57 pm #2034189Always_Ask_QuestionsParticipant
First, we take this issue more seriously than most Americans. Most people shop and cook turkey, but do not engage in pilpul about mesorah of turkey and whether Yankees or Virginians started it.
2, it is misleading to connect the day directly to Pilgrims. Colonials/early Americans were practicing fasts and thanksgivings often on local and national level, more in the North than in the South and became national as part of Civil War.
Yom kavua that some objected here was started by FDR, before that it was up to the President to declare it annually. I am not sure why Nth Thursday is a yom kavua in calendar – seems like a variable day to me. July 4 is kavua.
FDR was prone to fight economy with magic, like Brandon, so he tried to move it to 3rd Thursday of November to extend holiday shopping season. This indicates that if there is any avoda zara in this day, then it is one of materialism.November 25, 2021 9:44 pm at 9:44 pm #2034193Always_Ask_QuestionsParticipant
Given the sofek, and considering that saying Thanks to Creator is a mitzva meduaraita, I hereby Proclaim that one should eat turkey without shehiyanu. Those who are extra careful about hashash avoda zara can eat b’shinui – either chicken, or using traditional Yidishe potatoes.
As Syag mention, in Golus we may do bracha of kiddush on the second day of Thanksgiving.November 25, 2021 9:51 pm at 9:51 pm #2034237
I don’t think anyone equated davening in English/German to sermonizing… The teshuvos from the chasam sofer aren’t concerned with the latter at all. From what I’ve read about the German rabbonim and mamshichei darcho of rac hirsch, there was opposition to the change, but it didn’t lead to charems and communal schisms as was the case for foreign language daveningNovember 25, 2021 9:52 pm at 9:52 pm #2034242
Shimon; what have i said that doesn’t comport with what you know of rav Belsky? He wasn’t my only rebbe, and wasn’t my biggest influence, but i consider him my rov for psak halacha, and i was zocheh to learn a lot from himNovember 25, 2021 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm #2034284
AVDR: Are you a musmach of Torah Vadaas?? That may explain a lot.November 25, 2021 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm #2034309
Gadol, what would it explain? Torah vodaas is quite an eclectic yeshiva
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