"O L-RD, Who are my power and my strength and my refuge in the day of trouble, to You nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, 'Only lies have our fathers handed down to us, emptiness in which there is nothing of any avail! Can a man make gods for himself, and they are no gods? 'Therefore, behold I let them know; at this time I will let them know My power and My might, and they shall know that My Name is the L-RD".
Jeremiah 16:19-21
Question: 

Hello, Rabbi.  I hope Hashem has been blessing your work and family.  As you may recall, I am a former Christian who is now living as a Noahide and considering conversion to Judaism.  I am confronted again with the Christian holiday season and am starting to encounter some uncomfortable situations at home since my extended family still celebrates Xmas.  Their love and happiness are important to me, and I would appreciate any suggestions you may have for negotiating these difficulties.

Answer:

The month of December often ushers in a season of strained family relations particularly when its members are made up of different religious faiths.  This is especially true when those faiths are Judaism and Christianity.

Of all Christian holidays, one would least expect Christmas to generate this much family tumult, considering that the church has long abandoned its claim that Jesus was actually born on December 25th.  Moreover, virtually all Christian scholars agree that the reason Christendom adopted this date to celebrate the second member of the Trinity’s birthday is because the pagan Roman holiday Solstice, the great festival of the sun god, was celebrated on December 25th as well.  It therefore comes as little surprise that Christianity’s Jesus also shares his birth date with so many other notable pagan deities of the mystery religions such as the Persian god Mithra, and a host of other gods who were venerated throughout the Roman empire and beyond.

As a rabbi, I recommend that you follow the sage advice of the prophet Jeremiah1 regarding the embellishments of this non-Jewish holiday celebration.

Thus says the Lord, “Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them; for the customs of the people are vain for they cut a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax.  They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers that it may not move.”

In order for me to render some more concrete advice on how to diplomatically avoid setting off family fireworks this holiday season, I encourage you to write back with some more details about your family’s dynamics and volatility.  Happy Chanukkah!

Yours,

Rabbi Tovia Singer


Footnote:


1Jeremiah 10:2-4.

 

Want to share or print this? Choose how below:
  • Print
  • email
  • Add to favorites
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: