Religion & Beliefs

The D’Var Torah For Christmas

Let’s face facts: a ton of Jews celebrate Christmas. Half of all Jews are in interfaith relationships. And many other Jews of the more "secular" flair choose Christmas because of its connection to Americanism (such was the case of Irving … Read More

By / December 24, 2009

Let’s face facts: a ton of Jews celebrate Christmas. Half of all Jews are in interfaith relationships. And many other Jews of the more "secular" flair choose Christmas because of its connection to Americanism (such was the case of Irving Berlin who wrote the song "White Christmas" despite being Jewish and an uber-Zionist to boot).

The Hasidim teach that the spark of G_d is everywhere. So is it possible that HaShem is in Christmas as well? Yes, Virginia, the G_d of Israel can be found in the dreary haze of post-Chanukah Red and Green retail.

The Jewish values of Christmas are:

Family: Jews are the world’s smallest extended family. And although we may not agree on everything, we respect and celebrate each other as spiritual kin. This is the greatest theme of Christmas; people coming together as one to celebrate the end of the year, to renew family traditions, to patch up old grievances and party it up.

Giving: many families are going without this year. Holidays make us more aware of the abundance that we have and remind us of the less fortunate. There is no holiday in the Jewish lexicon that prevents someone from giving tzedakah. And by dropping a coin in the Salvation Army box, buying pre-bagged canned goods at the grocery for a hungry family or throwing an action figure in the Toys For Tots bin, one is committed to the greatest Jewish value: Tikkun Olam, repairing the world.

Reverence: while Christmas reveres the birth of a man that we do not consider holy, remember that the Torah tells us that all good people, regardless of their background, have a place in the World To Come. Reverence does not have to be culturally fixated. I revere Gandhi, but I am not a Hindu. I revere Martin Luther King, and I am not black. As for Jesus, I can revere a man who wanted to care for the sick and open Judaism up to the gentiles, even if I don’t believe he was the Messiah and fear the violence against the Jews that has been committed in his name. 

So "Gut Yontif" to my fellow Jews who find themselves wiping the menorah candle wax off their table to make room for Christmas cookies. Find a way to bring HaShem into this time and take pride in this very important fact: most egg nog is OU Kosher!