To many, if not most, American Jewish parents, accommodating in Halloween revelries is harmless. Increasingly, however, rabbis and educators from beyond the denominational spectrum acquire questioned and challenged Jewish accord in Halloween activities.
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A contempo bi-weekly commodity recounted:
“According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Halloween originated with the agnostic Celtic anniversary of Samhain, a day on which the devil was invoked for the assorted divinations. ‘The souls of the asleep were declared to revisit their homes on this day’, Britannica says, ‘and the autumnal anniversary acquired adverse significance, with ghosts, witches, hobgoblins … and demons of all kinds said to be adrift about.’ In the aboriginal Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church instituted All Hallow’s Eve on October 31 and All Saints Day on November 1 to annul the abstruse festival. It did not work. All Hollow’s Eve was artlessly co-opted into the agnostic anniversary of Samhain.”
As was acclaimed by Professor John Hennig, in his classical commodity on this topic, there is a bright actual accord amid the Celtic concepts of resurrection, Roman Catholic responses to it, and the avant-garde American anniversary of Halloween.
Thus, Halloween, clashing Thanksgiving, audibly has in its origins religious behavior that are adopted to Judaism, and whose behavior are banned to us as Jews.
On the added hand, admitting the origins of Halloween, one charge admit that the all-inclusive majority of the bodies in America who currently bless Halloween do not do so out of any faculty of religious acknowledgment or feeling. Indeed, one is adamantine apprenticed to acquisition a adoration in the United States that admit Halloween as a religious holiday. One contempo writer, responding to Christian assertions that Halloween celebrations are a anatomy of agnostic worship, wrote:
“One of my fondest memories of kindergarten was the aboriginal Halloween acclaimed at school. I marched proudly from allowance to allowance in our elementary academy in my Wilma Flintstone [a appearance in a animation –MB] apparel as a actor in the Halloween parade. The apprehension of the accident was overwhelming, agitative and the fun was annihilation but sinister…. To say that accommodating in Halloween leads to devil adoration is like adage demography Tylenol leads to able addition. Acquire me, back I was boot in my Wilma Flintstone costume, the aftermost affair on my apperception was cartoon pentagrams or assuming atrocious rituals. The alone anticipation I had was that abutting year I’d be Pebbles! [Wilma’s adolescent — MB]… It is alone a few binding accumulation fundamentalists who actively acquire Halloween is a anniversary for adherent the devil.”
This account appears to be a accurate account of the avant-garde American anniversary of Halloween. The all-inclusive majority of bodies who bless Halloween acquire absolutely no religious motives at all–it is an alibi to aggregate bonbon or appoint in arch behavior.
However, it is account acquainted that there are still some bodies who bless Halloween religiously, and there are casual cloister cases about advisers who seek to booty religious leave on Halloween day as a religious holiday.
Thus, the catechism about Halloween is whether Jewish law allows one to bless an accident that has agnostic origins, area the agnostic origins are still accepted and acclaimed by a actual few, but not by the all-inclusive majority of bodies who appoint in this activity.
In adjustment to acknowledgment this question, a assertive accomplishments into the attributes of the prohibition to imitate Gentile association charge be understood. Tosafot [a medieval Talmud commentary] understands that two audibly altered types of association are banned by the prohibition of assuming Gentile association begin in Leviticus 18:3. The aboriginal is agnostic association and the additional is absurd association begin in the Gentile community, alike if their origins are not idolatrous. Rabbenu Nissim (Ran) and Maharik disagree and aphorism that alone association that acquire a base in agnostic practices are prohibited. Apparently foolish–but secular–customs are permissible so continued as they acquire a reasonable account (and are not immodest). Normative halakhah follows the cardinal of the Ran and Maharik. As acclaimed by Rama [Rabbi Moshe Isserles, c. 1525-1572]:
“Those practices done as a [Gentile] custom or law with no acumen one suspects that it in an agnostic convenance or that there is a taint of agnostic origins; however, those association which are accomplished for a reason, such as the physician who wears a appropriate apparel to analyze him as a doctor, can be done; the aforementioned is accurate for any custom done out of account or any added acumen is permissible.”
Rabbi Isserless is appropriately acutely prohibiting celebratory association that acquire agnostic origins, or alike which ability acquire agnostic origins. His opinion, the best allowing begin in normative halakhah, is the one we follow.
Of course, absolute of the halakhic obligation to abstain Gentile religious customs, Jewish law forbids a Jew from absolutely adulatory agnostic religious contest himself.
Based on this, in adjustment to absolve bonbon accumulating on Halloween, one would acquire to acquire the artlessness of any of the afterward assertions:
1) Halloween celebrations acquire a civil origin.
2) The conduct of the individuals “celebrating Halloween” can be rationally explained absolute of Halloween.
3) The agnostic origins of Halloween or the Catholic acknowledgment to it are so acutely hidden that they acquire disappeared, and the celebrations con be attributed to some civil antecedent or reason.
4) The activities memorialized by Halloween are absolutely constant with the Jewish tradition.
I acquire that none of these statements are true.
Applying these halakhic rules to Halloween leads to the cessation that accord in Halloween celebrations–which is what accession bonbon is back one is cutting a costume–is prohibited. Halloween, back it has its origins in a agnostic practice, and lacks any apparent rational acumen for its anniversary added than its agnostic origins or the Catholic acknowledgment to it, is absolute by the account of Rabbi Isserles that such conduct is banned as its origins taint it. One should not accelerate one’s accouchement out to ambush or amusement on Halloween, or contrarily bless the holiday.
The catechism of whether one can accord out bonbon to bodies who appear to the aperture is a altered one, as there are cogent affidavit based on darkhei shalom (the means of peace), eva (the conception of added abhorrence appear the Jewish people), and added accessory rationales that acquiesce one to administer bonbon to bodies who will be angered or affronted if no bonbon is given. This is alike added so accurate back the community–Jewish and Gentile–are blind of the halakhic problems associated with the conduct, and the accepted convenance alike aural abounding Jewish communities is to “celebrate” the holiday. Thus, one may accord bonbon to accouchement who appear to one’s abode to “trick or treat” if one feels that this is necessary.
The commodity aloft explores abounding of the best accepted objections to Halloween. While abounding rabbis would not accompaniment their action in as abrupt a way as Rabbi Broyde does, his action to Jews trick-or-treating is not uncommon.
This commodity originally appeared as an addendum to a Jewish appraisal of adulatory Thanksgiving. The complete argument and footnotes can be begin on Torah from Dixie. Reproduced with permission of the author.
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