Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Guest Posting From Yitz Of Heichal HaNegina - Can Jews Celebrate January 1st As New Year’s ?

From a Google search, found on Mail-Jewish Digest [slightly edited by Yitz]

IMHO, no Jew who calls himself Orthodox, religious, or religiously observant should be celebrating or observing New Year's Day, Rav Moshe's apparent hetter notwithstanding. Aside from the day's debatable direct religious association - if Yeshu was born on Xmas Day (a big if), then New Year's Day was his “bris” - it has all sorts of quasi-religious associations. For example, people wish each other a happy, healthy and prosperous new year, just the way they do before Rosh Hashana, thus investing January 1 with a similar status. Our joining in this, other than as a matter of darchei shalom, denigrates Rosh Hashana. Moreover, the only non-religious association of January 1, particularly New Year's Eve, is drunkenness and general debauchery, values that are, or ought to be, alien to us, with a limited and questionable exception of Purim.

With rare exceptions, New Year’s Eve is celebrated in a manner antithetical to Jewish values, and to the extent it is not, what is being celebrated is not something we ought to celebrate.

If in response to this: For example, people wish each other a happy, healthy and prosperous new year, just the way they do before Rosh Hashana, thus investing January 1 with a similar status.

You will say: The fact is that the world operates on a secular calendar so even observant Jews deal with the secular year . . .

I would like to mention that there is a Halachic opinion (the source eludes me right now) that one may not use numbers to designate the months of the general calendar, but should refer to them by name. The reason for this is as follows:

The Pasuk says, of Chodesh Nissan: "HaChodesh hazeh lachem Rosh Chodashim, rishon hu lachem l’chodshei haShana" - This month is to you a head for all months, a first shall it be to you of the months of the year. Chazal learned from this duplication, that there is an (at least implied) Issur to call a month other than Nisan "The first month" - "Hu rishon, v'ein acher rishon" - [Nisan] is the first, another is not the first. Using a numbering system to denote the general months, even when referring to a month other than January, implicitly defines January as being "the first" - which is not allowed.

The sad fact is that many Jews forget completely about the Jewish dates and run their lives around the goyish calendar. This sometimes borders on the tragic-comic. In many conversations with secular Jews in Israel, my father will ask them: When is Yom Ha'Atzmaut? Roughly 95% of them have no clue! Mind you, this is a National holiday - not a strictly religious one. Could you imagine an American not knowing when is Independence Day? But then, they were never taught that we Jews have a calendar which is older than the general one by about 3700 years, and yet so well regulated that it is still accurate (whereas the general calendar gets "fixed" by some seconds every few years to prevent what happened to the Julian calendar).

20 Comments:

At December 27, 2006 at 11:30:00 AM EST, Blogger avakesh said...

Ionce was shown an uncensored edition of the SHulchan Oruch where teh Ramo listed the 1st of January as YOm Eidehem.

Regarding the coounting of the months, it is based on the Ramban on the posuk you quote. There are many deyos on this, one review can be found in Dinim uminhagim by R. Moshe Shternbuch and he himslef permits it.

Here is a link - under title Wednesday and Tammuz
http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/getindex.cgi?section=W#WEDNESDAY%20AND%20TAMUZ

 
At December 27, 2006 at 11:31:00 AM EST, Anonymous chabakuk elisha said...

Interesting post!
I know that there are people that are makpid about this, but it isn't so common. I wonder why many people (most people?) - chareidim included - arent so concered or careful about using the secularing numbering for the date?
I have never been careful about this either - mostly beacuse "everybody does it" (bad reason perhaps). I will try to be more careful about this in the future...

 
At December 27, 2006 at 11:41:00 AM EST, Anonymous chabakuk elisha said...

Avakesh,

I remember that in the uncensored Shulchan Aruch, the Rema also lists christmas - do you know which date he uses? (If not, I'll try to remember to look for it tonight, IY"H.)

Thanks for the link! Interesting.

 
At December 27, 2006 at 12:05:00 PM EST, Anonymous Menatzpach said...

Yitz, Here is a practical question for you: What would you reply is someone wished you a "Happy New Year's"? Would you give them a lecture that it wasn't Tishrei?

Also, what do you think of Thanksgiving [if you lived in the U.S.]?

 
At December 27, 2006 at 12:09:00 PM EST, Anonymous chabakuk elisha said...

What's wrong with Thanksgiving???

 
At December 27, 2006 at 12:15:00 PM EST, Anonymous Menatzpach said...

Can you name me a chassidic rebbe who ever sat down to eat a turkey for this holiday??

 
At December 27, 2006 at 12:26:00 PM EST, Anonymous chabakuk elisha said...

But that wasn't the question...

 
At December 27, 2006 at 1:03:00 PM EST, Blogger yitz said...

What would you reply is someone wished you a "Happy New Year's"?
Depends on who asked - Jewish or not, religious or not, etc.
Would you give them a lecture that it wasn't Tishrei?
If it were a religious Jew, I would try to do so in a tasteful, non-"lecturing" way. :))
what do you think of Thanksgiving?
Hodu LaShem ki Tov, ki L'olam chasdo! [for those who don't know, in modern-day Hebrew a turkey is a hodu, and so is the word for praise or thanks). So, "praise the L-rd, for his love is forever!"

 
At December 27, 2006 at 1:15:00 PM EST, Blogger Gandalin said...

1) Well, there is at least one obvious reason that it is easier for Americans to keep track of the date of "July Fourth" than it is for Israeli's to know the date of Yom Ha Atzmaut.

2) In the old country, back in the day, Yidden used to remark that "Christmas is early this year" or "Christmas is very late this year," just as Jews in America today marvel that "Chanukah is early this year" or "Chanukah is late this year."

3) There is a New Year for judgment; a New Year for trees; a New Year for reckoning the reigns of Kings. A New Year starts every day, in fact.

 
At December 27, 2006 at 1:16:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Avakesh: Is this saying that some of the days of the week are named after avodah zarah?

Chabakuk Elisha: Please do look it up, it might add to the interesting discussion we are having here recently.

Yitz: I liked your Thanksgiving comment! :)

 
At December 27, 2006 at 1:50:00 PM EST, Blogger yitz said...

Gandalin said, Well, there is at least one obvious reason that it is easier for Americans to keep track of the date of "July Fourth" than it is for Israeli's to know the date of Yom Ha Atzmaut.
There are many religious Jews in Israel who refer to Yom HaAtzma'ut as Heh Iyar.
:))

 
At December 27, 2006 at 2:38:00 PM EST, Blogger yitz said...

I JUST RECEIVED an interesting e-mail from Rav Cardozo, wherein he writes:
On the verse: "There arose no more a prophet in Israel like Moshe, who knew G-d face to face." (Devarim 34:10) the Sages commented with a most unusual observation: “In Israel none arose, but among the gentiles one did arise. And who was that? Bilaam son of Peor." (Sifri) Since it is unthinkable that this statement suggests that Bilaam ever rose to the level of Moshe Rabbeinu, several commentators make the point that the gentiles had someone whose function in regards to the nations of the world was similar to that of Moshe in Israel. Moshe was the great halachic legislator, and the gentiles also had a man who received that kind of authority in their eyes, and that was Bilaam. While there is no allusion to this to be found in the Torah text, the Midrash quotes a verse from Bilaam's words in his blessing of the Jewish people: "G-d is not a man that He should lie" (Bamidbar 23:19) To this the Midrash Tanchuma (in uncensored printings) adds: "Bilaam foresaw that a man born from a woman would arise and would proclaim himself a god. Therefore, Bilaam voice was given the power to inform the gentiles: "Do not go astray after this man, G-d is not a man, and if he (a man) says he is G-d, he is lying." In that sense Bilaam became a "legislator" towards the gentiles.
Very interesting indeed!

 
At December 27, 2006 at 2:42:00 PM EST, Blogger yitz said...

CE wrote: I have never been careful about this either - mostly beacuse "everybody does it" (bad reason perhaps). I will try to be more careful about this in the future...
Like I said, perhaps we're too preoccupied with Nittel & not enough about other important matters... :))

 
At December 27, 2006 at 3:18:00 PM EST, Anonymous chabakuk elisha said...

Yitz,
:-D
But the truth is that on both accounts I simply followed what the common practice here is...

 
At December 27, 2006 at 3:33:00 PM EST, Blogger yitz said...

Since when does "common practice" outweigh Halacha?

 
At December 27, 2006 at 4:26:00 PM EST, Anonymous chabakuk elisha said...

Well...

#1 we all know that maaseh rav is stronger than the written word - and honestly, there are countless things in Shulchan Aruch that we "fir zich nisht azoi" or as they say "eino nohagin kein."

#2 Klal Yisroel runs by tradition. Most of the time we know what to do but seeing what frum Yidden do.

That's not to say that we shouldn't be more careful, especially about those halachos that people tread upon (Yea, yea, like lashon hara, speaking by davening, etc), but it's s normal thing to see what others that you respect do, and follow those customs.

 
At December 28, 2006 at 2:47:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Yitz (the first)

as to '1' denoting january as the first month.. the growing number of people world-wide that have to deal directly with programming languages in one form or another will readily tell you that '0' would actually designate january as the 'first' month. So there's a technical out for using '1' to denote january in numeric date notation.

secondly, here in israel, it's nice that xmas & new years can go by without my noticing at all. true, there are plenty here who celebrate.. and i'm sure if i watched more tv i might see something about xmas or new years on it.. but life here doesn't live to the beat of xmas & new years... it's just an amazingly beautiful thing, if we were all here, we wouldn't have to have this discussion :)

 
At December 28, 2006 at 3:06:00 AM EST, Blogger yitz said...

Dotted yitz:
As I mentioned on ASJ's post about Chanuka gifts, it's another reason to make Aliya! Artza alinu, artza alinu....... :))

 
At December 28, 2006 at 9:31:00 AM EST, Anonymous Eli Dishon said...

The Sefar Yalkut Aohave Yisreol from the Apter Rov brings that the Apter Rov used to say on New Year Day that from now on there be a good year for kalal Yisreol

The Husataner explained this that on rosh hasona when we pray for a good year there might be a "kitrug" but after hashem see how the goyim observe their new year we are definitely worthy of a good year

 
At December 28, 2006 at 9:57:00 AM EST, Blogger yitz said...

Eli, Great! Thanks for sharing that... :))

 

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