Hilchos Christmas

3135075538_d1a2e372f5Last week, a friend of mine asked his Facebook friends if Santa Claus was mechuyav to go to Church on Christmas. I answered “oisek b’mitzvah patur min hamitzvah”. That question and answer spawned an idea in my head. I started thinking of all sorts of rules for Christmas in the context of halacha. That morphed into a #hilchoschristmas hashtag game on Twitter.

Here is the original post by my friend Dovid Ptalis: (since made private)

I asked my followers if they had any #hilchoschristmas, I gave a few examples, and within a few minutes the tweets were coming fast and furious. Some came as “shylas” and other just wrote their own rules. After a little while it wasn’t just my Twitter followers playing. People I don’t know and people that don’t know me were following the hashtag and adding their own excellent contribtions. We had a great time. (It’s still going four days later, albeit at a much slower pace right now).

Only two Twitter Grinches thought that this game was offensive; one thought it was offensive to Christians. To be very clear, this is not a joke about Christmas, it’s just a lighthearted way of poking fun at halacha, chumros, and segulos. In no way is it meant to disrespect Christmas or Jewish law. We can laugh at ourselves. Think of it as Purim Torah for Christmas.

The Times of Israel picked up on the phenomenon but didn’t really go back far enough to find some of the best, early #hilchoschristmas hashtag. I didn’t want these tweets to be lost forever so I archived some of my favorites on Storify. (Thanks Shulem Deen for the idea). I tried to use the Twitter embed tool but apparently there were too many tweets for it to work properly.

Enjoy! And it’s not too late to get in on the fun. Just get on your Twitter account, tweet your ideas and makes sure you include the #hilchoschristmas tweet. Unfortunately, some tweets were missing the hashtag so those will be impossible to find.

To see all the tweets, search the #hilchoschristmas hashtag on Twitter: #hilchoschristmas


We had a lot of fun tweeting our #hilchoschristmas. Here I have archived some of my favorites. Thank you to everyone who participated.

Storified by Eliyahu Fink (Eli)· Sun, Dec 23 2012 05:52:48

Who thinks a #hilchoschristmas Twitter game would be fun?Eliyahu Fink (Eli)
For example: Santa is patur from Church on Christmas because of osek b’mitzvah patur min hamitzvah. #hilchoschristmasEliyahu Fink (Eli)
Santa isn’t hurt when he goes into the chimneys, even if he lands in fireplaces, because shluchei mitzvah einam nizukin. #hilchoschristmasEliyahu Fink (Eli)
@efink in Chabad they put Christmas trees on the top of the cars. #hilchoschristmasShaybod
Ad d’lo yada bein Santa l’Jesus. RT @HillelKAPS @efink How much eggnog do you need to have to make a borei nefashos ?#hilchoschristmasEliyahu Fink (Eli)
@efink Every Christian is obligated to picture themselves as if they were personaly saved by Jesus #hilchoschristmasAzi Graeber
The milk left for Santa may not be drunk by anyone else in the morning altz mayim megulim. #hilchoschristmasEliyahu Fink (Eli)
When throwing out the tree it must be bagged first. Best better to save it till Lent #hilchoschristmasYC
In Breslov, the minhag is to not replace the Christmas tree when it dies. #hilchoschristmas [Facebook submission]Eliyahu Fink (Eli)
The milk left for Santa may not be drunk by anyone else in the morning altz mayim megulim. #hilchoschristmasEliyahu Fink (Eli)
When throwing out the tree it must be bagged first. Best better to save it till Lent #hilchoschristmasYC
In Breslov, the minhag is to not replace the Christmas tree when it dies. #hilchoschristmas [Facebook submission]Eliyahu Fink (Eli)
Christmas sweaters may be worn even if made out of shatnez because no one gets hanaah from such ugly sweaters. #hilchoschristmasEliyahu Fink (Eli)
Despite the traditional white meat, siman l’snow, the wine at the Seudah must be red, as a siman l’Easter #hilchoschristmas.Avraham Bronstein
Machlokes Satmar and OU. RT @thevoos: @efink #hilchoschristmas if Santa gets arrested for molestation is there a mitzvah of pidyon shevuyim?Eliyahu Fink (Eli)
RT @yakovhorowitz Kupas Ha’ir is reportedly gathering 10 elves way up north on Dec 24th for 25 hours of nonstop….#hilchoschristmasEliyahu Fink (Eli)
Kol Ha’omer that Christmas celebrations changed over the last 2000 years eino elah toeh. #hilchoschristmasEliyahu Fink (Eli)
The Ashkenazim hold that ornaments should be sized to fit two in one hand; Yemenite custom is one ornament in two hands #hilchoschristmasShai Applbaum
Lechatchila, you should use a real tree although, bdieved, you can use a fake one, like the modernische do #hilchoschristmasThe Beadle
One may decorate his house with little LED lights instead of mini incandescent bulbs, but should not recite the blessing. #hilchoschristmasAvraham Bronstein
One does not fulfill the obligation to possess fruitcake if it is edible to the point of achilas kelev. #hilchoschristmasAvraham Bronstein
There is a safek if its sleeting and not snowing, whether one is Yotzei a White Christmas #hilchoschristmasMacabee8
Dinner must be started no later than Plag HaMincha on 25th. No matter the time you finish, benching with Ya’leh V’Yavo. #hilchoschristmasNoam Greenberg
are you yotzei if you use a stolen caroling book? Yes. Kol Eino Nigzelet #hilchoschristmasAmerican Prometheus
If Ham is unavailable, you can be yotzei seudah with Turkey. Ham, of course, min hamuvchar. #hilchoschristmasNoam Greenberg
The tree should be to the left and the mistletoe to the right, so one is surrounded by reminders of the season. #hilchoschristmasAvraham Bronstein
@efink I heard of a family who didn’t use red stockings and now their daughter can’t find a shidduch. Nebuch. #hilchoschristmasShimmy Messing
The Kos Shel Santa must be filled to the top and left on the table near the chimney. Only Whole Milk is acceptable #hilchoschristmasAmerican Prometheus
To be yotzei all presents must be double wrapped. However a shiny bow on the outside will be considered a second wrapping #hilchoschristmasAmerican Prometheus
You can’t use a tree from last year, taaseh v’lo min ha asui. The tree must stand up to a normal wind #hilchoschristmasShai Applbaum
Is mistletoe just an MO mishegas or does or does it have a makor? #hilchoschristmasBenny Hutman
Eating chocolate coins is an Issur Kares as it violates Chukas Yisroel #hilchoschristmasAmerican Prometheus
@AvBronstein @efink Can you buy a Chunuch tree with no pitum and a split kneppl cheap for your kids? #HilchosChristmasNoah Roth
If Xmas falls out on Fri. night, does Santa perform a kinyan chalipin with an Elf who is zakhin for e/o before Shabbas? #hilchoschristmasAvraham Bronstein
@dsappl you are killing me with #hilchoschristmas. The star in the top of tree must be shava pruta.Joanna Braunold
You can make the bracha on eggnog prior to the meal because eggnog has chashivus. Be sure to cover fruitcake though #hilchoschristmasHowie Mazin
If u get someone a gift card, u aren’t yotzei until they redeem it. But if u gave a gift and they returned it, yatzata #hilchoschristmasShai Applbaum
#hilchoschristmas A mourner may not sit on Santa’s lap as it is a place of joy.Zvi Hershcovich
Hillchos Christmas Stocking. In Satmar, No decorations on stocking is allowed. Stockings should be very thick. #hilchoschristmasShaybod
Since the evergreen Christmas tree became commercialized. Satmar chasidim are Makpid to us me a Palm Tree. #hilchoschristmasShaybod
Chasidim put away their Christmas trees and burn it Erev Peasach together with the Chometz. #hilchoschristmasShaybod
One of Santa’s helpers only has the din of an elf if s/he is less than 10 tfachim tall #hilchoschristmasElli Fischer
Jews eat Chinese food on Christmas Eve. To confuse Santa. #hilchoschristmasShaybod
One who has never seen The tree at Rockefeller Center has not seen Christmas in his life #hilchoschristmasElli Fischer
#hilchoschristmas on TU BeShvat one should pray for a nice Christmas tree.Shaybod
When baking chocolate chip cookies for Santa, baking time should not exceed 18 minutes #HilchoschristmasSuri T
A female over the age of 3 may not sit on Santas lap. A gartel may be used and held on each side instead. #HilchoschristmasSuri T
Santa’s weight must equal or be more than the weight of the wagons used to carry the Mishkon in the Midbor. #hilchoschristmasAnnie Ivri
People are to concerned with the Tree instead of the P’Nimious of the Mitzvah #hilchoschristmasThe Peoples Champ
Brisker Christians skip the carols. #HilchosChristmasElli Fischer
So many chumras mit dis dor. Used to be such a heimeshe yontif #hilchoschristmasThe Peoples Champ
Always enjoy coffee before eggnog because tadir v’sheayno tadir, tadir kodem. #HilchosChristmasThe Tortefeasor
In counting the 12 days of Christmas one recites thus: Hayom yom echad la’Christmas. The bracha must precede the counting. #hilchoschristmasNeil Weinberg
The Mekublaim hold Ristmas is higher. It’s a Yontif D’raza. That’s why it’s called "Ch" ristmas Like Ristmas #HilchoschristmasThe Peoples Champ
@efink A child who no longer believes in Santa must still write him a letter because metoch shelo lishma ba lishma. #hilchoschristmasEllie Ohiso
Once the tree gets old and the pine needles fall in your soup you are chayav to take out the tree. #hilchoschristmasEliyahu Fink (Eli)
It’s a big inyan to eat from Santa’s shirayim of the cookies. The milk is a segulah for a zivug bkarov. #hilchoschristmasEliyahu Fink (Eli)
If anyone knows someone making gingerbread cookies, we need one more to have 40 people. It’s a major segulah. #hilchoschristmasEliyahu Fink (Eli)
If you’re koveah seudah on gingerbread cookies you need to make a birchas hamazon with yaaleh v’yavo. #hilchoschristmasEliyahu Fink (Eli)
It is ussor to roast marshmallows and chestnuts on the yule log because it demeans the mitzvah. #hilchoschristmasNeil Weinberg
@efink #hilchoschristmas r milk&cookies considered a payment? does santa need to give maaser on it?Menachem Ickovitz
@efink even of you’ve been naughty, wearing a segula ring will make sure you don’t get a lump of coal from Santa #hilchoschristmasYehuda Malka

Post Details
  • http://twitter.com/daniopp American Prometheus

    good times. there were a TON that im sure went down the memoryhole at this point. was a great way to spend a slow afternoon at work. (it also showcased how much people know about minhag and halacha. which was pleasantly surprising,)

  • http://twitter.com/Benignuman Benny Hutman

    Thank you Rabbi Fink. Lots of laughs were had from hilchoschristmas. I somehow missed the Kupat Ha\’ir taking elves to the north pole. That is great.

  • Elf

    Must Santa\’s milk be mevushal?

  • http://www.facebook.com/ken.sperber Ken Sperber

    Check out this brilliant Purim Talmud parody: Masechet Chogga.


  • Jerry
    • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

      In 1998 I was 17, in yeshiva, and did not have an email address.

  • http://twitter.com/aaronmb Aaron Benedict

    Rabbi, I\’ve look through the sources and I didn\’t see if you make a bracha when you recite Hallel? :)

  • Avigdor

    Chabad does not celebrate Christmas because Jesus never died.

  • moishela

    Discussion with Moishela (with his family)
    A Handicapped child 5775 #3
    20 Kislev 5775 (Dec 11, ‘14)

    (from: http://ladaat.info/showgil.aspx?par=20141227&gil=1713)

    “Why Are We Living”

    Time is moving on and we are definitely getting very close to the Geula Shelaima. I think every true Jew, whether he is close to Hashem or a bit farther away, feels now is the time that the world is going to change completely. The Frum, the believing Jew will feel a kind of closeness to Hashem that he never felt before, even though every morning when he gets up he can feel a strange and frightening foreboding of what’s going to be in the future.

    The Jew that is not so close to Hashem will also feel the fear and he will start thinking what this life is about. What do I have? What are my goals? What does it matter if I go to a football game or not? What does it matter if I get the job exactly that I want or get into the right university just right for me? What does it matter? What really matters in this life? All the entertainment? All the social life? What is life all about? Why are we living? Is it just one big accident, Chas Vesholom, an accident that brought us into life against our will to suffer, Chas Vesholom? The fear of what’s coming in the near future together with the suffering that we are already going through, are bringing some people, some Jews to question, at least to stop for a moment from their partying to ask what is this about, why is this happening.

    These questions are not usually asked here in Eretz Yisroel because we are used here in Eretz Yisroel to go through many crisis and then the crisis disappears and we continue going on. Of course a certain amount of people are killed Shelo Naida and so on and so forth, but the ones that are left are the great majority and they can continue on with the life that they left, the life of enjoyment, of entertainment, of flying off to Europe, to Thailand, to who knows where, and enjoying themselves. As for the Frum we continue with our grand Bar Mitzvas and weddings and our own type of social entertainment. We continue with our restaurants, of course the most kosher, and all our entertainments with the best Hechsherim, our non-Tzniusdik dress with the best Hechsherim, and so on and so forth. Now however many people feel inside that we are not going to come out of this frightening projection of future events so easily. It’s not just going to pass.

    There is going to be a tremendous change in the world, a tremendous change that will in the end destroy much of the world, and therefore there are those, that are starting to feel great fear, have bad dreams, unnerving dreams and wake up very many times with a choking feeling with a fear that grabs a person and makes it difficult to breathe, a fear that makes a person want to jump up out of bed and feel alive again and this is all from the fear and the spiritual pressure of the world that is about to explode, a world that is about to change completely. This world of ours is going to disappear the way it is now, and we must change also, so that we can survive the greatest change since the creation of the world. All the dire predictions that are being made for the near future should be taken seriously if we want to be part of what’s going to be, be part of the Geula Shelaima, and a much more spiritual life. We have to become close to Hashem. We have to do Hashem’s will. We have to be Yidden the way we are supposed to be.

    We must! We must do Hashem’s will completely in every aspect, to bend ourselves completely to Hashem, to His Ratzon. Otherwise we will never be able to go into the new world of Moshiach Tzidkainu.

    I’ve many times spoken to you again and again on the subject, and maybe you are tired of hearing this even though I’ve tried saying it in a different way each time to make you understand better and better. I will try again anyway. I will try to make you understand that this is a great year. This year is a great and frightening year. This year is when many things will change in the greatest way. The wars have already begun. Blood is flowing freely. We are not even impressed anymore when the barbarians cut people’s heads off, but we are terribly disturbed or will be terribly disturbed when we won’t be able to get a kosher hamburger or coca cola or just plain food. We will be terribly disturbed when we see great cities falling, destroyed together with their population, Shelo Naida, all disappearing.

    We will be greatly disturbed to say the least. How will we be able to overcome our feelings? How will we be able to get through all of this because even if we don’t actually see this happening next to us it will be such a shock when we know so many people in those places and even if we don’t know them still it will be a shock. It will be a terrible shock. I don’t think that any generation before ours since the Creation, except for of course Sedom and Ammorah experienced such a thing, such a catastrophe, such a horrible terrible type of destruction. Even in Sedom and Ammorah it wasn’t the size of what’s going to be now. It’s dwarfed next to what’s going to be now. Don’t you understand? There will be plenty of bloodshed here in Eretz Yisroel, Shelo Naida, but it won’t be destroyed. Those that are far from Hashem and don’t have the Zechus to come back to Hashem will be destroyed with the buildings, will be destroyed with the Edomites and the Yishmaelites and all other peoples that don’t accept Hakodosh Boruch Hu as their Creator. So what do we have to do? How can we get through all of this? We have to believe completely that whatever Hashem does is for our good, no matter what.

    There is only one relationship in this world. It is the person with Hakodosh Boruch Hu. That may sound difficult for you because you have children, you have husbands, you have wives that you love very much. True, but when push comes to shove we are only the children of Hakodosh Boruch Hu, all of us, and we have been in many Gilgulim here in this world and in every Gilgul we might have had a different husband, a different wife, children not always the same, and we have had different situations that we had to overcome. We are so low and now is our chance finally to pull ourselves up and come back.

    When we get to the point where we greet Moshiach, Be’ezras Hashem, don’t worry. Every Neshoma will have its true, true Zivig and every child will know its true parents, and we all will know and feel and have no question about the fact that we as a people have only one Father and that is Hakodosh Boruch Hu, and our whole lives, our whole beings will be involved in only one occupation coming closer and closer to Him. In order to come closer to Him we will eventually drop all our flesh and blood characteristics and become totally, totally spiritual and become one with Him.

    Lately we have seen many tragedies. Tonight one of the Bochurim that was killed in the tragic car accident in Holland was buried. He has a very special name, Langleben, “a long life”. May he have a long life, a life of eternity, he was a Bochur that was working to be close to Hashem as was the other boy that was killed. Both trying their best to be good Jews, trying to do what Hashem wants us to do.

    Why did they have to die? I can’t answer you why these particular ones had to die, but I can tell you this that the latest tragedies are a message to us that we must, must do Teshuva, and realize what we are doing wrong. When Hashem brings down so many tragedies on Am Yisroel at one time we must stop and think and take stock of our lives of what we may be doing wrong.

    There was a terrible incident in Crown Heights also, and lately there have been many tragedies all over the Frum Jewish world Shelo Naidah. We must open our eyes and try to figure out where we are going wrong. It’s not a pat on the back for us. It’s a Potsh in the face for us so we will wake up.

    So please understand that Hashem is not happy. He wants to save His Am, but generally speaking we are going in the wrong direction. Am Yisroel you better wake up! Stop the Machlokes. Stop the Pritzus. Stop the running after the Gashmius. Stop the gluttony and come back to what’s real. The only thing that is real is Hakodosh Boruch Hu and His Torah.