The December Blues

Well, it's that time of year again.  It's hard enough on a former chr*stian Noachide to give up chr*stmas (formerly the biggest day of the year to everyone in the culture regardless of religiosity), but the martyrdom of the holiday by the forces of political correctness makes it even tougher.  The chr*stians are convinced now more than ever that the opposition to this holiday by the Forces of Evil is all the proof needed that their religion (or religions, since the spectrum of chr*stian beliefs is wider than the universe itself) simply must the The Unmitigated Truth against which All That Is Unholy have arrayed themselves.  Yes, this does make the emotional toll of the month of Kislev/december harder than it already is.  But I would like to argue that Chanukkah and the other Jewish holidays are not the beneficiaries of this attitude that many think they are.

It is true that most Americans have heard of Chanukkah--in fact, Chanukkah is probably the only Jewish holiday that many Americans know about.  But why?  Simply because it usually falls in december and is seized upon by the forces of secularism and political correctness as a counterbalance to chr*stmas.  But how many of these Americans know what Chanukkah actually is?  If the number is anything like the number of people who know how to spell it then it isn't many.  And considering the number of American Jews who think that Chanukkah celebrates the "right" to worship any "gxd" one chooses illustrates that it isn't just the non-Jews who are ignorant on this subject.

But let us consider a further point.  On the Gregorian calendar Chanukkah can run anywhere from the last week of november to the last week of december (and even bleed into j*n*ary).  Please note that when the former occurs Chanukkah is ignored completely until chr*stmas draws near, when "happy Chanukkah" suddenly becomes an omnipresent cry brandished to prove the speaker's religious tolerance even though the holiday has passed.  In the latter case the loud Chanukkah wishes disappear the moment the 25th day of december has passed even though Chanukkah itself may have only begun (in which case Chanukkah becomes less "the Jewish chr*stmas" than "the Jewish 'kwanzaa'").

Now obviously if people were really sincere in honoring Chanukkah they would offer greetings during the festival itself rather than before or after as a sort of "pluralistic" afterthought to "merry chr*stmas," but they do not.  And the Jewish religion of which Chanukkah is a part receives even fewer benefits from the PC crusade against chr*stmas.  It just so happens that this past october contained every one of the fall Jewish holidays, all of which are far more important than Chanukkah.  Did anyone feel the need to tack New Year, Yom Kippur, or Sukkot greetings to the nauseatingly un-self-conscious cries of "happy halloween" that filled the air at that time?  No he did not.  Does anyone feel embarrassed about "st. valentine's day" because of its pagan/chr*stian origins and feel the need to elevate T"U BiShevat (the New Year of the Trees) to the secular calendar in order to demostrate that there is no establishment of religion in the United States?  And even in the "Bible Belt" the very Biblical holiday of Purim (the subject of an entire book of the Bible) is completely unknown and smothered beneath "St. Patrick's Day," which is not only a chr*stian religious holiday but one that celebrates a European ethnic identity (David Duke must be happy).  Needless to say I'm highly offended.  Whom do I sue?

And then there's La"G Ba`Omer, Tish`ah Be'Av, and T"U Be'Av (the Jewish "valentine's day," though it falls in the summer).  Where are the liberal crusades for these days?  And don't even ask about Shavu`ot, one of the three pilgrimage festivals which celebrates the speaking of the "chr*stian" Ten Commandments to Israel from Mt. Sinai.  Let me know when Ten Commandments decorations go up in parks to demonstrate religious pluralism.

There is one exception to this abysmal ignorance and non-recognition of Jewish holidays and festivals other than Chanukkah: most chr*stian Americans know about Pesach (Passover) and that it falls roughly at the same time as "e*ster," but that is due to their familiarity with the Bible rather than to any big PR campaign run on behalf of it by the liberal establishment.  But then, e*ster is supposed to be the biggest chr*stian holiday, yet it obviously receives none of the recognition in popular culture than chr*stmas does.  And ironically, the huge place of ch*stmas in chr*stendom (where it should be eclipsed by e*ster) is itself the result of the same sort of distortion as that which elevates Chanukkah above more important Jewish holidays.  Just as the influence of chr*stmas has distorted Chanukkah, so the old pre-chr*stian winter solstice celebration has distorted chr*stmas, which is precisely why it is universal in the culture (rather than just among religious chr*stians) and why the sectarian message is so easily obscured by the universal concept of the rebirth of the sun at the darkest time of the year.

So as an observant Noachide I derive no satisfaction from the PC war against chr*stmas for the simple reason that it is not being waged for the sake of Heaven but for the sake of "pluralism" and "diversity."  Instead I find myself having to correct well-meaning but intimidated people on forums who insist on wishing everyone "a merry chr*stmas and a happy Chanukkah" a month after the latter has passed.  And when any other Jewish holidays draws near, forget about expecting to hear an acknowledgement of it from even the most "tolerant" and "pluralist" person.  Yech.

I do not wish my position to be misunderstood.  I gave up chr*stmas, and I did not do so because I considered such a policy to be voluntary.  I consider the observance of chr*stmas to be objectively wrong, unauthorized by and thus displeasing to A-mighty G-d.  At the same time I believe Chanukkah, established some 2100 years ago by the Holy Sages of Israel, to be the festival which G-d wishes all mankind to acknowledge at this time of year.  I am all for the abolition of chr*stmas once and for all by the universal acknowledgement of HaShem and His Holy Torah.  But attacks on chr*stmas (and shallow, hypocritical homages to Chanukkah) not for the sake of Heaven but for the promotion of liberalism and secularism are not a help bringing this about.  In fact, I would argue that they are a hindrance.

Chr*stmas, "kwanzaa," and other holidays of false religions created by men are forbidden.  So is the idea that one is "free" to worship any "gxd" or "gxddess" one chooses.  Should the Jewish people ever reawaken to their true mission the insanity of invoking the Jewish experience as the justification for absolute religious freedom will be manifest to all the world.  May that day come soon.  'Amein.  Ken yehi ratzon!