Friday, October 31, 2014

If Halloween Were a Jewish Holiday...

Tonight, while we celebrate Shabbat, most Americans will dress up in funny costumes and take their kids around the neighborhood collecting candy from their neighbors.

Why? It's Halloween, of course, the secular holiday that had its origins in pagan and Catholic rituals, but today is largely devoid of them.

Rabbi Mendy Pellin, the Chabad comedian who heads up Jewbellish, a funny Jewish web site, wondered if Halloween were a Jewish holiday, what rules would the rabbis cook up to control every aspect of its observance, much the way we have detailed times and measurements for all aspects of our Jewish holidays.

For example, there would certainly be rules for selecting pumpkins for Jack-o-Lanterns much the way there are rules for selecting the etrog for use on Sukkot. In the spirit of satire, Binyomin Ginzburg, of, has come up with a mini Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) detailing the laws of Halloween observance.

His list includes 12 major rules and a few minor ones. These are followed by others suggested by visitors adding their comments to the Jewbellish site. Here are a few examples:
  • One does not make a blessing before trick or treating, because it is not certain that the homeowner will be home. (And one may not utter Gd’s name in vain.)
  • When giving candy, one must give an amount at least the size of an olive (about five candy corns.) Some are of the opinion that it has to be at least the size of an egg (twelve candy corns.) This opinion is preferable.
Shabbat shalom!

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