ANTIGONOS' BRAIN

Your Brain is Green
Of all the brain types, yours has the most balance. You are able to see all sides to most problems and are a good problem solver. You need time to work out your thoughts, but you don't get stuck in bad thinking patterns. You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the future, philosophy, and relationships (both personal and intellectual).

Friday, July 27, 2018

A Year and a Half


Walking is SO much fun!  Now you see me, now you don't!

Monday, July 09, 2018

Well, It's Only Been Four Years

The last post was in 2014.  No excuses.  That's life.  Anyway, let's get back on track with a bang.

This is copied from the July issue of Commentary Magazine, and is directed not just at all Gentle Readers, but my friends at the Forumania Religion Forum.  The reason why is simple: copyright issues prevent me posting it there, and I want them to see it.   Probably I am not being a very moral person by not seeking formal permission, and maybe even illegal, but what the hell, I only live once.

So here goes:

Time To Leave?
    by Melanie Phillips

 These are alarming times for Jews in Britain and Europe.
The British Labour Party is convulsed over the realization that it is riddled with anti-Semitism. Jeremy Corbyn, its leader and a friend to Hamas, has been exposed as belonging to Facebook groups hosting claims that the Jews were behind ISIS and 9/11, that the Rothschilds controlled the world’s finances, and other such paranoid theories. The backwash from the exposure of these groups revealed a tsunami of anti-Jewish insults, smears, and libels by Labour supporters. Corbyn’s responses, often truculent and insulting to the Jewish community, have only deepened the crisis.
Last year, according to the Community Security Trust, saw the highest number of anti-Semitic incidents in Britain since the CST started recording such data in 1984. In the past, surges in these incidents had occurred in response to the reporting of Israeli military action. That’s disturbing enough. But what was more disturbing here was that this record surge had occurred in the absence of any such Israeli activity.
Worse is happening in mainland Europe. In Paris, an 85-year-old survivor of the Shoah, Mireille Knoll, was stabbed to death and her body burned by a young Muslim. Last year, a man shouting “Allahu akbar” beat up Jewish schoolteacher Sarah Halimi and threw her to her death out of her Paris apartment window. In January, a teenage girl in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles wearing the uniform of her Jewish school was slashed in the face with a knife. Later that month, an eight-year-old boy was beaten in the same area because he was wearing a kippah. In February, two Jewish men in Paris were attacked with a hacksaw amid a volley of Jew-hating abuse.
In Amsterdam, a kosher restaurant long targeted for attack had its windows smashed in March by a man holding a Palestinian flag and shouting “Allahu akbar.” Holland’s chief rabbi says that, on the street, curses or taunts of “dirty Jew” are now quite normal. At the beginning of Chanukah last year, two Syrians and a Palestinian firebombed a synagogue in Gothenburg, Sweden. A few days later, a Jewish cemetery in Malm√∂ was attacked. In Germany, the Israeli flag has been burned and Jewish pupils bullied by Arab schoolmates. And so on and on.
In May 2017, the Pew Institute conducted a survey of 2,000 residents in each country in Eastern and Central Europe. Twenty percent of respondents said that they didn’t want Jews in their country, and 30 percent didn’t want them as neighbors. In Romania, 22 percent wanted to revoke rights of citizenship for Jews, and 18 percent of Poles said the same. Across Europe, nationalist parties, some with disturbing anti-Semitic echoes and histories, are rising.
And, so, many Jews are asking: Isn’t this 1933 all over again? Or the Weimar Republic, which enabled the rise to power of German Nazism? Isn’t history just repeating itself?
Well, yes, and no. Yes, we can all hear the unmistakable echoes. In particular, we can recognize the refusal once again to acknowledge the true nature and extent of a gathering threat, not least among Jews themselves.
But there are certain key differences. Nazi Germany involved a state policy of genocide. Today, European governments may be ineffectual in resisting Islamist extremism or defending their Jewish populations against the broader Jew-hatred coursing through their societies—but this time most of the people of Britain and Europe are passionately opposed to what they also see as a threat to their own way of life from Islamization and the erosion of national boundaries. They are passionately committed to upholding Western values, human rights, and one law for all.
There are three different sources of anti-Semitism in Britain and Europe: on the left, on the right, and in the Muslim community. All these threats to the Jews are connected to one another. All are rooted in threats to Britain and Europe. All are creating a perfect anti-Jewish storm.

The Threat from the Islamic World

The threats to Britain and Europe are coming both from within and without. From without, they are coming from Islamism and Islamization. From within, they are coming from an anti-Western view of the world that also refuses to correctly identify the Islamist threat from without and combat it.
The nature of the Islamist threat takes several forms. There are the constant eruptions of terrorist violence. The vast majority of terror attacks in Britain and Europe is the work of Islamic extremists. Intelligence officials say that 23,000 jihadists who pose some degree of terrorism risk are living in Britain, with 3,000—only!—under investigation or active monitoring.
There’s sexual violence. Britain has lived through grooming and pimping gangs, overwhelmingly composed of men of Pakistani Muslim heritage targeting young white girls as “trash.” Germany and Sweden have seen a huge rise in rape and sexual violence associated with Muslim migrants.
Then there’s the cultural attack, as in the “Trojan Horse” infiltration of schools in Birmingham by Muslim extremists aimed to force them to confirm to Islamic precepts. Similar infiltration of Labour Party constituencies, as attested by one or two brave Labour MPs, aims to force the party to conform to Muslim demands.
Despite all this, the officials governing Britain and Europe refuse to acknowledge that the Islamist threat is based on religious fanaticism—on an interpretation of Islam that although not supported by many Muslims is nevertheless dominant within the Islamic world. Instead, identifying these threats as rooted in Islam is damned as Islamophobic.
Since any criticism of Islam is deemed Islamophobic, there’s a refusal to acknowledge the enormous problem of Muslim anti-Semitism. Yet this is one of the principal drivers of the Islamist threat to the West. Islamist ideologues and jihadists believe that modernity is a threat to Islam that must be eradicated and that the Jews are the demonic creators of modernity. Paranoid conspiracy theories and other deranged falsehoods about Jews pour out of the Islamic world in an unstoppable torrent. Opinion polls consistently show that hatred of Jews is far more prevalent among Muslims than in the wider community. The Muslim British journalist Mehdi Hasan wrote in 2013: “Anti-Semitism isn’t just tolerated in some sections of the British Muslim community; it’s routine and commonplace…. It’s our dirty little secret.”
CST figures suggest that a disproportionate number of Muslims are involved in anti-Jewish attacks. Out of 420 anti-Semitic offenders in 2017 of whom an ethnic description was obtained, 238 were described as white Europeans, 77 as black, 75 as Asian, and 30 as Arab or north African. Muslims are officially estimated to constitute just over 4 percent of Britain’s population. Although it’s not possible to be exact, the proportion of Muslim offenders in the CST figures would seem to be several times more than 4 percent.
It’s apparently Islamophobic to draw attention to these things.
We have to be very careful not to promote true prejudice against Muslims, just as we would be regarding any other group. Many Muslims are opposed to Islamist extremism, and Muslims are most of its victims.
But there is enormous pressure not to acknowledge the threats to life and liberty that are widespread within the Muslim world, including anti-Semitism. Anyone who calls out these threats is denounced as a bigot. But those who issue such denunciations themselves help perpetuate Muslim Jew-hatred.
The reason no one is allowed to talk about Muslim anti-Semitism is the cultural prism through which left-wing progressive circles view the world. And this represents the threat from within.

Anti-West Left-Think

This left-wing prism is responsible for eroding Western values, undermining the defense of Britain and Europe againstjihad, and exposing Jews to attack. These are all connected. You cannot understand the resurgence of paranoid, unhinged anti-Semitism unless you understand that the West has been tearing up the very idea of reason itself along with the moral codes at the heart of Western civilization.
Leftists view the West as the historic and current oppressor of the entire developing world. This Western cultural self-hatred has a complex history, at the root of which lies the erosion of biblical morality by the tides of secularism. But in my view, the key political driver of this cultural demoralization was the Holocaust.
It simply smashed to smithereens Europe’s belief in itself as the exemplar of superior cultural values. The Holocaust was conceived and directed, after all, in the heartlands of high European culture, the supposed crucible of enlightenment and rationality. It wasn’t just the Jews who died in the extermination camps: It was also the West’s (or Europe’s) concept of itself as moral and rational.
Lethally demoralized, Western cultural elites took an axe to the building blocks of their civilization: an axe to education as the transmission of that civilization, an axe to the traditional family as the best way to generate emotionally resilient inheritors of that civilization, and an axe to national identity as the political expression of that civilization.
Policies and laws passed by national governments now had to take second place to transnational institutions, such as the UN and EU, and legal frameworks, such as international human-rights law. With no Western nation or values thought worthy of defending to the death, wars to establish justice and freedom were deemed inferior to conflict resolution, negotiation, and peace processes. Between God and the devil, Western liberals would split the difference and broker a triumphant compromise.
National identity was replaced by factional interest groups. Morality was replaced by a view of the world based on competing power blocs. Biblical morality was replaced by man-made, universalizing ideologies such as moral and cultural relativism or multiculturalism.
Every one of these ideologies was anti-Judaism or anti-Israel. Jews, after all, are always in the way of any universalizing ideology. We are the people of one book alone and of one land alone. We are ha’ivrim, the people from the other side—the people who have always dwelled alone. This is something many diaspora Jews try to deny. It is something our postmodern culture will not accept. And it is something that has helped fuel the madness over Israel.

Israel Obsession

It’s a commonplace that the hatred of Israel on the left was caused by the Israeli David supposedly turning into Goliath. That, though, doesn’t begin to explain it.
Anti-Israelism has exactly the same characteristics that make traditional anti-Semitism a unique derangement. Both are based entirely on falsehoods and malicious distortions; both single out Israel and the Jews for double standards and treatment afforded to no other nation, people, or cause; both accuse Israel or the Jews of crimes of which they are not only innocent but are in fact the victims; both dehumanize Israel or the Jewish people; both impute to Israel or the Jewish people demonic global conspiratorial power; both are utterly beyond reason.
Yet on the left, this connection is vehemently denied. The treatment of Israel is described as mere “criticism” of its behavior. But it isn’t criticism at all. Criticism is rational. This is irrational and malicious demonization and delegitimization of Israel and of Zionism. Zionism is merely the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. This anti-Zionism singles out the Jews alone for the destruction of their nationhood.
The distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is fake. As Ruth Wisse has observed: “Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism〞combined into the modern phenomena of anti-Semitism / Zionism〞can best be described as the organization of politics against the Jews.”

Why Left-Wing Anti-Semitism?

This is the new anti-Semitism. Trying to understand it, however, is like peeling a rotten onion: Beneath every rancid layer lies a yet more rancid layer.
The outer, most visible layer is fairly obvious. The left in general now subscribes to beliefs once considered extreme. It has absorbed the Marxist concept that everything has to be understood in terms of political power. The world is divided into the powerful and the powerless. Those with power can never be good; those without power can never be bad. Those who make money have power over those who don’t make money. Those who make money are bad; those without money are good. Jews make money. Therefore Jews are powerful and bad.
The 19th-century German anti-Semite Wilhelm Marr, who is credited with inventing the term, ascribed to the Jews the attribute of global power. Israel —which isn’t really Western at all—is seen as menacingly powerful. That is its crime, and that is also why anti-Israelism is umbilically connected to anti-Semitism. Even though Jews are now equipped with military power solely to defend themselves against annihilation, this breathes life into the paranoid delusion that the Jews are so powerful that they pose a threat to everyone else.
The next layer of the onion is even more rank. This is that—as the black joke that isn’t a joke at all would have it—the West will never forgive the Jews for the Holocaust. This isn’t just because of the terrible legacy of guilt carried by the West. It is because of jealousy.
What on earth about the Holocaust can provoke such jealousy? It gives the Jews what many in the West perceive as the trump card of victimhood.
I have often heard the Jews accused of sucking up all the victimhood in the world and leaving no room for anyone else to be a victim. What does this nonsensical claim mean? It can only mean that the enormity of the crime against the Jews was so vast that people think any victim status claimed by anyone else is rendered minor by comparison and thus devalued.
But why do these people want to be considered victims in the first place?
It’s because victimization gives them a moral free pass. The belief is that if you are a victim, you can’t be held responsible for your own misdeeds. You can never be a victimizer; you can never be a racist; you can never be a genocidal psychopath.
And so no one in the developing world can ever be a victimizer, a racist, or a genocidal psychopath. They can only ever be the victims of such people. The Palestinian Arabs can only ever be their victims. And as such, the Palestinian Arabs and the rest of the developing world obtain a get-out-of-jail-free card for everything—including genocidal mass murder.
So now every group that doesn’t conform to the left-wing definition of power—deemed to be pale, male, heterosexual, Western—claims victim status and that get-out-of-jail-free card. That’s our victim culture. It now drives all before it. But Jews can’t be victims because, as everyone knows, they emerged from the Holocaust to run the financial world, the media, the law, the arts, American foreign policy. So the Jews are all-powerful, aren’t they?
Yet Jews are in fact the most persecuted people on earth, who even now have to sacrifice their children in Israel to defend themselves year in, year out against genocidal fanatics bent on their extermination. So how can this not be recognized?
And here’s where we peel down to the most sickening layer of the onion. For the real reason for the burning resentment against the Jews over their status as supreme victims is that it’s thought the Holocaust enabled them to get away with it.
Get away with what, exactly? Why, all the stuff that anti-Semites think about the Jews, that they are rapacious and disloyal and grasping and are out to control the world. In other words, such people think these anti-Semitic libels are actually true; but the Jews’ status as ultimate victims has silenced people who can no longer utter them. And that’s resented as unfair.
It is this reaction by anti-Semites to the Holocaust, no less, that has helped create our invidious victim culture. People thought that if the Jews had got a free pass for their misdeeds, then so too could any group that claimed to be victims. The difference, though, is that, while victim groups thus claim impunity for acts of irresponsibility, abuses of power, or other bad behavior, the Jews are by contrast wholly innocent of the crimes that anti-Semites so falsely lay at their door.
Thus, victim culture is innately anti-Jew. But victim culture lies at the very heart of progressive left-wing thinking.
Moreover, support for Palestinianism is also innately anti-Jew. So-called Palestinian identity is a fiction invented to exterminate the uniquely historically and legally valid Jewish claim to the land of Israel. Mahmoud Abbas, viewed by the Western left as a moderate entitled to a state, has a doctorate in Holocaust denial, explicitly venerates the wartime Palestinian Nazi-ally Haj Amin al-Husseini, and uses his media outlets to transmit Nazi-style demonization of the Jews.
In the week of Holocaust Memorial Day, PA TV misrepresented a photograph of concentration-camp victims as Arabs and wrote that Jews burned Arabs in Nazi ovens. Every single person who supports the Palestinian cause connives at promoting this murderous anti-Jewish filth.
So why should Labour Party members who support the Palestinian agenda of Holocaust denial, attacks on Judaism, and unhinged conspiracy theories about Jewish power now be so shocked that other Labour Party members are coming out themselves with Holocaust denial, attacks on Judaism, and unhinged conspiracy theories about Jewish power?

The Left Can’t Admit its Anti-Semitism

The fact is that the new anti-Semitism is a seamless robe of Israel-hatred and Jew-hatred. People deny this because they think of anti-Semitism as only against Jews as people. They can’t recognize it when it’s against the collective Jew in the State of Israel.
Those on the left also believe that they embody virtue so they can’t possibly be anti-Semitic. Only the right can be anti-Jew. This is historically and philosophically illiterate. Both left and right have the same parent in the counter-Enlightenment and German romanticism. This spawned in due course both Communism and Fascism. Karl Marx wrote: “What is the worldly religion of the Jew?\Huckstering. What is his worldly God?\Money.”
Left-wingers, however, are constitutionally unable to accept that they can be racist or anti-Semitic because such an admission would undermine their self-image of unimpeachable moral purity and go right to the root of their entire political and moral personality. So they shelter behind the fiction that hating Israel is decent and moral while hating Jews is beyond the pale. We can hear this self-serving solecism from some who claim to have seen the light about Labour Party anti-Semitism, and who say they now realize they were wrong to blame all Jews for the crimes of Israel.
Anti-Israelism is inescapably anti-Jew. Yet anti-Israelism is the default position in progressive circles. So even if Jeremy Corbyn were deposed tomorrow, anti-Semitism on the British left would not disappear. The symbiosis between hatred of Israel and hatred of Jews is now part of the DNA of the progressive world.

Islamization and Nationalism

Because those progressives believe that anti-Semitism is to be found only on the nationalist right, the very same left-wingers who obsessively anathematize Israel, support its Arab would-be destroyers, and are struck dumb about Muslim anti-Semitism in Europe strike a pose of pious concern about anti-Semitism among European nationalists. Yet although some of those nationalists do have troubling anti-Semitic or fascist overtones, Jews have much more to fear from those they are trying to stop.
A German government study published in January found that male migrants may be responsible for more than 90 percent of a recent increase in violent crime. In Sweden, a leaked report last year revealed that there were now 61 Islamic “no-go zones” where Islamist extremists have taken over. Sweden’s National Police Commissioner, Dan Eliasson, pleaded, “Help us, help us!”—warning that the police could no longer uphold the law.
Across Europe, the entire political establishment has for years connived at or turned a blind eye to the mass immigration of mainly Muslim migrants and the steady march of Islamization—the evidence for which is demonstrated not least by the attempt to criminalize as “Islamophobic” any criticism of the migrants or concern about the resulting erosion of Western culture.
As a result of this political and cultural disenfranchisement, the people of Europe are now turning to parties outside the political establishment that promise an end to uncontrolled mass immigration. For this, such voters are dismissed as bigots and xenophobes. The aggressive or anti-Semitic behavior by many migrants is ignored or denied.
Instead, those who want to stop this influx are themselves demonized as racists and anti-Semites. The president of the European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor, says: “Right-wing populist parties are resorting to both anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant discourse to gather political support.”
Now, there’s no doubt that there is an enduring strand of virulent, indigenous anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe. Research suggests that almost one in five Hungarians openly demands the emigration of the Jews. In Poland, the government is intent upon denying its anti-Semitic past. A new law criminalizes anyone who accuses Poland of having been complicit in the Holocaust. (As it happens, I have written a novel, The Legacy, which has just been published and which deals with this very issue—and which even features a walk-on role for the Simon Wiesenthal Foundation.)
Those who deny their anti-Semitism are doomed to repeat it. So it is in Poland. Anti-Semitic outbursts in the Polish media and among politicians have significantly increased since the law’s passage last February, with wild claims of Jewish conspiracies and comparisons of Jews to animals.
So traditional, old-style Jew-hatred is unfortunately still very prevalent in countries with a terrible history of persecuting the Jews. Some of the new ultra-nationalist parties coming to the fore in Europe, such as the Austrian Freedom Party, Golden Dawn in Greece, or Jobbik in Hungary, are openly anti-Semitic or have Nazi pasts. Others, though, merely want to restore and defend national identity, democratic national sovereignty, and Western cultural norms and practices against creeping Islamization. Yet all parties committed to the defense of Western cultural norms and national identity in Europe are being equally damned as racist, anti-Semitic, and Islamophobic.

British Jews

In Britain, the government’s failure to identify correctly and tackle Islamist extremism is turning the Jewish community into collateral damage. The refusal to acknowledge that the problem of Islamist extremism is particular to Muslim culture—although many Muslims are opposed to such extremism—has meant that the government strategy for dealing with it involves imposing equal restrictions on all religious practices it believes lie outside the liberal consensus, such as the refusal to teach sexuality in ultra-orthodox Jewish schools.Throughout Europe there are growing pressures to ban circumcision and ritual slaughter. This liberal secular intolerance poses a real threat to religious Jewish life.
British Jews themselves, however, are also reluctant to call out Muslim extremism. Recently the chief rabbi, Efraim Mirvis, broke cover to complain that Muslim leaders were silent in the fight against rising anti-Semitism. “The threat to Judaism and Jews from the world of Islam is one which can only be cured from within the world of Islam,” he said. Quite right. But Jewish leaders themselves urged the British government under Prime Minister David Cameron (to his astonishment and irritation) to admit many more Muslim migrants; and they appear more anxious to make common cause against Islamophobia and xenophobia than to bring the full extent and nature of Muslim anti-Semitism into the open.
More dangerous still, Jews on the left who promote multiculturalism and campaign loudly against Islamophobia are themselves helping to stoke anti-Semitism. People who are angry and resentful at the way mass immigration is destroying their national identity bitterly resent being told by Diaspora Jews who have their own potential refuge in Israel that it’s racist to oppose multiculturalism. Not only is it dangerous for Jews to oppose Europeans’ pursuit of their own national identity. It’s morally wrong. We Jews have ours. Why can’t they have theirs?
In Britain, most Jews voted against Brexit. They are frightened by assertions of national identity. They think it leads to nationalism, and that means anti-Semitism. They think Europe protects against anti-Semitism and that Brexit is motivated by nationalism. Haven’t they noticed that the rise of the ethno-nationalist groups in Europe that frighten them so much has taken place under rule by, and precisely because of, the EU?
Jews are protected only when a culture feels confident and strong. Which is why, in fact, Brexit offers a sliver of hope.The revival of British national identity may, over time, see off group rights and identity politics. Greater cultural and national confidence should mean more tolerance of Jews, not less.

The Lost Soul of Europe

Why is anti-Semitism on the rise in the West? Broadly because the West is in trouble. And a society in trouble always turns on the Jews. So much general hatred and irrationality now course through the West. Anti-Semitism, though, is not just a prejudice or a species of bigotry or hatred. It’s much more than that. It represents a kind of moral and spiritual death.
Europe lost its soul in the Shoah: the soul that was created by Jewish biblical precepts. Turning against itself, Europe has turned on the Jews.
Without its Christian base, the West is nothing. But Christianity in Britain and Europe lost its way a long time ago. Losing their faith, many Christian churches turned instead to social and political activism, liberation theology, and the radical Marxist analysis of the World Council of Churches. Those progressive churches have denied their Jewish parent. Embracing instead their Islamist assassin in the misguided hope of saving their flock, they are in the forefront of the charge against Israel. In the process, they are destroying themselves. But a society without a religious core rests on sand.
Many Jews, especially those on the left, see no problem with mass Muslim immigration except for Islamophobia. Such Jews are either indifferent to Israel or they believe many of the lies told about it. Indeed, tragically, many of the leaders of the new anti-Semitism are themselves Jews.
For all these members of the tribe, the idea that it may be time for the Jews to leave Britain is no more than paranoid hysteria. For other British Jews, though, the current situation is deeply, profoundly upsetting and lowering. The anti-Semitism is bad enough. But it’s not just the anti-Semitism that’s so devastating. It’s the reaction to those who call it out for what it is.
The same people who claim to see anti-Semitism in European populism or the political base of Donald Trump regularly accuse Jews of claiming anti-Semitism just to “sanitize the crimes of Israel” or “bring down Jeremy Corbyn.”
This reaction is worse, far worse, than the anti-Semitism itself. It’s worse even than indifference. For it imputes to the Jews malicious intent in claiming that Jewish people are being maliciously targeted. It says they are lying. It blames the Jews for their own victimization.
This reaction is the inescapable evidence that the Jews are being abandoned. Those of us who have loved Britain for its gentleness, its tolerance, its decency, its stoicism, its reasonableness, and the dampness of both its weather and national temperament feel as if we have been orphaned. But maybe we were living all along in a fool’s paradise.
Some people think Europe is over, that the demographics are against it and that it will become a majority-Muslim culture in a few decades. My guess is that Europe won’t go down without a fight. If that happens, the Jews are likely to get it in the neck from all sides. Whichever way it goes, it’s not a pleasant prospect.
So is it time to leave? It’s very personal, and I wouldn’t presume to advise anyone what to do. I can only speak for myself and say that for some years now, I’ve been spending a great deal of my time in Israel. Because even with 150,000 Hezbollah rockets pointing at us from Lebanon, even with Hamas trying every day to murder us, and even with Iran working toward its genocide bomb to wipe us out, Israel is where I feel so much safer and the air is so much sweeter, and it’s where Jews are not on their knees and where no one will ever make me feel I am not entitled to live and don’t properly belong.
Israel is where we have astonishingly renewed ourselves as a nation out of the ashes of the Shoah. Israel is where all those who want us gone meet their nemesis in the political realization of the eternal people. Israel is the ultimate, and ultimately the only, definitive and triumphant repudiation of anti-Semitism and the true vindication of the millions of us who perished in the unspeakable events that we memorialize on Holocaust Memorial Day.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Watch This Space

I really will write about the current situation, although you could probably go back to the earliest posts of this blog from 2006 and note that the more things change the more they stay the same, but I've been very busy with my new, and colicky, grandson.  Feeding him tends to take at least 2 of the three hours before we have to begin all over again, and my daughter is just a tad tired these days.

I promise I will soon bring the blog up to date!

A Page of "Talmud" -- Hilchot Xmas

This has been sitting in my files ever since 2002. I post it, completely at the wrong time of year, because a good laugh never hurt anyone.  [Explaining all the allusions would take forever, so I expect non-Jewish readers to be somewhat baffled in places.  However, the Jews reading this ought to have no problem.  If you do, you need to enroll in a Jewish studies program --Antigonos]

Have you ever wondered what Xmas would be like if it were a Jewish Holiday?.... Please note: We hope that our readers understand that as a religious holiday, Christmas is totally incompatible with Judaism, and the very thought of it being a Jewish holiday is ludicrous. Therefore, we have avoided all references to the religious aspects of the holiday, and tried to focus only on those aspects which have pervaded American culture. Our intention has been to provide a good-natured, humorous parody, to use those cultural aspects of Christmas to illustrate some of the methodology and details of Jewish law. It is a very fine line we are treading, but we hope that we have insulted neither the Torah, nor our Christian friends.
 √£1998 Akiva and Ilene Miller. Permission is granted to copy and recirculate, but only for free, and only if we get the credit (or blame!)

 LAWS OF XMAS (version 2.1)
 Letter of Approbation from the Kringler Rav {I omit a long letter in Hebrew -- Antigonos]

 1. PREPARING FOR XMAS
 1. PREPARATIONS FOR XMAS MUST NOT BEGIN1 BEFORE2 THANKSGIVING.3 THIS APPLIES TO PREPARATIONS WHICH AFFECT THE HOLIDAY MOOD, 4 BUT NOT THOSE WHICH ARE DONE IN PRIVATE. 5
   1 This contrasts sharply with Shabbos, for the mitzva of honoring Shabbos applies all week long. For example, if one finds a particularly good food during the week, one should save it for Shabbos even though it is now only Sunday and Shabbos is a week away. However, Xmas preparations may not begin too far in advance, in order to fulfill the dictum, "It's beginning to look a lot like Xmas."
   2This is because of the principle that two festive occasions should not be mixed into each other. Note the decree of the great R.H. Macy, who established that Santa Claus may not appear in the Thanksgiving Day parade until after all the other floats have passed.
   3 There are some who begin preparing for Xmas as early as Halloween. This is wrong, and they will be called upon to account for their evil ways.
   4 Such as setting up the Xmas tree (some say even buying one,) or playing holiday music on the Muzak.
    5 Such as buying gifts or buying the Xmas dinner turkey. Cooking the turkey may not be done before Thanksgiving because it will appear to be a Thanksgiving turkey.
2. SOME HOLD THAT THE TREE SHOULD BE DECORATED IMMEDIATELY AFTER THANKSGIVING,6 BUT OTHERS PREFER TO DECORATE IT AS CLOSE TO XMAS AS POSSIBLE.7
   6 For the mitzva of "adding to the yom tov" by beginning the Xmas season early.
    7 As it is said, "Do not put off for tomorrow, that which can be put off for the day after tomorrow."

 2. THE TREE 1. ANY SPECIES OF TREE IS KOSHER FOR USE AS A XMAS TREE, PROVIDED THAT IT HAS NEEDLES AND NOT LEAVES. IN OUR LANDS IT IS CUSTOMARY TO USE A FIR TREE.8 IT SHOULD BE REASONABLY FRESH, BUT NOT TOO FRESH, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PRINCIPLE "A XMAS TREE WITH NO FALLEN NEEDLES IS LIKE A SUKKAH WITH NO BUZZING BEES." 8 If the lady of the house already has a fur, then any evergreen may be used. 2. THE TREE SHOULD BE CHOPPED DOWN SPECIFICALLY FOR USE AS A XMAS TREE; IF IT HAD BEEN CUT FOR LUMBER IT IS INVALID. IF THE TREE WAS CUT FOR GENERAL DECORATIVE PURPOSES, BUT NOT SPECIFICALLY AS A XMAS TREE, SOME AUTHORITIES ALLOW IT WHILE OTHERS ARE STRICT. A STOLEN TREE IS NOT VALID FOR THE MITZVAH.9 FORTUNATE IS ONE WHO IS ABLE TO CHOP HIS OWN TREE HIMSELF.10 9 One who cuts his own tree must make sure that he has permission from the landowner to do so. Ideally, cut only from one's own backyard. A tree taken from a reshus harabim, such as the county park (which is actually a carmelis, not a reshus harabim,) is considered as stolen and invalid. 10 One who is unable to cut his own tree should make sure to purchase it from a reputable dealer, or one who is certified by a national kashrus organization.

 3. DURING THE SHMITTA YEAR, A JEW MAY NOT CUT THE TREE DOWN, BUT IT SHOULD BE DONE BY A GENTILE. HOWEVER, SINCE THE TREE IS INEDIBLE, THE PROBLEMS OF "KEDUSHAS SHVIIS" WHICH APPLY TO THE ESROG DO NOT APPLY TO THE XMAS TREE. 4. THE TREE MUST BE BRIGHT GREEN. BRIGHT RED, or a mixture of green and red, IS ALSO ACCEPTABLE FOR A XMAS TREE,11 BUT BROWN IS NOT. THERE MAY BE ONE BROWN SPOT NEAR THE BOTTOM OF THE TREE,12 BUT IN THE TOP HALF OF THE TREE, EVEN ONE BROWN SPOT WILL INVALIDATE THE TREE. A TRULY PIOUS PERSON WILL MAKE SURE TO BRING ALONG A XMAS TREE EXPERT WHEN HE GOES TO LOOK FOR HIS TREE.13 11 Because such trees do not grow red naturally, many Sefaradim adorn the tree with red poinsettia flowers. Ashkenazim prefer poinsettas. 12 Or even two, provided they are on opposite sides so they cannot be both seen at the same time. 13 But it is more macho to pretend to be an expert and pick the tree out himself. 5. THE REQUIRED HEIGHT OF THE TREE IS SUBJECT TO MANY RULES. AN INDOOR TREE MUST BE TALL ENOUGH SO THAT IT REACHES WITHIN 3 HANDBREADTHS OF THE CEILING.14 AN OUTDOOR TREE MUST BE AT LEAST 20 CUBITS TALL. 14 Where local fire codes prohibit the use of such large trees, a smaller tree - even a bonsai - may be used, provided it has toy people around it who will make it appear tall.

6. THE LAW IS "ETZ ISH U'BEITO" - "ONE TREE FOR A MAN AND HIS HOME". THIS TEACHES THAT INDIVIDUALS MUST HAVE A XMAS TREE AT THEIR HOME, AND THAT THE MAIN FUNCTION OF THE TREE IS FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE FAMILY, but public places are exempt. IF ONE WISHES TO PLACE HIS PERSONAL TREE IN A PUBLIC LOCATION HE MAY DO SO, BUT HE WILL NOT HAVE FULFILLED HIS OBLIGATION UNLESS IT IS TRULY SEEN BY THE PUBLIC. IN THIS CASE, "SEEN BY THE PUBLIC" MEANS THAT THE TREE IS LARGE ENOUGH THAT IT IS SHOWN ON THE LOCAL TV NEWS REPORTS.15
   15 This is the origin of the custom of the great tree in Rockefeller Center, where a shaliach from Lubavitch lights the tree just before sunset on Erev Xmas, and is then returned to Crown Heights by an NYPD helicopter in time for the dinner meal.

 7. IN RECENT YEARS, THERE HAS BEEN A GREAT CONTROVERSY OVER THE USE OF MANUFACTURED TREES. IN THEORY, SOME HOLD THEY ARE INVALID,16 WHILE OTHER AUTHORITIES HOLD THEY ARE VALID.17 IN PRACTICE, HOWEVER, EVEN THE LENIENT OPINIONS HOLD THAT ARTIFICIAL TREES ARE TOO TACKY, AND THUS VIOLATE THE PRINCIPLE OF "HADAR". But if one has already met his obligation by displaying at least one kosher Xmas tree, he may have additional trees of any kind, natural or not.18 16 Based on the verse "Etz chayim hee" ("A tree is alive"), teaching that even if it looks like a tree, it still cannot be a tree unless it was alive at some point. 17 Based on the verse "Etz chayim hee" ("It is a tree of life"), teaching that some trees have life, and others do not necessarily have life. 18 Similarly, manufactured trees are acceptable in malls, offices, and other exempt public places.

8. ORIGINALLY, THE LAW WAS THAT THE TREE MUST BE DISPLAYED SO THAT IT WOULD BE VISIBLE TO PASSERS-BY OUTSIDE THE HOME. OVER THE CENTURIES, AS PERSECUTIONS INCREASED, THE PEOPLE INSIDE THE HOME BECAME THE MAIN AUDIENCE. EVEN SO, IT SHOULD BE DISPLAYED IN A PROMINENT AREA OF THE HOUSE, TO SHOW RESPECT FOR THIS MITZVAH. WHEN POSSIBLE, IT SHOULD PREFERABLY BE BY A WINDOW WHERE IT COULD BE VIEWED FROM THE STREET, TO CONTINUE THE ORIGINAL PRACTICE. 3. DECORATING THE TREE 1. AS WITH ALL MITZVOS, THE TREE SHOULD BE TASTEFULLY19 DECORATED. POPCORN TASTES EXCELLENT, AND SOME STRING POPCORN TOGETHER (WITH NEEDLE AND THREAD)20 TO MAKE LONG CHAINS WHICH ARE WRAPPED AROUND THE TREE. 19 In order to keep children actively interested and participating in all the goings-on, "tasteful" is defined by the youngest person in the household. This generally results in displaying all sorts of holiday projects in school, no matter how tacky or amateurishly done, giving great prominence to "artwork" which is normally allowed nowhere but the refrigerator door. 20 To remind us of the verse, "We're all connected." (Nynex)

 2. THE MAIN DECORATION FOR THE TREE IS STRINGS21 OF COLORED22 LIGHTS. The circuitry of the lights is arranged with parallel23 wires, not in serial. A certified24 electrician should inspect each set of lights. 21 The numerical value of the word "orot" (lights) is 613, similar to the value of the word "tzitzit". 22 The lights may be of 5 colors (corresponding to the knots in each tzitzit) or of 8 colors (corresponding to the 8 strings in each tzitzit). Where these combinations are unavailable, all the lights must be white. (Some use all white lights, with each eighth light being blue.) 23 Just as the eight strings of the tzitzis are tied in two parallel groups of four strings to help keep them kosher in the event a string breaks, similarly, arranging the lights in parallel will keep the other lights lit even if one light goes out. 24 By mutual consent, certification of Xmas lights is handled not by the OU but by the UL.

 3. ADDITIONAL LIGHTS ARE SET UP AROUND THE OUTSIDE OF THE HOME,25 EACH ACCORDING TO HIS OWN ABILITY. THE MORE LIGHTS and other decorations26 ONE SETS UP, THE MORE PRAISEWORTHY HE IS. 25 The minimum which one should strive for is the outline of one window which faces the street, and this is sufficient for apartment dwellers. 26 Those who have a front yard or lawn put all sorts of decorations up, whether lit by lights or not. Some say that if a snowman was built before Xmas, and by New Year's it still has not melted, it is a sign of blessing for the home for the coming year.

4. THE LIGHTS MUST STAY LIT27 UNTIL28 MOST PEOPLE CAN BE PRESUMED TO BE IN BED29 OR ASLEEP. 27 One may use a timer to turn the lights off each night automatically, but not on Shabbos. Because of the public nature of the lights, they must stay lit lest anyone think that they were turned off manually, which would be a violation of the holy Shabbos. 28 11:35 pm Eastern, 10:35 Central/Mountain time. 29 Watching Leno or Letterman.

 5. TREE DECORATIONS ARE CONSIDERED "MUKTZA L'MITZVASA", "SET ASIDE FOR ITS MITZVAH", AND MAY NOT BE USED FOR ANY PERSONAL USE UNTIL AFTER XMAS IS OVER.30 FOR EXAMPLE, EDIBLE DECORATIONS MAY NOT BE EATEN UNTIL AFTER XMAS. SIMILARLY, SINCE THEY MAY NOT BE USED FOR PERSONAL USE, ANY DECORATIONS WHICH FALL FROM THE TREE ON SHABBOS OR ON YOM TOV MAY NOT BE REPLACED31 UNTIL AFTER SHABBOS OR YOM TOV. 30 See Siman 9 below for opinons regarding when Xmas actually ends. 31 Or even handled.

6. IF THE LIGHTS WERE NOT32 PUT AWAY AFTER XMAS, THEN IN THE FOLLOWING YEAR EACH33 BULB MUST BE REMOVED34 FROM THE WIRING AND REATTACHED. 32 But if they were put away properly, then the act of restringing them the following year suffices for the mitzva. It is only where they stayed up all year that the lights must be renewed by removing and reattaching them. 33 If is enough if this is done for the majority of bulbs. 34 The bulb does not need to be totally removed, but it is adequate if the bulb is so loose that the electricity will not flow to it to light it.

 4. GIFTS 1. ONE IS OBLIGATED TO BUY PRESENTS, REGARDLESS OF HIS INCOME LEVEL, FOR EVERY PERSON THAT HE HAS EVER SPOKEN TO IN HIS ENTIRE LIFE and their immediate family members. ONE MAY GO INTO SERIOUS DEBT IN ORDER TO CARRY OUT THIS MITZVAH. PRESENTS MAY BE EXCHANGED AT ANY CONVENIENT TIME DURING DECEMBER UP UNTIL THE 25TH. 2. REGARDING A CHILD WHOSE BIRTHDAY OCCURS ON OR AROUND XMAS, SOME SAY TO GIVE HIM A DOUBLE PORTION OF GIFTS,35 AND OTHERS SAY TO GIVE HIM A SINGLE PORTION.36 SOME RESOLVE THIS BY GETTING HIM A NORMAL NUMBER OF GIFTS, BUT THEY WOULD BE DOUBLE IN SIZE OR VALUE.37 35 Which may cause others to feel cheated. 36 Which will surely cause him to feel cheated. 37 Another idea has been to celebrate "Xmas in August". See Rabbi Edward's opinion below, in section 9:2.

 5. THE OFFICE PARTY 1. "WHEN DECEMBER ARRIVES, OFFICE PRODUCTIVITY DECREASES."38 BEGINNING AT 9:00 AM ON THE MONDAY PRIOR TO XMAS, ALL REAL OFFICE WORK STOPS.39 IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN THE ILLUSION OF DOING REAL WORK, EMPLOYEES BUSY THEMSELVES WITH TASKS SUCH AS THE COMPANY NEWSLETTER, OR PLANNING THE OFFICE "HOLIDAY PARTY". 38 As it is said, "It's a slow time of year." 39 When that Monday is Erev Xmas itself, this work stoppage is moved up to the preceding Monday.

2. IT IS A REQUIREMENT THAT ALL COMPANIES CONDUCT AN ANNUAL "HOLIDAY PARTY" EACH YEAR. THIS HAD BEEN CALLED A "XMAS PARTY" UNTIL 1972, WHEN THE SUPREME COURT RULED IT TO BE A DISCRIMINATORY NAME. THE TERM "HOLIDAY PARTY" WAS ENACTED SO THAT NATIVE AMERICANS, ASIANS, AND MUSLIMS40 WILL ALL FEEL EQUALLY UN-AMERICAN. 40 When Ramadan is not in December. 3. THE "HOLIDAY PARTY", IN ORDER TO BE DONE PROPERLY, REQUIRES A GREAT DEAL OF RITUAL DRINKING AND DEBAUCHERY. "AD'LOYADA" - ONE MUST DRINK AND CONTINUE DRINKING UP TO41 THE POINT HE CANNOT TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HIS FAT DUMPY WIFE AND HIS GORGEOUS 22 YEAR-OLD BLOND SECRETARY.42 41 In this case, "up to" means "ad v'lo ad b'clal" - "up to but NOT including" the point when he cannot tell the difference. Once one has reached this point he is excused from further drinking. See next note for more details. 42 The example above presumes that he is a male, and his secretary is a female. However, if his secretary is male, and he has reached the point where he cannot tell the difference between his fat dumpy wife and his handsome 22 year-old blond male secretary, then he is forbidden to drink any more alcohol until Purim.

4. ALL BANKS AND OFFICES MUST CLOSE AT NOON43 ON THE 24TH OF DECEMBER SO THAT EVERYONE MAY BE ABLE TO GET HOME IN TIME TO TAKE CARE OF THE LAST MINUTE PREPARATIONS. 43 Retail establishments remain open until 4 PM on Erev Xmas, and restaurants a bit later. There is a popular saying that "Denny's never closes," leading many people to ask, "So why are there locks on the doors?" The answer is that until recently, Denny's restaurants had been non Xmas-observant, and in fact did not have locks on the doors. Locks were installed only a few years ago when Denny's became Xmas-observant and began closing for the holiday.

 6. THE FESTIVE MEAL 1. IN THE EVENING, AFTER THREE STARS APPEAR IN THE SKY, THE FAMILY GATHERS TOGETHER FOR THE EREV XMAS MEAL. THERE ARE VARIOUS OPINIONS AS TO WHAT IS TO BE EATEN AT THIS MEAL. ONLY FISH IS TO BE EATEN AT THE EREV XMAS MEAL.44 In our lands, the custom is to eat 12 fishes45 at this meal corresponding to the 12 days of Xmas. 44 When Erev Xmas is on Friday, and the dinner coincides with the first Shabbos meal, only gefilte fish may be used. 45 Even on Shabbos, one can easily reach 12 different kinds of gefilte fish: How can we show that four different fishes can make twelve different dishes? Because we ate four different fishes in Egypt, (whitefish, pike, carp, and whitefish-pike,) but we are now able to buy them three different ways. We can buy them ready-to-eat in jars, frozen in loaves, or ground raw at the fish store. Now, it follows that if there were four different species made three different ways, then there are 12 different gefilte fishes. How can we show that each of the twelve fishes is actually eight dishes? Because they can be made with or without salt, with or without sugar, and with or without matzo meal, and there are eight combinations of those three options. Thus, if there are twelve fishes that can be prepared eight ways, then there are a total of 96 dishes! How can we show that each of the twelve fishes is actually sixteen dishes? Because each of the eight recipes can be made either cooked or baked. Thus, if there are twelve fishes that can be prepared sixteen ways, then there are a total of 192 dishes!

 2. ONCE THE MEAL IS COMPLETE, THE FAMILY GATHERS IN THE ROOM WITH THE TREE WHERE THEY SING ZEMIROS AND DRINK EGGNOG.46 AT MIDNIGHT THE FAMILY HEADS TO SHUL FOR TIKKUN CHATZOS. Some say that Tikkun Chatzos can be said as early as 8:00 PM,47 but it is good to be stringent on oneself. 46 Eggnog being a milchig drink, some hold that this is the real reason for eating fish instead of meat. 47 So that the children will be awake.

 7. SANTA CLAUS 1. FOR MANY YEARS, THE EXISTENCE OF SANTA CLAUS WAS A SUBJECT OF INTENSE DISPUTE IN THE ADULT COMMUNITY. IN 1897, A TEAM OF INVESTIGATIVE REPORTERS WAS COMMISSIONED BY ONE VIRGINIA O'HANLON TO RESOLVE THE QUESTION. THEIR FINDINGS CONCLUDED "YES, VIRGINIA, THERE IS A SANTA CLAUS."48 THIS WAS REAFFIRMED SEVERAL DECADES LATER IN A COURT CASE BROUGHT IN NEW YORK COUNTY SUPREME COURT.49 48 New York Sun, September 21, 1897. (not in December as one might think) 49 Testimony from the United States Post Office proved to be crucial in deciding this case, as documented in Miracle on 34th Street, 1947.

 2. IT IS ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN TO LIGHT ANY KIND OF FIRE IN THE FIREPLACE ON THIS EVENING.50 THOSE WHO WANT TO ROAST CHESTNUTS ON AN OPEN FIRE SHOULD USE A BARBECUE. 50 DUH! (But see also below, note 39) 3. TO DEMONSTRATE OUR FAITH51 IN SANTA, EACH YEAR WE LEAVE HIM A PLATE OF DONUTS OR COOKIES ON A TABLE NEAR THE TREE, WITH A GLASS OF MILK TO DRINK. SOON AFTER THIS PRACTICE BEGAN, CHILDREN BEGAN TO QUESTION WHY THE MILK WAS STILL ON THE TABLE THE FOLLOWING MORNING, SO THEIR PARENTS ADOPTED THE CUSTOM OF DRINKING THE MILK AFTER THE CHILDREN WENT TO BED. HOWEVER, JUST THREE YEARS AGO,52 WHILE DELIVERING HIS GIFTS, SANTA ACCIDENTALLY REVEALED TO A YOUNG GIRL THAT HE SUFFERED FROM LACTOSE INTOLERANCE, AND THAT THIS IS WHY THE MILK HAD BEEN LEFT UNDRUNK ALL THOSE YEARS. THE FOLLOWING YEAR, SHE LEFT HIM A GLASS OF PAREVE SOYBEAN "MILK", AND THIS PRACTICE HAS SPREAD FAR AND WIDE SINCE THEN. (IN COMMUNITIES WHICH ACCEPT THE USE OF GOVERNMENT SUPERVISED MILK IN LIEU OF RABBINIC CHOLOV YISROEL, LACTAID™ MILK IS USED INSTEAD.) 51 "I believe with complete faith that he knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake." Ani Maamin #11, daily siddur. 52 The Santa Clause, by Tim Allen, produced by Walter Disney, 1994. This film also showed Santa's new fire-resistant suit which was developed just that year. Nevertheless, the principle is that a protective measure is not abandoned even if the reason no longer exists, and so the ban on lighting fireplace fires remains in full force.

 8. OTHER CUSTOMS 
 1. ONE IS TO RISE EARLY ON THE MORNING OF THE 25TH IN ORDER TO OPEN THE PRESENTS. THERE IS A RITUAL MEAL WHICH MUST BE COMPLETED BEFORE SUNSET. 2. MEAT AND WINE MUST BE SERVED AT THIS MEAL. LOTS ARE DRAWN TO CHOOSE A DESIGNATED DRIVER WHO MAY NOT HAVE ANY WINE. 3. THE MEAT MAY ONLY BE ROASTED. ONE MAY NOT EAT ANY BOILED OR BROILED MEAT AT THIS MEAL. 4. AFTER THE MEAL, MANY HAVE THE CUSTOM TO RETIRE TO THE FAMILY ROOM TO WATCH SPORTS ON T.V. 5. KIDDUSH IS NOT RECITED ON XMAS, BUT HOLLY IS REQUIRED. 9. HAVDALA 1. THERE ARE MANY OPINIONS REGARDING WHEN THE XMAS SEASON IS OVER.53 SOME HOLD THAT XMAS IS OVER WHEN THE LAST ITEM IN THE AFTER-XMAS SALE HAS BEEN SOLD. OTHERS ARE STRICT AND HOLD THAT XMAS IS OVER IMMEDIATELY AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE FOOTBALL GAME. The last opinion is the main one. 53

 Many are confused by the term "twelve days of Xmas", implying that the Xmas continues until and including January 5. Today, this view is accepted only by the Eastern Orthodox, who hold that December 26 through January 5 constitute Chol Hamoed Xmas. This view is opposed by both the Modern Orthodox and the Ultra Orthodox (and even the Non Orthodox) who hold that Xmas is only one day long, and any context which seems otherwise actually refers to the Xmas season.

 2. WALLED CITES CONTINUE XMAS UNTIL THE END OF THE WINNING TEAM'S TICKER-TAPE PARADE. A RECENT AUTHORITY, RABBI EDWARD, CELEBRATED XMAS IN AUGUST. For this he became known as "Crazy Eddie".

 HAGADA FOR XMAS
 This is the fruitcake of our affliction, which our ancestors baked 400 years ago. All who are in need, come and celebrate Xmas with us. All who are hungry, come and partake of this 400-year-old fruitcake, as it is written, "Let them eat cake!" This year we watch football in the living room, next year may the Super Bowl come to our city! Some have the custom to place the gift-wrapped presents under the tree so that they will pique the curiosity of the children so that they will ask the Four essential questions: How come I have presents and Santa Claus didn't come yet? Why do we drive on the parkway and park in the driveway? How much is that gorilla in the window? Why did the chicken cross the road? We were slaves to our employers, working seven days a week with no benefits, and then the Unions were organized, and decreed a five-day workweek and many holidays in the end of the year. Now if the Unions had not gotten their act together, then we, and our sons, and even our grandsons, would still have to work on Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Xmas, and New Years. But our daughters and granddaughters still await their salvation.

 There are four types of children who ask questions on Xmas: the wise one, the bad one, the simple one, and the one who does not know to ask. - What does the wise one ask? I don't know; I couldn't understand him either. Him you must send to a school for gifted children. - What does the bad one ask? He says, "What is this holiday to you?" Because he excludes himself from the community, you must exclude him from your table, and he will go back to his employer and get paid double-time and a half for working on Xmas day. - What does the simple one ask? He simply asks, "What is this?" You will say to him, "This is dinner." - As for the one who does not know to ask, you must go to his room, wake him up and say, "Next year, come to dinner on time!"

 If we would have a beautiful tree, but not have stockings hanging from the fireplace, it would have been enough. If we would have stockings hanging from the fireplace, but not get today off from work, it would have been enough. If we would get today off from work, and not get off on Erev Xmas as well, it would have been enough. If we would get off on Erev Xmas as well, but not get presents, it would have been enough. If we would get presents, but not a delicious dinner, it would have been enough. If we would have a delicious dinner and no dessert, it would have been enough. If we would have dessert, but not watch the football game, it would have been enough. If we would watch the football game, but not see our team win, it would have been enough. If we would see our team win, and have a hangover the next morning, it would have been enough. (Pick up the eggnog and say:) But we do have a beautiful tree, and we have stockings hanging from the fireplace, and we got today off from work, and we got off on Erev Xmas as well, and we got presents, a delicious dinner, and dessert, and we watched the football game, and saw our team win, and so we will now toast our team, and pray that we do not get a hangover tomorrow morning: "Yay team!" Next year is Purim!

ZEMIROS Who knows one? I know one! One is a partridge in a pear tree. Who knows two? I know two! Two are the turtledoves, and One is a partridge in a pear tree. Who knows three? I know three! Three are the French hens! Two are the turtledoves, and One is a partridge in a pear tree. ... ... Who knows four? I know four! Four are the calling birds! ... Who knows five? I know five! Five are the gold rings! ... Who knows six? I know six! Six are the geese a-laying! ... Who knows seven? I know seven! Seven are the swans a-swimming! ... Who knows eight? I know eight! Eight are the maids a-milking! ... Who knows nine? I know nine! Nine are the drummers drumming! ... Who knows ten? I know ten! Ten are the pipers piping! ... Who knows eleven! I know eleven! Eleven are the ladies dancing! ... Who knows twelve? I know twelve! Twelve are the lords a-leaping! Eleven are the ladies dancing Ten are the pipers piping Nine are the drummers drumming Eight are the maids a-milking Seven are the swans a-swimming Six are the geese a-laying Five are the gold rings Four are the calling birds Three are the French hens Two are the turtle doves and One is a partridge in a pear tree. -------------------

 One little reindeer, one little reindeer, My father bought for two zuzim. One little reindeer, one little reindeer. Then came a cat and ate the reindeer My father bought for two zuzim. One little reindeer, one little reindeer. Then came a dog and bit the cat, That ate the reindeer, My father bought for two zuzim. One little reindeer, one little reindeer. Then came a stick and beat the dog, That bit the cat that ate the reindeer My father bought for two zuzim. One little reindeer, one little reindeer. Then came a fire and burned the stick, ... Then came the water and quenched the fire, ... Then came an ox and drank the water, ... Then came a shochet and slaughtered the ox, ... Then came the angel of death and killed the shochet, ... Then He came and slew the angel of death, That killed the shochet that slaughtered the ox That drank the water that quenched the fire That burned the stick that beat the dog That bit the cat that ate the reindeer My father bought for two zuzim. One little reindeer, one little reindeer.

APPENDIX The authors are proud to have been students of Yeshivat Ohr Somayach (Akiva in 1976-80) and Neve Yerushalayim (Ilene in 1979-80) in Jerusalem, Israel. Akiva has written and published some serious Torah on the Internet over the past few years, but it has not gotten the wide and speedy distribution enjoyed by "The Laws of Xmas." (The reason for this is simple: The Guinness Book of World Records used to list "lashon hara" under the heading "fastest known form of communication", but this changed in 1996 when "funny e-mails" moved into first place.)