What’s your opinion of Jews eating Turkey on Thanksgiving?
What’s my opinion of Jews going to church on Thanksgiving? I consulted three encyclopedias – they weren’t written by Gedolei Yisroel but they weren’t written by kana’im either. They were written by goyim. And each one states as follows: “Thanksgiving is a church holiday.” Forget about it being a legal holiday; forget about it being an American holiday. It’s a church holiday! And it’s made for the purpose of going to church and holding services.
Now, when Jews say, “Well what’s wrong with us doing it? We’re not going to the church?” you have to know that in the Torah it says that if you’ll say איכה יעבדו הגוים ההם את אלוהיהם ואעשה כן גם אני – How do these nations serve their gods and let me do likewise. So the Gemara says it doesn’t mean likewise to serve idols. Likewise means to serve Him — just that we’ll serve Him the way they serve their gods. Oh no! That’s forbidden.
We should serve Hashem like they do?! To hold Thanksgiving services, that’s abizraiyhu d’avodah zarah, it’s something like avodah zarah. And therefore any symbol of that day, like eating turkey, is abizraiyhu d’avodah zarah. And a person should do everything in his power to avoid such things. The fact that in America you have butchers or restaurants that sell and serve turkey on Thanksgiving, kosher turkey on Thanksgiving, or even modern Orthodox rabbis that give a hechsher on eating turkey and celebrating Thanksgiving, they are the victims of ignorance.
Even an old talmid chochom, an old Gadol; he doesn’t know what Thanksgiving is all about so when the questions comes to him he asks his grandchild, “Vus is dus Thanksgiving?” “What is it?” the gadol asks his grandson. So his grandson tells him, “It’s nothing Zeideh; it’s just an American holiday.” So the old Gadol says in the teshuva, “What do you want? It’s nothing.” Er lacht zich ois. This old Gadol lacht zich ois on Thanksgiving. This old Gadol knows about Thanksgiving like I know about Chinese holidays.
How does this old Gadol know about Thanksgiving? He asked his grandchild. “Chaim’ll, vus iz Thanksgiving” So the little boy says, “It’s just a holiday that’s all. It’s like Election Day.” So the old Gadol writes in his teshuvos, “Thanksgiving is no harm.” He knows; his grandson told him.
I don’t ask gedolim about Thanksgiving. I ask goyim what Thanksgiving is. And three kosher goyim wrote in encyclopedias that Thanksgiving is a church holiday! They are my poskim.
TAPE # 529 (November 1984)