Christmas tree & Talmudic law

Learning and questioning and arguing certain points of life, philosophy, theology, etc. are central elements of Judaism. The Talmud (Jewish law with countless commentaries on it) is made up of thousands of arguments rabbis have made about everything that governs life, it’s basically a sacred book (made up of several volumes) of arguments. In yeshivas (Jewish religious schools), the Talmud is studied and the endless laws and arguments are argued about. To give you a little idea, the kashrut (the dietary laws for eating kosher) alone are made up of 613 rules!

Historically, yeshivas have only been open to boys although nowadays in non-Orthodox Judaism women are allowed as well. In the 1983 movie Yentl, Barbra Streisand decided to dress up as a boy, just so that she could try to enter a yeshiva in early 20th century Poland to broaden her learning. Her happiness at being accepted into one is a beautiful moment of triumph in the movie. It also gives you a little glimpse at what a yeshiva looks like…

Anyway, all this yeshiva explaining is just the context for the video I actually wanted to show.

My sister shared a comedy video in our family group chat that is a couple of years old but that I’d never seen before. Watching this, you just know that the comedian, Elon Gold, must have attended a yeshiva himself as the arguing of rules and regulations in it is just so typically Jewish (useful to know before you watch this: “Shecht” = ritual slaughter / “Bracha” = a blessing)…

As someone who grew up around and with Jews and has Jewish family, this just feels so familiar and is really the funniest thing I have seen this Christmas season! I do wonder, however, if it as funny to people who are less familiar with Judaism. Regardless, I thought I’d share anyway, along with just about all the basic knowledge I have of yeshivas and Talmud. And hey, if you’re not familiar with Judaism, at least you’ll have learned something, i.e. it’s a good thing Jews don’t do Christmas trees. πŸ™‚

19 thoughts on “Christmas tree & Talmudic law

  1. Servetus

    I thought this was hilarious!

    If you don’t mind, a couple more adumbrations. I don’t know if this makes it funnier or just more complicated.

    “Is it mevushal?”: Jews were forbidden to consume products that might be leftovers from the worship of idols. Mevushal = cooked, i.e., the wine is pasteurized and so it’s kosher because non-Jews would have rejected it for their religious purposes. If the wine is slightly cooked, non-Jews can be involved in the production and serving processes; if not, then if a non-Jew touches the wine at any point, it is no longer kosher.

    Hillel and Shammai — these are the two main schools of interpretation of the Torah that are being debated in the Mishnah (core of the Talmud). Shammai is stricter, but Hillel usually wins the arguments.

    string the lights left to right but light them left to right — this is an abstruse rule for filling and lighting a menorah. Same with “you cannot derive any benefit from the light of the tree” — a rule for using Chanukiyot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! πŸ™‚

      Thanks for the extra context. I realized mevushal was something dietary, didn’t know exactly what. Hillel and Shammai I did know of and the lighting thing, LOL!

      Also love how at the end he had the tree re-used for Sukkot. Growing up in Israel, Sukkot (along with Purim) was my fave Jewish festival where we’d visit Jewish friends and sit in their self made huts and eat and drink and be merry.

      (For those reading who don’t know these festivals – during Sukkot people build little huts in their gardens with branches of trees on the roof, giving thanks for the autumn harvest and commemorating the 40 years Israelis spent wandering the desert after leaving slavery in Egypt.
      Purim is the festival of Queen Esther (yep, I was named for her) commemorating Esther saving the Jewish people from Haman, a Persian Empire official who was planning to kill all the Jews.)


      1. Servetus

        I love Sukkot — when it’s not raining! The prayers for rain don’t begin till Shemini Atzeret but in the places I’ve lived (apart from Texas) it’s usually starting to rain more often by then. And yeah, if Jews had Xmas trees we would totally recycle them. Or maybe include them among the four species on Sukkot. Definitely a religion for making things complicated!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Servetus

    There’s also a joke about shmittah in the original comments on the vid that is really funny. Thanks so much for sharing this, I really needed this laugh just now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Had to look up what the shmittah was, couldn’t remember but now do. πŸ™‚

      I literally laughed tears (admittedly, I cry easily, but still…) when I first saw this video. Glad I could bring a laugh to your day as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I got some of the references, i kinda like the idea that you must think about all the fallen trees! also making use of the tree after-funnily we turned one of our first trees into a cat scratcher about 10 years ago that is still going!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. so very true! i’ve been brought up to not be wasteful and recycle and reuses, though it was the chap who suggested it could be made into a cat scratcher (cause he’s of the same mentality)

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I remember no one wanted him, he was lonely and shivered so much in the cold that his needles fell off. Then he pressed his face to windows and watched everyone inside enjoying their own trees – it would make a great downer Christmas song – but I think someone wanted him in the end.

    Liked by 1 person

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