Today is my least favourite day of the year. Which, not surprisingly, puts me at odds with the overwhelming majority of this country.
This holiday is just. not. Jewish. I mean, it’s REALLY not Jewish. It’s origins are probably Celtic — and definitely pagan. Beyond being a celebration to mark the end of summer, Samhain carried with it elements of a death festival and involved the afterworld.
Today’s observance in no way involves the cultic rites that were once practiced in the early days of Halloween. However, ritual vestiges remain. Costumes, jack-o-lanterns, and imagery of the occult all find their origins in ritual behaviours that belong to others. Even trick-or-treating was originally the method by which the poor would beg for food in exchange for reciting prayers for the dead. [Like earning parnasa for saying Kaddish, maybe?]
I don’t like scary. I don’t like gory. Bloody I don’t mind so much…in its proper context. Such as in an operating theatre.
Judaism celebrates life. After all, was it not God who said:
הַֽעִדֹתִי בָכֶם הַיּוֹם אֶת־הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת־הָאָרֶץ הַֽחַיִּים וְהַמָּוֶת נָתַתִּי לְפָנֶיךָ הַבְּרָכָה וְהַקְּלָלָה וּבָֽחַרְתָּ בַּֽחַיִּים לְמַעַן תִּֽחְיֶה אַתָּה וְזַרְעֶֽךָ
I call this day heaven and earth as my witness: See, I set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Now, choose life so that you and your children may live. (Deuteronomy 30:19)
Egging, toilet-papering, forks in the ground. These so-called innocent pranks go beyond the mischievous. They are meant to be destructive. Both physically and emotionally.
Aw, Frume Sarah, why can’t you just lighten up??
First of all, I don’t even understand that phrase. There is no lightening up in Frume Sarah’s World as it is not in my nature.
Perhaps I would feel a whole lot better about Jews celebrating this goyishe holiday if they would apply the same fervor and religiosity to their observance of Jewish holidays.
In the meantime, having encouraged our children to attend public school and engage in modern society, I reluctantly permit them to participate in Halloween activities. To a limited extent. And never at the expense of our values.
In other words, no scary, bloody costumes. No discussion of costumes until the Fall Holidays (i.e. the Chagim) are over. We don’t decorate. And Shabbat ALWAYS comes first (in years that Shabbat is an issue).