Curious Questions and Answers

This was a hard page to title. A Humour Page? but thought that may be offensive to some people. Sure Christians aren't supposed to be running around telling jokes. But it isn't a sin to find some things funny. And someone may say is this one of my hobby horses? with respect to the first question.

So bear in mind that these first two questions were found at the same time and I was just doing a search into Jewish law trying to look at different rules for keeping worship days, the sabbath etc. And on a google search page about Jewish law the first question just popped up. The second question was listed on a Jewish site I was looking at about Jewish law from the same search page.

So there you are. This page was definitely not planned! The answers to the first question were a little humourous and I just couldn't let this go. Honestly, they're just classic gold. You just have to do something with answers like these. And the second question is pretty interesting too. I also apologize for my added comments. They are not meant to offend, but just to add some humour.

Enjoy!

Should Christians engage in sexual activities on their worship day?

This of course is a Christianised version of the original question which appeared on a Jewish site about the sabbath day. And two rabbis give answers. And their answers are just classic gold! Here's the original question with part answers:

Why is sex allowed on Shabbat?

Rabbi, I have a problem
Question: On Shabbat we are not allowed to put on a light or drive a car because they are regarded as acts of creation. So how can intimacy between husband and wife be encouraged on Friday night if that can lead to creating new life?(Question)

Rabbi 1 Answer:

Its a great question although your premise is somewhat flawed. It is true that Jewish law forbids certain acts of creation on Shabbat but the prohibition only extends to acts of creative labour that can be traced back to the construction of the biblical tabernacle.

The Mishnah (Shabbat 7:2) enumerates thirty nine principal forms of such creative labour, which give rise to multiple derivative forms of labour.

As society and technology develop, so too does the possibility of discovering new derivatives that can be linked back to the ancient principal forms of labour. For example, turning on the ignition of a car is a derivative of the biblical prohibition against starting a fire; opening an umbrella can be linked to erecting a shelter. The creation of a foetus, however, had no place in the construction of the tabernacle and it is therefore not proscribed on Shabbat.

Furthermore, intimacy is encouraged on Shabbat not so much as a means to procreate as it is to create a bond between husband and wife. There are two separate mitzvot in the Torah that involve sexual relations. One is to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis1:28.) The lesser-known mitzvah is for the husband to ensure he sexually satisfies his wife (Exodus 21:10). This second mitzvah is totally independent from the first and so the obligation to make love to ones wife applies to couples regardless as to whether they wish to, or are capable of conceiving.

The very notion that sexual pleasure can itself provided it is experienced in the right context be a mitzvah, underscores the unique Jewish attitude to life. ... This holy day is observed not just through prayer and song but also through eating, socialising, relaxing and for married couples sexual intimacy. Emphasis supplied.

Rabbi 2 Answer:

... Few would define sex as hard work, ...

So there it is folks. The official Jewish answer.

So the next time your love looks gazingly into your eyes and asks, should we really do this today? you can now have an interesting discussion as to whether what you propose to do can be considered to be an act of labour that can be traced back to the construction of the biblical tabernacle. If it is maybe you shouldn't be doing it in your bedroom!

The full text for this question and answer can be found at:
http://www.thejc.com/judaism/rabbi-i-have-a-problem/68658/why-sex-allowed-shabbat

An important note on this question:
Though we have taken a humourous view of this question, the two rabbis answers are very good and actually quite relevant. As Christians we may not agree with their complete breakdown of what is proscribed on a worship day. However the above point is pretty clear. And this is more relevant to the Christian day of worship than most Christians would think. It may come as a surprise to many Christians that the weekly day of worship is indeed a sabbath. Hebrews states clearly "So then, there remains a sabbath rest for the people of God;" 4:9. And that this section of scripture is discussing a weekly worship day can be seen from the connection with the weekly worship day in the Old Testament. See verses 1 to 6. A sabbath rest means just that. A sabbath rest where no work or business activities are to be undertaken. And there are many Christians who do view their weekly worship day as a sabbath day. In fact, many Christians refer to the weekly worship day as the Christian Sabbath. And this is where the above answer impacts. There are sadly many Christians who view this sort of activity as not to be done on the Christian Sabbath. However, the point needs to be strongly stressed that the Jews also consider this activity on their sabbath day as a mitzvah. A mitzvah is a precept or commandment as commanded by God. And of all the week days the Jews consider this sort of activity to definitely be done on their sabbath day. Those Christians who think otherwise need to give this some thought. And note that the above answers suggest that the observance of the sabbath, for married couples, requires sexual intimacy! If you don't believe me, here's a quote clearly stating this:

When I ask him to expand on this theme, he tells me, "It's considered a mitzvah to have sex on the Sabbath."
http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/29127/judaism-s-position-on-sex-it-s-a-mitzvah/

And after that we just have to add the next bit! Here it is:

Mitzvah
In its primary meaning, the Hebrew word mitzvah ("commandment", [mitsva], Biblical: mis.wah; plural mitzvot [mitsvot], Biblical: mis.woth; from s.iwwah "command") refers to precepts and commandments as commanded by God. It is a word used in Judaism to refer to the 613 commandments given in the Torah (at Mount Sinai, where all the Jews accepted the Torah, saying "We will do, and we will listen") and the seven rabbinic commandments instituted later for a total of 620. According to the teachings of Judaism, all moral laws are, or are derived from, divine commandments.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitzvah

In other words the Jews consider it to be a commandment from God to have sex on the Sabbath!
Sure as Christians we don't keep all these rules but this one seems pretty good. And if some Christians want to view having sex as part of the Law of Moses and to be avoided on any day then we are really heading for trouble!

What Do Jews Do on Christmas? Christmas Eve?

According to the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey, 82% of Jewish households never have a Christmas tree (and the idea of a "Chanukkah bush" is mostly a joke, not anything anybody takes seriously).


Jewish Christmas Tree

[C'mon guys, a Chanukkah bush really does sound funny! Stephen]

Many Jews (even highly assimilated Jews) are uncomfortable about Christmas. They don't object to Christians celebrating Christmas, but they don't particularly want to celebrate it themselves, ... One Jewish writer said it's like being a man in the lingerie department: you feel like you don't belong there. ...

So if Jews don't celebrate Christmas, then what do they do on December 25?
It's tough to find something to do on Christmas, because just about everything is closed. Here are a few of the more popular December 25 activities for Jews.

Go out for Chinese food
[prawns, lobster, fried rice with pork, oysters etc? OK I'm a little puzzled by this choice?? checked the page again and there is some more info there... following...]
Many Jews go out for Chinese food on Christmas. In fact, Justice Elena Kagan mentioned this in her Supreme Court confirmation hearings: when a senator asked her where she was on Christmas, she said, "You know, like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant." Someone even wrote a song about Jews eating Chinese Food On Christmas. [See fun stuff] The Chinese do not celebrate Christmas any more than Jews do, so most Chinese restaurants are open on Christmas. In Philadelphia and New York, there are several kosher-certified Chinese restaurants to choose from, so that even the most observant Jew can eat Chinese on Christmas. [so there's the answer!]
Go to the Matzah Ball [these are Jewish singles dances—but what if you're not single?]
Go to a movie
Get together with family [possibly easiest but you still might need a Chanukkah bush?]
Go to work [not a great choice for a holiday!]

Square bracketed comments mine. Text adjusted to third person.
The full text for this answer can be found at:
http://www.jewfaq.org/xmas.htm
No Christmas Tree pic from site.


Jewish Santa

And some more ...

On Monday, Christians will be gathering with families, feasting and opening presents and maybe even attending church services. Meanwhile, what will Jews be doing? Some will be tearing toilet paper. ...

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, Jews were playing dreidel, being celibate, and tearing toilet paper. Allow me to explain. Please.

The Jewish community has long had a tense relationship with Christmas. You wouldn't know it by the two main customs observed by many 21st-century Jews on Dec. 25: eating Chinese food and being the first to see the Christmas blockbuster. ...

So what would Jews do on Christmas Eve?

1) Tear toilet paper. I kid you not. Bear with me, as the reason is a bit convoluted: Observant Jews do not tear anything on the Sabbath as they consider it a form of "work." As such, they either don't use toilet paper on Saturdays (opting instead for pipe-clogging tissues) or pre-rip toilet paper before sundown on Friday. (I reluctantly confess, this is something I was exposed to while growing up the son of an Orthodox rabbi.) Since Jews were not allowed to study Torah on Christmas Eve, the rabbis still wanted the community to be doing something, um, productive. So they suggested people spend the time pre-ripping toilet paper for the entire year. I wish I was joking but, alas, I am not.

2) Play cards, play chess, spin a tiny top. Many synagogues held poker games on Christmas Eve; some say this is where the custom of spinning the dreidel on Hanukkah matured from, as a way for Jews to pass to the time.

3) Everything from managing finances to reading secular books to, get this, sewing. ...

This is an era of remarkable religious tolerance. Hanukkah menorahs get erected next to Christmas trees at the mall. ... Which is why most Jews no longer celebrate (or even know about) Nittel Nacht. ...

Regardless, because it's the nature of the beast, there will be Jews gone rogue: holding poker tournaments and furiously ripping toilet paper this Christmas Eve. And to them I simply say, "Merry Nittel Nacht, and to all a good night."
http://www.slate.com/articles/life/faithbased/2009/12/holy_night.html

And just what could you say to something like that? There's the Chinese food mentioned again. And the rest? I had never heard of anything like this before running into these pages!

Hanukkah Harry from
http://www.myshtetl.co.za/community/chagim-sa/rosh-hashanah/christmas-shmitmas

And some more fun/silly stuff...

Song about Jews eating Chinese Food On Christmas
A Kretzmach Niggun Not sure what the title means but it does end with the text "Ever wondered what Jews do on Christmas?"
I have also tried a few different internet translation pages for this term. Nothing translates it. Any Jews have the answer? I suspect it just means A Christmas something or other?
OK may be getting closer on this. The niggun part may be suggesting this is some sort of twisted Jewish traditional melody or melodies?
see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chabad_Niggunim
Well it obviously can't be traditional Jewish but perhaps a Jewish twist on traditional Christmas melodies. Or maybe just some Jews being carried away with some traditional melodies. That sort of makes a bit more sense.


Companion pages:

The Christian Sabbath, The Lord's Day —study investigating if there is a weekly day of worship for Christians; and a comparison of the Christian Sabbath, The Lord's Day in the New Testament with the Jewish Sabbath in the Old Testament.


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Stephen Buckley
E-mail: stephen@chodesh.info
Last revised: 25 Oct 2014.
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