Do you wish someone "Happy Chanukah" in the same way you wish someone "Merry Xmas"? I have met some Jewish friends on my travels, and I wish to send them seasons greetings. But I'm unsure what to write. Thank you.
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
If you'd like to send your Jewish friends greeting cards, they should say "Happy Holidays" or "Happy Chanukah" - but not the name of other holidays like Xmas, Ramadan or Kwanzaa.
To make your life easier, many Jewish sites provide free, online holiday greeting cards.
Today in Jewish History
In 422 BCE, the prophet Ezekiel heard the news of Jerusalem's conquest by a foreign power, as recorded in the biblical Book of Ezekiel (33:21). In Jewish law, a period of mourning (for example, upon the death of a loved one) can begin upon "hearing" the bad news. Some Talmudic commentators thus recommended that the 5th of Tevet be instituted as a public fast day.
Today's Daily Lift
Neglecting to look ahead is a prime cause of unhappiness. One who overeats disparages the value of food. A quarrelsome man complains against the blessings of marriage, relatives and neighbors. By practicing foresight, many evils can be avoided.
Today in Growing Each Day
If one person does more and another does less, they are both equal before God if they have sincerely dedicated themselves to Him (Berachos 5b).
All that can be asked of people is to do whatever is within their means. No one is expected to do more than one can, but by the same token, anyone who does less than that is derelict. For example, people of meager means who give a small amount of money are considered to have performed that mitzvah satisfactorily if they have given whatever they can, whereas wealthy people who give a thousand times that much but could have given more are considered derelict in their performance of this mitzvah.
The key to proper fulfillment of a mitzvah is dedication. One who performs a mitzvah perfunctorily may seek to get away with the bare minimum required for its fulfillment, whereas someone who is dedicated will invest himself in the mitzvah to the very maximum.
This dedication must be to God. While it is praiseworthy to dedicate oneself to the community or to friends, the recipients of one's benevolent actions may be so grateful to the benefactor that the latter may get carried away by this outpouring of gratitude, and believe that one has done enough. The only true judge of how much one can and should do is God; hence, it is only a sincere dedication to God that can lead one to perform mitzvos to the fullest of one's capacities.
Today I shall...
try to sincerely fulfill my obligations toward God and toward my fellow man by doing the utmost within my means.
With stories and insights,
Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...