Readers’ Matzav: What Are You Bringing Into Your House?


coke-santaDear Editor,

It is that time of year again when “peace and good will to all men” is upon us.

Let me ask you a question. Would you bring an Xmas tree into your home? What could possibly be the problem? It is just a tree with decorations! Of course none of us would do such a thing; the entire community would be in an uproar. Do you agree?

Would you take your child to sit on Santa’s lap? This notion is too far-fetched; we all know the terrible affect it would have on the spiritual growth of our youngsters. Certainly we wouldn’t place a picture of Santa on our wall, even to make fun of it! But if Coca Cola utilizes this image to sell its product, not only will we buy it, but it will also be placed on the Shabbos table in front of the children! Why? We have to have Coke! Is it really that difficult to buy another brand or flavor?

Did you know that this picture symbolizes the holiday?

Did you also know that the affect of this tumah will cause you and your prodigy to learn Torah improperly and could, G-d forbid, influence your offspring to go off the derech!?

How do I know this to be true?

Anything that takes you close to Hashem is emes while anything that takes you away is sheker! There is nothing in the world but emes and sheker. There’s no neutral zone! Does that make sense to you?

Please ask that your yeshiva not distribute this drink to your kinderlach. Please also ask the frum stores not to sell this stumbling block. Consider that when a non-Jew sees this product in your shopping cart, they see this, even in a minutia way, as your participation in their holiday and this causes a chillul Hashem.

Thank you for considering my request.

May Hashem bless us with only good and protect us from making the wrong chesbon!


Your friend,

Mr. Chawnaw Hershel Kahn


  1. What stumbling block? If I have on my table a picture of a fictional character – Mr. Claus having nothing to do with X-ianity in any way, just as an Xmas tree is not a religious symbol – might I be tempted to denounce Toras Emes?

  2. I for one will not buy coke during this season, unless I find a bottle without the santa. I haven’t yet decided on the diet coke that only has “holiday” snowflakes. Any ideas anyone?

  3. I never thought about it, but I agree with you. There are plenty of other products that can be purchased without any of these extras.

  4. If you move to Israel your problem would be solved. I haven’t yet seen if there are Chanuka Coke bottles here,but there defintely were Shana tova ones

  5. Maay I suggest that the writer seek out professional help, both rabbinic and psyciatric?
    Maybe your kids should not be allowed out of the house until mid January when all the light shows are taken down, how can you watch what your eyes see during this period? The lights actually have a much greater significance to the holidays than does the picture of the ou mashgiach. How much do we have to segregate ourselves from this world? According to your logic, you can not use the US currency, there are plenty of Mason religious symbols on the bill. The pictures are not done with any intention of avodah zarah and just like the crosses don’t have to be cut off the kings head in a chess set since it was not created with any religious significance, you don’t have to worry about pictures of the tzaddik on the bottle.

  6. Now snowflakes are a religious symbol, too? What about candles? Don’t religious X-ians light candles this time of year?

    And, by the same logic, you shouldn’t by wine. After all, they use wine in the church! They also say, “Hello,” when they answer the phone.

    For that matter, we shouldn’t speak English since many churches have English signs in front of their buildings.

    Ayn l’davar sof. If you want to be machmir, first learn the shulchan aruch and see what things are actually assur because of chukos hagoyim and/or avak avodah zara. Then you can be machmir all you want.

  7. Santa was invented by coke as a marketing tool. It was then adopted by evreyone else. Pepsi bottles still do not have a real depiction of Santa because coke won’t let them. They make do with a similar image. So it is not really a religious symbol. it has just come to represent the holiday.

  8. I agree with the writer. I won’t take these bottles in my home and find it so objectionable to see them in shul or on a Jewish table.

  9. Dont walk in the street cause people might think you going to church! c’mon there is nothing wrong it and if u dont want to have it on your table rip off the label.

  10. How about not bringing the INTERNET into our home? That’s a much greater danger to our kids’ (and our)emunah. (Or should I just assume you’re in your office and using the internet for WORK. Oh, wait…)

  11. It is interesting to see how many responses were heavily against his ADVICE,to help keep our homes as pure as possible,I wonder what these people would say if he advises on a safety issue in ones house or advice in earning more in business ??? would these people get so excited!!!(or is it just when they feel someone is helping them spiritually.

  12. When I was in yeshiva, some guys raised this concern to the Rosh Yeshiva. They had Coca-Cola bottles for Shabbos meals in teh yeshiva, and the guys wanted to get something else during December. The Rosh Yeshiva told them not to worry about it, and that it’s not an issue.
    Some guys went anyway and ripped the labels off all the bottles. The Rosh Yeshiva told them it was a waste of their time, and they could have done much more productive things with the time.

  13. Saint Nicholas of Myra is the primary inspiration for the Christian figure of Santa Claus. He was a 4th-century Greek Christian bishop of Myra (now Demre) in Lycia, a province of the Byzantine Anatolia.

    #11: Coke did NOT invent Santa. That is pure urban legend.

    Yasher Koach to the writer for helping us realize we are doing something wrong, when it is so easy to miss the fog of golus.

  14. 1 – show some hakaras ha tov to coke, they make their product koasher for pesach so you can drink it. jews are a minority in america stop kvetching. this brings me to point number 2.

    2. this is the price you pay for living in america. you dont want santa on your coke cans? come to eretz yisroel! before rosh ha shana and
    pesach the coke bottles say “CHAG SAMEACH”

  15. Actually the letter writer must not be very educated. The enitre of concept of santa claus – the big fat jolly man with a white beard glasses and a RED suit with a WHITE stripe was a trademark image first invented in this century not too long ago by Coca Cola itself. they arent using an image, they MADE the image. coke invented santa. seriously dude, go tackle the shidduch crisis or something…;

  16. #19 Advice is not worth anything if it’s based on a misconception or on false piety. Does halacha say that your home will be more pure without the Santa Cokes (and #20’s Rosh Yeshiva seemed to think not), or is it one person’s lack of understanding of the concepts involved that makes us all crazy?

    If one learns that there’s an inyan to toivel new kaylim and then posts the “advice” that to make sure your kitchen is absolutely pure you should toivel that new toaster you just bought…should we take his advice or tell him that he’s misguided?

  17. The current depiction of santa as a pudgy old fellow with a big white beard etc… was CREATED by Coke themselves!
    They commissioned an artist, I think the name is Carl Sundbloom, to create an image for the character, so he incorporated Coke’s white and red colors into his clothing. That image became the way santa is known.

  18. We are living in an era when the more so called chumros they find the more laudible they think it is, not realizing the absurdity and silliness of these religious “inventions”…

  19. No reason to panic the israeli coca cola as well as unlabled coca cola are readily availble, in addition u can always remove the label

  20. i agree with the writer 1000%. if you don’t you have to get yourself evaluated. he brings up a very simple but powerful point. Thanks for opening our eyes.

  21. Number 10-Break 2:
    Its interesting that you say that Churches have English signs. Near my house, there is a Church that has a big “B. S. D.” sign on the side of the building (at first, I thought that it was a old sign, but then they did renovations and put up a new one). I wonder what this sign stands for. (Besiyato Dishmaya?!)

  22. Is this such a major issue in our times? This is what we have to focus on and eradicate?? i think “we” need to get our priorities straight. I’m not the slightest bit convinced that any child is going off the derech because of a picture of Santa on a coke bottle!!

  23. Why not buy Mayim Chaim so that you are not only not bringing the fictional marketing character into your house but you are supporting a Jewish business (albeit one with a bad taste). Dude, you have got to find something better to do with your time.

  24. Sinterklaas celebrates the name day of Saint Nicholas, patron saint of, among other things, children. Santa Claus is 100% a religious Christian concept. It has existed for many centuries.

    Pre-modern representations of the gift-giver from church history and folklore, notably St Nicholas and Sinterklaas, merged with the British character Father [X}mas to create the character known to Britons and Americans as Santa Claus. Father [X]mas dates back at least as far as the 17th century in Britain.

    In Washington Irving’s History of New York, (1809), Sinterklaas was Americanized into “Santa Claus” (a name first used in the American press in 1773).

    One of the first artists to define Santa Claus’s modern image was Thomas Nast, an American cartoonist of the 19th century. In 1863, a picture of Santa illustrated by Nast appeared in Harper’s Weekly.

  25. It stands to reason that in actuality the image is one of charity and zedaka…


    Images of Santa Claus were further popularized through Haddon Sundblom’s depiction of him for The Coca-Cola Company’s Xmas advertising in the 1930s. The popularity of the image spawned urban legends that Santa Claus was in fact invented by The Coca-Cola Company or that Santa wears red and white because they are the Coca-Cola colors.[27] In reality, Coca-Cola was not the first soft drink company to utilize the modern image of Santa Claus in its advertising – White Rock Beverages used Santa to sell mineral water in 1915 and then in advertisements for its ginger ale in 1923. Furthermore, the massive campaign by Coca-Cola simply popularized the depiction of Santa as wearing red and white, in contrast to the variety of colours he wore prior to that campaign; red and white was originally given by Nast.[28][29]
    The image of Santa Claus as a benevolent character became reinforced with its association with charity and philanthropy, particularly organizations such as the Salvation Army. Volunteers dressed as Santa Claus typically became part of fundraising drives to aid needy families at Christmas time.

    There you have the turth about Coca Cola and the image etc…

  26. #30 AND YOU DON’T TOIVEL A TOASTER? Of course you do together with the extensipon cord! Wait a half hour till it dries and you are set to go!

  27. what kind of coke are you taking???
    did you know that the coke company created the character of santa as a marketing scheme in the late 1800’s
    this has nothing to do with xtianity.
    also coke did not boycott the jewish country like pepsihad done
    so have a coke and a smile.

  28. It’s not “Mr. Claus” it’s “Santa Claus” which is Dutch for “Saint Nicholas.” So it’s not a fictional character, it is a xtian SAINT who’s picture you are bringing into your home. Even if he IS fictional, so what? ALL false gods are fictional!!! Surely you’re not suggesting that, say, vishnu, the 18-armed hundu god is REAL??? But I’ll bet you wouldn’t allow THAT image in your home!!!

  29. guess what…more annoying than the coke bottles is the music u hear everywhere…u cant go to marshalls, tjmaxx or target etc this time of year.

  30. If this Claus Clown is “Saint Nicholas”, I don’t know of any heter to bring a symbol of Avoda Zora — a false religion — into your hone.

  31. Seriously, if you toivel a toaster, DO NOT USE IT FOR 24 HOURS or until thoroughly dry. Electricty and water do not belong together.

    There are rabbonim who hold that is should be toiveled at least le’chatchillah.

  32. My (non-frum) mother used to let me sit on Santa’s lap during the holidays. I guess it did have serious spiritual effects – I’m now Orthodox.

  33. I agree with the writer. When I bring these bottles into the house, I peel off the labels.

    For those who are still repeating the shtus that Coke created Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus), you’re sounding a bit silly. No, no, and no. I know, making up history is fun…

  34. It is times like this that I really worry about our future….
    I keep having to remind myself not to judge the religion by the practitioners.

  35. Mazel Tov!!!! This post wins the award for the stupidest , most acinine post in the long and illustrious history of stupid, asinine posts on jewish blogs!!!

  36. I find this letter and the complaint it contains to be completely HOrrifying, HOrrendous and HOrrible. Just tell your kids that it’s the Rebbe and sing with them Yingel Belz, Yingel Belz, Yingel all the way… On a serious note, there’s no reason you can’t just remove the label if you’re so makpid. I hope you’re just as makpid with everything else you do. And FYI with the way you think and your hashkafos, you got a lot more sending your kids off the derech then a fat bearded man on a soda bottle! Anyway dont’t forget ‘Tis the season to be Jelly (donut)…da da da da da….. and Merry Chanuka!!!

  37. If you’re bringing in a symbol of St. Nicholas (a/k/a Santa Claus), you should have no problem bringing into your home a symbol of St. Mary.

  38. This is one of those issues which would be a “non-issue” for the author and his family had it never been brought up. I doubt the children would really notice it, and now they’re asking “why don’t we have Coke,” causing the parents to delve into Xmas explanations. If the author is so concerned about the influence of Holiday Coke I think it’s safe to assume his children aren’t all that aware of the season and its ramifications to begin with. Some things are really best off unspoken.

  39. Fake letter no one wanting be taken seriously would sign off “Chawnaw.”


    You are incorrect. The letter is genuine.

  40. dear chuna i know you mean it from ur heart if u dont make a big deal nobody else will do u remember the white rock soda they all had a picture on it i remember all simchos in lakewood had them until someone made a tumul and they started ripping them off that week we met two kids in shoprite looking for those sodas……………

  41. single all the day !! While you are all expending all your fingers on this issue , please don’t forget our plight !!!!
    single belle

  42. ive been to shuls that serve white rock sodas for years. their label is a thousand times worse than any coca cola sata can. wheres the outrage????

  43. forget everything else – look up the unhealthy things about coke and don’t drink it for health reasons!! vnishmartem meod es nafshoseichem.

  44. this guy is not FORCING YOU.
    he is SUGGESTING TO YOU!!!
    why soo obnoxious???
    i feel like your mother!!
    if you don’t like it IGNORE IGNORE IGNORE IGNORE.
    it would be a diffeerent story if the guy said “anyone who brings a cola on shabbos table is doing an aveirah!!”
    then you can scream and yell and perhaps act obnoxious!!

  45. Are you kidding me all you that start off your comments with “#24” and so forth. What’s wrong with you?! Do you seriously have the time to read everyone of the 48 comments before you?!!!

    Oh, I get it you are unemployed and looking fo something to do. Well after this article, Coke will need to hire some graphic design artists to create a new logo for their bottle.

  46. Frangelico is a hazelnut liquer. The Frangelico bottle is an immediate reminder of this distinctive history. Shaped like a monk’s habit, with a traditional rope belt around its waist, it is a guarantee of authenticity and quality that links the past right through to the present day.(from the Frangelico website).

  47. Not only should we get rid of the Coke but no Jews should live in St. Louis and Satmar should change its name (it came from Saint Mary!). There are SO MANY examples. There is no way to avoid it — you choose to live outside of the land that Hashem gave us! So it is as if you worship idols & there is no changing that unless you join us here in Israel!

  48. This crazy idea is pure goyim nachus. Just where is it written that R Chawnaw’s kids HAVE to drink Coca Cola on Shobbus?

    My children (bless them) drink a glass of Golan, or some other Israeli wine with their Shobbus meal.

  49. since when is there “nothing in the world but emes and sheker” and “no neutral zone”?
    you sound like the kind of person who wouldn’t let his kids know about things like this. good for you. that’s your way, and its fine.
    but i believe that the neutral zone is what doesn’t affect you personally, and if your kids don’t know who santa is, they won’t be affected. even if they do, as long as they know its narishkeit they’ll just laugh.
    besides, you don’t need to boycott it. just do what my friend did, and draw on a streimel and bekeshe to cover the santa suit.
    and by the way, coke did not invent santa.

  50. I don’t agree with you but for all who do, all you need to do is paint a streimel and bekeshe on, presto, it’s a good influence!

  51. # 82 You asked where is it written that there is no neutral zone, everything is emes or sheker. It is written in “Duties of the Heart” where this great Rabbi stated that there are only mitzvahs and aveiraha in the world. This implies only truth or faleshood or tohar or tuma! By the way Rabbi Cairo who wrote the Shulchan Oruch was used to learn with an Angel who told him to read this sefer!

    All the best,
    Mr. Chawnaw Hershel Kahn
    Happy Chawnawkaw!!!

  52. I think the problem is that Santa isn’t wearing a white shirt. Or a black hat.

    (Both are red – FYI)

    The writer is correct in urging us to shelter our children from seeing such images – lest hirhurim raim (bad thoughts), such as the possibility of wearing a colored shirt, enter their heads upon seeing it.