What is your opinion about celebrating the holiday of Thanksgiving tonight with a turkey dinner?
Rav Avigdor Miller zt”l:
Thanksgiving is a holiday that was manufactured by gentiles for the purpose of going to church. That’s what the original purpose was. And therefore it’s avoda zara and Jews are forbidden to participate in such a thing. If you eat turkey especially for Thanksgiving, you’re an oveid avoda zara. That’s my opinion.
Now, some people are weak in this matter; but I think it’s real avoda zara; I think it’s יהרג ואל יעבור. I think a Jew shouldn’t eat turkey on Thanksgiving at all! He should make a sacrifice not to eat turkey. Because it’s a Christian observance you understand. It’s not a legal holiday alone. It’s only recently that it became a ‘legal holiday.’ But it used to be a Christian holiday and that’s what it is, all the way down till today.
So what happens? In a Beit Hakisei called Sha’arei Torah, on Arbermyle Road — there’s a toilet there called Sha’arei Torah; so today they had a special service there; they had there a Jewish so-called rabbi, and a reform rabbi and a priest and a minister. A whole mishmash of Christianity and so on. That’s what happens when Jews start going after the idolatry of the gentiles.
But isn’t that only if eating turkey has religious symbolism?
No, it doesn’t have to have religious symbolism to be a problem. As long as it’s connected with the holiday and the holiday has religious symbolism, that’s enough to make it forbidden. There’s a gemara that says it’s forbidden to wear laurel leaf on the day of a certain gentile avoda zara. Now, laurel has no religious significance. But because the gentiles wear laurel on that day, it’s forbidden.
However, like I told you earlier there’s somebody who permits it, and even though I say it’s all wrong, I’m not going to force my opinion on you. But if anybody in my synagogue would ask me such a question, I would give it to him. But since you’re not in my synagogue, so I’ll let you go.
TAPE # R-30 (November 1972)
The Rav said that we have to honor our parents and we should extend that honor to the oldest brother and even to the younger brothers. Being that today is the secular holiday of Thanksgiving, how do we handle this “honoring” when they invite us to celebrate this particular holiday with them?
Suppose a person has a relative who invites him to a feast of ham sandwiches —
No, no. I’m talking about a kosher meal —
I’m talking about ham sandwiches! What would you do? You know what to do! So when he invites you to a feast of Thanksgiving it’s exactly the same thing. Now you know what to do.
TAPE # 853 (November 1991)
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