Rav Miller: If You Eat Turkey Especially for Thanksgiving, You’re an Oveid Avodah Zarah

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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)

[Toras Avigdor, 5014-16th Avenue Suite 488, Brooklyn, NY 11204]



  1. Thankfully(no pun intended) Rav Miller recognozed that there are other opinions and said” “’m not going to force my opinion on you.” A Middah sorely lacking today.

    • >>> Rav Miller recognized that there are other opinions and said” “’m not going to force my opinion on you.” A Middah sorely lacking today.

      Agreed. The prevalent “my way or the highway” attitude might simply be a phase of chevlei mashiach. Hopefully it will vanish soon.

  2. Thankfully(no pun intended) Rav Miller recognized that there are other opinions and said” “’m not going to force my opinion on you.” A Middah sorely lacking today.

  3. Fast, this is not a practice. You CAN have your turkey on Wednesday to be off the cycle. It is decent.

    One may watch his pretzels. They originated in monasteries. My bets say you are better with a slice of bread.

    Cut the beer out completely. Hitler, ym’s was in the beer Putsch which sent him to jail. Meet it better. Wine and spirits. Leave the bar room. Buy a turkey. Healthy grave.

  4. Is it really a religious holiday. The First governor of that colony was the result of the Mayflower Compact which gave rights to the Puritans and those who were not. He was the one who instituted the day as “Thanksgiving”. The Puritans had their day in previous years but wasn’t sanctioned. So, was it instituted as a religious holiday, or did it somewhat morph into one.

  5. What kind of Avoda Zora.
    It has nothing to do with Yoshke.
    It has nothiong to do with Mochamed the Navi Sheker.
    Its a holiday of thanking Hashem. We already had this holiday earlier on Succoth.
    Reb Moshe clearly Paskened that it is not Avoda Zora.!!!!

  6. Another thing, it’s ridiculous to say it’s a xtion holiday if it was then you’d see it in other countries too. It’s an American holiday. Those was a fairly religious country at the time & holiday was set up as an “hakoras hatov” to the “Creater” as opposed to a “kochi v’ottzim yadi” but not to a specific Diety.

    • The Puritans are only in USA, in fact they were sent away from England. There are many xian religions. To name a few, catholics, lutherans, anglicans, baptists, presbitarians, valdists, the puritans who created thanksgiving, and many others. Usually they hate each others, excommunicate each others, and when they could, they killed each others. Yet they all believe in the gospel and all that.

    • Agreed.
      At least post a sentence or two at the bottom saying other poskim disagree and perhaps list some who agree and some who disagree.

  7. “Arbermyle Road”

    Should be Albemarle road. Reference was to a Brooklyn, NY Conservative Temple of 305 E. 21 street, at Albemarle road, back in the day. The building is still there now, but it is a church.

  8. I’m very thankful for my Thanksgiving Day. I begin my day with Modeh Ani Lifanecha. Then in E-lokai Neshama again I say Modeh Ani Lifanecha. In shemona Esrai I say Modim 3 times. Another 2 times times by chazaras Hshatz. If I bensh or say Al Hamichya I say Nodeh Lecha. That between 8- 10 thank yous to Hashem in one day. Finally on my thanksgiving Day I can eat what I want. I’m not obligated to some turkey.

  9. I heard that Rav Miller held that Rav Moshe’s psak was from a chesuron yideeah, and if he would have had a secular education he would have paskened differently.

  10. Maran HaRav Schachter (Nefesh HaRav 231) quotes Rav Soloveitchik who felt it was not a problem of Chukos HaGoyim to celebrate thanksgiving dinner. Moreover, Rabbi Rakeffet-Rothkoff notes that Rav Soloveitchik actually celebrated Thanksgiving in his sister’s home with a dinner and the full trimings.

  11. Rav aVIGDOR Miller is/was the Avrohom avinu of our Generation!
    Exercise great care when studying his hallowed words, lest you get singed from his fiery words -burning Coals!
    Huzaru Bigachlason Shegachloson Gachlei Esh!

    Keep safe!


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