Rav Miller: Turkey on Thanksgiving in Avizraihu D’Avodah Zarah


What would the Rav say that our attitude should be towards the holiday of Thanksgiving?

Rav Avigdor Miller zt”l:

Our attitude is the same as it is towards any other gentile religious festival. Because that’s what Thanksgiving is. Even though Thanksgiving is accepted by the government authorities as a legal holiday, nevertheless it is a religious holiday. If you would bother to look into the encyclopedias where the kosher gentiles are speaking, you would become aware of this. In the encyclopedias the kosher gentiles are speaking and you can accept their testimony. They themselves say that Thanksgiving is a religious holiday. And therefore, it is ossur for a Jew to do anything that would distinguish this day from any other day. And to eat turkey, in my humble opinion, would be avizraihu d’avodah zarah and is ya’harog v’al ya’avor. A person should do anything rather than participate in celebrating Thanksgiving because it’s like celebrating any other gentile religious day.

TAPE # 38 (November 1974)

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  1. There are many contemporary poskim who rule Thanksgiving is NOT chukas hagoyim (Reb Moshe Feinstein, Rav Eliezer Silver, Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, the Rivevos Efraim, Rabbi Yehuda Hertzl Henkin), and there are others in addition to Rav Miller who rule that it is (Rav Yitzchak Hutner, Rav Menashe Klein, Rav Dovid Cohen, Rav Feivel Cohen).

    So, avid k’mar avid, avid k’mar avid.

    Happy Thanksgiving! Or not.

  2. This is an old debate. Rav Moshe is Matir, since even non-religious Goyim celebrate it without any religious intent. There are many other Gedolim on both sides of the question.

  3. Just to clarify Rav Avigdor Miller was very careful in showing appreciating to the USA
    For example to put out a flag on July 4 and Memorial day.
    This is a purely halachic decision.

  4. I’m pretty sure R’ Moshe says so long it doesn’t become a yearly kvius. I don’t think he gives a card blanche heter. But either way please don’t pasken from the internet

  5. Totally disagree! If you read any history book, it was started as Americans thanking and showing appreciation to the native Americans for helping them survive (It was originally a 4 day holiday!!).
    It is an American/legal holiday, not a religious one. (And being that turkey and corn were the 2 most available foods- they became the tradition to eat)

    • @history teacher – Take a look at the dictionary and encyclopedia. It was established to thank the A-lmighty for providing a harvest, for not being killed by the natives, etc. And even if not, the fact it is tied to a calendar date, it is avizrayhu d’avodah zarah as Rav Hutner ztzvk”l explains, regardless of any chukas akum issues.

    • From one history teacher to another: If you base your information on school textbooks then you are in trouble. Your primary role is to be a conduit for propaganda.

      • To be fair, most of them died the first winter from cold and hunger. The reason they were able to settle in the first place, however, is because the natives caught diseases from traders. These same diseases were later put on blankets and used to wipe out whole tribes. One of them was smallpox, which was wiped out by vaccines.

  6. for a thorough article see rjj journal of contemporary society
    and lefi rav moshe zatzl not making it a kevius means what some years yes and some years no
    and lets throw in that reb yakov kaminetsky and others never ate turkey

  7. And let’s add that in Sh”A Orach Chaim Hilchos Taanis it is brought that bassar should not be eaten on Mondays and Thursdays because one really should fast, but we can’t. Therefore we don’t eat meat leaving chukas akum aside.

  8. Rav Moshe disagreed.

    Furthermore, is it Avodah Zarah if they give thanks to G-d ? . Moreover even if they give God another name the question becomes one of שיתוף , which though forbidden to Jews, may not necessarily be Avodah Zarah for a gentile.
    Finally, thanksgiving is definitely NOT a religious holiday. There are no church services required or performed, no special rituals etc.

  9. For all of you quoting Rav Moshe Zt”l, he also paskened that there can be NO ERUV in Brooklyn. When it comes to Halacha you can’t go fishing for heteirim! Either you hold of everything a posek paskens or not! This is not a game. One has to have a morah diasra that he follows.


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