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Dear Rabbi Simon,

I noticed on EdgwareK [the electronic community Bulletin Board] that you held an Indian Thanksgiving Dinner last week. I was under the impression that Thanksgiving is a Christian festival. If so, why and how can an Orthodox synagogue celebrate it? I am Just Wondering



Dear Wondering

Thank you for your query/comment/objection. 

Thanksgiving is an American civic festival rooted in the concept of thanking G-d for the bounty and benefits which He bestows. It is true that its origins go back to the Pilgrims (in the 17th c.), who were religious Christians. However as a national holiday 200 years after the Pilgrims came up with the idea, it is a secular rather than a religious (and certainly not a Christian) festival. And it goes without saying that the notion of gratitude for divine blessings is in complete sympathy with Jewish thought. (Though of course such an impulse should not be limited to one day a year.)

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Iggerot Moshe, Yoreh Deah 4:11[4]), as well as others, have validated its celebration insofar as halakhah is concerned. For more on this topic, visit

By the way, our “Hodu LaShem” Thanksgiving Indian Friday Night was a great success.

Best wishes

Rabbi Rashi Simon

Questions & Answers
this week

Questions and Answers

Ask the Rabbi: Easy as א-ב-ג?
Dear Rabbi Simon,
I hope you fasted well yesterday.
Thank you for the insights into the Kinnot, making them easier to understand.
In the afternoon, I was listening to a shiur on Eichah on Torahanytime.  As an aside, the speaker mentioned that the 1st perek of Eichah is the source for the order of the alef bet as we know it.  Other chapters also follow the alef bet chronology but with ayin en peh interchanged.
He quoted Rabbi Shimon Schwab as his source.
Although he did not elaborate on this, surely Sefer Tehillim predates Megillat Eichah by centuries.  Several psalms are written in the alef bet order (e.g.
psalm 119).
Can you please clarify?
Thank you & best wishes.
PhilippeHi Philippe
TY for your sophisticated Q.
I have also heard that the question of the sequence of samekh and 'ayin is subject to dispute. It seems that there are indications that in Paleo-Hebrew the order is reversed from what we know. It is alleged that chapters 2, 3 and 4 of Eichah (chapter 5 is not alphabetical) reflect the original order. Of course, as you say, ch 1 conforms to the order with which we are family.
You are right that Tehillim predates Eichah, however a critic can claim that the order was redacted to bring it in line with the accepted/preferred sequence. This is particularly true for ch. 119, where each of the 8 vv per letter are their own group, and each set of 8 vv. can easily be repositioned. The question is in Ps. 34 or 145, if the internal logic of the passage sheds light on the correct sequence. In Ps. 34, some claim that the v. starting with the letter peh makes more sense to follow the verse starting with samekh (due to the common appearance of the word ra'). I am not convinced that this argument is compelling.
I will stick with the mesorah, that 'ayin belongs before peh. Best to look before speaking.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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