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    Don’t bring it home – Ekev

    xmas tree bushIt sounds frightening. “You shall not bring an abomination into your house” (Deut. 7:26). The question is, what sort of abomination? The Torah uses the word quite often, and applies it to quite a number of practices.

    The context provides an answer: “The graven images of their (the Canaanites’) gods shall you burn with fire; you shall not covet the silver or gold that is on them not take it for yourself, lest you be ensnared thereby: for it is an abomination to the Lord your God” (Deut. 7:25).

    The post-emancipation age has faced this problem every day for 200 years or more. Its problem has always been, how much of contemporary culture can I bring into my life without compromising my Jewish identity? The term we use is “assimilation”. The question is, is there a line beyond which assimilation places Judaism at risk?

    The answer is not easy. It depends on who you are, where you are, and when. But the Torah criterion is invaluable: if your home and indeed your lifestyle becomes taken over, swamped and overwhelmed by cultural mores that reduce your Jewish identity, then you have brought an abomination into your home.

    This kind of assimilation is not merely the simple, obvious practices such as Xmas trees and maybe even Easter eggs.

    It covers intellectual attitudes and especially moral principles. When Jewish modesty and personal dignity give way to brazen flaunting of the body, when Jewish honesty and integrity are sacrificed to deviousness and dishonesty, and when Jewish respect for all human beings is abandoned for racism and denigration, then our house must definitely be put in order.

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