Chanukah Gifts Revisited

The letter (18 Kislev) which cites sources for the giving of gifts on Chanukah fails to mention that all the sources he cites (except for the dubious one of a columnist quoting a conversation with a contemporary Rav) refer to gifts to children. Thus, the letter gives the erroneous impression that Chanukah gifts to adults are part of the Jewish tradition.

Gifts to children, the equivalent of Chanukah gelt, are a way of encouraging children to study Torah, an appropriate custom for Chanukah when we were forced to cease our Torah study.

In fact, as one of the letter’s sources states, it would be appropriate to tell the children that this is why they are receiving the gifts. Gifts given in honor of Chanukah to adults (except for the purpose of enhancing Torah learning) are nothing but an imitation of our surrounding culture.

It would be good to abolish them.

Rabbi Aharon Feldman