We are meant to be a light unto the nations. The only way to do that is open doors and bridge gaps with gentiles. Is it okay to host a holiday party on or around XMas time to be festive and speak Divrei Torah and be Mekadesh the day when so many Gentiles are on one hand G-d fearing but on the other hand not in touch with the 7 Mitzvot etc....?
Your assumption that Jews are a light to the Nations is correct. This means that Jews are to be living examples as to the proper moral conduct incumbent on all of us.
There is no obligation for Jews to encourage non Jews to adhere to their religious beliefs. We are enjoined to instruct non Jews in the ways of the Seven Commandments of Noah,
1. Believe in one G'd
2. Not to worship idols
3. Not to steal
4. Not to commit adultery
5. Not to murder
6. Not to be cruel to animals
7. To establish legislative bodies, courts and police forces to maintain adherence to the previous six.
With this in mind, parties held around the end of December can be held if they are termed Holiday Parties. Customs observed by non Jews at that time should not be included in such parties. Answered by: Rabbi Herschel Finman
There are a few pieces of information missing from this question, so its hard for me to answer as fully as it deserves. A few thoughts:
Being a light among the nations is a high Jewish calling that does require engagment with the non-Jewish world. Interfaith efforts generally are a positive thing, and taking opportunities to learn together and create bonds of brother and sisterhood is a Jewish ideal. Further, Isaiah comments that all peoples at the end of day will be part of sanctifying God. This suggests to me that Jews don't have a monopoly on truth.
Having business relations with non-Jews is terrific, as would a book club or some other venue to engage in ideas, politics, charitable work, and so forth. Such relationships ought to include a social component as well, so finding times to get together feels of great value.
Where I am confused is what you mean by mikadesh the day. If you mean to sanctify Christmas as a holy day, absolutely not. This is a day of meaning and sacredness to Christians that deserves to be respected, but not to be emulated by us. I feel it would be fine to attend a Christmas party or event as a guest/visitor, but not to host or organize one.
However, if one organizes a Chanukkah party or a social gathering around the 25th of December, there is no problem inviting people to be there. If the party is about celebrating Christmas, I worry that you have crossed a key boundary.
The idea of the Jews as Or Lagoyim – a “Light to the Nations” – originates in the book of Isaiah. In chapter 42, God says to the people of Israel:
I, the Eternal, in My grace, have summoned you,
And I have grasped you by the hand.
I created you, and appointed you
A covenant people, a light of nations.
This is a message of comfort to an exiled and suffering people. It is not exactly clear what “light to the nations” originally means, but it is clear that it implies a relationship with God and a responsibility to be present to the other nations.
Many Jewish thinkers have therefore understood “Or Lagoyim” as a commandment to be an example to the world – of spirituality, ethics, and Godliness. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, Israel’s first Chief Rabbi, saw the revival of the Jewish state as the fulfillment of this ancient prophecy. Rabbi David Einhorn, an early Reform rabbi, famously formulated the idea into a “mission of Israel” – an instruction to be a beacon of morality, compassion, and spiritual goodness. And indeed, Reform Jewish thinking continues to “reaffirm social action and social justice as a central prophetic focus” (from the 1999 Pittsburgh Principles for Reform Judaism).
As part of this larger mandate, it is important to build relationships with communities of other faiths. This is especially important because we so often share ethical and spiritual goals, and a desire to make the world a better place. However, the goal of such relationship building measures is generally not to convince others to follow the mitzvot that Jews believe in, but rather to find ways to work together to serve our communities.
The best way to be Or Lagoyim is to live according to our own values, to commit ourselves to Tikkun Olam (repairing the world), and to work together with congregations of other faiths to repair the world that we share.
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