Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, October 24, 2021
Halloween – A Harmless Fun Day? A Celebration to Be Avoided by Believers? by Dr. Raymond Finney
INTRODUCTION: Next Sunday, October 31, marks Halloween. Millions of children will scurry through their communities to fill bags with sugary treats (provided America’s supply chain transports the treats to the nation’s stores). We might ask:
● Is Halloween merely a harmless, long-standing celebration? Is Halloween a fun, cultural holiday– a time to wear costumes and pass out “goodies” to children?
● Or, can Halloween degenerate into something more sinister? Is Halloween a continuation of a pagan holiday glorifying death and demonic influences?
● Is there an alternative we should find which can be enjoyed by the family, without celebrating death and demonic activity?
THE HISTORY OF HALLOWEEN: Halloween began as a religious celebration. Dating to about the time Yeshua lived, the Celts in ancient Ireland and Scotland celebrated the end of summer, which they set at October 31 for their lands in northwestern Europe. On this day, farmers and animal herders drove their herds into barns and pens, where they would remain during the harsh northern winters. Crops were harvested no later than this day, again in preparation for the coming winter.
Samhain, a harvest festival, was held at this time. [Samhain, of Irish-Gaelic origin, is translated, “end of summer,” and pronounced, sow-in, with the “sow” syllable rhyming with “cow.”]
The Celts, whose ancestors were the pagan Druids, were very superstitious. By the end of October to the first of November, the looming long northern European winter filled the Celts with dread. In these northern latitudes, winter offered dark, gloomy days; bitter cold weather; ice and snow; prolonged confinement in small homes; death of crops and vegetation; and illness of family members.
The Celts believed in fairies and spirits of the dead. These spirits were believed to roam the land in search of living bodies to inhabit. It was believed that a dead spirit could receive life by inhabiting the body of a living person. The Celts, fearing they might be possessed by dead spirits, dressed up in costumes (to disguise themselves from the wandering spirits) and paraded around the streets making loud noises (to confuse and frighten away the spirits to avoid being invaded by a dead spirit).
The Celts’ new year began on November 1. This first day of the year, the Day of Samhain, was believed to be a day that was in neither the year past nor the year to come. Since it was in between years (the old and new years were thought to overlap), chaos ruled throughout the land. Practical jokes were widely played. Large bonfires were lit; insects, attracted to the fire, in turn attracted bats hunting the insects. The beginnings of some of our Halloween customs date to these Celtic pagan practices, including celebration of dead spirits in various forms; wearing of costumes, or guising; and trick or treating.
The jack-o’-lantern comes from Irish folklore, which goes: A man, named Jack, tricked the devil into climbing a tree. Once the devil was in the tree, Jack carved a cross on the tree trunk to prevent the devil from coming down. The devil, then, made a deal with Jack that Jack would be prevented from entering Hell, after he died, if he would remove the cross from the tree. After Jack died, however, he could go neither to Hell nor to Heaven, and he was forced to wander the earth with only a single candle to light his way. Jack placed the candle in a turnip (not a pumpkin) to keep it burning longer and to shield the flame from the wind. When the Irish came to America in the nineteenth century, they adopted the hollow pumpkin instead of the solid turnip for the jack-o’-lantern. The pumpkin, lighted by a candle from within and carved to let light out as a lantern, became our jack-o’-lantern. The Irish also brought to America the idea that black cats were reincarnated spirits with prophetic abilities.
November 1 was recognized by the Roman Catholic Church as All Hallows’ Day (All Saints’ Day). [Hallow = from Old English, “holy person, saint.”] The evening of October 31 was the eve before All Hallows’ Day (All Saints’ Day). October 31 became known as All Hallows’ Eve; then, contracted to Hallow-e’en; and, finally, spelled as our more familiar Halloween.
The Roman Catholic Church and some Protestant denominations celebrate All Hallows’ Day (All Saints’ Day and other names) on November 1 as a time to memorialize the saints (Believers who have died). Shomair Yisrael does not celebrate this day.
Some Believers celebrate November 1 as Reformation Day because Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses, accelerating the Protestant Reformation against the Roman Catholic Church, on the Castle Church, Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. (If interested in Luther’s 95 Theses, see https://www.luther.de/en/95thesen.html .)
Some Satanists, Wiccans, and various other pagan groups have appropriated All-Hallows’ Day to practice their black magic, satanic rites.
There is more Halloween history, but I do not have space for more details in this RR.
Regardless of what holidays may be celebrated in the world, know that the One we worship is infinitely greater than our enemy (1 John 4:4-6): You are from God, children, and you have overcome them, because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world, so they speak from the world and the world listens to them. We are from God; whoever knows God listens to us, but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
IS THERE A BETTER ALTERNATIVE FOR BELIEVERS’ FAMILIES? This part of the RR comes from Shomair Yisrael’s Department of Obvious and Well-Known Knowledge. You probably already know all of this information, but I will nonetheless repeat it. (Hold the applause.) Consider the following suggestions:
● Suggestion: Do not let your children/ grandchildren wear costumes depicting devils, corpses, witches, ghosts, vampires, mutilated body parts, and other pagan or demonic influences. Consider:
… (Leviticus 20:6): [Adonai said] “The soul that turns to mediums or to soothsayers, prostituting himself with them, I will set My face against that soul and will cut him off from among his people.”
… Deuteronomy 18:10-14 and Leviticus 19:31 (summarized): Do not contact the dead, wizards, witches, and similar agents.
… (1 John 4:1-3a): Loved ones, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God. For many false prophets have gone out into the world. You know the Ruach Elohim by this– every spirit that acknowledges that Messiah Yeshua has come in human flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Yeshua is not from God….
… (Luke 16:26): [Yeshua, quoting Abraham, said] “Besides all this, between us and you [in the intermediate stage of afterlife] a great chasm is firmly set, so that those who want to cross over to you cannot, nor can those from there cross over to us.”
… (Isaiah 8:19-20, summarized): Adonai warned against consulting spirits and necromancers. [Necromancer = one who practices necromancy– that is, one who consults the dead for various reasons.]
… (1 Chronicles 10:13-14a): So Saul died because of his unfaithful acts that he committed against the word of Adonai, which he did not keep, and he even consulted a medium for guidance rather than inquire of Adonai….
… (1 Timothy 4:1): Now the Ruach clearly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, following deceitful spirits and teachings of demons….
… (Ephesians 6:12): For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the worldly forces of this darkness, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
… (1 Thessalonians 5:22): … keep away from every kind of evil.
… And other verses.
Reason: Believers should emphasize love, life (earthly and eternal), and Godly influences in life. Believers should not emphasize death, demons, evil spirits, and Satanic influences. Even a small opening into the blackness of evil will be enough for some children to seek deeper knowledge of a world of death and black arts, a world unpleasing to Adonai.
Alternative: If your child wants to wear a disguise, make the costume harmless fun or use face paint. Cartoon characters are generally harmless.
● Suggestion: Do not let your children roam the neighborhood trick-or-treating at strangers’ homes.
Reason: There are evil, sick persons who may poison or pack needles or razor blades in “treats,” potentially causing injury. Children, walking on streets at night, are at risk of a traffic accident or abduction.
Alternative: Let your children trick-or-treat at houses owned by persons you know and trust. Presumably safe “trunk or treat” events, open to the public, are sponsored by some churches, if your children want bags of treats (and your dentist wants a nice vacation at the beach). Inspect all treats before allowing them to be eaten.
● Suggestion: Avoid Mashiach-dishonoring decorations for your home, both outside and inside.
Reason: Your home should present a positive, Mashiach-honoring atmosphere for your children and your neighbors. Avoid ghosts, witches, disfigured corpses, black cats, devils, and the like.
Alternative: Use autumn (harvest) materials to decorate your home, such as, corn shocks, straw bales, pumpkins (not carved into jack-o’-lanterns), gourds, fall leaves, and so forth.
● Suggestion: Take your children to a safe place for fun– a place which celebrates the fall (harvest season) of the year, not Halloween. Would you be comfortable, if Yeshua accompanied your children to a Halloween party? (By the way, the Ruach ha-Kodesh will be at any party your children attend.)
Reason: Let your children have fun at a place where you are entirely confident that no harm is planned and no evil thoughts are implanted in young, impressionable minds.
Alternative: Again, some churches and malls may provide “trunk or treat” activities, open to the pubic, where children– accompanied by their parents– may get some treats, if they must do so. One presumes more wholesomeness and safety may be provided by the host church, but nothing is guaranteed in these uncertain times. Some Shomair families may decide to host a gathering of Shomair children and celebrate God’s harvest, rather than demonic spirits.
SUMMARY: Whether you consider Halloween as being innocent fun for children or having a dubious origin in paganism, try to make this Halloween safe for your children and glorify life, especially life eternal, not death. Satan is worshiped far too much in America without Believers joining in such worship. Take Halloween back to its Christian roots, and celebrate the day, remembering that the Ruach ha-Kodesh stands by your side. Your children should participate in nothing that you would be ashamed for your God to watch. Shalom and Maranatha.
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sun 24-Oct-2021 18th of Cheshvan, 5782
Ge 23:1-16 Jos 24 Ps 23 Mt 19 (Ro 1)