December 25, 2020
Tzvi Fishman as Santa Claus.
I grew up lighting Hanukkah candles, but we also had a Xmas tree, so that we wouldn't feel different from the Gentile kids in the neighborhood. That's the way it is with a great many Jews in America. No wonder that intermarriage has reached pandemic proportions.
In the American Modern Orthodox world, homes don't have Xmas trees, but the spirit of Xmas, the store windows and the fairy-tale, non-Jewish concept of Santa Claus fills the surrounding atmosphere and infects the Jews like Corona. By and large, no one is really waiting for Mashiach. He would just mess up their comfortable lives and force them come to Israel, as this fun holiday poem I composed points out:
'Twas the Night Before Xmas'Twas the night before Xmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The latkes were laid out on the table with care
In hopes that Mashiach soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her kerchief, and I in my yarmulke cap
Had just settled into bed for a long winter's nap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the luster of midday to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be Mashiach.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
"Who is it? Who is it?" my wife wanted to know.
"Mashiach," I told her, trembling with fear.
"Wake the children!" I urged. "Hurry and hide them! Don't stall!"
"Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"
"He's come to take us away to the Land of Israel," I said.
"Isn't that what we pray for?" she asked, her faced flushed and red.
"What?! And give up all that we have? Are you nuts?!"
"Hide the kids in the basement. Now! Without any buts!"
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I crawled under the bed, and was turning around
Down the chimney Mashiach came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Jews he had flung over his back
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.
My heart was beating so fast, thought I'd have an attack!
As he went about, looking for Jews for his sack.
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.
"Wake up! Wake up from your slumber!" he called.
If you don't come now, you're gonna be mauled!"
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like gefilte-fish jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
But I shook and I shivered in spite of myself!
"You'll all be sorry!" he called, shaking his fist.
Then, with a scowl, crossed our names off his list.
"You forgot to place Jerusalem above your highest joy,"
"So your children will grow up to marry some Mary or Roy."
"You had your chance, but I can't waste time and delay."
"Stay here with your bagels and money and continue to pray."
He spoke nothing more, but went straight to his work
Filled the stockings with kugel, then turned with a jerk.
And holding his finger near his big Jewish nose
Gave a curt nod, and up the chimney he rose!
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy exile to all, may you sleep through the night!"