Monday, December 17, 2007

Get Ready For Festivus, 2007!

Festivus is less than a week away!
Are you ready?

Happy Festivus!

Last year, of course, there were some serious halachic issues surrounding Festivus observance.

Festivus PoleThis year, you should all have begun getting ready for Festivus right after Hanukkah. For a detailed description of Festivus observances, click here.

Now, there have been some she'aloth (questions) brought to my attention. Please find my rulings below.

1. May one use a metallic-colored, non-metal pole as ones Festivus Pole?

No. Al pi ma'aseh HaRav, it is clear that one may not use a non-metallic pole, not even bli'avad.

2. Are there any restrictions on foods for the Festivus se'udah (meal)?

Yes. The rule of thumb is not to serve any foods which will result in additional grievances. Thus, one does not serve non-kosher food to a Jew, pork to a Muslim, meat to a vegetarian, eggs or cheese to a vegan, dairy to the dairy intolerant, gluten to the gluten-abstinent, nor alcohol to an alcoholic or recovering addict, etc.

Elaine's "Big Salad" with dairy and gluten items "on the side" (alla "When Harry Met Sally") should always be an option made available to your guests.

3. May one fulfill his obligation to air grievances via e-mail?

This raises a very interesting question. The answer is yes. However, there are conditions.

If one is in a different time zone, one must send the e-mails with enough time in advance of the se'udah of the intended target of your grievances, so that you can be sure that your e-mail will have been opened and read. The proper time for the se'udah is after sundown. One must be careful to check any time difference, and it is preferable to send the e-mails on December 23 if at all possible. If not, one must send the e-mails earlier than later.

Instances when e-mails cannot be sent on December 23 include Shabbath and Hanukkah for Jews. When you know that the intended target of your grievances will not be at home for the se'udah, and will not have access to e-mail, one must send the grievance e-mail before his time of departure. If you know that your intended target has a working laptop, one may assume that he will obsessively check his e-mail for grievances before the start of his se'udah.

Puposely contacting someone with a grievance after his se'udah is concluded is considered "Festivus grievance side-swiping," clearly flying in the face of the whole point of the Festivus "Airing of Grievance" ritual. If one is tardy, either b'mezid or b'shogeg, one must hold it in till next year.

4. Are their any restrictions on wrestling the head of household to the ground at the close of the se'udah?

Yes. Once again, the rule of thumb is not to do anything which would generate new grievances. One may be rough, but not violent, nor abusive. I recommend non-violent, non-abusive roughness.

5. Is it forbidden to bring gifts to the se'udah, even if the gifts are voluntary?

There are differing opinions on this issue. If you recall, the original catalyst to the creation of Festivus was the trauma surrounding ritualized, obligatory, gift-giving. One does not give gifts on Festivus in order to avoid such unpleasantness, during purchase, presentation, and receipt.

Some opinions hold that one may bring a gift to the se'udah, if it is for all of the guests to enjoy. However, one still risks the situation of the surprise guest or surprise aversion scenarios. Thus, some rule that such gifts are forbidden. Still others are more lenient, and say that one is allowed to take the risk that one may rack up additional grievances, since the year for grievance accumulation has technically not yet ended.

Human Fund Donor CardI tend toward the more lenient side. However, calling the hosts of the se'udah in advance to test the waters is advised.

One may also donate money to the "The Human Fund" if someone at the table is collecting for it,...and you are dumb enough to fall for that one.

It's Festivus for the rest-of-us!


Rafi G. said...

this looks like a cool holiday. I never heard of it before (or, at least, I do not remember hearing of it).

Esser Agaroth said...