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Many have asked me, as their rabbi, if it's a Mitzvah to celebrate New Year's Eve. Many do not know this, but New Year's Eve is not one of the New Years brought in the Torah. Gd did not command us to get drunk and wear a Santa hat. Hence, it's not a Mitzvah. Even so, New Year's is a Jewish day, and that is why we start New Year's at night. Let us now delve into some of the traditions of Rosh Hashana and New Year's Eve and how they differ.
New Year's: People go out and drink a lot of alcohol.
Rosh Hashana: We stay in and drink a lot of Manischewitz.
There is no Mitzvah of Kiddish on New Year's. Thus, you can drink any kind of alcohol you would like. The only issue is that most bars do not stock up on Manischewitz for New Year's.
New Year’s: Watch the apple drop in New York City.
Rosh Hashana: Do I even have to say?! You get it.
New Year's: Celebrate with party.
Rosh Hashana: Celebrate with brisket.
You can also celebrate Rosh Hashana with Davening. However, it's hard to eat brisket while praying.
New Year’s: They have sales.
Rosh Hashana: Nothing is on sale. Even apples are marked up. The grocers know.
New Year's: Kiss somebody at the stroke of midnight. That's the only true tradition of New Year's Eve.
Rosh Hashana: If you kiss somebody you're going to hell, and you'll feel bad about it, and that makes you happy.
New Year’s: Make New Year’s resolutions to not eat.
Rosh Hashana: Eat as much as you can, because it is spiritual.
After eight and a half pounds of brisket on Rosh Hashana, you make a resolution to not eat.
Rosh Hashana and New Year's: After the resolution, you eat. It's tradition.
New Year’s: Make a resolution to never eat chocolate.
Rosh Hashana: Eat chocolate, because you ate it every day since January second.
New Year’s: No praying.
Rosh Hashana: We pray and we listen to the shofar.
The day after New Year’s, everybody is praying that they’ll feel better. And everything they hear sounds like a shofar being blown real loud, right in their face.
New Year’s: See famous people on TV.
Rosh Hashana: Finally see some famous people showing up to shul.
New Year's: People celebrate around the world with fireworks.
Rosh Hashana: If you see anything that looks or sounds like fireworks, that's probably an anti-Semite.
Rosh Hashana: Ask people and Gd for forgiveness, known as Teshuva.
New Year’s: Do as many things wrong that you can, so you have what to do on Rosh Hashana.
Rosh Hashana: Prepare for holiday by calling family and friends.
New Year’s: Forget to call family and friends. Drank too much.
Rosh Hashana: Everybody watches the guy blowing the shofar.
New Year's: Everybody watches the guy puking.
We've learned that there's a tradition a lot of people have to drink on New Year's Eve. If New Year's Eve doesn't fall out on Purim, you shouldn't drink.
Rosh Hashana: The whole family is around.
New Year's: You would feel too guilty to enjoy yourself if family was around.
All this said, you can still do Mitzvahs on New Year's Eve. And if you're not inebriated, you might end up eating brisket on New Year's. That's a Mitzvah.
New Year's and New Year are very different. You should all be blessed with a good New Year in September.
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Wearing Israeli flags. Showing their support for Israel at the rally in DC. It would’ve been smarter if they brought coats. Based on experience, flags don’t work as good windbreakers.