That was the latest holiday viral video by my pal and obsessive Scrabulous partner Will of Shabot6000 fame. The video is meant to promote the Website MyJewishLearning.com, described as “a trans-denominational website of Jewish information and education geared toward learners of all ages and educational backgrounds.” Funded by The Samuel Bronfman Foundation, The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation, Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation and The Abramson Family Foundation and partnered with a whole slew of neat-o organizations, the site is chock full of awesome Jewy information!

Now, Jewlicious isn’t funded by anyone but, inspired by this awesome video, I think we can contribute a few things to the state of Jewish Literacy! For instance, depictions of images of God are problematic in the Jewish religion. So while watching this video may or may not be prohibited, it’s probably not a good idea to worship the golden toothed funkster depiction of God presented within. Also, while God teaches Tod about Hanukkah, prior to leaving, God lights a cigar off of the Chanukiah. Now, God being omnipotent and all, can probably do that with impunity, but Jewish law, and the blessings we recite upon lighting the candles are pretty clear – unless you are an omnipotent being, lighting stogies off of a Chanukiah, or using it for anything other than the commemoration of the miracle of Hanukkah, is strictly prohibited.

Yay! Trans-denominational Jewish Literacy is fun!

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About the author

ck

Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.

6 Comments

  • Thanks CK for clearing a few things up.

    I don’t want to be a soggy latke, but Shabbot’s cartoon has some issues I want to take up too. I would like to add some further analysis which I am sure he won’t mind.

    God did not create Chanukah, in the sense that Chanukah is a holiday created by us, to commemorate miracles and victories that God had a hand in. Why God in this video. Who can learn with God? Why not a charismatic teacher? Or is God the internet?

    And why is God saying blessings – for what purpose? It is not explained. We say the blessings to help us elevate and inspire us to do Gods work in the world.

    Why presents? This modern tradition of emulating Christmas has gotten materialistically out of control. At least one gift could have been the savings bond variety. Or credit on E-trade.

    And why only present candles? Many many Jews use oil, which is the preferred method taught by our sages, so we can be more holistically connected to the miracle of the oil.

    And is this for kids or college students? The 40 ouncer and cigar would seem to point towards college age students, so why is he in a home and not a trashed college apartment?

    And the emphasis placed on Left to Right seems to emphasize practice over meaning.
    Who cares what direction we light if the poor guy has no connection to the lights he is lighting. Don’t make such a big fuss on left to right, but rather, what connects me to Chanukah.

    There is nothing presented to relate Chanukah to today. It tells us that we light the eight candles to remember the Maccabees victory and the miracle of the [massage] oil.
    But what is the essence?

    Or have we lost the ability to be deep?

    Withallthat said. I love Shabbot’s sense of humor, his taking aim, his artistry, his music, and his desire to help out every Jewish organization that he can with creating viral videos. It is a labor or love because we just don’t pay well, if at all.

  • As I mentioned over at the MyJewishLearning blog, a few people have commented on God’s apparent violation of Jewish law when lighting his cigar off the Hanukiyah.

    BUT…

    There’s actually no halakhic trangression here. God lights is cigar off of the shamash, which is 100% permissible.

  • … and he’s God. He can do whatever he likes. Besides, he’s the God of the Jews not a Jewish God. Is God bound by Halachah? I don’t think so. But it is kind of bizarre that he recites prayers where he essentially blesses himself. Now I know this was all meant in good fun, and it’s kind of cool that all these little idiosyncrasies get us talking a bit more about the holiday, so please don’t take offense. I liked the video, ok? Will is great!

  • Thank you, all, glad you like the toon! I can answer your questions, Rabbi Yonah:

    Why is God in this video, even if he did not create Chanukah? I want God to be a recurring character, as he is in the Torah.

    Why presents? You’ve answered the question: because it is a modern tradition that people are familiar with.

    Why instruct only for lighting the candles, and not for oil? Because we can’t include every variable, and candles are more popular.

    Is this cartoon for kids or adults? I think it’s obviously intended for an Internet-savvy audience, and readers of MyJewishLearning.com — primarily adults. Why is he at home and not in a college dorm? Because cartoons exist that are about kids in adult situations … think South Park.

    Why emphasize left-to-right in lieu of the meaning of Chanukah? Because this is an instructional video specifically to teach people HOW to light the candles, with a brief description of why. There’s already tons of material out there explaining the story of Chanukah, but very few tutorials that are memorable. Hopefully this one will fill that gap.

    The average attention span of people looking for video content on the Internet is 2-3 minutes. If we included all the content you ask for–a history lesson, oil and candles, the essence of Chanukah–and excluded the gifts, the funny God, and the mature content, we’d have a very long, very boring cartoon.

    Also, the fact that questions have been raised about this cartoon means it is working.

    Shavua Tov!

    William (Ben Baruch)

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