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    Nittel – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Is it true that some Jews call 24 December Nittel?

    "Nicht Torah Lernen" - the Lubavitcher Rebbe playing chess on "Nittel"

    “Nicht Torah Lernen” – the Lubavitcher Rebbe playing chess on “Nittel”

    A. 24/25 December do not figure in the official Jewish calendar.

    Christians of course regard 25 December as the birthday of Jesus (though there is a scholarly debate about the correctness of this date).

    Nittel probably derives from a Latin word for “birth” and medieval Christians who were on the way to midnight mass may have used the occasion to attack Jews, as they did at Easter time. It was safer for Jews not to venture out that evening, not even to go to the Bet Midrash.

    Hence the suggestion that Nittel stands for “Nicht Torah Lernen (“No Torah Study”).

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