My Rav is a nice guy, but he’s firm in his p’sak and although I don’t always like the answer I usually abide by his rulings. My motto is that if you’re going to violate your Ravs p’sak, don’t ask the question in the first place. I was in a bind yesterday, my minhag (as well as pretty much every other frum guy in the world) is to buy my wife flowers on erev shabbos, every once in a while I pick them during a hike, but yesterday was Valentines Day and everyone knows that it’s a goyishe yuntiff that has not crept into frum society as of yet. The only reason I even know about Valentines Day is from dating girls who didn’t grow up frum and wondered why I hadn’t asked them to be their valentine.
On the way home from work I realized that if I was seen buying flowers at the local Safeway, one may assume that I was celebrating Valentines Day and I would be placed on the secret shul list of “unacceptable places to eat” that every shul in the Bay Area has stowed away for new families. The only thing worse than people not accepting invitations to your home because you celebrate goyishe yomim tovim, is people not accepting invitations to your home because they heard you take your kids to corn mazes or holiday lights festivals – which are not usually on the yuntiff itself.
I approached my Rav on erev shabbos Valentines Day 2014 and asked him if I should buy flowers for my wife. Basically, did shalom bayis override the maris ayin of buying erev shabbos flowers on the one day a year that goyim buy flowers for their wives? We all know that goyim lead trivial lives and have zero shalom bayis, unless they want something out of it, I didn’t want to suddenly become a goy and I didn’t want to be considered a heathen with flowers in hand.
My Rav’s p’sak was quite interesting, he that Jews actually could celebrate Valentines Day, but that when it fell out on erev shabbos we treated it like purim, We push it off until Sunday. Not only does this allow yidden around the world to buy flowers, candy, and love shaped water beds at deeply discounted prices, but it also means that our shopping experiences will be more tznius and filled with the simcha of the shabbos prior to the yuntiff.
Eventually I just called my wife to tell her that I had intention to buy her flowers, but had thought about the halachos against reminding converts of their heathen past and told her that she may feel uncomfortable with the thought of doing something that is slightly goyishe. I told her that my theory was that by letting her know my thoughts, I was already yotze the mitzvah of erev shabbos flowers and was not required to purchase them. Instead, I brought home soda.
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