It’s been interesting to monitor the response to our new animated short The Adventures of Todd and God. For the most part, people have loved it and encouraged our attempt to find new modes of educating and engaging.
Our goal, of course, was to create something truly informative and useful and package it in a fun way. Still, when you experiment, the product is not going to work for everyone.
Some have objected to God’s first Hanukkah gift to Todd: a box of cigars. While we certainly weren’t trying to assert the divine approval of tobacco products, I understand why it might make some uncomfortable.
But a couple of people have critiqued the video on Jewish legal grounds. At the end of the video (spoiler alert!), God retrieves the stogies he gave to Todd and lights one using the fire from the menorah. According to Jewish law, the light of the candles is not supposed to be used — i.e. we are not supposed to benefit from the light or use the candles to transfer fire.
This is why we have a shamash, a candle that is used to light all the other candles, but is not counted as one of the “official” Hanukkah lights.
So I am here to affirm for all who were wondering: God is, indeed, a halakhic Jew. We specifically made it so that God lights His cigar off the shamash, which is 100% kosher.
Have we violated the principle of lifnei iver, the prohibition against leading people to transgress a commandment by giving them the wrong impression (i.e. that you can light a cigar off of any of the Hanukkah candles)?
If so, I hope this blog post will rectify any halakhic damage done. As for the potential theological damage done by our video: we’ve probably still got some work to do.