Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried

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Chapter 167 : Laws Concerning Idolatry


It is forbidden to benefit from idols, from its vestments, ornaments and sacrifices. If any of these things are mingled with even one thousand legitimate items, it is forbidden to derive benefit from the entire lot. What are considered its vestments? The vessels that the priest uses for sacrificial purposes, such as pans and goblets, also the house (church) that is used exclusively for its worship, the base upon which the idol stands, also, the musical instruments that are used to play music before it. What are considered its ornaments? The candles that are lit before it, the garments that are used to clothe it, or those used to spread before it for beauty, and the trees that they are accustomed to plant in front of the idols to beautify them. These are its ornaments and it is forbidden to benefit from them, and it is therefore forbidden to sit in the shade of these trees. What are its sacrifices? The various kinds of food that are placed before it.


The idols of a non-Jew, its vestments and ornaments, can be annulled. Thus, if the heathen actually defaces them so that they can no longer be used as idols, or as vestments or ornaments to idols, it is permitted to benefit from them. But for idols of a Jewish heretic, the law of annullment does not apply.


It is permitted to benefit from candles that were lit (in front of an idol), and thereafter extinguished by a heathen, to be used for his own benefit, and were subsequently sold to a Jew. Since the heathen extinguished them to use for his own purpose, this act constitutes their annulment. Nevertheless, such candles should not be used for the performance of a mitzvah. Similarly, everything that was used for an idol, although it has been annulled, and is permitted for common use, is forbidden to be used for a mitzvah because they are abominable to the Almighty.


Regarding the clothing that the priests wear when they enter the house of idol worship, some Poskim maintain that they are ornaments of the priests and not ornaments of the idols, and therefore do not require annulment; while other Poskim require their annullment.


A cross to which they bow down, is a forbidden object unless it is annulled, but a cross that is hung around the neck, as a momento is a permitted object [from which profit may be derived].


It is forbidden to make anything that is needed for idols; even windows for the house of idol worship. It is forbidden to sell books that are exclusive to idol worship, [or books of Biblical Scriptures, that were copied with alterations designed to make them heretical and to strengthen their beliefs.] Similarly, selling them something that they need for their worship is forbidden, if they cannot purchase them elsewhere. Some Poskim forbid this even when they are able to purchase the same thing elsewhere, and a righteous person, should be strict regarding this.


It is forbidden to gaze at an idol or at its ornaments, as it is said, "Do not turn to idols." You must keep a distance of four amohs from a house of idolatry, and certainly from the idol itself so as not to pass by them. It is forbidden to listen to their musical instruments, or to smell their incense. If you hear their musical instruments, you should plug your ears, and if the aroma of their incense comes to you, have in mind not to derive pleasure from it.


If you see houses of idolatry in a settled states you should say: "God will uproot the house of the haughty." (If you see them) in a state of destruction, you should say: 'Almighty of vengeance, God, Almighty of vengeance, reveal Yourself."


If a splinter has lodged in your foot, or if your coins were scattered, in front of an idol, you must not bend down to remove the splinter, or to gather the coins, because it would appear as though you are bowing to the idol. Even if there is no one to witness it, it is nevertheless forbidden. You should rather sit down, or turn your back, or your side to the idol and then take whatever you need.


There is an authority who says that it is forbidden to lend money for the purpose of building a house of idolatry, or for their ornaments or for their staff. And you most certainly are forbidden to sell them ornaments. He who refrains from doing these things will prosper. You should not bind books dealing with idolatry; except for their law books and literature. [Even] if you fear this will incur their hatred, nevertheless, whatever you can do to evade doing so, you must evade it.


In a place where Gentiles assemble, and say that there they are forgiven their iniquities, it is forbidden to do business with them there.


It is forbidden to mention the name of an idol, whether for some purpose, like saying to your friend: "Wait for me near such and such idol," or without a purpose, as it is said, 'And the name of other gods you shall not mention." It is forbidden to cause a Gentile to mention the name of an idol, as it is said, "It shall not be heard by your mouth," that is, it should not be heard because of you. However, if a Gentile is obligated to you to take an oath (as in a law suit), some Poskim are lenient and permit him to swear [by his idol.] The names of their holidays, which are named after people, may be mentioned without reservation; this is provided you do not refer to them in the same way the Gentiles do, in a manner indicative of respect.


All kinds of mockery are forbidden, except mockery of idols which is permitted.


It is forbidden to give a gift to a Gentile that is not your acquaintance, as it is written, "You shall not show them grace;" and this is explained, "You shall not give them a free gift." But, if he is an acquaintance, it is not considered a free gift, for in time he will return this favor, or he has already compensated for it, and it is like a sale (and not a gift).


It is forbidden to praise them, even as much as to say, "How handsome that Gentile is," and certainly you are not to speak in praise of his deeds, or to cherish any of his utterances, for this is also included [in the negative command] "You shall not show them grace," that is, do not ascribe any grace to them. But if your intention by praising him, is to give thanks to the Holy One, Blessed be He, for having created such a handsome being, it is permissible.


It is permitted to help their poor, visit their sick, bury their dead, eulogize them, and console their mourners, for the purpose of maintaining peaceful relations with them.


A Jew should not be alone with a Gentile, because they are suspect to commit homicide.


A non-Jewess must not be allowed to nurse a Jewish child in her own house, even in the presence of others. But in the house of a Jew, she is permitted to nurse him when others are present, [or at least if they are] going in and out, provided that they do not leave him alone with her at night.


A Jewess should not act as midwife for a non-Jewess, unless she is known to be a [professional] midwife, for then it is permitted (so as not to incur hated). This too is permitted only if she is compensated and only on a weekday. A Jewess should not nurse a non-Jewish child, even if she is compensated. If she is engorged with milk and it is causing her discomfort; she is permitted to nurse him.


It is forbidden to teach a trade to a Gentile.


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