Chapter 7: Benefiting from idolatry and its accessories
Halacha 1: Mitzvah to destroy idolatry
- It is a positive command form to destroy idolatry and its accessories.
- Israel versus Diaspora: The land of Israel, one is to search out and destroy all remnants of idolatry. However, in the Diaspora there is no obligation to search for idolatry in order to destroy it and it only needs to be destroyed from the areas which were conquered.
Halacha 2: Benefiting from idolatry
- All idolatry and its accessories are prohibited in benefit.
- Whoever benefits from it receives two sets of lashes.
Halacha 3: Benefiting from an animal idolatry offering
- An animal which was offered to idolatry is completely forbidden in benefit, including even its bones, hooves, and skin.
- Skins which are recognizable that their animals were offered for idolatry are all forbidden in benefit.
Halacha 4: The difference between the idol of a Jew versus a Gentile regarding benefit
- Following manufacturing versus time of worship: The idol of a Gentile is prohibited in benefit the moment that it is manufactured. However, the idol of a Jew is only prohibited in benefit after it is worshipped and not at the time of manufacture.
- The accessories: The accessories of an idol are only prohibited in benefit after they are used for the worship of the idolatry.
Halacha 5: Benefiting from the proceeds of idolatry
- The sale of an idol: One who manufactures an idol for another individual, whether Jew or Gentile, may benefit from the proceeds that he made through the sale, even though he is liable for lashes for the manufacturing of the idol.
- If one accidentally purchased idolatry: If one purchased items from a Gentile and then discovered idolatry amongst them, then he should throw them into the Dead Sea unless he has yet to do a Kinyan of both payment and Meshicha, in which case he should return the idolatry items to the Gentile.
- A convert who inherited idolatry items: A convert who inherited idolatry items from his father, amongst other items, may have his brother take all the idolatry items, and he take money in its stead, so long as the idolatry items has yet to reach his possession.
Halacha 6: Sculptures of an idol worshiper and their benefit status
- Sculptures that are made by Gentiles for beauty purposes are permitted in benefit. This is in contrast to sculptures that are made for the sake of idolatry.
- Those sculptures that are generally made for idolatry purposes, such as those in the small towns and entrances of cities with distinct shapes, are considered to be of idolatry and prohibited in benefit, while those that are generally made for beauty purposes, such as those that are within the city, are considered to be of beauty and permitted in benefit.
Halacha 7: Benefiting from broken pieces of a sculptural idolatry
- The broken pieces of a sculpture are permitted in benefit. However, the broken pieces of an idol are forbidden in benefit.
- Sculptures that are thrown in the trash: Sculptures that are found discarded in the trash or the side of the road are permitted in benefit.
Halacha 8: Discarded vessels with possible idol imagery
- Vessels that are found to contain imagery that are used for idolatry, such as the sun, the moon and the like then if they are expensive vessels, such as silver and gold vessels, or if they are expensive embroidery, or if the imagery has been engraved in the jewelry, then they are forbidden in benefit. Otherwise, they are permitted in benefit.
Halacha 9: Benefiting from mixtures of offerings and accessories of idolatry
- Idols and their offerings and accessories which are forbidden in benefit which become mixed with other items of the same, prohibit the entire mixture irrelevant of ratio.
- For example, if an idol became mixed with other sculptures of beauty of the same kind even one with 1000, then the entire mixture becomes forbidden in benefit and must be discarded in the Dead Sea.
- Benefiting from the proceeds of the sale of idolatry: One who transgressed and sold an idol or one of its accessories or offerings, then it’s proceeds are forbidden in benefit just like the idol itself.
Halacha 10: Benefiting from the ashes of idolatry
- Idols or an idolatry tree which has been burned to the point of ash, the ashes are forbidden in benefit.
- Coals: Likewise, a coal of idolatry is forbidden in benefit.
- Flame: However, the flame of burning idolatry is permitted in benefit being that it has no substance.
- Sfek Sfeika mixtures of idolatry: If a mixture which contains an idol had one of its items separated, and that item then mixed with another two items are more, then the entire mixture is permitted. Likewise, if two of the pieces in the mixture fell in the Dead Sea, then the entire mixture is permitted. Likewise, if the mixture split into two, such as 60/40 then if the 40 gets mixed with other items, that mixture is permitted as we assume that the idolatry is in the mixture of 60 which is the majority. If however the 60 mixes with other items, then everything is forbidden.
Halacha 11: Benefiting from a tree of idolatry [i.e. Asheira]
- The definition: It is forbidden to benefit from a tree of idolatry, known as an Asheira tree, such as a tree which contains idols under it or a tree which is itself worshiped.
- Sitting under its shade: Thus, one may not sit under the shade that it’s bark provides although he may sit under the shade of its leaves and branches.
- Walking through the shade: One may not even walk through its shade if he has another path to walk through. If he does not have another path available, then he may run through it.
Halacha 12: Benefiting from a nest found on a tree of idolatry
- Birds: Birds which are found on a tree of idolatry permitted in benefit so long as they are old enough to sustain themselves on their own without their mother.
- Chicks: If however the chicks still need their mother then they are forbidden in benefit.
- Eggs: The eggs which are found in a nest which is on A tree of idolatry is forbidden in benefit.
- The nest itself: The branches of the nest are permitted in benefit being that they come from external sources.
Halacha 13: The wood of a tree of idolatry
- The wood of the tree of idolatry is forbidden in benefit.
- One who used the wood of an idolatry tree to fuel an oven: One who takes wood from a tree of idolatry which is forbidden in benefit and uses it to fuel an oven, then it is forbidden to cook in it so long as its heat is still there. One must wait for the oven to cool off and only then place new permitted wood into it for the sake of cooking.
- If one already cooked in it: If one already baked in the oven prior to it cooling off then the bread is forbidden in benefit.
- The bread became mixed with other breads: If the bread that became forbidden became mixed with other breads, then one is to throw the value of one loaf into the Dead Sea and he may then eat the remaining breads.
Halacha 14: Other benefits of an idolatry tree
- Used its wood as a sewing needle: If one used a piece of wood of a tree of idolatry as a sewing needle to weave a clothing, then the clothing is forbidden in benefit.
- If the clothing became mixed with other clothing: If the clothing became mixed with other clothing then one is to throw the value of one clothing into the Dead Sea and he may then use the remaining clothing.
- Planting vegetables under the tree: It is permitted to plant vegetables under a tree of idolatry whether in the summer or the winter, whether it needs shade or rain to grow, as the ground is not forbidden in benefit, and the growth only occurs as a joint product of the ground and tree, and whenever two products are involved in producing an item the item is permitted even if one of the products was forbidden in benefit.
- Fertilizer of idolatry: If a field was fertilized with the fertilizer of idolatry it is nonetheless permitted to plant In it.
- A cow that was fattened with food of idolatry: It is permitted to eat the meat of a cow that was fattened using food of idolatry.
Halacha 15: Foods that are offered for idolatry [i.e. Takroves Avodas Kochavim]
- Prepared for idolatry but not offered: All foods which were prepared to be offered to the idol but were yet to be offered, remain permitted in benefit even if they were already entered into the building of the idol.
- Offered to idolatry: Once the food is offered to the idol it becomes forbidden in benefit forever even if it is later removed from the presence of the idol.
- The status of foods found in the room of the idol: All foods that are found in the room of the idol are biblically forbidden in benefit. This applies even to salt and water.
- The law if a person ate from food of idolatry: One who eats from food that was offered to an idol is liable for lashes irrelevant of the amount that he eats.
Halacha 16: The status of items found near or on top of idols
- Found on the head of the idol not in room of worship: All items which are found on the head of the idol, such as clothing and money, then if they were found in a state of belittlement then they are permitted while if there are found in a state of honor then they are forbidden.
- Examples: For example, if one found a wallet with money hanging on its neck then it is permitted. Likewise, if one found a clothing folded on top of its head then it is permitted. If however one found an item that is offered to the altar on top of its head, then it is forbidden.
- Found in room of worship: The above differentiation however only applies if the idol is not inside of its room of worship. However when the idol is in its room of worship then all items found by the idol including even water and salt are forbidden whether they were placed there in the way of belittlement or honor.
- The Peor and Markolis idolatry: All items found near the idolatries of Peor and Markolis which are worshiped in a belittling manner are forbidden in benefit whether they are found in the room of worship or not. Likewise, all rocks that are found by Markolis idolatry are forbidden in benefit.
Halacha 17: Benefiting from a bathhouse or garden of an idol
- It is permitted for one to benefit from the bathhouse or garden which is part of a complex of idolatry so long as one does not have to give gratitude to the priests and is not benefiting from it as a result of their kindness.
- If the bathhouse regarding is jointly owned by the house of idolatry and regular Gentiles, then it is permitted to benefit from it even if he must give gratitude to the priests so long as he does not pay them.
Halacha 18: Using a bathhouse which contains idols
- It is permitted for one to bathe in a bathhouse which contains idols being that it is positioned there for beauty purposes and not for worship. If however this is the common way that the idol is worshipped then it is forbidden to use the bathhouse.
- Urinating in front of an idol: It is permitted for one to urinate in front of an idol which is positioned on top of a toilet, unless this is the common way that the idol is worshipped in which case it is forbidden.
Halacha 19: Used a knife of idolatry to slaughter an animal or cut meat
- If one use the knife of idolatry to slaughter an animal, then the meat is permitted in benefit if the animal was healthy and could’ve been slaughtered at a later time. If, however, the animal was sick and needed to be slaughtered immediately, then the meat is forbidden.
- For the same reason, it is forbidden to cut meat using the knife of idolatry although if he cut the meat in a destructive manner, then the meat is permitted in benefit.