Part II: Yoreh De'ah
Chapter 11 - IDOLATRY
It is forbidden to derive benefit from idols, their accessories, or things
that are ordinarily sacrificed to them (or could be sacrificed in the Temple)
or used in their service. Idols and accessories that belong to a non-Jew
become permissible if he annuls them (though they should not be used for
sacred purposes), and things used in an idol's service become forbidden only
if the service causes a change in them (139:1-7,9-10,12-14;142:13;143:4;145:9).
On how to accomplish annulment see 144:1-2,146:1-13. Things given to or
used by an idol's priests are not forbidden unless they are used during
Natural objects or living creatures do not become idols even if they are
worshipped. Structures or plants do not become idols unless they are
constructed or planted for purposes of worship, but they can become
accessories to idols, and improvements made in them while they are
worshipped also become forbidden (142:12;145:1-8). A non-Jew or an
apostate can make something into an idol even if it does not belong to
If things forbidden because of idolatry become mixed up with any number
of others they all become forbidden, but if an item from the mixture is
destroyed the others may be used two at a time, and if an item from the
mixture becomes mixed with other items the second mixture is permitted
(140:1; compare Ch.8b.)
Idol-related things should be sought out and destroyed (146:14-15). A
person must not derive benefit from the fire or ashes when such things
are burned (142:1), but the heat that remains after the fire is gone is
permitted (142:4). A person must not derive benefit from things made or
improved by using idol-related tools or materials (142:2-7), but if the
idol-related source contributed only in part the result is permitted
(see 142:7-8,11). If such things become mixed up with others, money
equal to them in value must be destroyed, after which the mixture
becomes permitted (142:3-4). A person should not intentionally derive
benefit from the shade of idol-related structures (142:9-10; see 143:1)
or from looking at or listening to idol-related sights or sounds (142:15).
A person should not make things that will be used for the direct benefit of
idolatry, but if he is paid for doing so the payment is permitted (143:2).
A person should not patronize establishments or pay fees whose proceeds
directly benefit idolatry (143:3,5-6;149:1-5). A person should not sell
things to a non-Jew or give or lend him money if he may use them for
idolatrous purposes (139:15;151:1-4).
Images are forbidden if it is possible that they are worshipped (141:1-4;
142:14). It is forbidden to make complete solid or raised images of people
or angels, or any images of heavenly bodies except for purposes of study
(141:4-7). It is forbidden to make buildings or utensils that look like
the Temple or its utensils (141:8). Books used in idol worship should
not be sold to non-Jews, and writing materials should not be sold to them
if they will be used to write such books (139:15).
A person should avoid giving the appearance of bowing to an idol or showing
it respect (150:1-3). It is forbidden to swear in the name of an idol (or
even to cause a non-Jew to do so) or to mention its name (unless it is
mentioned in the Bible) or refer to it in a respectful way (147:1-5;146:15).
A Jew must not have dealings with a non-Jew, particularly at holiday times,
if this may lead to his giving thanks to an idol (see 148), and must not
assist a non-Jew in preparations that are specifically associated with
idolatry (see 156:3). Nowadays, when idolatry is not common, dealings with
non-Jews are permitted if avoiding them would lead to resentment (148:1-12;
see 152:1-2). A Jew should not be unnecessarily generous or complimentary
to a non-Jew (151:11,14), but he may be charitable to him (151:12-13).
Shulchan Aruch, Copyright (c) 2000 ProjectGenesis, Inc.