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1. Rabbi Ishmael said, "three stones 1 beside each other at the side of the image of Mercury are forbidden, but two are allowed." But the Sages say, "when they are within his view they are forbidden, but when they are not within his view they are allowed."

2. "Has one found money on his head, a garment, or implements which are not offerings?" "They are allowed." Festoons of grapes, wreaths of ears of corn, and wines, and oils, and fine flour, and everything similar offered on his altar are forbidden.

3. A garden or a bath for idolatry are permitted for use when they are gratuitous. But they are not to be used if a present for the worship of the idol be expected. If it be in partnership with others that are not so employed, it can be used, whether it be with the expectation of a present or gratuitous. The idol of idolaters is at once forbidden, but the idol of Israel is not forbidden until it be served.

4. An idolater may desecrate his own idol, or the idol of his companion. But Israel must not desecrate the idol of an idolater. In desecrating the idol he desecrates what appertains to it. "Has he desecrated what appertains to it?" "What appertains to it is allowed, but the idol itself is forbidden."

5. "How is it to be desecrated?" "He cuts off the lobe of its ear, the tip of its nose, the end of its finger—he deforms

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even though he does not diminish it—it is desecrated." "He spits before it, he drags it, and throws dirt upon it?" "It is not desecrated." "Has he sold it or pledged it?" Rabbi says, "it is desecrated." But the Sages say, "it is not desecrated."

6. The idol, the service of which is abandoned in the time of peace, is allowed. "But if its service be abandoned in time of war?" "It is forbidden." 1 The royal pedestals 2 are forbidden, because they are erected at the time when kings are travelling.

7. The elders were asked in Rome, "If God has no pleasure in idolatry, why does He not destroy it?" They replied to the Romans, "If the idolaters were serving a thing which was not necessary to the world, He would destroy it, but they serve the sun disc, and the moon, and the stars, and the signs of the zodiac. Shall he destroy his world on account of the fools?" They replied to them, "If so He can destroy the object which is not wanted for the world, and leave that which the world wants." They replied to them, "even we should be strengthening the hands of the worshippers of such objects; they would say, there is a proof that they are gods, because they are not destroyed."

8. One may buy a wine-press pressed by an idolater, even though he take grapes with his hand and lay them on the heap of grapes, as it is not made the wine of idolatrous libation, till it runs into the vat. "Has it run into the vat?" "That which is in the vat is forbidden, but the remainder is allowed." One may tread with an idolater in the wine-press, but one must not gather grapes with him. One must not tread or gather grapes with an Israelite who works in a state of defilement. But one may carry with him empty barrels to the press and bring them away with him from the press. One must not knead nor prepare with the baker who works in (a state of) legal defilement, but one may carry the bread with him to the dealer in bread.

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9. "If an idolater be found standing by the side of a wine vat, and if he have any loan upon it?" "It is forbidden." "If he have no loan on it?" "It is allowed." "Has he fallen into the vat and come out again, or measured it with a cane; has he driven away a hornet with a cane; or has he given a slap to the fermentation on the top of the barrel?" All these things once happened, and the (Sages) decided, "Let it be sold." But R. Simon "allowed it." He took the barrel, and flung it in a rage into the vat. This once happened and the Sages allowed it.

10. "Has one made the wine of an idolater without legal defilement, and left it in his possession in a house open to public concourse—in a city in which there are idolaters and Israelites?" "It is allowed." "In a city in which all are idolaters?" "It is forbidden till he leave a watchman, and it is not needful that the watchman sit and watch. Even though he goes in and out it is allowed." R. Simon, the son of Eleazar, said, "all possession of wine by idolaters is alike." "Has one made the wine of an heathen without legal defilement, and left it in his possession, and the idolater afterwards wrote to him, I have received from you the money for the wine?" "It is allowed." "But if the Israelite wish to withdraw it, and the idolater do not permit him, till he shall give him his money for it?" This once happened in Bethshan, and the Sages "forbade it."


212:1 These stones must be arranged as two on the ground, and one over them, and not more than four ells distant from the image, to fulfil the conditions of being an idolatrous offering. If the stones did not fulfil these conditions, an Israelite might use them for building purposes.

213:1 If the idol be disregarded in time of peace, the heathen have ceased to esteem it as a god, and Israelites might use it for some purpose. But if the heathen neglected it during the confusion of war, there was no proof that they would not worship it at another time.

213:2 i.e. triumphal arches with statues upon them.

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