כָּל הַצְּלָמִים אֲסוּרִים, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֵן נֶעֱבָדִין פַּעַם אַחַת בַּשָּׁנָה, דִבְרֵי רַבִּי מֵאִיר. וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים, אֵינוֹ אָסוּר אֶלָּא כָל שֶׁיֵּשׁ בְּיָדוֹ מַקֵּל אוֹ צִפּוֹר אוֹ כַדּוּר. רַבָּן שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן גַּמְלִיאֵל אוֹמֵר, כֹּל שֶׁיֵּשׁ בְּיָדוֹ כָל דָּבָר: All statues are forbidden, i.e., it is prohibited to derive benefit from them, because they are worshipped at least once a year; this is the statement of Rabbi Meir. And the Rabbis say: The only type of statue that is forbidden is any statue that has in its hand a staff, or a bird, or an orb, as these are indications that this statue is designated for idolatry. If the statue is holding a different item, it may be assumed that the statue was fashioned for ornamental purposes and not for worship. Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says: It is prohibited to derive benefit even from any statue that has any item whatsoever in its hand.
הַמּוֹצֵא שִׁבְרֵי צְלָמִים, הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ מֻתָּרִים. מָצָא תַבְנִית יָד אוֹ תַבְנִית רֶגֶל, הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ אֲסוּרִים, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁכַּיּוֹצֵא בָהֶן נֶעֱבָד: In the case of one who finds unidentifiable fragments of statues, these are permitted, i.e., one may derive benefit from them. If one found an object in the figure of a hand or in the figure of a foot, these are forbidden, as objects similar to those are worshipped.
הַמּוֹצֵא כֵלִים וַעֲלֵיהֶם צוּרַת חַמָּה, צוּרַת לְבָנָה, צוּרַת דְּרָקוֹן, יוֹלִיכֵם לְיָם הַמֶּלַח. רַבָּן שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן גַּמְלִיאֵל אוֹמֵר, שֶׁעַל הַמְכֻבָּדִין, אֲסוּרִים. שֶׁעַל הַמְבֻזִּין, מֻתָּרִין. רַבִּי יוֹסֵי אוֹמֵר, שׁוֹחֵק וְזוֹרֶה לָרוּחַ אוֹ מַטִּיל לַיָּם. אָמְרוּ לוֹ, אַף הוּא נַעֲשֶׂה זֶבֶל, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יג) וְלֹא יִדְבַּק בְּיָדְךָ מְאוּמָה מִן הַחֵרֶם: In the case of one who finds vessels, and upon them is a figure of the sun, a figure of the moon, or a figure of a dragon, he must take them and cast them into the Dead Sea and not derive any benefit from them, as they are assumed to be objects of idol worship. Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says: Those figures that are upon respectable vessels are forbidden. Those that are upon disgraceful vessels are permitted. Rabbi Yosei says: When one encounters an idol, he should grind the idol and throw the dust to the wind or cast it into the sea. The Rabbis said to him: What is the good of that? That also gives a Jew benefit from the idol, as it becomes fertilizer for his crops, and deriving any kind of benefit is prohibited, as it is stated: “And nothing of the proscribed items shall cleave to your hand” (Deuteronomy 13:18).
שָׁאַל פְּרוֹקְלוֹס בֶּן פִלוֹסְפוֹס אֶת רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל בְּעַכּוֹ, שֶׁהָיָה רוֹחֵץ בַּמֶּרְחָץ שֶׁל אַפְרוֹדִיטִי, אָמַר לוֹ, כָּתוּב בְּתוֹרַתְכֶם, וְלֹא יִדְבַּק בְּיָדְךָ מְאוּמָה מִן הַחֵרֶם. מִפְּנֵי מָה אַתָּה רוֹחֵץ בַּמֶּרְחָץ שֶׁל אַפְרוֹדִיטִי. אָמַר לוֹ, אֵין מְשִׁיבִין בַּמֶּרְחָץ. וּכְשֶׁיָּצָא אָמַר לוֹ, אֲנִי לֹא בָאתִי בִגְבוּלָהּ, הִיא בָאתָה בִגְבוּלִי, אֵין אוֹמְרִים, נַעֲשֶׂה מֶרְחָץ לְאַפְרוֹדִיטִי נוֹי, אֶלָּא אוֹמְרִים, נַעֲשֶׂה אַפְרוֹדִיטִי נוֹי לַמֶּרְחָץ. דָּבָר אַחֵר, אִם נוֹתְנִין לְךָ מָמוֹן הַרְבֵּה, אִי אַתָּה נִכְנָס לַעֲבוֹדָה זָרָה שֶׁלְּךָ עָרוֹם וּבַעַל קֶרִי וּמַשְׁתִּין בְּפָנֶיהָ, וְזוֹ עוֹמֶדֶת עַל פִּי הַבִּיב וְכָל הָעָם מַשְׁתִּינִין לְפָנֶיהָ. לֹא נֶאֱמַר אֶלָּא אֱלֹהֵיהֶם. אֶת שֶׁנּוֹהֵג בּוֹ מִשּׁוּם אֱלוֹהַּ, אָסוּר. וְאֶת שֶׁאֵינוֹ נוֹהֵג בּוֹ מִשּׁוּם אֱלוֹהַּ, מֻתָּר: A wise gentile, Proclus ben Plospus, once asked a question of Rabban Gamliel in the city of Akko when he was bathing in the bathhouse of the Greek god Aphrodite. Proclus said to him: It is written in your Torah: “And nothing of the proscribed items shall cleave to your hand” (Deuteronomy 13:18). For what reason do you bathe before an idol in the bathhouse of Aphrodite? Rabban Gamliel said to him: One may not answer questions related to Torah in the bathhouse. And when he left the bathhouse, Rabban Gamliel gave him several answers. He said to him: I did not come into its domain; it came into my domain. The bathhouse existed before the statue dedicated to Aphrodite was erected. Furthermore, people do not say: Let us make a bathhouse as an adornment for Aphrodite; rather, they say: Let us make a statue of Aphrodite as an adornment for the bathhouse. Therefore, the main structure is not the Aphrodite statue, but the bathhouse. Rabban Gamliel continued: Alternatively, there is another answer: Even if people would give you a lot of money, you would not enter before your object of idol worship naked, or as one who experienced a seminal emission who comes to the bathhouse to purify himself, nor would you urinate before it. This statue stands upon the sewage pipe and all the people urinate before it. There is no prohibition in this case, as it is stated in the verse only: “Their gods” (see Deuteronomy 12:2), which indicates that a statue that people treat as a deity is forbidden, but one that people do not treat with the respect that is due to a deity is permitted.
הַגּוֹיִם הָעוֹבְדִים אֶת הֶהָרִים וְאֶת הַגְּבָעוֹת, הֵן מֻתָּרִין וּמַה שֶּׁעֲלֵיהֶם אֲסוּרִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ז) לֹא תַחְמֹד כֶּסֶף וְזָהָב עֲלֵיהֶם וְלָקַחְתָּ. רַבִּי יוֹסֵי הַגְּלִילִי אוֹמֵר, (שם יב) אֱלֹהֵיהֶם עַל הֶהָרִים, וְלֹא הֶהָרִים אֱלֹהֵיהֶם. אֱלֹהֵיהֶם עַל הַגְּבָעוֹת, וְלֹא הַגְּבָעוֹת אֱלֹהֵיהֶם. וּמִפְּנֵי מָה אֲשֵׁרָה אֲסוּרָה, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁיֶּשׁ בָּהּ תְּפִיסַת יָד אָדָם, וְכֹל שֶׁיֶּשׁ בָּהּ תְּפִיסַת יְדֵי אָדָם אָסוּר. אָמַר רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא, אֲנִי אוֹבִין וְאָדוּן לְפָנֶיךָ. כָּל מָקוֹם שֶׁאַתָּה מוֹצֵא הַר גָּבוֹהַּ וְגִבְעָה נִשָּׂאָה וְעֵץ רַעֲנָן, דַּע שֶׁיֶּשׁ שָׁם עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה: With regard to the halakha in the case of the gentiles who worship the mountains and the hills, the mountains and hills are permitted, but what is upon them is forbidden. It is not prohibited to derive benefit from the mountains and hills themselves, and they can be used for planting, harvesting, and the like. But if gentiles coated them with gold or silver, it is prohibited to derive benefit from the coating, as it is stated: “The graven images of their gods shall you burn with fire; you shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, nor take it for yourself, lest you be snared by it; for it is an abomination to the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 7:25). Rabbi Yosei HaGelili says with regard to the verse: “You shall destroy all the places where the nations that you are to dispossess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every leafy tree” (Deuteronomy 12:2): The mitzva to destroy objects of idol worship applies to “their gods, upon the high mountains,” but not to the mountains themselves that are their gods. Similarly it applies to “their gods…upon the hills,” but not to the hills themselves that are their gods. The mishna asks: And for what reason, then, is an ashera forbidden? Doesn’t the verse also state: “And under every leafy tree,” which indicates that the mitzva to destroy objects of idol worship does not apply to the trees themselves? The mishna answers: It is because it is the product of human involvement and did not grow by itself, and the halakha is that anything that is the product of human involvement is forbidden. Rabbi Akiva says: I will explain and decide the matter before you. The verse does not indicate limitations to the halakhic definition of idols; rather, it is simply giving indicators of prevalent idolatrous practice: Everywhere that you find a high mountain, or an elevated hill, or a leafy tree, know that there is idol worship there.
מִי שֶׁהָיָה בֵיתוֹ סָמוּךְ לַעֲבוֹדָה זָרָה וְנָפַל, אָסוּר לִבְנוֹתוֹ. כֵּיצַד יַעֲשֶׂה, כּוֹנֵס בְּתוֹךְ שֶׁלּוֹ אַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת וּבוֹנֶה. הָיָה שֶׁלּוֹ וְשֶׁל עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה, נִדּוֹן מֶחֱצָה עַל מֶחֱצָה. אֲבָנָיו עֵצָיו וַעֲפָרוֹ, מְטַמְּאִין כַּשֶּׁרֶץ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ז) שַׁקֵּץ תְּשַׁקְּצֶנּוּ. רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא אוֹמֵר, כַּנִּדָּה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה ל) תִּזְרֵם כְּמוֹ דָוָה, צֵא תֹּאמַר לוֹ, מַה נִּדָּה מְטַמְּאָה בְמַשָּׂא, אַף עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה מְטַמְּאָה בְמַשָּׂא: In the case of one whose house was adjacent to a house of idol worship and the dividing wall fell, it is prohibited to rebuild it. What should he do? He should withdraw into his own property four cubits and build the wall there. In talmudic times, external walls to homes were often built in two parts, with a functional space between them. If the space between the two parts of the wall belonged to him and to the house of idol worship, the area is treated as half and half with regard to withdrawing into his property before rebuilding the wall; he may build the wall four cubits from the middle of that space. The stones of the fallen wall, its wood, and its dust, transmit impurity like a creeping animal, i.e., one who touches them becomes impure like one who touches a creeping animal, as it is stated: “And you shall not bring an abomination into your house, and be accursed like it; you shall detest it [shakketz teshakketzennu], and you shall abhor it; for it is a proscribed item” (Deuteronomy 7:26). The term shakketz is used in a different form, shekketz, with regard to creeping animals. Rabbi Akiva says: Those items transmit impurity like a menstruating woman, as it is stated: “You will put them far away as a menstruating woman; you shall say to it: Go away” (Isaiah 30:22). Just as a menstruating woman transmits impurity by carrying, as one who moves a menstruating woman, even without touching her, becomes impure, so too, objects of idol worship transmit impurity by carrying.
שְׁלשָׁה בָתִּים הֵן. בַּיִת שֶׁבָּנוּי מִתְּחִלָּה לַעֲבוֹדָה זָרָה, הֲרֵי זֶה אָסוּר. סִיְּדוֹ וְכִיְּרוֹ לַעֲבוֹדָה זָרָה וְחִדֵּשׁ, נוֹטֵל מַה שֶּׁחִדֵּשׁ. הִכְנִיס לְתוֹכָה עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה וְהוֹצִיאָהּ, הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר. שָׁלשׁ אֲבָנִים הֵן. אֶבֶן שֶׁחֲצָבָהּ מִתְּחִלָּה לְבִימוֹס, הֲרֵי זוֹ אֲסוּרָה. סִיְּדָהּ וְכִיְּרָהּ לְשֵׁם עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה וְחִדֵּשׁ, נוֹטֵל מַה שֶּׁחִדֵּשׁ. הֶעֱמִיד עָלֶיהָ עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה וְסִלְּקָהּ, הֲרֵי זוֹ מֻתֶּרֶת. שָׁלשׁ אֲשֵׁרוֹת הֵן. אִילָן שֶׁנְּטָעוֹ מִתְּחִלָּה לְשֵׁם עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה, הֲרֵי זֶה אָסוּר. גִּדְּעוֹ וּפִסְּלוֹ לְשֵׁם עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה וְהֶחֱלִיף, נוֹטֵל מַה שֶּׁהֶחֱלִיף. הֶעֱמִיד תַּחְתֶּיהָ עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה וּבִטְּלָהּ, הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר. אֵיזוֹ הִיא אֲשֵׁרָה, כֹּל שֶׁיֵּשׁ תַּחְתֶּיהָ עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה. רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן אוֹמֵר, כֹּל שֶׁעוֹבְדִין אוֹתָהּ. וּמַעֲשֶׂה בְצַיְדָּן בְּאִילָן שֶׁהָיוּ עוֹבְדִין אוֹתוֹ, וּמָצְאוּ תַחְתָּיו גָּל. אָמַר לָהֶן רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן, בִּדְקוּ אֶת הַגַּל הַזֶּה, וּבְדָקוּהוּ וּמָצְאוּ בוֹ צוּרָה. אָמַר לָהֶן, הוֹאִיל וְלַצּוּרָה הֵן עוֹבְדִין, נַתִּיר לָהֶן אֶת הָאִילָן: With regard to idol worship there are three types of houses, each with its own halakhot. A house that one built initially for the purpose of idol worship is forbidden, i.e., it is prohibited to derive benefit from such a house. If one plastered a house or cemented it for the purpose of idol worship, and he thereby added a layer to the walls of the house, one removes that which he added, and the rest of the house is permitted. If one brought an object of idol worship into a house temporarily and then removed it, the house is then permitted. With regard to idol worship there are three types of stones, each with its own halakhot. A stone that one initially hewed for use in a platform [bimos] for an idol is forbidden. If one plastered a stone or cemented it for the sake of idol worship, one removes that which he plastered or cemented and the stone is permitted. If one erected an object of idol worship upon a stone and subsequently removed it, the stone is then permitted. There are three types of trees that were used as part of idolatrous rites [ashera]: A tree that one initially planted for the sake of idol worship is forbidden, and one may not derive benefit from any part of the tree. If one lopped off part of the trunk of a tree or trimmed its branches for the sake of idol worship, i.e., to worship that which would regrow there, and the tree’s trunk or limbs regrew, one removes that which has regrown and burn it. The remainder of the tree is then permitted. If one erected an object of idol worship beneath a tree and subsequently removed it, it is permitted to derive benefit from the tree. Which tree is deemed forbidden as an ashera? Any tree that has an object of idol worship beneath it. Rabbi Shimon says: Any tree that people worship. And there was an incident in Tzaidan involving a tree that people would worship, and Jews found beneath it a heap of stones. Rabbi Shimon said to them: Examine this heap of stones. And they examined it and found in it an idolatrous image. Rabbi Shimon said to them: Since it is the image that they worship, we can permit use of the tree to those who wish to derive benefit from it.
לֹא יֵשֵׁב בְּצִלָּהּ. וְאִם יָשַׁב, טָהוֹר. וְלֹא יַעֲבֹר תַּחְתֶּיהָ. וְאִם עָבַר, טָמֵא. הָיְתָה גוֹזֶלֶת אֶת הָרַבִּים, וְעָבַר תַּחְתֶּיהָ, טָהוֹר. וְזוֹרְעִין תַּחְתֶּיהָ יְרָקוֹת בִּימוֹת הַגְּשָׁמִים אֲבָל לֹא בִימוֹת הַחַמָּה. וְהַחֲזָרִין, לֹא בִימוֹת הַחַמָּה וְלֹא בִימוֹת הַגְּשָׁמִים. רַבִּי יוֹסֵי אוֹמֵר, אַף לֹא יְרָקוֹת בִּימוֹת הַגְּשָׁמִים, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהַנְּמִיָּה נוֹשֶׁרֶת עֲלֵיהֶן וְהֹוָה לָהֶן לְזָבֶל: With regard to an ashera, one may not sit in its shade, but if one sat in its shade he remains ritually pure. And one may not pass beneath it, and if one passed beneath it he is ritually impure. If the tree was robbing the public, i.e., if its branches extended over public property, and one passed beneath it, he remains pure. One may plant vegetables underneath an ashera during the rainy season, as the vegetables do not benefit from its shade; on the contrary, the tree’s foliage prevents the vegetables from being properly irrigated by the rain. But one may not plant vegetables under an ashera during the summer, as the shade benefits them. And lettuce may not be planted there at all, neither in the summer nor in the rainy season, because shade is always beneficial to lettuce. Rabbi Yosei says: One may not plant vegetables under an ashera even during the rainy season, because the tree’s foliage [shehaneviyya] falls upon them and serves as fertilizer for them.
נָטַל מִמֶּנָּה עֵצִים, אֲסוּרִים בַּהֲנָאָה. הִסִּיק בָּהֶן אֶת הַתַּנּוּר, אִם חָדָשׁ, יֻתַּץ. וְאִם יָשָׁן, יֻצַּן. אָפָה בוֹ אֶת הַפַּת, אֲסוּרָה בַהֲנָאָה. נִתְעָרְבָה בַאֲחֵרוֹת, כֻּלָּן אֲסוּרוֹת בַּהֲנָאָה. רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר אוֹמֵר, יוֹלִיךְ הֲנָאָה לְיָם הַמֶּלַח. אָמְרוּ לוֹ, אֵין פִּדְיוֹן לַעֲבוֹדָה זָרָה. נָטַל הֵימֶנָּה כַרְכֹּר, אָסוּר בַּהֲנָאָה. אָרַג בּוֹ אֶת הַבֶּגֶד, הַבֶּגֶד אָסוּר בַּהֲנָאָה. נִתְעָרֵב בַּאֲחֵרִים וַאֲחֵרִים בַּאֲחֵרִים, כֻּלָּן אֲסוּרִין בַּהֲנָאָה. רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר אוֹמֵר, יוֹלִיךְ הֲנָאָה לְיָם הַמֶּלַח. אָמְרוּ לוֹ, אֵין פִּדְיוֹן לַעֲבוֹדָה זָרָה: If one took wood from an ashera, it is prohibited to derive benefit from it. In a case where one kindled a fire in an oven with the wood, if it is a new oven and by kindling the fire he hardened the oven and made it stronger for use in the future, then the oven must be shattered. Since forbidden items were used in the process of forming the oven, one may not derive benefit from the use of the forbidden items. But if it is an old oven it may be cooled; it is prohibited to use the oven only while it is still hot. If one baked bread with wood from the ashera as the fuel, it is prohibited to derive benefit from the bread. If this bread was intermingled with other bread, it is prohibited to derive benefit from all the bread. Rabbi Eliezer says: One must take the benefit and cast it into the Dead Sea. In other words, one is not required to destroy all of the loaves. Instead, one should designate money equal in value to the wood that he used from the ashera, and he should destroy this money to offset the benefit he derived from the forbidden wood. The Rabbis said to him: There is no monetary redemption for objects that are forbidden due to idol worship. Once the bread becomes forbidden, it cannot be redeemed by having the value of the forbidden wood cast into the Dead Sea. If one took wood from an ashera for use as a weaving shuttle [karkor], it is prohibited to derive benefit from it. If one wove a garment with it, it is prohibited to derive benefit from the garment. If the garment was intermingled with other garments, and those other garments were intermingled with others, it is prohibited to derive benefit from all of them. Rabbi Eliezer says: One must take the benefit and cast it into the Dead Sea. The Rabbis said to him: There is no monetary redemption for objects that are forbidden due to idol worship.
כֵּיצַד מְבַטְּלָהּ. קִרְסֵם, וְזֵרַד, נָטַל מִמֶּנָּה מַקֵּל אוֹ שַׁרְבִיט, אֲפִלּוּ עָלֶה, הֲרֵי זוֹ בְטֵלָה. שְׁפָיָהּ לְצָרְכָּהּ, אֲסוּרָה. שֶׁלֹּא לְצָרְכָּהּ, מֻתֶּרֶת: How does one revoke the idolatrous status of an ashera? If a gentile trimmed dry wood or pruned green wood from the tree for his own benefit, or if he removed from it a stick, or a rod, or even a leaf, he has thereby revoked its idolatrous status, as he has proven that he no longer worships it. If a gentile shaved down the tree for its own sake, to improve its appearance, it remains prohibited to derive benefit from it. If he shaved it down not for its own sake, it is permitted.