Talmudic & Halachic sources related to Christianity
ברכת הצדוקים ביבנה תקנוה
The benediction relating to the Minim was subsequently instituted at Jabneh.

(16) For this benediction, see Singer, p. 48 — "And for slanderers," etc. "It was directed against antinomians — those who rejected or neglected the Law — and also against sectarians within the Synagogue. The statement which originated with Justin Martyr that the paragraph is an imprecation against Christians in general has no foundation whatever" (Abrahams, p. Ixlv). See also Herford, Christianity in Midrash and Talmud, pp. 125 ff.

The Cairo genizah has a source that agrees with Justin martyr

מתני׳ לפני אידיהן של עובדי כוכבים שלשה ימים אסור לשאת ולתת עמהם להשאילן ולשאול מהן להלוותן וללוות מהן לפורען ולפרוע מהן

(א) ; וְיִזָּהֵר מִלְּהִשְׁתַּתֵּף עִם עַכּוּ''ם, שֶׁמָּא יִתְחַיֵּב לוֹ שְׁבוּעָה וְעוֹבֵר מִשּׁוּם לֹא יִשָּׁמַע עַל פִּיךָ (שְׁמוֹת כג, יג). הַגָּה: וְיֵשׁ מְקִלִּין בַּעֲשִׂיַּת שֻׁתָּפוּת עִם הַעַכּוּ''ם בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה, מִשּׁוּם שֶׁאֵין הַעַכּוּ''ם בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה נִשְׁבָּעִים בַּעֲבוֹדַת אֱלִילִים, וְאַף עַל גַּב דְּמַזְכִּירִין הָעֲבוֹדָה זָרָה, מִכָּל מָקוֹם כַּוָּנָתָם לְעוֹשֶׂה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ אֶלָּא שֶׁמְּשַׁתְּפִים שֵׁם שָׁמַיִם וְדָבָר אַחֵר, וְלֹא מָצִינוּ שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּזֶה מִשּׁוּם: וְלִפְנֵי עִוֵּר לֹא תִתֵּן מִכְשֹׁל (וַיִּקְרָא יט, יד) דַּהֲרֵי אֵינָם מֻזְהָרִין עַל הַשִּׁתּוּף (רַ''ן ספ''ק דַּעֲבוֹדָה זָרָה וְר' יְרוּחָם ני''ז ח''ה וְתוס' רֵישׁ פ''ק דִּבְכוֹרוֹת); וְלָשֵׂאת וְלָתֵת עִמָּהֶם בְּלֹא שֻׁתָּפוּת, לְכֻלֵּי עָלְמָא שָׁרֵי בְּלֹא יוֹם חַגֵּיהֶם (הַגָּהוֹת מַיְמוֹנִי פ''ח מֵהִלְכוֹת עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה) וְעַיֵּן בְּיוֹרֵה דֵּעָה מֵהִלְכוֹת ע''א סי' קמ''ז.

ת"ר כשנתפס ר"א למינות העלהו לגרדום לידון אמר לו אותו הגמון זקן שכמותך יעסוק בדברים בטלים הללו אמר לו נאמן עלי הדיין כסבור אותו הגמון עליו הוא אומר והוא לא אמר אלא כנגד אביו שבשמים אמר לו הואיל והאמנתי עליך דימוס פטור אתה כשבא לביתו נכנסו תלמידיו אצלו לנחמו ולא קיבל עליו תנחומין אמר לו ר"ע רבי תרשיני לומר דבר אחד ממה שלימדתני אמר לו אמור אמר לו רבי שמא מינות בא לידךוהנאך ועליו נתפסתאמר לועקיבא הזכרתני פעם אחת הייתי מהלך בשוק העליון של ציפורי ומצאתי אחד ומתלמידי ישו הנוצרי ויעקב איש כפר סכניא שמו אמר ליכתוב בתורתכם(דברים כג, יט) לא תביא אתנן זונה [וגו'] מהו לעשות הימנו בהכ"ס לכ"גולא אמרתי לו כלוםאמר לי כך לימדני ישו הנוצרי(מיכה א, ז) כי מאתנן זונה קבצה ועד אתנן זונה ישובו ממקום הטנופת באו למקום הטנופת ילכו והנאני הדבר על ידי זה נתפסתי למינות ועברתי על מה שכתוב בתורה(משלי ה, ח) הרחק מעליה דרכך זו מינות

The Bible is explicit about divorce and remarriage. In the Torah, Moses permitted a man to obtain a divorce on just about any grounds.

"If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the Lord. Do not bring sin upon the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance" (Deuteronomy 24:1-4).

Later on, in the New Testament, when Jesus was asked about divorce, He replied that Moses gave permission to divorce because of the hardness of their hearts. He said that in the beginning it was not this way. Jesus continued,

"Haven't you read that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?" So they are no longer two but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate" (Matthew 19:4-6).

(י) בית שמאי אומרים: לא יגרש אדם את אשתו אלא אם כן מצא בה דבר ערוה, שנאמר (דברים כד) כי מצא בה ערות דבר. ובית הלל אומרים: אפלו הקדיחה תבשילו, שנאמר (שם) כי מצא בה ערות דבר. רבי עקיבא אומר: אפלו מצא אחרת נאה הימנה, שנאמר (שם) והיה אם לא תמצא חן בעיניו.

(10) Beit Shammai say, "No man shall divorce his wife, unless he found in her unchaste behaviour, as it is stated [Deuteronomy 24:1], 'Because he found in her 'ervat davar' [unchaste behavior].'" Beit Hillel say, "Even if she spoiled his food, because it is said, ervat davar". Rabbi Akivah says, "Even if he found another [woman] prettier than her, as it is stated [ibid.] 'If it happen that she does not find favor in his eyes.'"

Using Jewish versus General Dates

Most halachic authorities do not broadly uphold the obligation to use a particular system of months, the Hungarian tradition treats the matter with utmost stringency. According to Chasam Sofer (Toras Moshe, Parashas Bo), there is an obligation to begin one’s letters with the number of the day of the week (counting from Sunday), and the number of the month (counting from Nissan): «This is an explicit rebuke [to those who do not use the Jewish calendar]: We should write in our letters and similar documents the first day of the week, first month of the year, and so on, to testify that Hashem created the world in six days, ‘and He rested on the seventh,’ and to remember the redemption from Egypt—and not Heaven forbid, the date of the nations

Chasam Sofer reiterates his stance in his homilies (Homily for Seventh of Av, 570), in which he writes: «Those who want to reform, and begin their letters with the year of the birth of the Christian messiah, are writing and signing away their portion for the world to come!» According to Chasam Sofer, there is a prohibition in using secular dates, concerning the days of the week, the months of the year, and the year itself.

This principle is clearly illustrated in the writings of Maharam Schick (Yoreh De’ah, no. 171) the foremost disciple of Chasam Sofer. He explains that besides the prohibition of using non-Jewish months (as drawn from Ramban), using the secular count of years transgresses the prohibition of «You shall not mention the names of other gods,» because the count is based on the Christian idolatry. Based on this ruling, he writes that a tombstone on which the secular date is inscribed must be smashed.

Other Opinions

Many modern day authorities take a more lenient stance than that of Chasam Soferand his disciples.

One of the most interesting and comprehensive halachic discussions of the subject is found in Yabia Omer (vol. 3, Yoreh De’ah, no. 9). Rav Ovadyah Yosef challenges the very premise whereby the secular count of years dates back to the birth of the Christian ‘savior’. Citing numerous proofs from Talmudic and other writings, Rav Yosef demonstrates that Yeshu lived long before [and at the very least four years before] the beginning of the Gregorian calendar. Quoting from Otzar Yisrael (vol. 5, p. 277) he proves that their year-count dates back to the Roman Empire, and not to the birth of Yeshu.

He adds that even if we do assume that those who use the secular dating system implicitly refer to the common presumption that the year refers to the birth of Yeshu, there would still be no prohibition of «going in their ways,» because this prohibition applies only to cases in which we do not know the rationale behind the non-Jewish ways, or cases in which the custom involves immodesty (Beis Yosef, Yoreh De’ah175). With regard to the dating system, these concerns do not arise.

He also notes that we find many Jewish leaders over the generations who used non-Jewish dates in their letters, such as Shach (who dates a letter February 3rd, 1660),Maharam Padwa, and others. Moreover, the publication details of Torah volumes always made reference to non-Jewish dates, and never was an objection heard.

Indeed, there is known to be a letter from the Chasam Sofer on which the non-Jewish date appears. The letter was addressed to the secular government, and it was, of course, appropriate and necessary to use the secular date, yet we nonetheless see that the prohibition is not absolute. Regarding the strong wording ofChasam Sofer, Rav Ovadyah explains that he was referring specifically to those who were seeking to «reform» the traditional Jewish ways, and his strongly worded response was intended for them alone.

Finally, Rav Ovadyah concludes: «It is therefore clear that there is no prohibition whatsoever in using the secular date. Nonetheless, there remains a virtue [of using the Jewish date], and whenever there is no great need, the months and years should be written according to the dating of Israel—and particularly in our holy land. When there is a need to write the secular date, it is good to also make mention of the count of years from Creation.»

A very similar position to Yabia Omer is taken by Tzitz Eliezer (vol. 8, no. 8). Yet, the two disagree over the preferable way in which non-Jewish months should be written. According to Yabia Omer, it is preferable to write out the name of the secular month in full (January, February, and so on), and not to mention the number of the month, so as not to uproot the number of the month counting from Nissan. Tzitz Eliezer, however, writes that it is better to use the number of the month, and not to mention its name, because one should make no mention of the non-Jewish months, whose names derive from idolatry.

Although he opines that no prohibition is involved, Tzitz Eliezer writes that one who uses the non-Jewish count of years should append the word leminyanam orlemisparam (according to their count). If the Jewish count is also mentioned, he writes that the practice of mentioning both dates is unquestionably permitted.3


  • According to Ramban, there is a mitzvah to count the months from Nissan, the month on which we were redeemed from Egypt. Most commentaries maintain that this mitzvah would still apply today, though some maintain that there is no problem in using names for months, and the mitzvah only applies when one wishes to actually number the month of the year. It would seem that many authorities do not concur with Ramban, and maintain that there is no mitzvah of counting the months from Nissan.
  • Authorities concur that it is preferable to use the Jewish dates, rather than secular dates, in writing letters and other documents. Some write that one should try to number the month in question (from Nissan).
  • Most authorities write that there is no prohibition in using secular dates. The Hungarian tradition, however, sees the matter in a more stringent light.
  • When using non-Jewish dates, most authorities maintain that one should write out the name of the month in full, rather than write a number. Some (Be’er Moshe) also write that one should seek to write the year in short rather than in full (10 rather than 2010).

(ב) בִּימֵי מָּרְדְּכַי וְאֶסְתֵּר, נִקְהֲלוּ הַיְהוּדִים בִּשְׁלשָׁה עָשָׂר לְחֹדֶשׁ אֲדָר לַעֲמֹד עַל נַפְשָׁם וּלְהִנָּקֵם מֵאוֹיְבֵיהֶם, וְהָיוּ צְרִיכִין לְבַקֵּשׁ רַחֲמִים מֵאֵת ה' יִתְבָּרַךְ שְׁמוֹ, שֶׁיַעְזְרֵם. וּמָצִינוּ שֶׁכַּאֲשֶׁר הָיוּ יִשְֹרָאֵל בַּמִּלְחָמָה, הִתְעַנּוּ שֶׁיַעְזְרֵם ה'. וְגַם משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ עָלָיו הַשָׁלוֹם, בְּיוֹם שֶׁנִּלְחַם עִם עֲמָלֵק, הִתְעַנָּה. וְאִם כֵּן, מִסְּתָמָא גַּם אָז בִּימֵי מָרְדְּכַי וְאֶסְתֵּר, הִתְעַנוּ בְּיוֹם שְׁלשָׁה עָשָׂר בַּאֲדָר. וְלָכֵן קִבְּלוּ עֲלֵיהֶם כָּל יִשְֹרָאֵל יוֹם זֶה לְתַעֲנִית צִבּוּר. וְנִקְרָא תַּעֲנִית אֶסְתֵּר, כְּדֵי לִזְכֹּר שֶׁהַבּוֹרֵא יִתְבָּרַךְ שְמוֹ, רוֹאֶה וְשׁוֹמֵעַ תְּפִלַּת כָּל אִישׁ בְּעֵת צָרָתוֹ, כַּאֲשֶׁר יִתְעַנֶּה וְיָשוּב אֶל ה' בְּכָל לְבָבוֹ, כְּמוֹ שֶעָשָׂה לַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ בַּיָמִים הָהֵם. וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם אֵין תַּעֲנִית זוֹ חוֹבָה כָּל כָּךְ כְּמוֹ אַרְבַּע הַתַּעֲנִיּוֹת שֶׁכְּתוּבוֹת בַּמִּקְרָא (עַיֵן לְעֵיל סִימָן קכא), וְלָכֵן יֵשׁ לְהָקֵל בָּהּ בְּעֵת הַצֹּרֶךְ, כְּגוֹן מְעֻבָּרוֹת וּמֵינִיקוֹת אוֹ אֲפִלּוּ חוֹלֶה קְצָת בִּכְאֵב עֵינַיִם, שֶׁאִם מִצְטַעֲרִים הַרְבֵּה, לֹא יִתְעַנּוּ. וְכֵן יוֹלֶדֶת כָּל שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם, וְכֵן חָתָן בְּתוֹךְ שִׁבְעַת יְמֵי הַמִּשְׁתֶּה שֶׁלּוֹ, אֵינָן צְרִיכִין לְהִתְעַנּוֹת, וְיִפְרְעוּ אֶת הַתַּעֲנִית אַחַר כָּךְ. אֲבָל שְׁאָר הַבְּרִיאִים, לֹא יִפְרְשׁוּ (אֶת) עַצְמָם מִן הַצִּבּוּר. וַאֲפִלּוּ מִי שֶׁהוֹלֵךְ בַּדֶרֶךְ וְקָשָׁה עָלָיו הַתַּעֲנִית, מִכָּל מָקוֹם צָרִיךְ לְהִתְעַנּוֹת.