Is Halloween Halachic? ​​​​​​​
1 א

History and Origins of Halloween

“According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Halloween originated with the pagan Celtic festival of Samhain, a day on which ‘The souls of the dead were supposed to revisit their homes ...The autumnal festival acquired sinister significance, with ghosts, witches, hobgoblins … said to be roaming about.’ In the early Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church instituted All Hallow’s Eve on October 31 and All Saints Day on November 1 to counteract the occult festival. It did not work. All Hollow’s Eve was simply co-opted into the pagan celebration of Samhain.”

2 ב
(א) וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר ה' אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ (ב) דַּבֵּר֙ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְאָמַרְתָּ֖ אֲלֵקֶ֑ם אֲנִ֖י ה' אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃ (ג) כְּמַעֲשֵׂ֧ה אֶֽרֶץ־מִצְרַ֛יִם אֲשֶׁ֥ר יְשַׁבְתֶּם־בָּ֖הּ לֹ֣א תַעֲשׂ֑וּ וּכְמַעֲשֵׂ֣ה אֶֽרֶץ־כְּנַ֡עַן אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֲנִי֩ מֵבִ֨יא אֶתְכֶ֥ם שָׁ֙מָּה֙ לֹ֣א תַעֲשׂ֔וּ וּבְחֻקֹּתֵיהֶ֖ם לֹ֥א תֵלֵֽכוּ׃ (ד) אֶת־מִשְׁפָּטַ֧י תַּעֲשׂ֛וּ וְאֶת־חֻקֹּתַ֥י תִּשְׁמְר֖וּ לָלֶ֣כֶת בָּהֶ֑ם אֲנִ֖י ה' אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃ (ה) וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֤ם אֶת־חֻקֹּתַי֙ וְאֶת־מִשְׁפָּטַ֔י אֲשֶׁ֨ר יַעֲשֶׂ֥ה אֹתָ֛ם הָאָדָ֖ם וָחַ֣י בָּהֶ֑ם אֲנִ֖י ה' (ס) (ו) אִ֥ישׁ אִישׁ֙ אֶל־כָּל־שְׁאֵ֣ר בְּשָׂר֔וֹ לֹ֥א תִקְרְב֖וּ לְגַלּ֣וֹת עֶרְוָ֑ה אֲנִ֖י ה' (ס) (ז) עֶרְוַ֥ת אָבִ֛יךָ וְעֶרְוַ֥ת אִמְּךָ֖ לֹ֣א תְגַלֵּ֑ה אִמְּךָ֣ הִ֔וא לֹ֥א תְגַלֶּ֖ה עֶרְוָתָֽהּ׃ (ס)

(1) The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: (2) Speak to the Israelite people and say to them: I the LORD am your God. (3) You shall not copy the practices of the land of Egypt where you dwelt, or of the land of Canaan to which I am taking you; nor shall you follow their laws. (4) My rules alone shall you observe, and faithfully follow My laws: I the LORD am your God. (5) You shall keep My laws and My rules, by the pursuit of which man shall live: I am the LORD. (6) None of you shall come near anyone of his own flesh to uncover nakedness: I am the LORD. (7) Your father’s nakedness, that is, the nakedness of your mother, you shall not uncover; she is your mother—you shall not uncover her nakedness.

3 ג

(ג) ובחקתיהם לא תלכו. מה הניח הכתוב שלא אמר, אלא אלו נמוסות שלהן, דברים החקוקין להם, כגון טרטיאות ואצטדיאות רבי מאיר אומר אלו דרכי האמורי שמנו חכמים:

and you shall not follow their statutes: What did Scripture omit [until now] that it did not state [and includes in this clause]? However, these are their social practices, things that assumed the status of law (חָקוּק) for them, for example, [certain days set aside for attendance at] theaters and stadiums. Rabbi Meir says: These [practices referred to here,] are the “ways of the Amorites,” [the superstitious practices] enumerated by our Sages.

4 ד

(ז) אָמַר רַבִּי בֶּרֶכְיָה, אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמשֶׁה לֵךְ אֱמֹר לָהֶם לְיִשְׂרָאֵל כְּשֶׁהֱיִיתֶם בְּמִצְרַיִם הֱיִיתֶם דּוֹמִים לְשׁוֹשַׁנָּה בֵּין הַחוֹחִים, עַכְשָׁיו שֶׁאַתֶּם נִכְנָסִין לְאֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן, הֱיוּ דּוֹמִין לְשׁוֹשַׁנָּה בֵּין הַחוֹחִים, וּתְנוּ דַּעְתְּכֶם שֶׁלֹּא תַעֲשׂוּ לֹא כְמַעֲשֵׂה אֵלּוּ וְלֹא כְמַעֲשֵׂה אֵלּוּ, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (ויקרא יח, ג): כְּמַעֲשֵׂה אֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם. רַבִּי יִצְחָק פָּתַר קְרָיָא בְּבֶן אָדָם שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ שְׁתֵּי בָּנוֹת מֵאֵם אֶחָת, שְׁתֵּיהֶן מֵאָב אֶחָד, שְׁתֵּיהֶן מִשָּׁפִיר אֶחָד, כְּמָה דְאַתְּ אָמַר (בראשית י, ו): וּבְנֵי חָם כּוּשׁ וּמִצְרַיִם וּפוּט וּכְנָעַן. אָמַר רַבִּי חֲנִינָא מָשָׁל לְמֶלֶךְ שֶׁהָיָה לוֹ בַּת יְחִידָה וְהִשְּׁרָה אוֹתָהּ בְּמָבוֹי אֶחָד וְנִמְצְאוּ כֻלָּן בַּעֲלֵי זְנוּת וּבַעֲלֵי כְשָׁפִים, אָמַר לָהּ בִּתִּי תְּנִי דַעְתֵּךְ שֶׁלֹּא תַעֲשִׂי לֹא כְמַעֲשֵׂה אֵלּוּ וְלֹא כְמַעֲשֵׂה אֵלּוּ. כָּךְ כְּשֶׁהָיוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּמִצְרַיִם הָיוּ מִצְרִים בַּעֲלֵי זְנוּת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (יחזקאל כג, כ): אֲשֶׁר בְּשַׂר חֲמוֹרִים בְּשָׂרָם, וּכְשֶׁנִּכְנְסוּ לְאֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן הָיוּ כְּנַעֲנִים בַּעֲלֵי זְנוּת וּבַעֲלֵי כְשָׁפִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (נחום ג, ד): מֵרֹב זְנוּנֵי זוֹנָה טוֹבַת חֵן בַּעֲלַת כְּשָׁפִים, אָמַר לָהֶן הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בָּנַי הִזָּהֲרוּ שֶׁלֹּא תַעֲשׂוּ לֹא כְמַעֲשֵׂה אֵלּוּ וְלֹא כְמַעֲשֵׂה אֵלּוּ, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב: כְּמַעֲשֵׂה אֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם.

5 ה

(ח) [ח] או (ס"א אי) "כמעשה ארץ מצרים וכמעשה ארץ כנען לא תעשו", יכול לא יבנו בנינים ולא יטעו נטיעות כמותם? תלמוד לומר "ובחוקותיהם לא תלכו"-- לא אמרתי אלא בחוקים החקוקים להם ולאבותיהם ולאבות אבותיהם. ומה היו עושים? האיש נושא לאיש והאשה לאשה. האיש נושא אשה ובתה, והאשה נישאת לשנים. לכך נאמר "ובחוקותיהם לא תלכו".

If [I were only to read] "As the deed of the land of Egypt and as the deed of the land of Canaan, you shall not do," I might think they should not build or plant as they do; it is, therefore, written (Ibid.) "and in their statutes you shall not walk." I have prohibited for you only those statutes which were instituted for them and for their forefathers and for the fathers of their forefathers. What did they do? A man would wed a man, and a woman, a woman. A man would wed a woman and her daughter, and a woman would wed two — wherefore Scripture states "and in their statutes you shall not walk."

6 ו

(ג) מִצְוַת הַנֶּהֱרָגִים, הָיוּ מַתִּיזִין אֶת רֹאשׁוֹ בְסַיִף כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁהַמַּלְכוּת עוֹשָׂה. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר, נִוּוּל הוּא זֶה, אֶלָּא מַנִּיחִין אֶת רֹאשׁוֹ עַל הַסַּדָּן וְקוֹצֵץ בְּקוֹפִיץ. אָמְרוּ לוֹ, אֵין מִיתָה מְנֻוֶּלֶת מִזּוֹ. מִצְוַת הַנֶּחֱנָקִין, הָיוּ מְשַׁקְּעִין אוֹתוֹ בַזֶּבֶל עַד אַרְכֻּבּוֹתָיו וְנוֹתְנִין סוּדָר קָשָׁה לְתוֹךְ הָרַכָּה וְכוֹרֵךְ עַל צַוָּארוֹ, זֶה מוֹשֵׁךְ אֶצְלוֹ וְזֶה מוֹשֵׁךְ אֶצְלוֹ, עַד שֶׁנַּפְשׁוֹ יוֹצְאָה:

(3) The law [i.e. procedure] concerning those to be decapitated [is as follows]: they would cut off his head with a sword as the government does. Rabbi Yehudah says, this is disgraceful; rather [the procedure should be carried out as follows]: they rest his head on a block and cut it with a hatchet. The [Sages] said to him, there is no death more disgraceful than that. The law [i.e. procedure] concerning those to be strangled [is as follows]: They would set him into manure up to his knees, and put a stiff scarf inside a soft one, and wrap it around his neck. One would pull [one end] towards him and one would pull [the other end] towards him, until his soul departed.

7 ז
גמ׳ תניא אמר להן רבי יהודה לחכמים אף אני יודע שמיתה מנוולת היא אבל מה אעשה שהרי אמרה תורה (ויקרא יח, ג) ובחקותיהם לא תלכו

Mishnah: The death penalty of beheading by sword was performed thus: the condemned man was decapitated by the sword, as is done by the civil authorities. Rabbi Yehuda said, "This is a hideous disfigurement; rather, his head was laid on a block and severed with an axe." They replied: "No death is more disfiguring than this." GEMARA: It is taught in a baraita (Tosefta 9:3): Rabbi Yehuda said to the Rabbis: I too, know that it is a degrading death, but what shall I do, as the Torah states: “And you shall not follow their statutes” (Leviticus 18:3), i.e., it is prohibited to adopt the practices of the gentiles.

To this the Chachomim responded: 'Since the Torah already decreed the method of the sword, we did not derive this practice from them, and if you will not agree to this, then how about that which was taught: "The burning of articles at a king's funeral is permitted, and there is nothing of the ways of the Amorite about it?" But since this burning is referred to in the Torah, as the prophet Yirmiyah said to King Zedkiah (Yirmiyah 34:5): "You shall die in peace, and as with the burnings of your fathers, the former kings that were before you, so shall they make a burning for you." It is not from them (i.e. the Gentiles) that we derive this practice, and hence, it becomes permissible'."

8 ח
אלא כיון דכתיב שריפה - תימה דמשמע הכא דאע"ג דחוקה היא כיון דכתיב באורייתא שרי ובפ"ק דמסכת ע"ז (דף יא. ושם) פריך ושריפה חוקה היא והכתיב ובחקותיהם לא תלכו ומסיק לאו חוקה היא וי"ל דהתם קאמר לאו חוקה היא לשם עבודת כוכבים דאי הוי חוקה לעבודת כוכבים אפילו הוה כתוב באוריי' לא הוה מהני אבל הכא איירי בחוק העובדי כוכבים שלא לשם עבודת כוכבים דומיא דסייף דכיון דכתיב באורייתא לא מינייהו גמרינן ושרי:
9 ט

שחיטת עובד כוכבים נבלה
וניחוש שמא מין הוא אמר רב נחמן אמר רבה בר אבוה אין מינין באומות עובדי כוכבים והא קאחזינן דאיכא אימא אין רוב עובדי כוכבים מינין סבר לה כי הא דאמר ר' חייא בר אבא א"ר יוחנן נכרים שבחוצה לארץ לאו עובדי עבודת כוכבים הן אלא מנהג אבותיהן בידיהן

The Master stated above: ‘THAT WHICH IS SLAUGHTERED BY A GENTILE IS NEBELAH’. But perhaps he is a min? — R. Nahman in the name of Rabbah b. Abbuha answered: There are no minim among the gentiles. But we see that there are! Say: The majority of gentiles are not minim. For he accepts the opinion expressed by R. Hiyya b. Abba in the name of R. Johanan: The gentiles outside the land [of Israel] are not idolaters; they only continue the customs of their ancestors.

10 י

מתני׳ יוצאין בביצת החרגול ובשן שועל ובמסמר מן הצלוב משום רפואה דברי ר"מ וחכמים אוסרין אף בחול משום דרכי האמורי:
גמ׳ יוצאין בביצת החרגול דעבדי לשיחלא ובשן של שועל דעבדי לשינתא דחייא למאן דניים דמיתא למאן דלא ניים: ובמסמר מן הצלוב: דעבדי לזירפא: משום רפואה דברי רבי מאיר: אביי ורבא דאמרי תרוייהו כל דבר שיש בו משום רפואה אין בו משום דרכי האמורי הא אין בו משום רפואה יש בו משום דרכי האמורי והתניא אילן שמשיר פירותיו סוקרו (וצובע אותו) בסיקרא וטוענו באבנים בשלמא טוענו באבנים כי היכי דליכחוש חיליה אלא סוקרו בסיקרא מאי רפואה קעביד כי היכי דליחזייה אינשי וליבעו עליה רחמי כדתניא (ויקרא יג, מה) וטמא טמא יקרא צריך להודיע צערו לרבים ורבים יבקשו עליו רחמים אמר רבינא כמאן תלינן כובסי בדיקלא כי האי תנא תני תנא בפרק אמוראי קמיה דר' חייא בר אבין א"ל כולהו אית בהו משום דרכי האמורי לבר מהני מי שיש לו עצם בגרונו מביא מאותו המין ומניח ליה על קדקדו ולימא הכי חד חד נחית בלע בלע נחית חד חד אין בו משום דרכי האמורי לאדרא לימא הכי ננעצתא כמחט ננעלתא כתריס שייא שייא


MISHNA: One may go out on Shabbat with a locust egg, and with a fox tooth, and with a nail from the crucified, for the purpose of healing; this is the statement of Rabbi Meir. The Rabbis prohibit using these remedies even during the week, due to the prohibition of following the ways of the Amorite. These are superstitious beliefs and the customs of gentiles from which one must distance oneself. With regard to the halakha in the mishna, the Gemara cites Abaye and Rava, who both said: Anything that contains an element of healing and seems to be effective does not contain an element of the prohibition against following the ways of the Amorite. There is no cause for suspicion of one who engages in their practice, gentile or Jew... The tanna recited the chapter of the Tosefta discussing the actions of the Amorites before Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Avin. Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Avin said to him: All those enumerated there contain an element of the prohibition against following the ways of the Amorite, except for these: One who has a bone in his throat brings a bone from the same species as the bone that is stuck in his throat, and places it on his skull, and says as follows: One by one descend and be swallowed, swallow and descend one by one. That does not contain an element of the prohibition against following the ways of the Amorite. For a fish bone stuck in the throat, let him say as follows: You are stuck like a needle, locked as a shutter, go down, go down.

11 יא

(א) אֵין הוֹלְכִין בְּחֻקּוֹת הָעוֹבְדֵי כּוֹכָבִים וְלֹא מִדַּמִּין לָהֶן לֹא בְּמַלְבּוּשׁ וְלֹא בְּשֵׂעָר וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כ כג) "וְלֹא תֵלְכוּ בְּחֻקּוֹת הַגּוֹי". וְנֶאֱמַר (ויקרא יח ג) "וּבְחֻקֹּתֵיהֶם לֹא תֵלֵכוּ". וְנֶאֱמַר (דברים יב ל) "הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ פֶּן תִּנָּקֵשׁ אַחֲרֵיהֶם". הַכּל בְּעִנְיָן אֶחָד הוּא מַזְהִיר שֶׁלֹּא יִדְמֶה לָהֶן. אֶלָּא יִהְיֶה הַיִּשְׂרָאֵל מֻבְדָּל מֵהֶן וְיָדוּעַ בְּמַלְבּוּשׁוֹ וּבִשְׁאָר מַעֲשָׂיו כְּמוֹ שֶׁהוּא מֻבְדָּל מֵהֶן בְּמַדָּעוֹ וּבְדֵעוֹתָיו. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר וָאַבְדִּל אֶתְכֶם מִן הָעַמִּים. לֹא יִלְבַּשׁ בְּמַלְבּוּשׁ הַמְיֻחָד לָהֶן. וְלֹא יְגַדֵּל צִיצִית רֹאשׁוֹ כְּמוֹ צִיצִית רֹאשָׁם. וְלֹא יְגַלֵּחַ מִן הַצְּדָדִין וְיַנִּיחַ הַשֵּׂעָר בָּאֶמְצַע כְּמוֹ שֶׁהֵן עוֹשִׂין וְזֶה הַנִּקְרָא בְּלוֹרִית. וְלֹא יְגַלֵּחַ הַשֵּׂעָר מִכְּנֶגֶד פָּנָיו מֵאֹזֶן לְאֹזֶן וְיַנִּיחַ הַפֶּרַע מִלְּאַחֲרָיו כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁעוֹשִׂין הֵן. וְלֹא יִבְנֶה מְקוֹמוֹת כְּבִנְיַן הֵיכָלוֹת שֶׁל עַכּוּ''ם כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּכָּנְסוּ בָּהֶן רַבִּים כְּמוֹ שֶׁהֵן עוֹשִׂין. וְכָל הָעוֹשֶׂה אַחַת מֵאֵלּוּ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן לוֹקֶה:

(1) It is forbidden to follow the customs of the idolaters, or to imitate them neither in dress nor in hair-trimming and like customs, for it is said: "And ye shall not walk in the customs of the nation which I cast out before you" (Lev. 20.23), and it is also said: "And in their customs shall ye not walk" (Ibid. 18.3), and it is, moreover, said: Then take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them" (Deut. 12.30)—all of which pertain to one subject admonishing them not to be like unto them. Forsooth an Israelite shall be separated from them, and be recognized by his clothes and in his conduct as he is different than they are in education and tendencies. For even so it is said: "And have set you apart from the peoples, that ye should be Mine" (Lev. 20.26). An Israelite shall not wear a garment of a design particularly adopted by idolaters, nor raise hair-locks as their hair-locks; not shave the sides and leave the hair in the middle, such as is called a queue, nor shave the hair opposite his face, from ear to ear, and leave the locks at the back of his head as they do. He shall not build public places of the same design and architecture as are the palaces built for idolatry in order to attract a crowd as they do.2Sifra, Lev. 20; Abodah Zarah, 29a; Baba Kamma, 83a; Sotah, 49b; Tosefta, Shabbat Ch. 6. C. G.

12 יב

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

MISHNA: On the three days before the festivals of gentiles the following actions are prohibited, as they would bring joy to the gentile, who would subsequently give thanks to his object of idol worship on his festival: It is prohibited to engage in business with them; to lend items to them or to borrow items from them; to lend money to them or to borrow money from them; and to repay debts owed to them or to collect repayment of debts from them.

13 יג

אסור לשאת ולתת עמהם - פ"ה משום דאזיל ביום אידו ומודה לעבודת כוכבים

מתוך לשונו משמע שר"ל אף ממקח וממכר

וקשה על מה סמכו העולם לשאת ולתת ביום איד העבודת כוכבים עמהם

נהי דרוב אידיהם מן הקדישים הם מ"מ בכל שבוע יום אחד יש להם דלרבי ישמעאל (לקמן ו.) לעולם אסור

ואין לומר דהיינו טעמא משום (חולין יג:) דעובדי כוכבים שבח"ל לאו עובדי עבודת כוכבים אלא מנהג אבותיהם בידם

דהא אמר שמואל בגמ' (לקמן ז:) בגולה אינו אסור אלא יום אידם בלבד משמע הא יום אידם מיהא אסור לכך נראה דשרי משום איבה כדאמר בגמ' (שם דף ו:) גבי ר' יהודה נשיאה דשדר ליה ההוא מינא דינרא קסריינא ביום אידו אמר היכי איעביד לא אישקליה הויא ליה איבה מיהו

אין משם ראיה גמורה דשמא לאו משום איבה לישתרי אלא היה נוטל עצה כיצד יעשה שלא יהיה לו איבה

ועוד אי טעמא משום איבה תינח להלוותם ולהשאילם ולפרעם כשהעובד כוכבים תובע חובו אבל לשאת ולתת עמהם דהיינו מקח וממכר מאי איבה איכא וכי לא יוכל ישראל לומר איני צריך עתה למכור ולקנות וכן לשאול ללוות ולפרוע מה ידע העובד כוכבים שמניח משום אידו

לכך נראה דטעם ההיתר משום דעכו"ם שבינינו קים לן בגוייהו דלא פלחו לעבודת כוכבים ומהאי טעמא שרי לקמן בפ"ב (דף סה.) רב יהודה דשדר ליה קורבנא לאבידרנא ביום אידו אמר קים לי בגויה דלא פלח לעבודת כוכבים וכן רבא (שם) דשדר ליה קורבנא לבר שישך ביום אידו אמר קים לי בגויה דלא פלח לעבודת כוכבים א"נ יש לסמוך אההיא דתנא בירושלמי על מתני' דאסור לשאת ולתת תני בד"א בעובד כוכבים שאינו מכירו אבל בעובד כוכבים שמכירו מותר מפני שהוא כמחניף ותניא הנכנס לעיר ומצאן שמחים שמח עמהם שאינו אלא כמחניף להם

ור"ת היה מפרש אסור לשאת ולתת עמהם דוקא במידי דתקרובת ולא איירי כלל בלקנות דודאי שרי בין ללישנא דאזיל ומודה בין ללישנא דלפני עור לא תתן

דלא אסרו אלא למכור דוקא מידי דתקרובת ולשאת ולתת הכי פי' לשאת מהן המעות ולתת להם מידי דתקרובת חליפי המעות

ומביא ראיה מדאיבעיא (לקמן דף ו.) בגמרא טעמא דלשאת ולתת עמהם אי משום הרווחה פירוש משום שמרויח ומשתכר ואזיל ומודה לעבודת כוכבים או דלמא משום ולפני עור לא תתן מכשול וקאמר נפקא מינה דאית ליה בהמה לדידיה

ואי מידי דלאו תקרובת אסור אמאי לא קאמר נפקא מינה למידי דלאו תקרובת דמשום הרווחה איכא אלא וודאי מידי דלאו תקרובת שרי

דלא שייכא אזיל ומודה במקח וממכר כיון שנותן המעות תחת החפץ והוא לוקח וגם אינו בטוח כ"כ שירויח בסחורה

ובעיא דגמרא הכי מפרש טעמא דאסור לשאת ולתת עמהם במידי דתקרובת משום הרווחה שיהיה לו בהמות רבות בריוח אפי' אית ליה לדידיה נמי אסור שמתוך שיהיה לו הרבה בהמות יקריב מן המובחר או משום לפני עור ונפקא מינה דכי אית ליה בהמה לדידיה שרי

ולפי פר"ת אין לתמוה על מנהג העולם שאפילו אם היו מחזיקין אותם כעובדי עבודת כוכבים שהרי אינם עושים שום תקרובת אלא במעות ובזה לא שייך הרווחה והרבה מעות מצויים להם לאותו דבר ומיהו נכון הוא להחמיר כשבא העובד כוכבים ואומר הלויני מעות לשקרי שקורין אופרי"ר אבל ר' אלחנן אמר כי גם באותם אופרי"ר אין שום איסור כי מה שהם נותנים אותם לגלחים ולכומרים אינו ממש לשם עבודת כוכבים אלא לצורך הנאתם:...

(a) Opinion#1: Rashi explains that the reason for this prohibition is because it causes the idolater to thank his idol on the day of his holiday .

(b) Observation: Rashi implies that this is even the reason why one cannot do business with the idolater (for three days beforehand).

(c) Question: This is difficult. What do people rely upon today, as they even do business with idolaters on the day of their holiday?

1. Question(cont.): While it is true that most of their holidays celebrate saints (and they are not very involved in these holidays that they would go offer Korbanos or thank their idol, see Chazon Ish Yoreh Dei'ah 62:9), they still have one day a week (that they celebrate religiously). According to Rebbi Yishmael (on 6a who says that one cannot do business etc. with them for three days before and three days afterwards), it should always be forbidden to do business with idolaters!

2. Implied Question: One cannot say that the reason why everyone does business with the idolaters is because of the reason in Chulin (13b) that idolaters outside of Eretz Yisrael are not really idolaters, but rather continue the custom of their forefathers. (Why isn't this is a good reason?)

3. Answer: This is because Shmuel says in the Gemara (7b) that in the exile, it is only forbidden to do all of these things on the day of their holiday. This implies that even in the exile, all of these things are still forbidden on the holiday itself.

(d) Answer#1: It therefore appears that the reason is due to hatred (that they will hate us if we do not do business with them at this time). This is as the Gemara (6b) states regarding Rebbi Yehudah Nesi'ah. A heretic sent him a new type of Dinar on his (the heretic's) holiday. Rebbi Yehudah said, what should I do? If I do not accept this gift, this will cause hatred (between us).

(e) Implied Question#1: There is no clear proof that hatred gives room for leniency. It is possible that he would not have permitted this due to hatred, and was merely trying to get advice on a course of action that in order that the heretic should not hate him.

(f) Implied Question#2: Additionally, if the reason is due to hatred, it would be understandable why we should lend them money, lend them items, and pay them when an idolater demands payment. However, why is there going to be hatred if we do not do business with them? Can't the Jew merely say that I am not interested now in selling and buying? Similarly, why would it be permitted to borrow items or money from them, or to pay them back? How would the idolater know that we are refraining from doing so on this day because it is his holiday (in order that this should deemed causing hatred)?

(g) Answer#2: It therefore appears that the reason for this leniency is because we know that the idolaters among us do not bow down (i.e. serve) to idols.

1. Answer#2(cont.): For this reason, Rav Yehudah (65a) sent a present to Avidrana on his holiday, as he said that he knows that he does not bow down to idols. Similarly, Rava (ibid.) sent a present to Bar Sheishach on his holiday, as he said that he knows that he does not bow down to idols.

(h) Answer#3: Alternatively, we can rely on the Beraisa quoted in the Yerushalmi regarding our Mishnah. The Beraisa states that it is only forbidden to do business with them at this time if it is an idolater that he does not know. If he knows him it is permitted, as he is merely flattering him. The Beraisa says that if someone goes into a city and finds that the idolaters there are happy (due to a holiday) he can be happy with them, as he is merely flattering them.

(i) Opinion#2: Rabeinu Tam explained that it is forbidden to deal with them in things that they offer to their idols. The Mishnah is not discussing buying from idolaters which is certainly permitted, both according to the opinion that he may go and thank his idol and the opinion that this is a stumbling block.

1. Opinion#2(cont.): This is because they only forbade selling items offered to idols, and "to carry and give," meaning to carry the money from them and to give them something they can offer to their idols in exchange for the money.

(j) Proof: Rabeinu Tam proves this from the question in the Gemara later (6a) regarding the reason that it is forbidden to "carry and give with them." The Gemara asks whether this is because of profit, meaning that he profits and therefore goes and thanks his idols, or because of Lifnei Iver. The Gemara notes that the practical difference is if the idolater has another animal.

1. Proof(cont.): If selling something that is not used for sacrifices is also forbidden, why doesn't the Gemara say that the difference is regarding such an item? This should still be forbidden according to the reason that he will thank his idols (but not Lifnei Iver)! Rather, it must be (that the Gemara did not cite this example because) something that is not offered to an idol is permitted.

2. Proof(cont.): It is not possible to say that he will thank his idols regarding regular business deals, being that he is giving money in exchange for an object. If he is buying the object, he is not certain he will profit from this merchandise (that he is buying).

3. Proof(cont.): The question of the Gemara is as follows. Is the reason that it is forbidden to deal with them in items that can be offered to their idols because he will now have many animals to sacrifice? If so, it will even be forbidden if he has other animals. Being that he has many animals, he can sacrifice the best ones. Alternatively, the reason may be Lifnei Iver. This would mean that if he already has an animal it should be permitted (as the Jew is not enabling the idolater to serve his idol, as he already has that ability).

(k) Answer#4: According to Rabeinu Tam's explanation there is no question on the custom for everyone to deal with idolaters, even on their holiday. Even if we would assume that they are extremely into idolatry, they no longer sacrifice to their idol, but rather pledge money to the idol. In such a case it is not possible to say he has a lot of money now to choose from (as Rabeinu Tam explains the Gemara), as they already have a lot of money anyway for that purpose.

ומיהו נכון הוא להחמיר כשבא העובד כוכבים ואומר הלויני מעות לשקרי שקורין אופרי"ר

(l) Opinion#1: However, it is appropriate to be stringent if an idolater comes and asks to borrow money for his lie, which is called "Ofrir." (This opinion seems to understand that this money is donated towards the idol itself, see below.)

אבל ר' אלחנן אמר כי גם באותם אופרי"ר אין שום איסור כי מה שהם נותנים אותם לגלחים ולכומרים אינו ממש לשם עבודת כוכבים אלא לצורך הנאתם

(m) Opinion#2: However, Rabeinu Elchanan says that even the Ofrir money is not forbidden, as the fact that it is given to priests does not mean that it is for idolatry, but rather for their (the priests) pleasure.

14 יד

יום הלידה ויום המיתה: מכלל דר"מ סבר לא שנא מיתה שיש בה שריפה ולא שנא מיתה שאין בה שריפה פלחי בה לעבודת כוכבים אלמא שריפה לאו חוקה היא

מכלל דרבנן סברי שריפה חוקה היא

והא תניא שורפין על המלכים ולא מדרכי האמורי ואי חוקה היא אנן היכי שרפינן והכתיב (ויקרא יח, ג) ובחוקותיהם לא תלכו

אלא דכ"ע שריפה לאו חוקה היא אלא חשיבותא היא והכא בהא קמיפלגי ר"מ סבר לא שנא מיתה שיש בה שריפה ולא שנא מיתה שאין בה שריפה פלחי בה לעבודת כוכבים ורבנן סברי מיתה שיש בה שריפה חשיבא להו ופלחי בה ושאין בה שריפה לא חשיבא ולא פלחי בה

גופא שורפין על המלכים ואין בו משום דרכי האמורי שנאמר (ירמיהו לד, ה) בשלום תמות ובמשרפות אבותיך המלכים וגו' וכשם ששורפין על המלכים כך שורפין על הנשיאים

ומה הם שורפין על המלכים מיטתן וכלי תשמישן

§ The mishna teaches that according to Rabbi Meir the birthday of the king and the day of the death of the king are considered gentile festivals, whereas the Rabbis hold that only a death that includes public burning is considered a festival that includes idol worship. The Gemara comments: By inference, this means that Rabbi Meir holds that there is no difference whether it is a death that includes public burning, and there is no difference whether it is a death that does not include public burning; in either case, they engage in idol worship on that occasion. Evidently, Rabbi Meir holds that the burning performed at the death of the king is not an idolatrous custom, as it is not the cause of the prohibition.

The Gemara continues: From here, one can conclude by inference that the Rabbis hold that the burning upon the death of the king is an idolatrous custom. The Gemara raises a difficulty: But isn’t it taught in a baraita: We burn items upon the death of kings as an expression of grief, and this is not of the ways of the Amorites, but rather a Jewish custom? And if this is an idolatrous custom, how could we perform this public burning? But isn’t it written: “And you shall not walk in their statutes” (Leviticus 18:3)? Rather, everyone agrees that the public burning itself is not an idolatrous custom. Rather, it is performed due to the great importance of the king who passed away. And here, in the mishna, they disagree about this: Rabbi Meir holds that there is no difference whether it is a death that includes public burning and there is no difference whether it is a death that does not include public burning; in either case, in practice they engage in idol worship on that occasion. And the Rabbis hold that a death that includes public burning is important to the gentiles, and therefore they engage in idol worship on that occasion, but a death that does not include public burning is not important to them, and they do not engage in idol worship on that occasion. Having mentioned this baraita, the Gemara returns to discuss the matter itself. The baraita teaches: One burns items due to the death of kings as an expression of grief, and this is not subject to the prohibition of imitating the ways of the Amorites, since it is a Jewish custom. As it is stated that Jeremiah prophesied to Zedekiah king of Judah: “You shall die in peace; and with the burnings of your fathers, the former kings that were before you, so shall they make a burning for you” (Jeremiah 34:5). And just as one burns items upon the death of the kings, so too one burns items upon the death of the heads of the Sanhedrin. And what items do they burn upon the death of kings? They burn the kings’ beds and their utensils, so that no one else can make use of them.

15 טו

myjewishlearning.com, "Should Jews Trick-or-Treat":

. Tosafot [a medieval Talmud commentary] understands that two distinctly different types of customs are forbidden by the prohibition of imitating Gentile customs found in Leviticus 18:3. The first is idolatrous customs and the second is foolish customs found in the Gentile community, even if their origins are not idolatrous. Rabbenu Nissim (Ran) and Maharik disagree and rule that only customs that have a basis in idolatrous practices are prohibited. Apparently foolish–but secular–customs are permissible so long as they have a reasonable explanation (and are not immodest). Normative halakhah follows the ruling of the Ran and Maharik.

16טז

תוספות ע''ז יא. ואי חוקה

לכך פירש ר"י דתרי גווני חוקה הוו אחד שעושין לשם חוק לעבודת כוכבים ואחד שעושין לשם דעת הבל ושטות שלהם והכא בשמעתין מיירי באותו חק שעושים לשם עבודת כוכבים ... ומסיק אלא דכ"ע לאו חוק היא לשם עבודת כוכבים ומ"מ הוא חק הבל ושטות ובפ' ד' מיתות (סנהדרין דף נב:) משתעי חק הוא משום חשיבות לפי מסקנא דהכא ולהכי אפילו רבי יהודה מודי דלא גמרינן מינייהו אי כתיבא בדאורייתא ולאו חק לעבודת כוכבים הוא אבל ודאי אי לא הוה כתיבא בדאורייתא לא היה לנו להתנהג אף במנהגן של שטות וסייף אינו כתיב בקרא אלא לשון הריגה כתיב ויש לקיימו בקופיץ

Tosfot Avodah Zarah 11a V’EE CHUKAH

This is why the Ri explains that there are two types of Chukah. One is a Chukah that is a rule for idolatry. One is a Chukah that is made for their own silly reasons. Our Gemara is referring to a Chukah that is made for idolatry...The Gemara concludes that according to everyone, this is not a Chukah for idolatry. However, it is a Chok of silliness. In Sanhedrin (52b), the Gemara understands that Chok is an importance, based on our Gemara’s conclusion. Accordingly, even Rebbi Yehudah agrees that we do not derive from here that this is a forbidden practice if the Torah states this practice, as this is not a Chok for idolatry. If it would not have been stated by the Torah, we certainly would not act in this fashion, even if it was only a silly (and not idolatrous) action. Beheading is not explicitly mentioned in the Pasuk, as it just says the term, “killing.” Rebbi Yehudah therefore holds that one should uphold this with an ax instead of a sword.

17 יז

The Ran and the Maharik take exception to Tosafot's understanding of the Gemara in Avoda Zara. The Ran sees the prohibition of following Chukat Ha'Akum as including only those customs which are idolatrous in nature - i.e., customs that are obviously related to idol worship as well as those practices which have no apparent reasons, for they too are suspect of having an idolatrous relationship. Therefore, the permissibility of the burning ritual among the Jewish people is contingent on the fact that its origin is honor, and not idol worship. It is allowed even without being specified as permissible in the Torah. Apparently, the Ran concurs with the views expressed in Avoda Zara, rather than with the text in Sanhedrin.

The Maharik postulates two categories by which we define those customs that are prohibited: Firstly, those practices which have no inherent justification, as is understood from the usage of the word "chok", which denotes those laws which are given without a logical explanation. These practices are prohibited, not because they are suspect of being related to the religion of the Gentile as the Ran explains, but rather because by practicing these customs we appear to be imitating the Gentiles who initiated them. Why else would we do something that makes no sense, if not for the sake of conforming?

The second category of prohibited acts includes those practices which depart from the modest or humble ways in which a Jew should conduct himself. This idea is derived from Sifre's commentary on the verse: "Take heed lest you be ensnared by them" (see footnote 34 below), where it is written: "One should not say - just as they go with red garments, so will I; just as they go with kilusin, so will I; just as they go with avtiga, so will I." The Maharik explains that all these are garments arrogant and haughty in nature, and therefore not characteristic of the Jewish attitude in dress, which is one of humility and modesty. (Although the Maharik is discussing customs related to manners of dress, the same idea can be applied to any practice which departs from our moral codes of behavior.) Thus, the Maharik offers a unique insight: Any practice which we adopt, which makes us appear to be following the ways of the Gentile, serves as an acknowledgment of them, and is for this reason prohibited.

18 יח

הַגָּה: אֶלָּא יְהֵא מֻבְדָּל מֵהֶם בְּמַלְבּוּשָׁיו וּבִשְׁאָר מַעֲשָׂיו (שָׁם). וְכָל זֶה אֵינוֹ אָסוּר אֶלָּא בְּדָבָר שֶׁנָּהֲגוּ בּוֹ הָעוֹבְדֵי כּוֹכָבִים לְשֵׁם פְּרִיצוּת, כְּגוֹן שֶׁנָּהֲגוּ לִלְבֹּשׁ מַלְבּוּשִׁים אֲדֻמִּים, וְהוּא מַלְבּוּשׁ שָׂרִים וְכַדּוֹמֶה לָזֶה מִמַּלְבּוּשֵׁי הַפְּרִיצוּת, אוֹ בְּדָבָר שֶׁנָּהֲגוּ לְמִנְהָג וּלְחֹק, וְאֵין טַעַם בַּדָּבָר דְּאִכָּא לְמֵיחַשׁ בֵּהּ מִשּׁוּם דַּרְכֵי הָאֱמֹרִי וְשֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ שֶׁמֶץ עֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים מֵאֲבוֹתֵיהֶם, אֲבָל דָּבָר שֶׁנָּהֲגוּ לְתוֹעֶלֶת, כְּגוֹן שֶׁדַּרְכָּן שֶׁכָּל מִי שֶׁהוּא רוֹפֵא מֻמְחֶה יֵשׁ לוֹ מַלְבּוּשׁ מְיֻחָד שֶׁנִּכָּר בּוֹ שֶׁהוּא רוֹפֵא אֻמָּן, מֻתָּר לְלָבְשׁוֹ.

RAMA: Rather, one [i.e., a Jew] should be distinct from them [i.e., non-Jews] in one’s manner of dress and in all of one’s actions. But all of this [i.e., these restrictions] apply only to things that non-Jews do for the sake of licentiousness. For example, they are accustomed to wearing red clothing, which is official/princely clothing, and other clothing that is similarly immodest. [These restrictions also apply] to things that they are accustomed to doing because of a custom or rule that does not have a[ny underlying] reason, out of concern that [a Jew who does such things will follow the] “ways of the Amorites,” and that it has the blemish of [i.e., is tainted by] idol worship inherited from their ancestors. But things that they are accustomed to doing for a useful purpose—such as their custom for expert doctors to wear particular clothing so that the doctors will be recognized as specialists—one is permitted to wear [such clothing].

19 יט

הגה: ...וְכֵן שֶׁעוֹשִׂין מִשּׁוּם כָּבוֹד אוֹ טַעַם אַחֵר, מֻתָּר (מהרי''ק שֹׁרֶשׁ פ''ח). לָכֵן אָמְרוּ: שׂוֹרְפִין עַל הַמְּלָכִים וְאֵין בּוֹ מִשּׁוּם דַּרְכֵי הָאֱמוֹרִי (ר''ן פ''ק דַּעֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים).

Ramah: Similarly, things that are done out of respect or another reason, it is permitted [for one to do such things]. And therefore they said one may burn [the items of deceased] kings, and there is not in this “the ways of the Amorites.”

20 כ

Rabbi Feinstein (Iggerot Moshe, Yoreh Deah 4:11(4)):

it is obvious in my opinion, that even in a case where something would be considered a prohibited Gentile custom, if many people do it for reasons unrelated to their religion or law, but rather because it is pleasurable to them, there is no prohibition of imitating Gentile custom. So too, it is obvious that if Gentiles were to make a religious law to eat a particular item that is good to eat, halacha would not prohibit eating that item. So too, any item of pleasure in the world cannot be prohibited merely because Gentiles do so out of religious observance.

21 כא

Michael Broyde, in Torah Musings:

I was asked about trick or treating on Halloween, and I concluded that halacha prohibits celebrating Halloween by wearing a costume while collecting candy, since Halloween has a clear pagan origin and in order to celebrate a holiday with a clear pagan origin one of four conditions must be met:

  1. Halloween celebrations have an additional secular origin.
  2. The conduct of the individuals “celebrating Halloween” can be rationally explained independent of Halloween.
  3. The pagan origins of Halloween or the Catholic response to it are so deeply hidden that they have disappeared, and the celebrations can be attributed to some secular source or reason.
  4. The activities memorialized by Halloween are actually consistent with the Jewish tradition.

Since it was clear to me that none of these statements are true, I concluded that celebrating Halloween by dressing in a costume was prohibited

Witches
22 כב

(ז) וַיֹּ֨אמֶר שָׁא֜וּל לַעֲבָדָ֗יו בַּקְּשׁוּ־לִי֙ אֵ֣שֶׁת בַּעֲלַת־א֔וֹב וְאֵלְכָ֥ה אֵלֶ֖יהָ וְאֶדְרְשָׁה־בָּ֑הּ וַיֹּאמְר֤וּ עֲבָדָיו֙ אֵלָ֔יו הִנֵּ֛ה אֵ֥שֶׁת בַּֽעֲלַת־א֖וֹב בְּעֵ֥ין דּֽוֹר׃

(7) Then said Saul unto his servants: ‘Seek me a woman that divineth by a ghost, that I may go to her, and inquire of her.’ And his servants said to him: ‘Behold, there is a woman that divineth by a ghost at En-dor.’

Evil Spirits and Potions
23 כג

תניא, אבא בנימין אומר: אלמלי נתנה רשות לעין לראות, אין כל בריה יכולה לעמוד מפני המזיקין. אמר אבה': אינהו נפישי מינן, וקיימי עלן כי כסלא לאוגיא. אמר רב הונא: כל חד וחד מינן, אלפא משמאליה ורבבתא מימיניה. אמר רבא: האי דוחקא דהוי בכלה– מנייהו הוי; הני ברכי דשלהי– מנייהו; הני מאני דרבנן דבלו– מחופיא דידהו; הני כרעי דמנקפן– מנייהו. האי מאן דבעי למידע להו– לייתי קיטמא נהילא ונהדר אפורייה, ובצפרא חזי כי כרעי דתרנגולא. האי מאן דבעי למחזינהו– ליתי שלייתא דשונרתא אוכמתא בת אוכמתא, בוכרתא בת בוכרתא, ולקליה בנורא ולשחקיה ולימלי עיניה מניה, וחזי להו. ולשדייה בגובתא דפרזלא ולחתמי' בגושפנקא דפרזלא דילמא גנבי מניה. ולחתום פומיה כי היכי דלא ליתזק. רב ביבי בר אבה' עבד הכי חזא ואתזק. בעו רבנן רחמי עליה ואתסי:

There is a teaching : Abba Benjamin said : Had the human eye been given the power of seeing them (demons), no person could endure because of the evil spirits. Abbai said : They outnumber us, and surround us like the ridge round a field. Rab Huna said : Every one of us has a thousand on his left hand and myriads on his right. Raba said : The crush at the public discourses is due to them ; the knees grow fatigued because of them ; the wearing out of the clothes of the Rabbis is the consequence of their rubbing against them ; the feet are bruised by them. Who wishes to perceive their footprints should take sifted ashes and sprinkle them around his bed. In the morning he will see something resembling the footprints of a rooster. Who wishes to see them should take the after-birth of a black she-cat, the offspring of a black she-cat, the first-born of a first-born, roast it in the fire, pulverize it, then fill his eyes with it, and he will see them. He must pour the powder into an iron tube and seal it with an iron signet, lest the evil spirits steal it. He must also seal its mouth, lest he come to harm. Rab Bebai b. Abbai did this ; he saw the evil spirits and was injured. The Rabbis prayed for him and he was cured.

Haunted House?
24 כד

במקומן חיישינן. ואי בעית אימא: לעולם בחד, ובחורבה חדתי דקאי בדברא, דהתם משום חשד ליכא, דהא אשה בדברא לא שכיחא, ומשום מזיקין איכא:

In such places where evil spirits resort there is occasion for fear. Or if thou wilt, I can say that even in the case of a person alone and new ruins situated in a wild place there is no ground for suspicion, because a woman does not frequent such a spot ; but the fear of evil spirits remains.

Trick or Treating
25 כה

(ה) אָסוּר לִשְׁלֹחַ דּוֹרוֹן לְגוֹי בְּיוֹם חַגָּם ... וְכֵן גּוֹי שֶׁשָּׁלַח בְּיוֹם חַגּוֹ דּוֹרוֹן לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, לֹא יְקַבְּלֶנּוּ מִמֶּנּוּ. וְאִם חוֹשֵׁשׁ לְאֵיבָה, מְקַבְּלוֹ, וְיִזְרְקֶנּוּ בְּפָנָיו לְבוֹר אוֹ לְמָקוֹם הָאָבֵד, כִּלְאַחַר יָד.

5) It is forbidden to send gifts to non-jews during their holidays ... So to if a non-jew sends a gift to a Jew, do not accept it from him. And if it is possible that they may come to hate you because you do not accept it, you should take it and throw it away.

Hachnasat Orchim - Trick or Treating as Welcoming Guests
26 כו

(א) וַיֵּרָ֤א אֵלָיו֙ ה' בְּאֵלֹנֵ֖י מַמְרֵ֑א וְה֛וּא יֹשֵׁ֥ב פֶּֽתַח־הָאֹ֖הֶל כְּחֹ֥ם הַיּֽוֹם׃

(1) And the LORD appeared unto him by the terebinths of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

27 כז

(ד) פתח האהל. לראות אם יש עובר ושב ויכניסם בביתו:

At the entrance of the tent. To see if there were people passing by so that he (Avraham) can go out and bring them into his home: