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Thursday, 22 Tishrei 5778 / October 12, 2017

Daily Mitzvah

Daily Mitzvah

Negative Commandment 35, 38, 36, 37, 34, 43, 44, 40, 39, 41, 45, 171

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Negative Commandment 35 (Digest)
Incantations

"There shall not be found among you... a charmer"Deuteronomy 18:10-11.

It is forbidden to chant a magical incantation in the belief that it can offer relief. For example, in times ago people would whisper a certain incantation over a snake or scorpion bite, in the belief that it would alleviate the pain.

Negative Commandment 38 (Digest)
Communication with the Dead

"There shall not be found among you... a necromancer"Deuteronomy 18:11.

It is forbidden to do any act that supposedly elicits information from the dead. The Talmud speaks of people who would abstain from food and go to sleep in a cemetery—in the hope that the dead would appear and communicate with them.

Negative Commandment 36 (Digest)
Consulting Ov

"There shall not be found among you... one who inquires of Ov"Deuteronomy 18:10-11.

The Torah forbids us from consulting with an Ov practitioner, to ask him for advice or information based on his Ov experience.

The Ov practice consisted of burning a certain incense and doing certain acts known to the Ov followers. At that point, it would seem to the person engaging in these acts that he hears a voice emanating from beneath his armpit, which would answer questions that he posed.

Negative Commandment 37 (Digest)
Consulting Yi'doni

"There shall not be found among you... one who inquires of Yid'oni"Deuteronomy 18:10-11.

The Torah forbids us from consulting with a Yid'oni practitioner, to ask him for advice or information based on his Yid'oni experience.

The Yid'oni practice consisted of inserting into one's mouth a bone from the yidoa fowl. After then burning incense, saying certain formulas and doing certain rites, the person would enter a trance-like state, and he would begin issuing predictions about the future.

Negative Commandment 34 (Digest)
Witchcraft

"There shall not be found among you...one who practices witchcraft"Deuteronomy 18:10.

We are forbidden from engaging in any form of magic or witchcraft.

Negative Commandment 43 (Digest)
Sideburns

"You shall not round the corners of your heads"Leviticus 19:27.

It is forbidden for a man to cut off his sideburns, leaving his hairline rounded at the sides, for such was the practice of ancient idol-worshippers. (This prohibition also applies if one cuts all his hair. Even if there is no hairline, the sideburns must never be cut off.)

Negative Commandment 44 (Digest)
Shaving

"You shall not destroy the corners of your beard"Leviticus 19:27.

It is forbidden for a man to shave with a razor (or razor-like implement) the "corners" of his beard. The Sages identified five corners: the upper right cheek, the lower right cheek, the upper left cheek, the lower left cheek, and the chin. Shaving the beards with razors was the way of ancient pagan priests.

Negative Commandment 40 (Digest)
Men Cross-Dressing

"A man shall not put on a woman's garment"Deuteronomy 22:5.

It is forbidden for a man to don clothing or ornaments that are considered women's garment or gear in that locale. There are two reasons why a man would wear women's clothing, both anathema to G‑d: a) To facilitate lewd behavior, or b) in conformance with once-prevalent idolatrous ritual.

Negative Commandment 39 (Digest)
Women Cross-Dressing

"A woman shall not wear that which pertains to a man"Deuteronomy 22:5.

It is forbidden for a woman to don clothing or ornaments that are considered men's garment or gear in that locale.

Negative Commandment 41 (Digest)
Tattoos

"You shall not print any marks upon you"Leviticus 19:28.

We are forbidden from tattooing our bodies. Tattooing was common practice amongst the ancient idol-worshippers.

Negative Commandment 45 (Digest)
Scarring

"You shall not cut yourselves"Deuteronomy 14:1.

It is forbidden to cut ourselves in the course of mourning a deceased—as this was a common practice amongst idol-worshippers. It is also forbidden to follow the ancient practice of self-mutilation as part of pagan ritual.

Negative Commandment 171 (Digest)
Tearing Out Hair

"Do not make any baldness between your eyes for the dead"Deuteronomy 14:1.

When a loved one dies, we mustn't allow our anguish to cause us to rip out our hair leaving a bald spot.


Translation of (the unabridged text of) Sefer Hamitzvot by Rabbi Berel Bell, member of the Rabbinical Court of Montreal and director of Teacher Training for the Jewish Learning Institute.

From "Sefer Hamitzvot in English," published by Sichos in English.
Daily Quote
Had G-d commanded us to chop wood, we would do it with the same commitment, joy and enthusiasm with which we perform the most meaningful spiritually gratifying mitzvah.
  –Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi
The Parshah
Parshah Shemini Atzeret
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