1

Anyone who willingly, as a conscious act of defiance, performs the deeds associated with an ov or a yid'oni is liable for karet. If witnesses were present and warned him, he should be stoned to death. If he performed these actions inadvertently, he must bring a fixed sin offering.

What do the deeds associated with an ov involve? A person stands up and offers an incense offering of known content. He holds a wand of myrtle in his hand and waves it while whispering a known incantation in a hushed tone. [This continues] until the person making the inquiry hears a voice, as if another person is speaking to him and replying to his questions. It appears as if the words are coming from below the earth in a very low tone, to the extent that it cannot be perceived by the ear, but only sensed by thought.

Similarly, among the deeds associated with an ov is taking the skull of a corpse, offering incense, and chanting incantations until one hears a voice in a very low tone emanating from his armpits and replying [to his questions]. Anyone who performs one of these acts should be stoned to death.

א

הָעוֹשֶׂה אוֹב אוֹ יִדְּעֹנִי בִּרְצוֹנוֹ בְּזָדוֹן חַיָּב כָּרֵת וְאִם הָיוּ שָׁם עֵדִים וְהַתְרָאָה נִסְקָל. הָיָה שׁוֹגֵג מֵבִיא חַטָּאת קְבוּעָה. כֵּיצַד הוּא מַעֲשֵׂה הָאוֹב. זֶה שֶׁהוּא עוֹמֵד וּמַקְטִיר קְטֹרֶת יְדוּעָה וְאוֹחֵז שַׁרְבִיט שֶׁל הֲדַס בְּיָדוֹ וּמְנִיפוֹ וְהוּא מְדַבֵּר בַּלָּאט בִּדְבָרִים יְדוּעִים אֶצְלָם עַד שֶׁיִּשְׁמַע הַשּׁוֹאֵל כְּאִלּוּ אֶחָד מְדַבֵּר עִמּוֹ וּמְשִׁיבוֹ עַל מַה שֶּׁהוּא שׁוֹאֵל בִּדְבָרִים מִתַּחַת הָאָרֶץ בְּקוֹל נָמוּךְ עַד מְאֹד וּכְאִלּוּ אֵינוֹ נִכָּר לָאֹזֶן אֶלָּא בְּמַחֲשָׁבָה מַרְגִּישׁ בּוֹ. וְכֵן הַלּוֹקֵחַ גֻּלְגּלֶת הַמֵּת וּמַקְטִיר לָהּ וּמְנַחֵשׁ בָּהּ עַד שֶׁיִּשָּׁמַע כְּאִלּוּ קוֹל יוֹצֵא מִתַּחַת שֶׁחְיוֹ שָׁפָל עַד מְאֹד וּמְשִׁיבוֹ. כָּל אֵלּוּ מַעֲשֵׂה אוֹב הֵן וְהָעוֹשֶׂה אֶחָד מֵהֶן נִסְקָל:

2

What do the deeds associated with a yid'oni involve? A person places a bone from a bird whose name is yidua in his mouth, offers incense, and performs other deeds until he falls into a trance, [losing self-control] like an epileptic, and relates events which will occur in the future.

All of these are types of idol worship. What is the source for the warning against them? [Leviticus 19:31]: "Do not turn to the ovot or the yid'onim."

ב

כֵּיצַד מַעֲשֵׂה הַיִּדְּעֹנִי. מֵנִיחַ עֶצֶם עוֹף שֶׁשְּׁמוֹ יָדוּעַ בְּפִיו וּמַקְטִיר וְעוֹשֶׂה מַעֲשִׂים אֲחֵרִים עַד שֶׁיִּפּל כְּנִכְפֶּה וִידַבֵּר בְּפִיו דְּבָרִים שֶׁעֲתִידִים לִהְיוֹת. וְכָל אֵלּוּ מִינֵי עֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים הֵן וְאַזְהָרָה שֶׁלָּהֶן מִנַּיִן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יט לא) "אַל תִּפְנוּ אֶל הָאֹבֹת" וְגוֹ':

3

Anyone who willingly, as a conscious act of defiance, gives of his progeny to Molech is liable for karet. If he did so inadvertently, he must bring a fixed sin offering. If witnesses were present and warned him, he should be stoned to death, as [Leviticus 20:2] states: "Whoever gives of his progeny to Molech will surely die. The people will stone him."

Which verse serves as a warning for this [prohibition]? "Do not give of your progeny to Molech" [Leviticus 18:20]. Also, further on [Deuteronomy 18:10] states: "There shall not be found among you one who passes his son or daughter through fire."

What was done? A person would kindle a great fire and then take some of his progeny and give them to the priests who serve the fire. After the child was given to them, the priests return the son to his father to pass him through the fire at his will. The father of the child is the one who passes his child through the fire with the priests' permission. He passes him through the fire from one side to the other [while carrying him, the father walking on] his feet in the midst of the flames.

Thus, [the father] does not cremate his son to Molech, as sons and daughters are cremated in the worship of other deities. Rather, this form of worship called Molech involved merely passing [the child through the fire]. Therefore, if one performed this service to a deity other than Molech, one is not liable.

ג

הַנּוֹתֵן מִזַּרְעוֹ לַמּלֶךְ בִּרְצוֹנוֹ וּבְזָדוֹן חַיָּב כָּרֵת. בְּשׁוֹגֵג מֵבִיא חַטָּאת קְבוּעָה. וְאִם עָשָׂה בְּעֵדִים וְהַתְרָאָה נִסְקָל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כ ב) "אֲשֶׁר יִתֵּן מִזַּרְעוֹ לַמּלֶךְ מוֹת יוּמָת" וְגוֹ'. וְאַזְהָרָה שֶׁלּוֹ מִנַּיִן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יח כא) "וּמִזַּרְעֲךָ לֹא תִתֵּן לְהַעֲבִיר לַמּלֶךְ" וּלְהַלָּן הוּא אוֹמֵר (דברים יח י) "לֹא יִמָּצֵא בְךָ מַעֲבִיר בְּנוֹ וּבִתּוֹ בָּאֵשׁ". כֵּיצַד הָיוּ עוֹשִׂים. מַדְלִיק אֵשׁ גְּדוֹלָה וְלוֹקֵחַ מִקְצָת זַרְעוֹ וּמוֹסְרוֹ לְכֹהֲנֵיהֶם עוֹבְדֵי הָאֵשׁ. וְאוֹתָן הַכֹּהֲנִים נוֹתְנִין הַבֵּן לְאָבִיו אַחַר שֶׁנִּמְסַר בְּיָדָן לְהַעֲבִירוֹ בָּאֵשׁ בִּרְשׁוּתוֹ וַאֲבִי הַבֵּן הוּא שֶׁמַּעֲבִיר בְּנוֹ עַל הָאֵשׁ בִּרְשׁוּת הַכֹּהֲנִים וּמַעֲבִירוֹ בְּרַגְלָיו מִצַּד זֶה לְצַד אַחֵר בְּתוֹךְ הַשַּׁלְהֶבֶת. לֹא שֶׁהוּא שׂוֹרְפוֹ לַמּלֶךְ כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁשּׂוֹרְפִין בְּנֵיהֶם וּבְנוֹתֵיהֶם לַעֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים אַחֶרֶת אֶלָּא בְּהַעֲבָרָה בִּלְבַד הָיְתָה עֲבוֹדָה זוֹ שֶׁשְּׁמָהּ מלֶךְ. לְפִיכָךְ הָעוֹשֶׂה עֲבוֹדָה זוֹ לַעֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים אַחֶרֶת חוּץ מִמּלֶךְ פָּטוּר:

4

One is not liable for karet or stoning until one gives over his son to Molech, passing him through the fire as he carries him. If he gives him over, but does not pass him through the flames, or passes him through the flames without giving him over, or gives him over and passes him through the flames, but does not carry him, he is not held liable.

He is not held liable until he gives over some of his progeny and leaves some of his progeny, as [implied by Leviticus 20:3]: "For he gave of his progeny to Molech" - i.e., some [of his progeny] and not his entire [progeny].

ד

אֵינוֹ חַיָּב כָּרֵת אוֹ סְקִילָה עַד שֶׁיִּמְסֹר בְּנוֹ לַמּלֶךְ וְיַעֲבִירוֹ בְּרַגְלָיו בָּאֵשׁ דֶּרֶךְ הַעֲבָרָה. מָסַר וְלֹא הֶעֱבִיר הֶעֱבִיר וְלֹא מָסַר. אוֹ שֶׁמָּסַר וְהֶעֱבִיר שֶׁלֹּא בְּדֶרֶךְ הַעֲבָרָה פָּטוּר. וְאֵינוֹ חַיָּב עַד שֶׁיִּמְסֹר מִקְצָת זַרְעוֹ וְיָנִיחַ מִקְצָת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כ ג) "כִּי מִזַּרְעוֹ נָתַן לַמּלֶךְ" מִקְצָתוֹ וְלֹא כֻּלּוֹ:

5

[The prohibition against giving one's progeny to Molech includes:] both progeny of legitimate pedigree and illegitimate pedigree, sons and daughters, children and grandchildren. One is liable for giving over any of one's descendants, because they are all included in the term "progeny."

In contrast, if one passed one's brothers, sisters, or ancestors [through the fire] or if one caused oneself to be passed through the fires, one is not held liable. A person who passes one of his progeny [through the fire] while he is sleeping or blind is not liable.

ה

אֶחָד זֶרַע כָּשֵׁר וְאֶחָד זֶרַע פָּסוּל אֶחָד בָּנָיו וּבְנוֹתָיו בְּנֵיהֶם וּבְנֵי בְּנֵיהֶם עַל כָּל יוֹצְאֵי יְרֵכוֹ הוּא חַיָּב מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֵן זַרְעוֹ. אֲבָל אִם הֶעֱבִיר אֶחָיו אוֹ אַחְיוֹתָיו אוֹ אֲבוֹתָיו אוֹ שֶׁהֶעֱבִיר עַצְמוֹ פָּטוּר. הֶעֱבִיר אֶחָד מִזַּרְעוֹ וְהוּא יָשֵׁן אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה סוּמָא פָּטוּר:

6

A monument which the Torah has forbidden is a structure around which people gather. [This prohibition applies] even [when it was constructed] for the service of God, because this is a pagan practice, as [Deuteronomy 16:22] states: "Do not erect a monument which God hates." Whoever erects a monument is [liable for] lashes.

Similarly, [a person who bows down on] the kneeling stone mentioned in the Torah receives lashes - even if he prostrates oneself upon it to God - as [Leviticus 26:1] states: "Do not place a kneeling stone in your land to prostrate yourself upon it." The pagans would customarily place a stone before a false deity so that they could prostrate themselves upon it. Therefore, this practice is not followed in the worship of God.

A person is not [liable for] lashes until he spreads out his hands and feet on the stone, thus prostrating himself on it entirely. This is what the Torah means by bowing.

ו

מַצֵּבָה שֶׁאָסְרָה תּוֹרָה הִיא בִּנְיָן שֶׁהַכּל מִתְקַבְּצִין אֶצְלָהּ וַאֲפִלּוּ לַעֲבֹד אֶת ה' שֶׁכֵּן הָיָה דֶּרֶךְ עוֹבְדֵי כּוֹכָבִים. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טז כב) "וְלֹא תָקִים לְךָ מַצֵּבָה". וְכָל הַמֵּקִים מַצֵּבָה לוֹקֶה. וְכֵן אֶבֶן מַשְׂכִּית הָאֲמוּרָה בַּתּוֹרָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא מִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה עָלֶיהָ לַשֵּׁם לוֹקֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כו א) "וְאֶבֶן מַשְׂכִּית לֹא תִתְּנוּ בְּאַרְצְכֶם לְהִשְׁתַּחֲוֹת עָלֶיהָ" מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהָיָה דֶּרֶךְ עוֹבְדֵי כּוֹכָבִים לְהַנִּיחַ אֶבֶן לְפָנֶיהָ לְהִשְׁתַּחֲוֹת עָלֶיהָ. לְפִיכָךְ אֵין עוֹשִׂין כֵּן לַה'. וְאֵינוֹ לוֹקֶה עַד שֶׁיִּפְשֹׁט יָדָיו וְרַגְלָיו עַל הָאֶבֶן וְנִמְצָא כֻּלּוֹ מֻטָּל עָלֶיהָ שֶׁזּוֹ הִיא הִשְׁתַּחֲוָיָה הָאֲמוּרָה בַּתּוֹרָה:

7

Where does the [prohibition mentioned above] apply? Every place outside the Temple. In the Temple, however, it is permitted to bow dow to God on stone.

This concept is derived as follows: [Leviticus, ibid.] states: "Do not place... in your land." "In your land," it is forbidden to prostrate oneself on stones. You may, however, prostrate yourself on hewn stones in the Temple.

For this reason, it is a universally accepted custom among the Jewish people to place mats, straw, or hay in synagogues that are paved with stones, to separate between their faces and the stones. If it is impossible to find anything to separate between them and the stones, the person should go to another place to prostrate himself, or lie on his side, so that he will not press his face to the stone.

ז

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בִּשְׁאָר (הָאֲרָצוֹת) אֲבָל בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ מֻתָּר לְהִשְׁתַּחֲווֹת עַל הָאֲבָנִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כו א) "בְּאַרְצְכֶם", בְּאַרְצְכֶם אִי אַתֶּם מִשְׁתַּחֲוִים עַל הָאֲבָנִים אֲבָל אַתֶּם מִשְׁתַּחֲוִים עַל הָאֲבָנִים הַמְפֻצָּלוֹת בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ. וּמִפְּנֵי זֶה נָהֲגוּ כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל לְהַצִּיעַ מַחְצְלָאוֹת בְּבָתֵּי כְּנֵסִיּוֹת הָרְצוּפוֹת בַּאֲבָנִים אוֹ מִינֵי קַשׁ וְתֶבֶן לְהַבְדִּיל בֵּין פְּנֵיהֶם וּבֵין הָאֲבָנִים. וְאִם לֹא מָצָא דָּבָר מַבְדִּיל בֵּינוֹ וּבֵין הָאֶבֶן הוֹלֵךְ לְמָקוֹם אַחֵר וּמִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה אוֹ שׁוֹחֶה עַל צִדּוֹ וָמַטֶּה כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יַדְבִּיק פָּנָיו בָּאֶבֶן:

8

A person who prostrates himself to God upon paved stones without spreading out his hands and feet is not [liable for] lashes. He is, however, punished by "blows for rebelliousness." In contrast, one who prostrates himself to a false deity should be stoned to death, whether or not he spreads out his hands and feet. As soon as he buries his face in the ground [he is liable].

ח

כָּל הַמִּשְׁתַּחֲוֶה לַה' עַל הָאֲבָנִים הַמְפֻצָּלוֹת בְּלֹא פִּשּׁוּט יָדַיִם וְרַגְלַיִם אֵינוֹ לוֹקֶה אֶלָּא מַכִּין אוֹתוֹ מַכַּת מַרְדּוּת. אֲבָל לַעֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים אֶחָד הִשְׁתַּחֲוָיָה בְּפִשּׁוּט יָדַיִם וְרַגְלַיִם אוֹ בְּלֹא פִּשּׁוּט יָדַיִם וְרַגְלַיִם מִשָּׁעָה שֶׁיִּכְבּשׁ פָּנָיו בַּקַּרְקַע נִסְקָל:

9

A person who plants a tree near the altar or anywhere in the Temple courtyard - regardless of whether it is a fruit-bearing tree or not - is [liable for] lashes, as [Deuteronomy 16:21] states: "Do not plant an asherah or any other tree near the altar of God, your Lord." [This prohibition applies] even when he did so to beautify the Temple and make it more attractive.

[The reason for this prohibition is] that this was a pagan practice. They would plant trees near their altars so that people would gather there.

ט

הַנּוֹטֵעַ אִילָן אֵצֶל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ אוֹ בְּכָל הָעֲזָרָה בֵּין אִילַן סְרָק בֵּין אִילַן מַאֲכָל אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעֲשָׂאוֹ לְנוֹי לַמִּקְדָּשׁ וְיֹפִי לוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה לוֹקֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טז כא) "לֹא תִטַּע לְךָ אֲשֵׁרָה כָּל עֵץ אֵצֶל מִזְבַּח ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ". מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהָיָה זֶה דֶּרֶךְ עוֹבְדֵי כּוֹכָבִים נוֹטְעִין אִילָנוֹת בְּצַד מִזְבֵּחַ שֶׁלָּהּ כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּתְקַבְּצוּ שָׁם הָעָם:

10

It is forbidden to construct a porch made of wood in the Temple as one would do in one's courtyard. Even though [the wood would be affixed] within the structure and not planted within the ground. This is an extra restriction, as [implied by the words:] "any other tree" [in the verse cited above]. Instead, all the porches and structures which protruded from the walls within the sanctuary were of stone and not of wood.

י

אָסוּר לַעֲשׂוֹת אַכְסַדְרָאוֹת שֶׁל עֵץ בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁעוֹשִׂין בַּחֲצֵרוֹת, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא בְּבִנְיָן וְאֵינוֹ עֵץ נָטוּעַ הַרְחָקָה יְתֵרָה הִיא שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טז כא) "כָּל עֵץ". אֶלָּא כָּל הָאַכְסַדְרָאוֹת וְהַסְּבָכוֹת הַיּוֹצְאוֹת מִן הַכְּתָלִים שֶׁהָיוּ בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ שֶׁל אֶבֶן הָיוּ לֹא שֶׁל עֵץ: