We may not follow the statutes of the idolaters or resemble them in their [style] of dress, coiffure, or the like, as [Leviticus 20:23] states: "Do not follow the statutes of the nation [that I am driving out before you]," as [Leviticus 18:3] states: "Do not follow their statutes," and as [Deuteronomy 12:30] states: "Be careful, lest you inquire after them."

[All these verses] share a single theme: they warn us not to try to resemble [the gentiles]. Instead, the Jews should be separate from them and distinct in their dress and in their deeds, as they are in their ideals and character traits. In this context, [Leviticus 20:26] states: "I have separated you from the nations [to be Mine]."

[Thus,] one may not wear a garment which is unique to them or grow the tresses of our hair as they do. We may not shave our heads from the sides and leave hair in the center as they do. This is called a blorit. We may not shave the hair on the front of our faces from ear to ear and leave a growth at the back of our heads as they do. We may not build Temples in order that many people may enter as they do. Whoever performs one of the above or a deed of this nature is [liable for] lashes.


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:


When a Jew is cutting an idolater's hair, he must stop when he approaches within three fingerbreadths of his blorit on all sides.


עַכּוּ''ם שֶׁהָיָה מִסְתַּפֵּר מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל כֵּיוָן שֶׁהִגִּיעַ לִבְלוֹרִיתוֹ קָרוֹב שָׁלֹשׁ אֶצְבָּעוֹת לְכָל רוּחַ שׁוֹמֵט אֶת יָדוֹ:


A Jew who has an important position in a gentile kingdom and must sit before their kings, and would be embarrassed if he did not resemble them, is granted permission to wear clothes which resemble theirs and shave the hair on his face as they do.


יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁהָיָה קָרוֹב לַמַּלְכוּת וְצָרִיךְ לֵישֵׁב לִפְנֵי מַלְכֵיהֶם וְהָיֳה לוֹ גְּנַאי לְפִי שֶׁלֹּא יִדְמֶה לָהֶן הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר לִלְבּשׁ בְּמַלְבּוּשֵׁיהֶן וּלְגַלֵּחַ כְּנֶגֶד פָּנָיו כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁהֵן עוֹשִׂין:


It is forbidden to practice soothsaying as idolaters do, as [Leviticus 19:26] states: "Do not act as a soothsayer."

What is meant by a soothsayer? For example, those who say: Since my piece of bread fell out of my mouth, or my staff fell from my hand, I will not travel to this place today, since if I were to go I would not be able to accomplish my desires.

Since a fox passed on my right side, I will not go out of my door today, since if I were to go out I would meet a deceiver.

Similarly, [this category includes] those who hear the chirping of a bird and say: This will happen or this will not happen; it is beneficial to do this or it is detrimental to do this. [Also, it includes] those who say: Slaughter this rooster that crowed like a raven; slaughter this hen that crowed like a rooster.

Similarly, a person who sets up omens for himself; e.g., if this and this happens, I will do this. If it will not happen, I will not do it, as Eliezer, the servant of Abraham did, and the things of the like - all this is forbidden. Anyone who does one of these things because of such omens is [liable for] lashes.


אֵין מְנַחֲשִׁין כְּעַכּוּ''ם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יט כו) "לֹא תְנַחֲשׁוּ". כֵּיצַד הוּא הַנַּחַשׁ. כְּגוֹן אֵלּוּ שֶׁאוֹמְרִים הוֹאִיל וְנָפְלָה פִּתִּי מִפִּי אוֹ נָפַל מַקְלִי מִיָּדִי אֵינִי הוֹלֵךְ לְמָקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי הַיּוֹם שֶׁאִם אֵלֵךְ אֵין חֲפָצַיי נַעֲשִׂים. הוֹאִיל וְעָבַר שׁוּעָל מִימִינִי אֵינִי יוֹצֵא מִפֶּתַח בֵּיתִי הַיּוֹם שֶׁאִם אֵצֵא יִפְגָּעֵנִי אָדָם רַמַּאי. וְכֵן אֵלּוּ שֶׁשּׁוֹמְעִים צִפְצוּף הָעוֹף וְאוֹמְרִים יִהְיֶה כָּךְ וְלֹא יִהְיֶה כָּךְ. טוֹב לַעֲשׂוֹת דָּבָר פְּלוֹנִי וְרַע לַעֲשׂוֹת דָּבָר פְּלוֹנִי. וְכֵן אֵלּוּ שֶׁאוֹמְרִים שְׁחֹט תַּרְנְגוֹל זֶה שֶׁקָּרָא עַרְבִית. שְׁחֹט תַּרְנְגלֶת זוֹ שֶׁקָּרְאָה כְּמוֹ תַּרְנְגוֹל. וְכֵן הַמֵּשִׂים סִימָנִים לְעַצְמוֹ אִם יֶאֱרַע לִי כָּךְ וְכָךְ אֶעֱשֶׂה דָּבָר פְּלוֹנִי וְאִם לֹא יֶאֱרַע לִי לֹא אֶעֱשֶׂה, כֶּאֱלִיעֶזֶר עֶבֶד אַבְרָהָם. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בַּדְּבָרִים הָאֵלּוּ הַכּל אָסוּר. וְכָל הָעוֹשֶׂה מַעֲשֶׂה מִפְּנֵי דָּבָר מִדְּבָרִים אֵלּוּ לוֹקֶה:


[A different ruling applies when] a person says, "This dwelling which I built will be a good omen for me"; "This woman whom I married or this animal that I purchased was blessed. From the time I purchased it onward, I have become rich."

The same applies to a person who rejoices and exclaims, "This is a good omen" when he asks a child, "Which verse are you studying?" and the child reads him a verse of blessing. This and the like are permitted, since the person did not perform an act or hold himself back from performing an act [because of the omen]. All he did was consider something that had already happened as a sign.


מִי שֶׁאָמַר דִּירָה זוֹ שֶׁבָּנִיתִי סִימָן טוֹב הָיְתָה עָלַי. אִשָּׁה זוֹ שֶׁנָּשָׂאתִי וּבְהֵמָה זוֹ שֶׁקָּנִיתִי מְבֹרֶכֶת הָיְתָה מֵעֵת שֶׁקְּנִיתִיהָ עָשַׁרְתִּי. וְכֵן הַשּׁוֹאֵל לְתִינוֹק אֵי זֶה פָּסוּק אַתָּה לוֹמֵד אִם אָמַר לוֹ פָּסוּק מִן הַבְּרָכוֹת יִשְׂמַח וְיֹאמַר זֶה סִימָן טוֹב כָּל אֵלּוּ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן מֻתָּר הוֹאִיל וְלֹא כִּוֵּן מַעֲשָׂיו וְלֹא נִמְנַע מִלַּעֲשׂוֹת אֶלָּא עָשָׂה זֶה סִימָן לְעַצְמוֹ לְדָבָר שֶׁכְּבָר הָיָה הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר:

Mishneh Torah (Moznaim)

Featuring a modern English translation and a commentary that presents a digest of the centuries of Torah scholarship which have been devoted to the study of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.


What is meant by a diviner? This refers to a person who performs certain deeds to cause him to fall into a trance and have his mind cleared of all thoughts until he can predict the future, saying, "This will happen" or "This will not happen;" or saying, "it is proper to do such and such. Be careful to do so."

There are some diviners who use sand or stones [to obtain their answers]. Others prostrate themselves on the ground, make strange motions and scream. Others look at a metal or crystal mirror, fantasize, and speak. Still others carry a staff and lean on it and tap with it until they fall into a trance and speak. This is what the prophet [Hoshea (4:12) meant by] saying, "My people will inquire of their rods. Their staffs will tell them."


אֵיזֶהוּ קוֹסֵם זֶה הָעוֹשֶׂה מַעֲשֶׂה מִשְּׁאָר הַמַּעֲשִׂיּוֹת כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּשּׁוֹם וְתִפָּנֶה מַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ מִכָּל הַדְּבָרִים עַד שֶׁיֹּאמַר דְּבָרִים שֶׁעֲתִידִים לִהְיוֹת וְיֹאמַר דָּבָר פְּלוֹנִי עָתִיד לִהְיוֹת אוֹ אֵינוֹ הוֹוֶה אוֹ שֶׁיֹּאמַר שֶׁרָאוּי לַעֲשׂוֹת כֵּן וְהִזָּהֲרוּ מִכָּךְ. יֵשׁ מִן הַקּוֹסְמִין שֶׁמְּשַׁמְּשִׁים בְּחל אוֹ בַּאֲבָנִים. וְיֵשׁ מִי שֶׁגּוֹהֵר לָאָרֶץ וְיָנוּעַ וְצוֹעֵק. וְיֵשׁ מִי שֶׁמִּסְתַּכֵּל בְּמַרְאָה שֶׁל בַּרְזֶל אוֹ בַּעֲשָׁשִׁית וּמְדַמִּין וְאוֹמְרִים. וְיֵשׁ מִי שֶׁנּוֹשֵׂא מַקֵּל בְּיָדוֹ וְנִשְׁעָן עָלָיו וּמַכֶּה בּוֹ עַד שֶׁתִּפָּנֶה מַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ וּמְדַבֵּר. הוּא שֶׁהַנָּבִיא אוֹמֵר "עַמִּי בְּעֵצוֹ יִשְׁאָל וּמַקְלוֹ יַגִּיד לוֹ":


It is forbidden to divine or to inquire of a diviner. A person who inquires of a diviner is given "stripes for rebelliousness." In contrast, the diviner himself is [punished by] lashes if he performs one of the above or other similar acts, as [Deuteronomy 18:10] states: "There shall not be found among you one who passes..., one who practices divination."


אָסוּר לִקְסֹם וְלִשְׁאל לְקוֹסֵם אֶלָּא שֶׁהַשּׁוֹאֵל לְקוֹסֵם מַכִּין אוֹתוֹ מַכַּת מַרְדּוּת אֲבָל הַקּוֹסֵם עַצְמוֹ אִם עָשָׂה מַעֲשֶׂה מִכָּל אֵלּוּ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן לוֹקֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יח י) "לֹא יִמָּצֵא בְךָ מַעֲבִיר בְּנוֹ" וְגוֹ' (דברים יח י) "קֹסֵם קְסָמִים":


Who is a fortuneteller? A person who tries to predict auspicious times, using astrology and saying, "This day will be a good day," "This day will be a bad day," "It is appropriate to perform a particular task on a certain day"; or "This year" or "This month will not be opportune for this particular matter."


אֵיזֶהוּ מְעוֹנֵן אֵלּוּ נוֹתְנֵי עִתִּים שֶׁאוֹמְרִים בְּאִצְטַגְנִינוּת יוֹם פְּלוֹנִי טוֹב יוֹם פְּלוֹנִי רַע יוֹם פְּלוֹנִי רָאוּי לַעֲשׂוֹת בּוֹ מְלָאכָה פְּלוֹנִית שָׁנָה פְּלוֹנִית אוֹ חֹדֶשׁ פְּלוֹנִי רַע לְדָבָר פְּלוֹנִי:


It is forbidden to tell fortunes. [This applies] even though one does not perform a deed, but merely relates the falsehoods which the fools consider to be words of truth and wisdom. Anyone who performs a deed because of an astrological calculation or arranges his work or his journeys to fit a time that was suggested by the astrologers is [liable for] lashes, as [Leviticus 19:26] states: "Do not tell fortunes."

Also included in the scope of this prohibition is one who performs magic tricks and deludes those who observe him into thinking that he performs wonders although he is not doing so. He is [liable for] lashes.


אָסוּר לְעוֹנֵן אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא עָשָׂה מַעֲשֶׂה אֶלָּא הוֹדִיעַ אוֹתָן הַכְּזָבִים שֶׁהַכְּסִילִים מְדַמִּין שֶׁהֵן דִּבְרֵי אֱמֶת וְדִבְרֵי חֲכָמִים. וְכָל הָעוֹשֶׂה מִפְּנֵי הָאִצְטַגְנִינוּת וְכִוֵּן מְלַאכְתּוֹ אוֹ הֲלִיכָתוֹ בְּאוֹתוֹ הָעֵת שֶׁקָּבְעוּ הֹבְרֵי שָׁמַיִם הֲרֵי זֶה לוֹקֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יט כו) "לֹא תְעוֹנֵנוּ". וְכֵן הָאוֹחֵז אֶת הָעֵינַיִם וּמְדַמֶּה בִּפְנֵי הָרוֹאִים שֶׁעוֹשֶׂה מַעֲשֵׂה תִּמָּהוֹן וְהוּא לֹא עָשָׂה הֲרֵי זֶה בִּכְלַל מְעוֹנֵן וְלוֹקֶה:


Who is a person who casts spells? A person who chants incantations that have no meaning in people's speech or any connotation and imagines in his foolish perception that his words have an effect. Such people will say: If you cast a particular spell on a snake or a scorpion, they will do no harm. If you cast a particular spell on a person, he will never be harmed. Some of them will hold a key or a rock in their hands while they are talking, or perform other similar deeds. All of these are forbidden.

A person who casts spells is [punished by lashes] if he holds anything in his hand or performs an act while speaking, even if he merely gestures with his finger, as [Deuteronomy 18:10-11] states: "There shall not be found among you... one who casts spells." If, however, the person merely spoke without moving his finger or his head and without holding anything in his hand, and similarly, a person who has a spell cast upon him through the utterance of such incantations, thinking that this will help him, he is given "stripes for rebelliousness" because he participated in the foolish activities of a spell-caster.

All these deplorable incantations and strange names will not do harm, nor will they bring any benefit.


אֵיזֶהוּ חוֹבֵר זֶה שֶׁמְּדַבֵּר בִּדְבָרִים שֶׁאֵינָן לְשׁוֹן עַם וְאֵין לָהֶן עִנְיָן וּמַעֲלֶה עַל דַּעְתּוֹ בְּסִכְלוּתוֹ שֶׁאוֹתָן הַדְּבָרִים מוֹעִילִין. עַד שֶׁהֵן אוֹמְרִים שֶׁהָאוֹמֵר כָּךְ וְכָךְ עַל הַנָּחָשׁ אוֹ עַל הָעַקְרָב אֵינוֹ מַזִּיק וְהָאוֹמֵר כָּךְ וְכָךְ עַל הָאִישׁ אֵינוֹ נִזּוֹק. וּמֵהֶן אוֹחֵז בְּיָדוֹ בְּעֵת שֶׁמְּדַבֵּר מַפְתֵּחַ אוֹ סֶלַע וְכַיּוֹצֵא בַּדְּבָרִים הָאֵלּוּ הַכּל אָסוּר. וְהַחוֹבֵר עַצְמוֹ שֶׁאָחַז בְּיָדוֹ כְּלוּם אוֹ שֶׁעָשָׂה מַעֲשֶׂה עִם דִּבּוּרוֹ אֲפִלּוּ הֶרְאָה בְּאֶצְבָּעוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה לוֹקֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יח י) "לֹא יִמָּצֵא בְךָ" וְגוֹ' (דברים יח יא) "וְחֹבֵר חָבֶר". אֲבָל אִם אָמַר דְּבָרִים בִּלְבַד וְלֹא הֵנִיד לֹא אֶצְבַּע וְלֹא רֹאשׁ וְלֹא הָיָה בְּיָדוֹ כְּלוּם. וְכֵן אָדָם שֶׁאָמַר עָלָיו הֶחָבֵר אוֹתָן הַקּוֹלוֹת וְהוּא יוֹשֵׁב לְפָנָיו וּמְדַמֶּה שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ בָּזֶה הֲנָאָה מַכִּין אוֹתוֹ מַכַּת מַרְדּוּת מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּתֵּף בְּסִכְלוּת הַחֹבֵר. וְכָל אוֹתָן הַקּוֹלוֹת וְהַשֵּׁמוֹת הַמְשֻׁנִּים הַמְכֹעָרִים לֹא יָרֵעוּ וְגַם הֵיטֵב אֵין אוֹתָם:


When a person has been bitten by a scorpion or a snake, it is permitted to recite incantations over the bite. [This is permitted] - even on the Sabbath - in order to settle his mind and strengthen his feelings. Even though [the incantations] are of no avail, since the victim's life is in danger, permission was granted lest he become overly disturbed.


מִי שֶׁנְּשָׁכוֹ עַקְרָב אוֹ נָחָשׁ מֻתָּר לִלְחשׁ עַל מְקוֹם הַנְּשִׁיכָה וַאֲפִלּוּ בְּשַׁבָּת כְּדֵי לְיַשֵּׁב דַּעְתּוֹ וּלְחַזֵּק לִבּוֹ. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין הַדָּבָר מוֹעִיל כְּלוּם הוֹאִיל וּמְסֻכָּן הוּא הִתִּירוּ לוֹ כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא תִּטָּרֵף דַּעְתּוֹ עָלָיו:


A person who whispers an incantation over a wound and then recites a verse from the Torah, who recites a verse over a child so that he will not become scared, or who places a Torah scroll or tefillin over a baby so that it will sleep, is considered to be a soothsayer or one who cast spells. Furthermore, such people are included among those who deny the Torah, because they relate to the words of Torah as if they are cures for the body, when, in fact, they are cures for the soul, as [Proverbs 3:22] states: "And they shall be life for your soul."

It is, however, permitted for a healthy person to read verses [from the Bible] or chapters from Psalms so that the merit of reading them will protect him and save him from difficulties and injury.


הַלּוֹחֵשׁ עַל הַמַּכָּה וְקוֹרֵא פָּסוּק מִן הַתּוֹרָה. וְכֵן הַקּוֹרֵא עַל הַתִּינוֹק שֶׁלֹּא יִבָּעֵת וְהַמַּנִּיחַ סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה אוֹ תְּפִלִּין עַל הַקָּטָן בִּשְׁבִיל שֶׁיִּישַׁן. לֹא דַּי לָהֶם שֶׁהֵם בִּכְלַל מְנַחֲשִׁים וְחוֹבְרִים אֶלָּא שֶׁהֵן בִּכְלַל הַכּוֹפְרִים בַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁהֵן עוֹשִׂין דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה רְפוּאַת גּוּף וְאֵינָן אֶלָּא רְפוּאַת נְפָשׁוֹת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי ג כב) "וְיִהְיוּ חַיִּים לְנַפְשֶׁךָ". אֲבָל הַבָּרִיא שֶׁקָּרָא פְּסוּקִין וּמִזְמוֹר מִתְּהִלִּים כְּדֵי שֶׁתָּגֵן עָלָיו זְכוּת קְרִיאָתָן וְיִנָּצֵל מִצָּרוֹת וּמִנְּזָקִים הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר:


Who is one who seeks [information] from the dead? A person who starves himself and goes to sleep in a cemetery so that a deceased person will come to him in a dream and reply to his questions. There are others who wear special clothes, recite incantations, burn a particular type of incense, and sleep alone so that a deceased person will come to them and speak to them in a dream. To summarize: Anyone who performs a deed in order that a deceased person should come to him and give him information is [liable for] lashes, as [Deuteronomy 18:10] states: "There shall not be found among you one who passes..., one who seeks [information] from the dead."


אֵיזֶהוּ דּוֹרֵשׁ אֶל הַמֵּתִים זֶה הַמַּרְעִיב אֶת עַצְמוֹ וְהוֹלֵךְ וְלָן בְּבֵית הַקְּבָרוֹת כְּדֵי שֶׁיָּבוֹא מֵת בַּחֲלוֹם וְיוֹדִיעוֹ מַה שֶּׁשָּׁאַל עָלָיו. וְיֵשׁ אֲחֵרִים שֶׁהֵם לוֹבְשִׁים מַלְבּוּשִׁים יְדוּעִים וְאוֹמְרִים דְּבָרִים וּמַקְטִירִין קְטֹרֶת יְדוּעָה וִישֵׁנִים לְבַדָּן כְּדֵי שֶׁיָּבוֹא מֵת פְּלוֹנִי וִיסַפֵּר עִמּוֹ בַּחֲלוֹם. כְּלָלוֹ שֶׁל דָּבָר כָּל הָעוֹשֶׂה כְּדֵי שֶׁיָּבוֹא הַמֵּת וְיוֹדִיעוֹ לוֹקֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יח י) "לֹא יִמָּצֵא בְךָ מַעֲבִיר" וְגוֹ' (דברים יח יא) "וְדֹרֵשׁ אֶל הַמֵּתִים":


It is forbidden to inquire of a person who practices [divination with an] ov or a yid'oni, as [Deuteronomy 18:10-11] states: "There shall not be found among you one who passes..., one who seeks [information] from an ov or a yid'oni."

Thus, a person who practices [divination with an] ov or a yid'oni himself is stoned to death, and a person who inquires of them violates a negative commandment and receives stripes for rebelliousness. One who plans his deeds and acts according to their instructions is [liable for] lashes.


אָסוּר לִשְׁאל בַּעַל אוֹב אוֹ בַּעַל יִדְּעֹנִי שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יח י) "לֹא יִמָּצֵא בְךָ מַעֲבִיר" וְגוֹ' (דברים יח יא) "וְשֹׁאֵל אוֹב וְיִדְּעֹנִי". נִמְצֵאתָ לָמֵד שֶׁבַּעַל אוֹב וְיִדְּעֹנִי עַצְמָן בִּסְקִילָה וְהַנִּשְׁאָל בָּהֶן בְּאַזְהָרָה וּמַכִּין אוֹתוֹ מַכַּת מַרְדּוּת. וְאִם כִּוֵּן מַעֲשָׂיו וְעָשָׂה כְּפִי מֵאֲמָרָן לוֹקֶה:


A sorcerer must be condemned to execution by stoning. This applies when he commits a deed of sorcery. If, however, he merely deludes those who observe him into thinking that he is performing an act although he actually does not, he is given stripes for rebelliousness.

[The reason is] that the prohibition against sorcery is stated in the prohibition [Deuteronomy 18:10-11]: "There shall not be found among you one who... [practices sorcery]." It is, however, a prohibition which is punishable by execution by the court, as [Exodus 22:17] states: "Do not allow a witch to live." [Therefore,] lashes are not administered for its violation.


הַמְכַשֵּׁף חַיָּב סְקִילָה וְהוּא שֶׁעָשָׂה מַעֲשֵׂה כְּשָׁפִים. אֲבָל הָאוֹחֵז אֶת הָעֵינַיִם וְהוּא שֶׁיֵּרָאֶה שֶׁעָשָׂה וְהוּא לֹא עָשָׂה לוֹקֶה מַכַּת מַרְדּוּת. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁלָּאו זֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בִּמְכַשֵּׁף בִּכְלַל (דברים יח י) "לֹא יִמָּצֵא בְךָ" הוּא וְלָאו שֶׁנִּתַּן לְאַזְהָרַת מִיתַת בֵּית דִּין הוּא וְאֵין לוֹקִין עָלָיו שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כב יז) "מְכַשֵּׁפָה לֹא תְחַיֶּה":


All the above matters are falsehood and lies with which the original idolaters deceived the gentile nations in order to lead them after them. It is not fitting for the Jews who are wise sages to be drawn into such emptiness, nor to consider that they have any value as [implied by Numbers 23:23]: "No black magic can be found among Jacob, or occult arts within Israel." Similarly, [Deuteronomy 18:14] states: "These nations which you are driving out listen to astrologers and diviners. This is not [what God... has granted] you."

Whoever believes in [occult arts] of this nature and, in his heart, thinks that they are true and words of wisdom, but are forbidden by the Torah, is foolish and feebleminded. He is considered like women and children who have underdeveloped intellects.

The masters of wisdom and those of perfect knowledge know with clear proof that all these crafts which the Torah forbade are not reflections of wisdom, but rather, emptiness and vanity which attracted the feebleminded and caused them to abandon all the paths of truth. For these reasons, when the Torah warned against all these empty matters, it advised [Deuteronomy 18:13]: "Be of perfect faith with God, your Lord."


וּדְבָרִים הָאֵלּוּ כֻּלָּן דִּבְרֵי שֶׁקֶר וְכָזָב הֵן וְהֵם שֶׁהִטְעוּ בָּהֶן עוֹבְדֵי כּוֹכָבִים הַקַּדְמוֹנִים לְגוֹיֵי הָאֲרָצוֹת כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּנְהֲגוּ אַחֲרֵיהֶן. וְאֵין רָאוּי לְיִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁהֵם חֲכָמִים מְחֻכָּמִים לְהִמָּשֵׁךְ בַּהֲבָלִים אֵלּוּ וְלֹא לְהַעֲלוֹת עַל לֵב שֶׁיֵּשׁ תּוֹעֶלֶת בָּהֶן. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר כג כג) "כִּי לֹא נַחַשׁ בְּיַעֲקֹב וְלֹא קֶסֶם בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל". וְנֶאֱמַר (דברים יח יד) "כִּי הַגּוֹיִם הָאֵלֶּה אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה יוֹרֵשׁ אוֹתָם אֶל מְעֹנְנִים וְאֶל קֹסְמִים יִשְׁמָעוּ וְאַתָּה לֹא כֵן" וְגוֹ'. כָּל הַמַּאֲמִין בִּדְבָרִים הָאֵלּוּ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן וּמְחַשֵּׁב בְּלִבּוֹ שֶׁהֵן אֱמֶת וּדְבַר חָכְמָה אֲבָל הַתּוֹרָה אֲסָרָתַן אֵינָן אֶלָּא מִן הַסְּכָלִים וּמְחֻסְּרֵי הַדַּעַת וּבִכְלַל הַנָּשִׁים וְהַקְּטַנִּים שֶׁאֵין דַּעְתָּן שְׁלֵמָה. אֲבָל בַּעֲלֵי הַחָכְמָה וּתְמִימֵי הַדַּעַת יֵדְעוּ בִּרְאָיוֹת בְּרוּרוֹת שֶׁכָּל אֵלּוּ הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁאָסְרָה תּוֹרָה אֵינָם דִּבְרֵי חָכְמָה אֶלָּא תֹּהוּ וְהֶבֶל שֶׁנִּמְשְׁכוּ בָּהֶן חַסְרֵי הַדַּעַת וְנָטְשׁוּ כָּל דַּרְכֵי הָאֱמֶת בִּגְלָלָן. וּמִפְּנֵי זֶה אָמְרָה תּוֹרָה כְּשֶׁהִזְהִירָה עַל כָּל אֵלּוּ הַהֲבָלִים (דברים יח יג) "תָּמִים תִּהְיֶה עִם ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ":